TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 369

IRS Logo 2USA Today op-ed:  The Media Ignore IRS Scandal, by Paul L. Caron:

Today's news media are largely ignoring the IRS scandal, and it is impossible to have confidence in the current investigations by the FBI, Justice Department, and House committee. I am not suggesting that the current scandal in the end will rise to the level of Watergate. But the allegations are serious, and fair-minded Americans of both parties should agree that a thorough investigation needs to be undertaken to either debunk them or confirm them.

Step one should be to give Lois Lerner full immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. And then let the chips fall where they may.

Rasmussen Reports:  57% Favor Further Investigation of the IRS:

Half of voters still believe the IRS broke the law when it targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups, and even more think the matter needs to be looked into further.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think the Obama administration’s handling of the IRS matter merits further investigation. Just half as many (28%) say the case should be closed. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/05/the-irs-scandal-12.html

IRS News, IRS Scandal | Permalink

Comments

Two comments - first, if the GOP Congress actually wanted some truth, they are one grant of immunity away.

Second, the last thing that the country needs is another Starr.

Posted by: Barry | May 13, 2014 7:09:33 AM

Paul--I just read your piece in USA Today. I was disappointed.

First, we know that the IRS process in question was totally unlike the Nixon directed attempt to conduct politically motivated individual tax return audits.

Here, no audits were involved. Rather, the IRS, perceiving abuse of Section 501(c)(4), flagged certain types of determination letter requests for enhanced review. Those types of requests included not only requests that presumably came from conservative groups, but also those that presumably came from progressive groups, those that involved open-source software, and those potentially involved in issues concerning the Mideast.

Further, in the Nixon case, specific individuals were targeted. That was not the case here. No specific individuals or groups were targeted.

Second, you said that "fair-minded Americans of both parties should agree that a thorough investigation needs to be undertaken to either debunk them or confirm them." Assuming that one agrees with that statement, you should have made it clear that the current process involving a contempt citation against Ms. Lerner is not one that is intended to result in a "thorough investigation." Does anyone really believe that Darrell Issa is capable of a real investigation?

Take a look back at the Senate Watergate hearings. You will find that even though the Senate panel was composed of 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans, the hearings were conducted with a high degree of fairness. In the House, the vote to establish a committee on impeachment passed 410-4. By all accounts, the late Peter Rodino conducted those hearings with a strict sense of fairness.

At the least, any suggestion that Ms. Lerner should be subject to further Congressional questioning should have been coupled with a strong admonition that any Congressional forum be constructed to insure that the proceedings are conducted fairly. The omission of any such suggestion seriously undermines your comments.

Posted by: Stuart Levine | May 13, 2014 9:42:11 AM

Before we can accuse the IRS of wrong doing, we need to open the groups in question books to see if they are in fact breaking the law and it is a classic case of the guilty playing victim. The law states these groups main function and activity is required to be social welfare charity to the community. They are allowed to politic and lobby, but it can not be their main function or activity. I am willing to bet most of these groups main function and activity is to funnel unlimited amounts of money to candidates and political agendas without having to disclose its source. Lets get those books and see if the guilty are playing victim.

Posted by: bob | May 13, 2014 2:32:52 PM

Are Congressional grants of immunity constitutional, or do they violate separation of powers?

Posted by: Bruce | May 13, 2014 4:45:05 PM