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Jackson Cit Pat: Work by the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform shedding light on Washington’s excess

June 25, 2013
Opinion Editorial

The public's trust in government has been shaken by a string of recent controversies. It's chilling to learn what's happened under this administration's watch and, as seen from the influx of calls and letters to my office every day, I know you are concerned as well. As your representative, I am committed to pursuing accountability and increased transparency for our federal government. Sitting on the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform (OGR) has provided me the opportunity to address issues including Benghazi, IRS, and the Department of Justice directly.

On September 11, 2012 the American consulate in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists and resulted in the loss of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Nine months later, we're still searching for answers on how this happened, why an Ambassador was left without sufficient protection, and why our military was prevented from rescuing our American diplomats who were under attack. Recently, I had the opportunity to question State Department whistleblowers about the failures that took place. These witnesses revealed that security for the American facility was insufficient; our military wanted to rescue our diplomats, but were not allowed; and the second ranking American diplomat in Libya was intimidated by a high ranking official in Washington when he questioned the Administration's misleading version of what occurred that evening. This important new information had previously been withheld from Congress and confirmed that there are still many more questions left to answer about the events that transpired.

In early May, the IRS confessed that it had targeted organizations that disagreed with the president for excessive scrutiny when determining tax-exempt status. Unfortunately we still do not know who ordered the targeting of certain groups but many congressional Republicans and Democrats agree that kind of behavior is unacceptable. The government should never target groups or individuals for their political viewpoints. I questioned top leaders at the IRS about their role in the targeting. We expect some will be recalled for further questioning along with additional witnesses. We will get to the bottom of this abuse and hold wrongdoers accountable.

Most recently, the public's trust in government has been further shaken as we've learned more about the Department of Justice's obtaining phone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press and labeling a Fox News reporter as a criminal co-conspirator in order to track his communications. Monitoring and intimidating the press threatens the 1st Amendment regardless of which party occupies the White House, and we are seeking a full explanation from the President on why this was allowed.

Conducting oversight over the federal government is essential to achieving transparency for the taxpayers. With a government that is too big and detached from the vision of our Founders, our Constitution, and your needs, I'm proud of the work we've been doing in the House to shed light on Washington's excess. We've worked to create a system of accountability in the House, by allowing for an open amendment process on funding bills, pursuing a balanced budget and cutting wasteful spending. In addition, to remain transparent with you, each week I post the House voting schedule on my Facebook page as well as how I voted on all legislation on my website,

Until the culture changes and trust is restored, the American taxpayer cannot be certain their civil liberties are secure, and their hard-earned taxes are being properly put to use. Please know I will continue to work with my colleagues to monitor these very troubling situations and ensure the responsible parties are held accountable. I am committed to demanding accountability, helping hardworking taxpayers and expanding opportunities for all Americans through growing and protecting jobs in a healthy economy.

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