Sharpton: $14 Million Wasted Investigating ‘Phony’ IRS Scandal

By Melanie Arter | February 28, 2014 | 4:06pm EST

"PoliticsNation" host Rev. Al Sharpton (AP Photo)

( – MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation” host Rev. Al Sharpton on Thursday complained that the government wasted $14 million investigating what he called the “phony” IRS scandal, adding that despite over a dozen congressional hearings and hundreds of employees responding to the probe, the investigation “turned up nothing.”

“Republicans in Congress have spent months trying to gin up a scandal around the IRS. They’re convinced there’s a scandal with the IRS targeting conservative groups – even though it targeted liberal groups the same way,” Sharpton said.

But as previously reported, J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on May 17, 2013, that his audit found “clear evidence” that the allegations of the IRS targeting conservative groups seeking tax exempt status are true.

“Was the IRS using inappropriate criteria in its review of organizations applying for tax-exempt status?” George said. “Yes. Was the IRS delaying their applications? Yes. And finally, did the IRS ask inappropriate and unnecessary questions of applicant? Yes.”

Also, previously reported that George wrote in a June 26, 2013 letter to Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) that he found no evidence to support the claim that the IRS used the term “progressives” in the same way it used to the word “tea party” to scrutinize groups applying for tax-exempt status.

"Our audit did not find evidence that the IRS used the ‘Progressives’ identifier as selection criteria for potential political cases between May 2010 and May 2012. The focus of our audit was on whether the IRS:  1) targeted specific groups applying for tax-exempt status, 2) delayed processing of targeted groups' applications, and 3) requested unnecessary information from targeted groups. We determined the IRS developed and used inappropriate criteria to identify applications from organizations with the words Tea Party in their names," George wrote.

“All IRS all the time. There have been 15 congressional hearings, and 255 IRS employees have spent 97,542 hours responding to congressional investigations, and all of those investigations have turned up nothing. No wrongdoing. So what’s the price tag on the investigation of phony scandal like this? $14 million. And that’s a conservative estimate,” Sharpton said on his show Thursday.

Reps. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) released a letter Wednesday from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, which detailed the costs of the IRS probe, according to a press release on Cummings' congressional website."

The press release noted that IRS spent "$8 million in direct costs - such as salaries, benefits and travel - and an additional $6 million to $8 million to add capacity to information technology systems to process materials to investigators."

"In order to properly protect taxpayer information while efficiently processing voluminous materials for production, IRS needed to add capacity to our information technology systems," Koskinen said in the letter. "The IRS spent an additional $6 to $8 million to optimize existing information technology systems and ensure a stable infrastructure."

“Did all these Republicans think we wouldn’t notice this is costing millions of dollars but making no sense? Nice try, but we got you,” Sharpton added.

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