Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) ignited a petty war of words with Democrats on Sunday by denouncing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney as a "paid liar" when discussing the Internal Revenue Service's singling out of conservative groups. Speaking on CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Issa continued to say, "he's still making up things about what happened and calling this local rogue." Rep. Issa is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and has been leading the effort to link the IRS scandal to the White House.
The ranking Democrat on the House oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) debunked Issa's incendiary accusation, saying that "Chairman Issa's reckless statements today are inconsistent with the findings of the Inspector General, who spent more than a year conducting his investigation." In fact, when asked what lies Issa was specifically referring to, the congressman's office responded to Carney's May 21 remarks in which Carney used neither the words "local" or "rogue" as Issa suggested.
In his interview, Issa follows up the accusation with the implicating the White House in the scandal. "The reason why Lois Lerner tried to take the Fifth [Amendment] is not because there is a rogue in Cincinnati — it's because this is a problem that was coordinated, in all likelihood, right out of Washington headquarters," said Issa. When pressed for proof of collusion with the White House and the IRS scandal, Issa referred to evidence he had but was not yet ready to release.
While the White House declined to comment, other Democrats chose not to take the high road, but rather chose to answer with further insults. On Sunday, former White House senior adviser David Plouffe said on This Week that trying to link the White House to the IRS scandal "would be the dumbest political effort of all time." He later tweeted a response to Issa, "Strong words from Mr. Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler. And loose ethically today," referring to Issa's 1972 arrest for car theft ( charges were dropped in that case). Issa went on to make millions in the car alarm business.
While Rep. Issa's unfounded accusation was inappropriate, Plouffe's unnecessary and immature response shows that school-yard antics are once again the go to behavior in what should be important discussions about how to best reform poorly run agencies.