TaxProf Blog

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

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1032

IRS Logo 2Canada Free Press, IRS Chief John Koskinen Honored With an Award For ‘Excellence in Public Service’. Yes, That Guy. Yes, Really.:

You know John Koskinen as the IRS chief who has, repeatedly, been forced to appear before Congress and defend his agency against claims that its agents targeted conservative groups. Koskinen has been caught, over and over again, lying, obfuscating, stalling, and generally stonewalling the investigation into the “service” he oversees. Out here in the real world, that lands you in jail or, at the very least, the unemployment line.  In Washington D.C…..

Well, in Washington D.C. you’re given a major award to honor you for your outstanding commitment to public service. ...

This is the sad, sad, reprehensibly sad, state of the country in which we live. Koskinen should be trotted out as an example of the worst that American government has to offer.  Instead, he’s being honored for allegedly offering the kind of earnest public service to which young people should dedicate their lives.

Hot Air, IRS and EPA Honchos Receive Public Service Awards. No … Seriously.:

You can keep clicking on this link as many times as you like and refreshing the page but it’s not going to redirect you to a story from The Onion. This is apparently a thing that actually happened. The current head of the Internal Revenue Service and the first chief of the Environmental Protection Agency were honored with prestigious public service awards this week. (Government Executive) ...

Koskinen is another matter entirely. I mean, there’s currently a motion on the floor of the Judiciary Committee to impeach the guy. He was at the helm for the entire Lois Lerner affair which saw the Department of Justice weighing the possibility of charges against some of his people. (They conveniently abandoned the case in October.) The agency has been highlighted by scandal, waste and abuse under Koskinen’s tenure and enjoys one of the lowest public approval ratings of the entire administration. This is the guy you choose to gift with an award and tens of thousands of dollars?

Government Executive, IRS Chief, First EPA Head Awarded Public Service Prize:

One is a living hero from the Watergate scandal who in 1970 became the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The other is a veteran of the 1990s Office of Management and Budget who is under constant political fire as the current commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

Both William Ruckelshaus and John Koskinen on Tuesday night were awarded the Elliot L. Richardson Prize for Excellence in Public Service by the National Academy of Public Administration, and both weighed in on the perils of public service in today’s hyperpartisan climate. ...

[Koskinen's] tenure heading the IRS since December 2013 has been marked by tensions with congressional Republicans over investigations into alleged political bias in the agency’s mishandling of nonprofits’ applications for tax-exempt status.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has approved a resolution calling for Koskinen’s impeachment by the Judiciary Committee. Asked for a comment on the Richardson award, Chaffetz told Government Executive by email that, “If obstructing a congressional investigation and misleading Congress merits an award, then it seems like they have the right guy. I guess I define excellent public service differently.” ...

Koskinen joked that his multi-entry resume in both public and private sector jobs has been interpreted as “I can’t hold a job, but until recently no one had suggested my early departure would be a net gain.” ...

The alleged political targeting took place “in one division, 900 people out of 90,000, but all felt under the gun,” he said, adding that he went on listening tours and personally spoke to 20,000 employees. Noting that IRS has since shrunk to 85,000, Koskinen said an “overwhelming” number of young people still seek employment at the agency. Unlike Ruckelshaus, who returned to EPA for a second tenure during the Reagan administration, Koskinen jokingly announced that he will not be returning for a second run at the IRS.

And when he deals with hostile lawmakers—an experience he likens to “fencing”—he sees much of it as “Kabuki theater, members trying to get their 30 seconds on YouTube or the TV networks.” The current Republican presidential candidates, he said, are competing over “who can give the biggest tax cuts, as if we’re here to give things away” rather than perform public service to make the country a better place.

Koskinen also confided that his desire to meet with his critics—an encounter with the always harsh Wall Street Journal editorial page staff is a possibility—“drives my press team crazy.”

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Comments

When IRS officials get bonuses and awards, it shows what they did has the approval of the President.

Posted by: wodun | Mar 6, 2016 8:37:10 PM

What does Koskinen need with a "press team"? That alone should tell you how much is wrong at the IRS.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Mar 7, 2016 4:56:20 AM