TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 905

IRS Logo 2The Weekly Standard, A Good Start:

On October 27, the House of Representatives moved to impeach the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, John Koskinen. It may seem odd that Koskinen is being punished since he wasn’t commissioner when the IRS scandal broke two years ago. But make no mistake, Koskinen is a worthy candidate for impeachment.

To get to the bottom of the scandal—the deliberate slow-walking or outright denial of applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups—Congress subpoenaed all the emails of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Unit head, Lois Lerner. Koskinen, who was sworn in as commissioner on December 23, 2013, failed to act on this subpoena, and on March 4, 2014, the agency erased 422 backup tapes, destroying as many as 24,000 of Lerner’s emails, despite a congressional order mandating relevant IRS records be preserved.

Koskinen knowingly sat on the information that the emails had been destroyed for four months. When he finally offered an explanation of what had happened to the emails, it was buried on page seven of the third attachment to a letter sent to the Senate Finance Committee in a Friday news dump. Koskinen testified before Congress that he had personally confirmed that none of the IRS’s other email backup tapes was recoverable.

This was a lie. Employees from the inspector general’s office later drove to the IRS office in West Virginia, where the backup tapes were kept, and asked for whatever was there. They recovered 700 backup tapes, and with them 1,000 new emails from Lois Lerner. Finally, a Government Accountability Office report in July indicated that the agency had introduced no new safeguards to prevent the targeting of “organizations’ religious, educational, political, or other views” despite a clear mandate to do so. ...

The federal bureaucracy has always been bad at policing employees, but President Obama bears direct responsibility for the problem getting immeasurably worse. Last year, 47 of the 73 federal inspectors general signed a letter decrying the Obama administration for stonewalling their investigations and in some cases actively intimidating investigators. ...

To address the systemic problem, the GOP has to reclaim Congress’s oversight power and push for sweeping civil service reforms. Without them, no significant conservative policy overhaul will ever be implemented, and Americans will be increasingly subject to a complex web of unaccountable and unconstitutional administrative fiefdoms.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/10/the-irs-scandal-day-905.html

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Comments

The cover-up is worse than the crime.

"Koskinen testified before Congress that he had personally confirmed that none of the IRS’s other email backup tapes was recoverable.This was a lie."

And he should pay for that.

Posted by: RRP | Oct 31, 2015 9:06:15 AM

Mr. RRP: Please support your calumny by identifying the people to whom Koskinen spoke, what they said about the tapes, when the conversation(s) took place, and what Koskinen knew before and after he spoke to these unidentified individuals. I am sick and tired of statements about Koskinen's veracity made by people based upon third-hand information. In this country, we indict and convict people based on evidence, not hearsay and news accounts.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Nov 1, 2015 7:49:11 AM