Absolutely, positively, totally completely nuthin' to do with me<$NoAd$>.
Rep. Istook takes another bite at the apple in a statement released this morning ...
Further Statement by Istook Regarding Mistaken Claims About Provision in Omnibus Spending Bill
Washington, DC - Congressman Ernest Istook (R-OK), chairman of the Transportation and Treasury Appropriations Subcommittee made the following statements Monday morning in reaction to mistaken claims that he included a controversial provision regarding the IRS in the omnibus spending bill.
"I want to reiterate what I said on Sunday, namely that this was not my language. I then spent most of the day tracking down what happened.
"I had nothing to do with inserting this language. I never knew what was happening until it was done. Had I known, I would have intervened to omit or to fix this provision.
"I didn't write it; I didn't approve it; I wasn't even consulted. My name shouldn't be associated with it, because I had nothing to do with it, and didn't even know about it until after the bill was done and was filed."
"We have a problem with how bills like this are put together. On occasions, appropriations staff will take the initiative to insert language they believe will be non-controversial. They do this with the approval of full committee staff, but without the knowledge or approval of subcommittee chairman like me. That is what happened in this case.
"We have a chain of command problem over whether the subcommittee staff are ultimately accountable to the full committee staff-who represent the full committee chairman-or to the subcommittee chairman. The subcommittee chairman should never be bypassed like I was in this case. I will work to fix this as part of the reorganization of the appropriations committee that will take place during the next several weeks.
"I'm satisfied that nobody intended to breach or to weaken the privacy laws that protect people's tax returns. But good intentions are no guarantee of good results."
"Our committee has responsibility for the IRS budget. That includes its personnel, facilities and equipment. This language wasn't sufficiently reviewed because it was drafted by the IRS, so our staff presumed that it was okay. The IRS drafted this language at staff request, in an effort to make it clear that our oversight duties include visiting and inspecting the huge IRS processing centers-but NOT inspecting tax returns. That was also made clear on the House floor when the omnibus bill was brought up.
"Nobody's privacy was ever jeopardized. Honest mistakes were made, but there's no conspiracy."
So just an honest attempt to protect tax payer privacy gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Late Update: The text of the statement is now posted
on Rep. Istook's website.