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Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1144

IRS Logo 2Huffington Post:  The IRS And The Self-Minimization Of Congressman Jason Chaffetz, by Ralph Nader:

Politicians who limit the effectiveness of government agencies for short-term political advantages cheat taxpayers and short-change the government. ...

[Jason] Chaffetz chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee - a body with powerful tools to investigate government waste, corruption and defiance of the laws. And he has vaulting ambitions, almost running for Speaker of the House last year with only seven years of seniority. ...

[W]hat is self-minimizing Congressman Chaffetz’s principal passion? Trying to impeach, censure or cause the resignation of the head of the IRS, the renowned turnaround specialist John Koskinen. The Utah Roman candle has accused Koskinen of interfering with a congressional investigation, not preserving pertinent records and lying to a congressional committee.

Koskinen repeatedly provided the committee with documentation for his denial of the charges that he was engaged in a cover-up of alleged IRS harassment of Tea Party and other conservative 501(c)(4) organizations applying for tax-exempt status. Ranking minority member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) laid out his own rebuttals, citing the Department of Justice investigation finding that “no evidence that any IRS official acted in a way that would support criminal prosecution” or that any official, including Mr. Koskinen, an Obama appointee, attempted to obstruct justice.

More telling was the exhaustive, multi-year, $2 million investigation by the Republican Inspector General of the IRS, Russell George, who cleared the IRS Commissioner of the Chaffetz Committee’s charges. Mr. George, a Bush appointee, found no politically motivated targeting of these conservative 501(c)(4) applications, no obstruction of justice and no concealing of information from Congress. Some bureaucratic sloppiness, sure, but that was all.

A more cutting judgement came from Law Professor Richard Painter, former Chief Ethics Lawyer for President George W. Bush, who said “this is essentially a dispute between the IRS and Members of Congress about the 501(c)(4) organizations that further the objectives of political campaigns, including campaigns for Members of Congress.”

Legal observers say Chaffetz’s resolution is not legally binding and is going nowhere. So what’s going on here is the Chaffetz caper is part of an overwhelming attack on the IRS by the Congressional Republicans-an attack that has turned them into major aiders and abettors of those who are sitting on $300 billion in annual uncollected taxes.

Washington Post:  Why the GOP Is Targeting the IRS, by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-WA):

If, as the editorial board suggested in its June 20 editorial, Unfairly Targeting the IRS, the GOP is unfairly targeting the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, what could be its reason for doing so? Follow the money. The IRS controls the “dark money” spigot that fills GOP coffers. If the IRS enforced its rules, or fixed its rules where they could not be enforced, or referred what appear to be self-evident false statements by dark-money groups to the Justice Department for investigation, the river of dark money flowing to the GOP might dry up. Keeping the IRS battered, cowed and on its heels makes strategic sense for the GOP.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/06/the-irs-scandal-day-1144.html

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Comments

What i am watching is if I can see the straw that finally breaks the back of this smoke and mirrors party.

Posted by: nbpundit | Jun 26, 2016 8:28:06 AM

Quite a load from the Left this time. Let's see: Circular reasoning, check. Correlation proves causation, check. Equivocation, check. Irrelevant conclusion, check. Cherry picking of facts, check. Red herring, check. Argumentum ad hominem, double check.

What else... "Cheat taxpayers and short-change the government." An unqualified allegation of wrongdoing that includes no evidence to back it up, and ironically wrong on the face of it, since the Tax Gap has remained relatively unchanged since 2006 despite the IRS budget falling since the sequester took effect. "Renowned turnaround specialist John Koskinen." Again, an ironic and unqualified statement about the commissioner, considering there's no evidence he has turned things around and an IG report from last year that strongly indicated nothing substantial has changed at the IRS. "Koskinen repeatedly provided the committee with documentation." Left out is the fact that he repeatedly delayed providing documentation since taking office, and of course that little issue of destruction of evidence. "Investigation by the Republican IG of the IRS, Russell George, who cleared the IRS Commissioner of the Chaffetz Committee’s charges." The IG's party affiliation is irrelevant to any conclusions made, and no such report has been completed clearing Koskinen of any charges in his impeachment resolution. The 2013 report predated his tenure as commissioner by several months, and did not include subsequent facts concerning false statements to Congress by Koskinen and destruction of subpoenaed emails under his watch. This is sloppy pseudo-journalism, to say the least. But what can you expect, considering the source.

Since there are so many logical fallacies in play here, I'd be remiss if I didn't throw in a few of my own, specifically at Senator Whitehouse, who clearly has a real concern about so-called "dark money", but only when it comes to the other party that is:

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00027533&cycle=2016

Over the last 5 years, 30% of this campaign contributions have come from PACs, and another 55% were large contributions from individuals. And that's just what his campaign committee has reported. Who knows how much dark money this guy has accepted? Has he even been asked the question?

"DNC Owes Democracy Alliance Big Time: DNC took out $15 million in loans from dark money club’s newest member"
http://freebeacon.com/politics/dnc-owes-democracy-alliance-big-time/

"Dark Money Floods into Hillary Super PAC: Sources of 7-figure contribution to pro-Clinton group are virtually untraceable"
http://freebeacon.com/politics/dark-money-floods-into-hillary-super-pac/

"Dark Money and Lobbyists Serving as Superdelegates Could Decide the 2016 Race"
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35606-dark-money-and-lobbyists-serving-as-superdelegates-could-decide-the-2016-race

This stuff wasn't hard to find. A sitting U.S. Senator, who's a Superdelegate himself, and who has endorsed Secretary Clinton for the Presidency despite an ongoing FBI criminal investigation, and he has nothing to say about his own damn party? He found it necessary to engage in a grade school level ad hominem because he doesn't like Congressional oversight, which is a Constitutional perogative?

Hypocrisy on a grand scale, check!

Posted by: MM | Jun 26, 2016 9:54:25 AM

this is essentially a dispute between the IRS and Members of Congress about the 501(c)(4) organizations that further the objectives of political campaigns

This is true. The IRS is waging a war against some groups that it dislikes. It dislikes these groups because they are not Democrat. Democrats in congress approve of using the government as a weapon against their enemies, so does Obama.

This isn't a principled stand for Democrats. They have thousands of non-profit groups in every city and county in the country. These groups coordinate efforts and funnel money from donors and groups to other groups and individuals.

These same groups stage mob protests in the streets to physically intimidate people and often use violence to achieve their goals.

Democrats are deeply afraid of peaceful Americans using the same regulatory tools that Democrats do to organize political opposition, campaign for preferred policies, and educate other Americans about their ideology.

The IRS controls the “dark money” spigot that fills GOP coffers

Is that really the IRS's intended roll? The arbiters of free speech?

Let's put that aside and just note that a cursory examination of opensecrets.org and Democrat activist groups shows that Democrats are by far the biggest users and beneficaries of "dark money".

Democrats are not concerned with money in politics. They are concerned that other people might spend money on politics in a similar manner but on a far smaller scale than Democrats do.

For Democrats, organizing is a thing of pride. Its their entire identity. But when other people organized, its evil and must be stopped at all costs, even if it means breaking laws and trampling civil rights to do so.

Posted by: wodun | Jun 26, 2016 2:23:41 PM

The Treasury Inspector General, "a Bush appointee, found no politically motivated targeting of these conservative 501(c)(4) applications, no obstruction of justice and no concealing of information from Congress." This obviously proves that the IG is a double agent, intent on promoting the progressive agenda and burying the right wing.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 27, 2016 8:39:19 AM

Publius,

Testimony of Treasury IG Russell George on May 22, 2013:

"The three allegations considered during our review were proven true. The IRS targeted specific groups applying for tax-exempt status. It delayed the processing of these groups’ applications, and requested unnecessary information, as well as subjected these groups to special scrutiny.”

“The inappropriate criteria discussed in this audit were the IRS’s targeting for review Tea Party and other organizations based on their names or policy positions."

When I read lazy excuses like this from someone who obviously hasn't consulted the complete record and all the evidence, some of which was "accidentially" destroyed, it comes across as willfill ignorance at best, or intentional dishonesty at worst. Koskinen also said there was no targeting, and the Washington Post fact-checked him on that one. Your bureaucratic hero got a failing grade when it came to telling the truth...

Posted by: MM | Jun 27, 2016 6:38:22 PM