Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Oberweis Pressures Durbin to Crack Down on IRS Over Missing Emails

The Illinois dairy magnate is gunning for the Democratic incumbent's U.S. Senate seat

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    Jim Oberweis, who's attempting to unseat Dick Durbin as Illinois Senator, has urged the Democratic incumbent to join his newly minted crusade to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS.

    The GOP candidate and suburban Chicago dairy magnate issued an indignant statement on Tuesday wherein he railed against the tax-collecting agency and its improper treatment toward the Tea Party and conservative nonprofits ahead of the 2010 and 2012 elections.

    "Dick Durbin said the IRS scandal was a serious matter and that we should get to the bottom of it. I think he should agree that when crucial evidence turns up missing it is time to call in a special prosecutor," said Oberweis, referring to Republican uproar over lost emails sent by ex-IRS exec Lois Lerner circa 2011.

    This week's hearings before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee turned up few answers on the case of the vanished Lerner emails from 2009-2011. The IRS blamed the disappearance on a computer crash and said it pulled together about 24,000 of her messages from staffers' accounts. But Republican lawmakers balked and U.S. Archivist David Ferriero said Tuesday that the agency "did not follow the law" in failing to report the record loss.

    Democrats have accused GOP colleagues of political grandstanding and springing on Email-Gate to rile up the base leading up to November's midterm elections.

    Oberweis' statement linked to reports from May 2013 that Durbin had requested the IRS probe Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, a right-wing political group launched in 2010 to support Republican candidates.

    "The patience of the American people is wearing thin," said Oberweis, who's campaigning on a populist platform if not a media-savvy one. "There is nothing more abusive to the people than an abusive Internal Revenue Service and this administration has demonstrated it is incapable of getting to the bottom of the scandal."

    A representative for Durbin declined Ward Room's request for comment.

    These past few months, sonservative super PACS such as the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund have funneled thousands into anti-Durbin media spots. The prospect of being outspent by pro-Oberweis outside groups led a reportedly anxious Durbin to fly to Chicago -- with President Obama in tow -- for a pair of campaign fundraisers at the homes of Democratic super-donor Fred Eychaner and Gold Coast-based businessman Michael Polsky.