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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 411

IRS Logo 2Real Clear Politics:  Halperin on IRS Scandal: If This Was A GOP Admin, "This Story Would Be A National Obsession":

Mark Halperin:  Because when any government agency, particularly one as powerful as the IRS, engages in something that even people sympathetic to the admission says looks weird and suspicious, it's incumbent on all of the national media to aggressively ask more questions. The Republicans in Congress are asking questions. I think with a different administration, one that was a Republican administration, this story would be a national obsession, and, instead, it's getting coverage here and a few other places. But it deserves a lot more questions.

Washington Post op-ed by Jonathan Turley (George Washington):

As federal agencies have grown in size and scope, they have increasingly viewed their regulatory functions as powers to reward or punish citizens and groups. The Internal Revenue Service offers another good example. Like the patent office, it was created for a relatively narrow function: tax collection. Yet the agency also determines which groups don’t have to pay taxes. Historically, the IRS adopted a neutral rule that avoided not-for-profit determinations based on the content of organizations’ beliefs and practices. Then, in 1970, came the Bob Jones University case. The IRS withdrew the tax-exempt status from the religious institution because of its rule against interracial dating on campus. The Supreme Court affirmed in 1983 that the IRS could yank tax exemption whenever it decided that an organization is behaving “contrary to established public policy” — whatever that public policy may be. Bob Jones had to choose between financial ruin and conforming its religious practices. It did the latter.

There is an obvious problem when the sanctioning of free exercise of religion or speech becomes a matter of discretionary agency action. And it goes beyond trademarks and taxes. ... When agencies engage in content-based speech regulation, it’s more than the usual issue of “mission creep.” As I’ve written before in these pages, agencies now represent something like a fourth branch in our government — an array of departments and offices that exercise responsibilities once dedicated exclusively to the judicial and legislative branches. Insulated from participatory politics and accountability, these agencies can shape political and social decision-making. To paraphrase Clausewitz, water, taxes and even trademarks appear to have become the continuation of politics by other means.

Real Clear Politics op-ed:  An Arrogant and Lawless IRS, by Michael Gerson:

Noted management expert and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was apparently called out of retirement -- like the Ted Williams of evasive, unapologetic bureaucrats -- to destroy what is left of his agency's credibility. ...

In recent congressional testimony, Koskinen admitted that the emails were irretrievably gone; that the "backup tapes" had been erased; and that Lerner's hard drive was apparently destroyed in an aggressive act of recycling. With that settled, Koskinen expressed his "hope that the investigations ... can be concluded in the very near future."

It is a mix of arrogance and delusion that seems designed to incense Republicans. Koskinen had delayed informing Congress of the lost emails for months, even while assuring members they would be provided. "It was my decision that we complete the investigation," he said, "so we could fully advise you as to what the situation was." Translation from management-speak: We wanted to get our story straight before we advised you of anything. Koskinen complained about the breadth of subpoenas and the "piecemealing out" of information.

Translation: We will provide you what we want when we want. "Every email," Koskinen assured the House Ways and Means Committee, "has been preserved that we have." Except the ones they don't have -- and somehow snuffed out, tied to an anvil and thrown into the ocean. ...

[T]he IRS has managed to feed anti-government sentiments by inhabiting anti-government stereotypes. It has undermined respect for authority. And it doesn't seem even to understand the damage it has done.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/06/the-irs-scandal-15.html

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink

Comments

There isn’t much expressed outrage from law professors who read these daily posts about illegal IRS political attacks, smug lies, and cover-ups. Almost every day there are zero comments from them. Shouldn’t law professors be concerned about something like, well, integrity of laws and integrity of those who enforce the law?

Do law professors not care? Are they so intellectually void that they have nothing to add? Are they glad that the IRS is getting away with attacks on free speech and with changing elections, as long as it helps the side they support? Maybe they’re just afraid to say anything because the radical-left at colleges discourages honest expression and punishes those who don’t stay inside the lines they draw.

By silence from so many professors, law schools appear to be ruled by fear, ignorance, or ideology rather than professionalism.

I wish someone would provide an honest explanation.

Posted by: Woody | Jun 24, 2014 9:49:35 AM

Actually, I think most law professors have been paying attention. The fact is, there is no "there" there.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 24, 2014 1:29:55 PM

@Publius: Your an attorney or a law professor?

Posted by: Tom N | Jun 24, 2014 6:33:50 PM

May I conclude on the question that law professors don't care, don't know, or won't tell -- pretty much like the answers given by the IRS?

Posted by: Woody | Jun 25, 2014 12:31:07 PM