Why some IRS interview transcripts are not being releasedPosted: Updated:
One of the main reasons FOX19 took the trip to Washington D.C. was to view Cincinnati worker IRS transcripts firsthand and see what workers said in their interviews with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
While FOX19 was able to look over more than 50 pages of two interviews, there are still hundreds of pages not being released.
When reporters want information from a government agency typically a simple public information request is made and there is a required timeframe to respond. Laws dubbed ‘sunshine laws' lay out what reporters can and cannot have access to.
The House committees are not governed by those same laws, however. It is generally up to the committee chairman what is released.
While FOX19 was allowed to look at some transcripts and answered questions, thus far the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has not released much.
"There may be a time when it's appropriate to do that, but I do think it's important that you not let everyone understand the line of questioning you're going through and it's been the practice of the committee not to release that," Representative Jim Jordan (R)-Ohio told FOX19.
Over and over in during FOX19's visit with republic committee members, they pointed to the committee's investigation as justification for not releasing the full transcripts.
"The thing that you have to understand is that even a high school principal will tell you that when you're doing an investigation the first thing you do is separate the parties and you get their stories," Michael Turner (R)-Ohio said. "Because from separating he parties you get the truth."
The pressure to release its not just coming from the media, republican chairman Darrell Issa has also been getting pressure from across the aisle.
"There's nothing in those transcripts that concerned me in any way," Democratic ranking member Elijah Cummings said. "I want them to be released."
Cumming says he wants to maintain the integrity of the investigation, but also give Americans the full story by sharing the transcripts
He criticized the chairman for releasing cherry picked portions of the interviews, but he also released pieces so in a commitment to balanced news FOX19 asked why.
"The only reason why I presented the excerpts that I did was because I thought the cherry picking that happened earlier by Mr. Issa did not provide us with a clear picture," Cummings explained.
Senator Rob Portman also shared his desire to see the documents released.
"I don't know what their reasons are, but I think all of us should be able to get access to those transcripts," he said.
Representative Jim Jordan has co-signed both of the committee requests for the IRS to make workers available for interviews. The latest request includes eight interviews which are in the process of being scheduled and the possibility for nine more workers to be interviewed who are currently requested to be on standby as needed.
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