Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his Republican Senate Leadership spoke to the media Tuesday after a closed policy luncheon.
The Senate Minority Leader began the event by saying, "I want to make a few observations about the administration's abuse of power," and before opening it up to questions said, "As you continue to file your stories on this subject, ask yourself before you write: how would I be writing this story if this were a Republican administration?"
Of course, the primary subject at hand were recent revelations that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting conservative groups:
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KENTUCKY): We now have focused the attention of everyone, including all of you, on the lengths to which the administration's willing to go to quiet the voices of its critics. My colleagues, including Senator Hatch, our ranking member on the Finance Committee, will focus, at least to some extent, on the IRS. I want to talk about the broader picture here.
Over the last year, actually going back to 2009 now that I think about it, we've seen the efforts of the administration to quiet the voices of their critics. Back during the debate on Obamacare, it was the directive by the secretary of HHS to help insurance companies -- that they could not tell their customers, those who bought their products, what they thought about Obamacare -- a directive from the secretary of HHS quieting the voices of critics of Obamacare.
Now you've noticed the secretary's out raising money from the private sector, people who are dependent upon the government's regulations, to help the government convince the public that Obamacare is a good measure. We've had examples of initiatives over at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and, of course, continuously at the FEC to engage in the kind of government regulatory activity that is targeted at silencing the critics of the administration.
I'm not being critical of all of you, but most of you haven't paid much attention to any of that, but now I think you get it. And I think the American people get it, because everybody understands what the IRS is; many people think the most powerful agency of the federal government with the ability to literally put people out of business.
McConnell then turned it over to Hatch:
SENATOR ORRIN HATCH (R-UTAH): Let me just say this, that I've never seen anything quite like this, except in the past during the Nixon years. What the IRS asserted on Friday is simply not true. It wasn't just some lowly staffer sitting in the Cincinnati office. In fact that's a pretty important office in the IRS. Very senior management at the IRS here in Washington knew what was going on for over a year, and they didn't even say a word. In fact after the IRS learned of this, they sent Congress letters saying that the targeting of conservative groups wasn't happening.
This was either one of the greatest cases of incompetence that I've ever seen, or it was the IRS willfully not telling Congress the truth...Now the American people deserve the truth. There is no single agency in government that has the power that the IRS has. They can destroy people. And frankly this is an agency that can create more fear in the hearts of people than any other agency. [...]
We're talking about the right of freedom in America. And if we can manipulate the IRS, if the administration can do that, or anybody in the administration, or anybody in the IRS can do that, then everybody in this country has got to be very, very fearful. And freedoms will be lost. Liberty will be lost, and we'll all be the worse for it.
Thune also made some interesting comments:
SENATOR JOHN THUNE (R-SOUTH DAKOTA): For an administration that promised to be the most transparent in history, the Obama Administration is -- has a credibility gap that's growing at an alarming rate.
We now know that there were senior administration officials that knew about the bullying of conservative leaning organizations, the Washington Post is reporting that confidential information from those conservative organizations was released to ProPublica.
If you look at the -- all these various things that the -- my -- the leaders have mentioned, whether it's Fast and Furious or Benghazi or the SEC or the FCC you go right down the list, this is an administration that's playing really fast and loose with the rules and should be a concern for all Americans. [...]
But, it's just another example of an administration that has gotten out of control when it comes to this abuse of power. And, I think this is something that ought to concern every American. And, hopefully as the -- as was pointed out, these investigations and hearings get underway we'll get more of the facts out there for the American people to have at their disposal, but this is a pattern that is very, very concerning and one that I think every American who cares about the Bill of Rights -- every taxpayer in this country ought to be very concerned about.
Also in attendance were Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tx.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committe John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).
Makes you wonder if any of the press members in attendance will follow McConnell's advice and file their reports as if this were a Republican administration.