In an interview with Breitbart News published on Sunday, Kelly, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has been investigating the agency, said he expected the leak of applications for tax-exempt status will become the "deeper part" of the story.
"I think what we're going to find out and I think that the deeper part is not so much the Tea Party and the 'Patriot' and those people who were targeted, but the information that has been leaked," Kelly said. "The information that the IRS has on file on people goes pretty deep into personal lives. It is being leaked out and given to people for very specific political reasons. I think this is something that should be the most chilling thing for Americans to understand.
Kelly was, at a minimum, referencing the IRS' release of conservative groups' confidential application material to ProPublica late last year. Application materials are supposed to remain secret while a group's tax-exempt status is pending, and the release of the material to ProPublica has not yet been fully explained.
But the release of the applications was not included in the report released in May by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which found that the IRS had improperly screened and handled applications from non-profit groups.
And Kelly has been among the lawmakers who, since the release of the inspector general's report in May, have taken its findings as corroboration of other wrongdoing they suspected the government of doing. In Kelly's case, he's also made it personal.
On May 16, two days after the inspector general released his report, Kelly and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, asking Lew to investigate the closing of General Motors and Chrysler car dealerships in 2008 and 2009, and whether the government's Automotive Task Force used "political profiling" in making its decisions. (Rumors of this kind of thing date back to -- and were debunked by -- 2009.) Both Kelly and Renacci, who both owned dealerships that were closed, wrote that they "each went through the dealership closing process in our private capacities, we have concerns regarding the criteria used by both General Motors and Chrysler in the automakers' dealership wind-down."
In his interview with Breitbart, Kelly even suggested a connection between the IRS scandal and the recent disclosures of top secret National Security Agency surveillance programs.
"Especially what we've seen happening now with the data collection and the depth to which the data collection is going," Kelly said. "Who is getting this information? There were donor lists [of conservative groups] that were leaked out. Highly, highly sensitive and private information was leaked out."