TaxProf Blog

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

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1304: 'The IRS Has Never Stopped Targeting Conservatives'

IRS Logo 2The Federalist, Despite Investigations, Obama’s IRS Has Never Stopped Targeting Conservatives:

The next Tea Party scandal is not only coming, it may already be happening. When it does, the charade will begin anew, and no one will pay a price.

“It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true, it’s old news.” Standard Washington crisis management says to deflect and deny political scandals until they can be ignored—preferably without the powerful punished. The guilty have deftly used this strategy in the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting scandal. Fleeting hours of feigned indignation quickly morphed into assigning blame to laws governing nonprofits and, that all-purpose scapegoat, the Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United.

Those who cultivated the scandal by pressuring ideological allies inside the IRS shrugged and moved on. Those within the agency lawyered up, pled the Fifth, and moved on. Those defending the IRS in court engaged in unconscionable dilatory tactics that continue today. New faces replaced old and nothing changed. That the government’s most feared agency had blatantly discriminated against the president’s ideological foes was declared history.

But “the past,” as William Faulkner declared, “is never dead. It’s not even past.” The IRS scandal never ended, because the behavior never stopped. More importantly, the structural forces that nurtured it—piqued politicians demanding agencies “do something” in accord with political objectives, and like-minded, eager-to-please career employees manning those agencies—means a repeat is not just predictable, it’s inevitable. In fact, it may already be occurring.

The IRS cover-up began in earnest with John Koskinen. He marred his tenure as IRS head with gross incompetence and perhaps willful obstruction. Yet he has achieved his mission. His middle finger to congressional investigations ensured destroyed evidence, denied justice, and perpetrators walking scot-free.

The administration sold Koskinen as a “turnaround artist” who specializes in stressed institutions. The all-business technocrat, so it went, would cooperate with congressional investigators and restore the tattered agency’s reputation. During his confirmation hearing, he assured as much: “[W]e will be transparent about any problems we run into; and the public and certainly this committee will know about those problems as soon as we do.” Six weeks into the job, opportunity tested Koskinen’s pledge. He failed miserably. ..

No IRS official ever suffered for the blatantly unconstitutional and unethical actions. Lerner pled the Fifth and then walked away with a $129,000 bonus and a pension that vests with 34 years of government “service”—she could receive almost $4 million over her lifetime. Koskinen impeachment talk fizzled, neutered by Republican leadership unwilling to stomach the difficult political fight. Even successful litigation will only result in victims getting official nonprofit status or, where a group’s privacy rights were violated, a damage award and perhaps payment of attorney’s fees. ...

Evidence suggests targeting will continue and indeed spread —even assuming the IRS henceforth uses objective criteria to approve tax-exempt applications.

 

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/12/the-irs-scandal-day-1304-the-irs-has-never-stopped-targeting-conservatives.html

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Comments

Here is where we really need the new Attorney General to investigate and indict. Perhaps Trump will have to go back on his recent promise not to go after Hillary if they find her fingerprints at the crime scene!

Posted by: James McCaffery | Dec 3, 2016 4:04:36 AM

Mr. McCaffrey: Pretty loose language. Do you have any evidence, or even a hint of evidence, that the WH or the Department of State was involved with the IRS "scandal?" If so, please reveal it. If not, please stop trying to start new rumors.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 3, 2016 7:14:59 AM

The evidence that the WH participated is that no action was taken to end the illegal practices after the point in time we know that the WH became aware and has engaged in obstruction and lying.

Also, when the IRS said they looked for communications between the WH and the IRS, they didn't search for Obama, or his staff's, aliases and secret email accounts.

Posted by: wodun | Dec 3, 2016 2:35:31 PM

Responding to Publius Novus above, Hillary's finger prints were literally found at the crime scene of the hidden Rose Law Firm billing records that turned up in the living quarters at the White House when Hillary claimed for two years she did not have them. Neil A. Lewis, NYT, June 5, 1996: "Hillary Clinton's Fingerprints Among Those Found on Papers." People have gone to prison for a lot less.

Posted by: James McCaffery | Dec 4, 2016 9:40:27 AM