TaxProf Blog

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 942

IRS Logo 2FedSmith.com, Legislation Would Make it Easier to Fire Senior Executives at IRS:

Lawmakers are continuing to target the Internal Revenue Service with new bills in the wake of news reports that said that senior executives within the agency were targeting conservative groups based on their political beliefs.

Legislation has recently been introduced in the Senate that would give the IRS Commissioner new authority to fire senior executives within the agency who have failed in their performance or committed misconduct.

Known as the Internal Revenue Service Accountability Act of 2015 (S. 2345), the text of the legislation says that the IRS Commissioner “may remove an individual employed in a senior executive position at the Internal Revenue Service from the senior executive position if the Commissioner determines the performance or misconduct of the individual warrants such removal.”

The Senators are introducing the bill in response to the recent stories in the media alleging that high level officials within the IRS were targeting conservative groups based on their beliefs. Investigations into the targeting were closed by the Department of Justice in October.

The Senators say that while the IRS Commissioner currently does have the authority to fire high ranking employees for certain forms of misconduct, this authority failed to be used in the political targeting situation.

press release from Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) describes the need for the bill as follows:

The Administration has claimed that only mismanagement occurred at the IRS and that mismanagement is not a crime and has used this logic to justify its failure to act in the case of Lois Lerner and others who targeted Americans based on their political beliefs. This bill seeks to rectify this problem by giving the Commissioner clear authority to fire employees who fail to meet the standards of conduct and performance we should demand of senior managers at Federal agencies. ...

The House has had its own share of efforts to clamp down on the IRS, one of the most recent examples being introducing a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for acts which lawmakers said violated the public’s trust.

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Comments

Having observed the IRS "scandal" for well over two years now, it is readily apparent how revisionist history is created. This article is a prime example of revisionism.

1. Lerner did not target conservative groups based on political beliefs. Lerner's subordinate manager in Cincinnati devised the BOLO list. When she learned of the BOLO list, Lerner directed the Cincinnati supervisor to stop using it.

2. The Cincinnati supervisor initially followed Lerner’s stop-action directive, but subsequently issued a revised BOLO list. When Lerner learned of the revised BOLO list, she directed that it should not be used.

3. The BOLO lists contained both conservative and progressive name flags.

4. There were similar numbers of name flags on the BOLO lists for both conservative and progressive groups; more applications from conservative groups were flagged; there were far more conservative applications than progressive applications for IRC § 501(c)(4) status.

5. DOJ requested information from Lerner concerning possible false statements by IRC § 501(c)(4) applicants. Lerner provided the information; DOJ did not charge any 501(c)(4) applicants with violations of any criminal laws.

6. Lerner resigned after being placed on administrative leave by IRS management. Neither the Acting Commissioner Miller nor the Obama Administrative failed to act with respect to Lerner–removal from duty and placement on administrative leave is an adverse personnel action, preliminary to further proceedings. Lerner subsequently resigned her position–after asserting her Fifth Amendment rights before a congressional committee–and retired.

7. A criminal investigation of Lerner and others concluded that neither she nor anyone else had violated any criminal laws. The DOJ investigation noted several instances of mismanagement within the IRS and correctly stated that mismanagement does not support criminal prosecution.

8. The Administration has never suggested that because mismanagement does not equate to criminal activity, no action was taken against Lerner. Lerner was not prosecuted because DOJ found no evidence of CRIMINAL activity. Lerner, along with former Commissioner Shulman and former Acting Commissioner Miller could not be fired for mismanagement because: Shulman’s term expired; Miller resigned; and Lerner resigned, all well before the DOJ findings of mismanagement.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 7, 2015 8:11:14 AM

Criminal investigation Mr. Publius? You mean the Obama DOJ and MSM whitewash. Disgraceful. Some Americans were asked to write down the "content of their prayers", not that the MSM is in the least bit interested in this bit of trashing of the First Amendment. This is the biggest cover up since the Warren Commission.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Dec 7, 2015 10:06:57 AM

Mr. voi: Assuming for purposes of argument only, that the IRS asked § 501(c)(3) applicants the content of their prayers, what federal criminal law would that violate? What is that one, 18 U.S.C. § 666666? Any IRS employee who inquires about the prayer content of any organization shall be guilty of a felony and imprisoned for not more than 7 years?

But of course, the IRS did not inquire about the content of anyone’s prayers. Here is the actual question that was asked: “Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood, are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3).” In other words, explain how your meetings, especially the gatherings held outside Planned Parenthood clinics--at which you harass low-income women seeking healthcare--are educational within the meaning of § 501(c)(3). I’ve driven and walked past a number of those “prayer meetings.” They don’t look educational to me. And no reasonable person would agree that the question asks for the “content of prayers.”

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 7, 2015 1:16:27 PM

Shocking that Publius supports the Obama administration investigating itself. If you can't trust Obama, who can you trust? lol

Posted by: wodun | Dec 7, 2015 1:21:14 PM

Mr. wodun: Perhaps you are unaware of how the federal government functions. All administrations (except the Clinton Administration) investigate themselves. Maybe you could propose a constitutional amendment providing for an independently elected Attorney General.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 7, 2015 7:25:43 PM