TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1258: Judge Orders IRS to Clear Tea Party Application Backlog Within Month

IRS Logo 2American Center for Law and Justice, Major Victory: IRS Ordered to Issue Outstanding Determinations & Answer for Political Targeting of Citizens:

Three years after we filed a lawsuit on their behalf, and for some, nearly seven years after they submitted their applications for tax-exempt status, the grassroots conservative groups that were targeted by the IRS for their political views are finally receiving some of the relief to which they have long been entitled—determinations on those applications.

In early August, the federal appellate court for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the plaintiffs who filed suit in Linchpins of Liberty, et al. v. United States, et al. in 2013 had set forth allegations sufficient to obtain actual evidence about the IRS’s targeting of conservative tax-exempt applicants based on their names and political positions. The D.C. Circuit thus reversed the decision of the district court (which had previously dismissed the claims on the grounds that the IRS had apparently ceased the targeting conduct) and sent the case back to the lower court, explaining that the IRS had failed to demonstrate that either the targeting scheme, or its effects on plaintiffs, had actually ended.

Last week, District Judge Reggie B. Walton held a status conference to resume the lower court proceedings in the case. While the IRS’s attorney once again took the position that most of the claims are moot because most of the plaintiff organizations have received determinations, the court picked up where the D.C. Circuit left off, and ordered that the IRS cease delaying determinations on any outstanding tax-exempt applications of Tea Party groups and other grassroots organizations. He gave the IRS thirty days to comply.

It will be seven years this December since one of our clients awaiting a final determination – Albuquerque Tea Party – submitted its tax-exempt application. Another client – Unite in Action – has been waiting six and a half years since filing its application in May 2010. As a result of Judge Walton’s order, these years-long application processes are finally concluding, and the organizations are receiving the review and determinations they deserve. This is a major victory.

Judge Walton also agreed with our position, affirmed by the appellate court, that the IRS cannot obtain dismissal of the case simply by issuing the remaining determinations but must also produce evidence showing that any negative effects of the targeting on plaintiffs have been completely and irrevocably eradicated. Specifically, we urged, and the court agreed, the IRS must answer such questions as: What was the determination process prior to the targeting? How and why did the targeting begin? What treatment did plaintiffs’ applications receive during the targeting? What assurances are currently in place that plaintiffs will not suffer further retaliation or discriminatory treatment at the hands of the IRS?

As a result of this order, the IRS will, at long last, be required to disclose the details of the lawless and unconstitutional Tea Party targeting scheme. The court’s requirement that the IRS give account for its conduct is a tacit acknowledgment that plaintiffs—as well as the American public—deserve honesty and transparency from their government.

We are pleased that the court has taken this first step and look forward to a resolution of this case that will hopefully include the first judicial acknowledgment of the unmistakably unconstitutional nature of the IRS’s egregious political targeting of U.S. citizens.

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October 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Monday, October 17, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1257

IRS Logo 2Lima News editorial: Jim Jordan Is the Conscience of Conservatives:

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s growing stature on Capitol Hill makes him an easy choice for re-election in the 4th Congressional District over Democrat Janet Garrett. ...

Another hearing saw him push for impeachment proceedings against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, saying the IRS leader lied to Congress.

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October 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1256: The IRS Spent $12 Million For Microsoft Cloud-Based Email Archive That Was Incompatible With Its On-Premises Email System And Never Used

IRS Logo 2Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Review of the Enterprise E-Mail System Acquisition (2016-20-080):

The IRS currently maintains an on-premises e‑mail environment that does not have archive capability. The existing system hardware is approaching manufacturer end-of-support and is experiencing numerous failures resulting in a significantly increased workload on enterprise e‑mail support staff. If the IRS does not efficiently upgrade its e-mail environment, it could adversely affect the IRS’s ability to effectively perform tax administration.

The IRS purchased subscriptions for an enterprise e-mail system that, as it turned out, it could not use. The purchase was made without first determining project infrastructure needs, integration requirements, business requirements, security and portal bandwidth, and whether the subscriptions were technologically feasible on the IRS enterprise.

IRS Information Technology organization executives made a management decision to consider the enterprise e-mail project an upgrade to existing software and not a new development project or program. Therefore, the Information Technology organization did not follow the Internal Revenue Manual Enterprise Life Cycle guidance. The IRS authorized the $12 million purchase of subscriptions over a two-year period between June 2014 and June 2016. However, the software to be used via the purchased subscriptions was never deployed.

Figure 1

The IRS may have violated the bona fide needs rule when it purchased the subscriptions using Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 appropriations and did not deploy the software subscriptions in those years. In addition, the IRS violated Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements by not using full and open competition to purchase these subscriptions.

Bloomberg BNA, IRS Wasted $12 Million on Failing E-Mail System, IG Reports:

Lacking the ability to archive all e-mails on site is especially troubling considering the blowback the agency has faced for the last several years, Douglas Mancino, a partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP told Bloomberg BNA today. Members of the House Freedom Caucus are vying to impeach the IRS commissioner, saying he misled Congress and alleging the agency destroyed e-mails showing evidence of its scrutinizing of conservative groups. The agency’s records retention was also at the heart of a recent lawsuit (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. IRS, D.D.C., No. 1:13-cv-01559).

The IRS strongly disagrees with the notion that it wasted taxpayer dollars or didn’t follow appropriate practices, Gina Garza, the chief information officer, said in a response letter included in the report. “The IRS takes seriously our obligation to manage taxpayer dollars in the most efficient and effective manner possible,” she said. “The IRS remains committed to continuously improve our IT systems and processes.”

But Mancino differed. “The IRS expects taxpayers to have record-retention policies that extend for years, particularly for major corporate records, including when they’re maintained in electronic format. One would think the IRS itself would think along the same lines and have the same policies, especially in the environment of the last five or six years,” he said. The findings show mismanagement and spending that would be considered “a career-limiting move” in the corporate world, he said.

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October 16, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1255

IRS Logo 2Government Executive, White House Accused of Bypassing Rules on Access to Taxpayer Information:

In the latest in a long effort to prove White House interference with the Internal Revenue Service, the right-leaning legal group Cause of Action Institute released a 67-page investigative report saying President Obama has “circumvented the congressionally created and authorized procedures for accessing confidential taxpayer information.”

Writing in the context of the three-year-old political controversy over alleged political “targeting” by the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division, Cause of Action explored “recent IRS misuse and unauthorized release of confidential taxpayer information and the possible role of a detailee program in the Office of the White House Counsel that may have provided access to the protected information.”

The report cites two examples of alleged political abuse of private taxpayer information. One involved a 2010 charge that then-Obama Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee in a call with reporters questioned the sufficiency of taxes paid by Koch Industries, news of which launched an inspectors general probe (never released) into whether the Kansas businessmen’s tax returns were reviewed at the White House.

A second example the legal group cited was a November 2012 instance in which the IRS allegedly gave the journalism group ProPublica “confidential application files of certain conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.”

The Obama team allegedly accomplished the interference by “relying on individual consent forms that were never intended for use by the president,” Cause of Action wrote. “The practice has allowed the president to avoid the reporting requirements and limitations placed on presidential access to taxpayer information by the Tax Reform Act of 1976.”

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October 15, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, October 14, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1254

IRS Logo 2The Daily Caller, Obama’s Tax Lawyers Had Conservative Groups’ Confidential Information:

President Barack Obama’s White House hired at least two Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys who accessed conservative groups’ confidential taxpayer information while defending the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during the targeting scandal.

The two were among 10 Justice Department Tax Division lawyers Obama has kept on the White House staff without taxpayer privacy training since April 2009, nonprofit government watchdog Cause of Action Institute (CofA) said in a report made public Wednesday [Presidential Access to Taxpayer Information].

Obama “is the first president to have recruited litigation specialists from the DOJ Tax Division, some of whom had knowledge of confidential taxpayer information concerning his political opponents,” the report said. “The DOJ has supplied a regular stream of Tax Division lawyers to the Obama White House for more than seven years, all without any apparent guidance or safeguards to ensure against the unauthorized disclosure of taxpayer information.”

Using Department of Justice tax lawyers may be unique to the current White House, but for “nearly as long as the IRS has existed, presidents have weaponized it against their foes,” the report said. “The Obama administration has made frequent and damaging use of the IRS as a political weapon.”

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October 14, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1253

IRS Logo 2Tax Notes, Koskinen Impeachment Paused but Not Forgotten as Elections Near:

The House's extended recess appears to signal a respite from, if not an end to, the 114th Congress's months-long push to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The effort has been directed by conservatives outraged over claims that the IRS targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. The drive sputtered to a halt in late September after pro-impeachment congressmen traded their privileged motion on the House floor for an impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

That three-and-a-half-hour hearing on September 21 rehashed accusations that Koskinen had deliberately misled and lied to congressional investigators looking into the targeting controversy. However, the hearing didn't uncover anything substantially new, it didn't seem to change any minds on the committee, and it offered no resolution to the impeachment inquiry, such as a vote by the Judiciary Committee asking the full House to impeach.

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October 13, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1252

IRS Logo 2USA Today editorial, Impeachment Won't Reform IRS:

You have to give a band of conservative Republicans known as the House Freedom Caucus credit for one thing: No matter how bad one of their ideas is, they never quit.

Right now, they’re battling the Obama administration, House Democrats, their own leadership and Republican moderates to push a futile and absurd effort to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. ...

While the allegations against Koskinen are serious, wiser Republicans know they are not the stuff of impeachment. In fact, the underlying issue that has driven impeachment goes back years: the agency’s misuse of its immense powers to target conservative groups. It occurred before Koskinen was even at the agency.

He was brought in to clean up the mess after revelations in 2013 that the agency’s tax-exempt division had singled out conservative organizations, including Tea Party groups, because of their political beliefs. The IRS sent the groups burdensome inquiries and delayed their applications for tax exemption, actions that President Obama acknowledged were “intolerable and inexcusable.”

Congress investigated, and high-level officials were forced out. The FBI also investigated but found no criminal wrongdoing, a finding Republicans have found hard to swallow.

Certainly, the public deserves to know exactly what happened, see the relevant records, and be convinced that it won't happen again. Instead, Koskinen’s “cleanup” has raised more suspicions. It has been marred by disappearing emails and bungled searches for backups. Federal court rulings excoriated the agency for secrecy.

A few months ago, the agency was still stonewalling. In March, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  blasted the IRS for resisting “at every turn” a judge’s orders to disclose a list  of the groups targeted. And just last month, a federal appeals court in the nation’s capital revived a lawsuit against the IRS by conservative groups that had been targeted. A three-judge panel cited the agency’s own admission that two groups still had not gotten their tax exemption, years  after seeking it. The IRS’ excuse? Because the groups had sued the agency.

Republicans have good reason to want the IRS to come clean and release any documents that shed light on what happened. But impeachment of a man who wasn't even there when the scandal occurred? No. ...

There are plenty of things the IRS needs — more money to provide better customer service and combat ID fraud, a simpler tax code to administer, and reforms to ensure it will never again target anybody for political beliefs. Republicans would do better to turn to the serious work of governing than to press a frivolous impeachment vote.

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October 12, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1251: Bill O'Reilly Calls For A Special Prosecutor

IRS Logo 2Fox News, O'Reilly: Enough Evidence of Corruption in DOJ for an Independent Prosecutor:

In his Talking Points Memo tonight, Bill O'Reilly said a major scandal could erupt in the Justice Department.

He explained that many Americans believe the fix was in during investigations into the IRS' targeting of conservative groups and Hillary Clinton's private email server.

O'Reilly noted that former IRS official Lois Lerner was never held legally accountable for allegedly targeting right-wing groups for audits, and Attorney General Eric Holder subsequently refused to explain why.

Meantime, the number of immunity deals the DOJ granted in the Clinton email investigation is "strange to say the least," O'Reilly said.

"The FBI and the Justice Department have a lot of explaining to do on the email front," O'Reilly stated.

"Talking Points believes there is now enough evidence of corruption in the Justice Department that an independent prosecutor should be appointed. We all know Mr. Obama is not going to do that. But he should. We need honest government."

Media Matters, O’Reilly Uses Old, Repeatedly Debunked Right-Wing Myths To Call For “Independent Prosecutor” Of “Corrupt” DOJ:

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly used debunked right-wing myths to claim there is “enough evidence of corruption in the Justice Department” to warrant appointing an “independent prosecutor” for the FBI and the DOJ, citing the closed investigation relating to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state, and the long-debunked IRS targeting pseudo-scandal. ...

O’Reilly also alleged there was corruption regarding the investigation into the IRS allegedly targeting right-wing organizations, complaining that then-IRS head Lois Lerner "was never really held legally accountable." But a congressional investigation revealed that progressive groups were also subjected to the same kind of scrutiny as conservative groups, evidence which Fox News itself ignored when it first came to light. And months before that, in June 2013, the congressional investigation found the culprit behind the increased scrutiny of organizations applying for tax-exempt status: not Lois Lerner, but a Cincinnati-based IRS manager who told investigators that he “instructed his team of screeners” to look for cases of political-sounding groups applying for tax-exempt status, and that “he took this action on his own.”

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October 11, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, October 10, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1250

IRS Logo 2World Tribune, Unforgiven: IRS Has Not Only Continued Its War on Tea Party Groups, But Taken It Public:

After admitting it targeted tea party groups for special scrutiny in 2013, the IRS promised to process the groups’ applications in a timely fashion.

Three years later, tea party groups say the tax agency has begun a new round of harassment.

The IRS has sent a new set of “prodding questions” to the groups, demanding still more information, according to an Oct. 4 report by The Washington Times.

The IRS also publicly released one of the sets of questions it sent to the Texas Patriots Tea Party (TPTP), which made public secret taxpayer information that is supposed to be protected, the group’s lawyer said. ...

Two other tea party groups that were targeted by the IRS are still awaiting approval. Unite in Action, a Michigan-based group, applied in 2010, and the Albuquerque Tea Party applied nearly seven years ago, in December 2009.

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October 10, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1249

IRS Logo 2Bill Moyers & Company, This Week in Political Money: Billionaire Backs IRS Impeachment:

The Republican Party is waging war on the IRS (again). The cause du jour is impeachment of the agency’s head, John Koskinen, who was in that role when employees at the IRS destroyed records sought during a previous congressional crusade against the agency.Koskinen says he knew nothing about it, but Republicans want to hold him accountable anyway.

The “Impeach Koskinen” caucus is backed by the 45Committee, a political nonprofit funded by billionaire Todd Ricketts, a major GOP donor whose family owns the Chicago Cubs.Politico reported on Monday that 45Committee was spending more than $1 million on a week of advertising. Federal Communications Commission records compiled using the Center for Responsive Politics’ new political ad watch tool and reviewed by BillMoyers.com show ad buys on several television stations in two swing states: Florida and Nevada.

Drumming up anger at the IRS could help turn out conservative voters in these key states, where there are also Senate races that could help determine control of Congress’ upper chamber. But it could also backfire. Some GOP senators have been hoping to put off the impeachment push until after the election, worried that another crusade to demonize an Obama-appointed bureaucrat might not play well with moderates in the party.

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October 9, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1248

IRS Logo 2The Atlantic, The Conservative Crusade Against the IRS Commissioner:

Feeling wrung out by the grossness of the presidential race, the hurricane buffeting the East Coast, and the nationwide epidemic of scary clowns? Buck up, camper, and at least be thankful that you are not IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Heading the most loathed agency in the federal government takes a psychic toll on a good day. But the past 17 months or so have been a pig pile of lousy days for Koskinen, as conservatives have led a multi-pronged crusade to publicly humiliate him, drive him from office, and strip him of his pension. On September 21, shortly before Congress fled town for the remainder of election, Koskinen had to go before the House Judiciary Committee for a formal impeachment hearing.

Then, last week, the dark-money group 45Committee announced that it was dropping more than $1 million on ads lobbying for the commissioner’s ouster. “Call the House of Representatives and tell them to vote to impeach Commissioner Koskinen now,” urges the spot, which presents impeachment as the last, best hope for beating back “the arrogance of the Obama administration.”

What did Koskinen do to deserve all this? It’s complicated. The roots of conservatives’ outrage lie in the 2013 revelation that the IRS had improperly scrutinized Tea Party groups (among others) seeking tax-exempt status. An FBI probe found no evidence of “enemy hunting.” But conservatives have been super miffed at the agency ever since.

“The government went after people for their political beliefs,” fumes Rep. Jim Jordan, head of the House Freedom Caucus, which has made Koskinen’s impeachment a pet cause. ‘This is not just any old agency,” Jordan reminded me. “This is the IRS. Most people get a letter from the IRS, they sit down, wipe their brow, and their resting heart rate suddenly gets higher. Now we know that they systematically targeted people for their political persuasion.” ...

The Treasury Department’s Inspector General ruled the loss of the tapes an unintentional screw up. Conservatives have decided nonetheless that Koskinen must go. The commissioner has been hauled before multiple committees multiple times in both chambers of Congress. House Republicans have accused him of arrogance, dishonesty, obstruction, foot-dragging, and being generally unhelpful in their investigation. Last October, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, head of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, introduced a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings. ...

At this point, Jordan doesn’t much care whether the destruction of the backup tapes was part of a cover up or simply the result of incompetence. “No one is saying this was all intentional,” Jordan assured me. “But where was the gravity of the situation?” He also acknowledges that Koskinen is not at fault for the original targeting offense. Impeachment advocates, however, really feel that someone’s head needs to roll. “It was political speech they targeted,” marveled Jordan. “And for no one to be held accountable?”

Even so, impeaching a public official is like going nuclear: a measure reserved for the very worst transgressions. ...

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October 8, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, October 7, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1247

IRS Logo 2Forbes: The IRS: A Law Unto Itself, by Bill Archer:

Americans have long had an uneasy relationship with the nation’s tax collector. In the early 1990s, investigative reporter David Burnham wrote an excellent book, “A Law Unto Itself: The IRS and the Abuse of Power” which catalogued a lengthy and continuing history of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) misconduct and mistreatment of taxpayers. This history of misconduct will once again come under close examination later this week as the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifies before Congress’ Judiciary Committee to explain the agency’s actions. ...

[R]ecent events make it clear the IRS remains abusive towards taxpayers and often unaccountable. Prior to a 2013 Treasury Inspector Report that would highlight damning IRS misconduct, the IRS head of the tax-exempt organizations group attempted to sneak in an apology for inappropriately flagging conservative organization exemption applications for additional scrutiny. Lois Lerner claimed the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati. As we now know, that story was false; scrutiny of the conservative groups was directed by Lerner and other high level IRS officials. The IRS to this day continues to stonewall investigations in an attempt to cover their tracks of misconduct.

In early August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in True the Vote, Inc. v. IRS delivered a stinging rebuke to the IRS for attempting to dismiss a lawsuit over an organization’s exemption application. The IRS argued the case was moot because following the 2013 scandal the IRS (it claimed) had ceased its misconduct. The court wrote: “ Parallel to Joseph Heller’s catch, the IRS is telling the applicants in these cases that ‘we have been violating your rights and not properly processing your applications. You are entitled to have your applications processed. But if you ask for that processing by way of a lawsuit, then you can’t have it.’ We would advise the IRS: if you haven’t ceased to violate the rights of the taxpayers, then there is no cessation.”

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October 7, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1246

IRS Logo 2Washington Times. IRS Subjects Tea Party Groups to New Round of Scrutiny, Publicizes Tax Return Data:

The IRS‘ battle against holdout tea party groups is heating up again, after the tax agency promised it would begin processing their long-delayed applications, but sent a new round of prodding questions demanding still more information.

More jarringly, the IRS then publicly released one of the sets of questions it sent to the Texas Patriots Tea Party — a move the group’s lawyer says puts secret taxpayer return information, supposed to be protected, out in the public.

Tax experts say the IRS may be on safe legal ground, since the filing was made as part of a court case, and that’s one of the few narrow exceptions to strict IRS privacy laws.

Still, the move to release the information has inflamed an already tense class action legal battle between the IRS and tea party groups who feel the agency is still targeting them more than three years after it promised to cease. “The IRS has taken the unprecedented step of publicly filing actual return information,” said Edward Greim, who is handling the case on behalf of more than 400 groups targeted by the IRS. He said the questions asked by the IRS show the agency has not ceased the intrusive questioning that landed it in trouble in the first place back in 2013. Mr. Greim said releasing the letter is proof that the IRS can’t be trusted to fairly handle the cases. ...

In addition to the TPTP, two other tea party groups that were targeted by the IRS are still awaiting approval. Unite in Action, a Michigan-based group, applied in 2010, and the Albuquerque Tea Party applied nearly seven years ago, in December 2009.

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October 6, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1245

IRS Logo 2Politico, GOP Mega-Donors Ready New IRS Impeachment Ads:

A new conservative outside group with deep pockets is planning a robust ad campaign urging Congress to impeach the IRS commissioner — a move sure to cause GOP leaders some headaches this fall.

Founded by GOP mega-donor Todd Ricketts, 45Committee will spend nearly $1 million on a week’s worth of cable TV and digital ads encouraging voters to pressure Congress to impeach tax chief John Koskinen.

Officials at the tax-exempt 501(c)(4), run by family owners of the Chicago Cubs, told POLITICO the ads will start Tuesday and air nationwide in every congressional district, from FOX to MSNBC to CNN and more. More could follow, they added, in an effort to keep the issue front and center.

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October 5, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1244

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, Election Corruption Threat Watch: IRS Continues to Target Political Opposition:

With the illegal release of Donald Trump’s tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service (and therefore the Obama executive branch) has shown itself to be still targeting and oppressing the political opposition to the Obama/Hillary crime syndicate. After the disclosure of the IRS preventing tax-free status for Tea Party and other political groups in the last election cycle, congressional investigations followed. However, no convictions or impeachments were obtained, due to weak GOP leadership. Congress failed in its Constitutional duties. ....

Mr. Trump didn’t break any laws; all he did was lose some of his own money. What the IRS did is illegal. What the New York Times did is illegal. What Hillary Clinton has done with pay to play is illegal. What Hillary did with her private server and selling out national secrets is illegal. But no one cares about the rule of law anymore on the Left. It’s all about maintaining power at all costs. Even Republicans went after Richard Nixon, who by the way never used the IRS against his opponents. He thought about it but never did. The Left shows no such honor.

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October 4, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

Monday, October 3, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1243

IRS Logo 2Digital Journal, Attorney Joe Garza Declares Koskinen Impeachment Hearings "Unprecedented":

Koskinen stands for impeachment after accusations made by Republicans of failing to provide information to Congress and lying under oath during an investigation on rejected 501(c) statuses for Tea Party organizations. Should Koskinen be ousted, he will be the first executive-branch official impeached since 1876.

"This is an unprecedented maneuver," says Tax Attorney Joe Garza. "No group or individual has gone after an appointed official of this caliber in this way in recent memory."

The allegations stem from a Congressional investigation into IRS practices in 2013 when Republicans accused the IRS of targeting Tea Party Organizations by not issuing them 501(c) statuses.

"If what Republicans are saying is true -- that the IRS targeted Tea Party organizations in order to reduce the amount of money that could be donated to them -- then it is one of the most grotesque examples of Government corruption in modern times," said Garza.

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October 3, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1242

IRS Logo 2Politico, The Other Speaker of the House:

Jim Jordan might be the most powerful Republican in the House after Paul Ryan. But can the Freedom Caucus chief be anything more than a rebel leader?

For months, top House Republicans had blown off the House Freedom Caucus’ demands to launch impeachment proceedings against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, seeing it as wrong on the merits and a political loser. But conservatives believe he’d lied to Congress. So Jordan — the ringleader of the 40-something rebels who’ve upended the House Republican Conference and drove John Boehner into early retirement — decided it was time for a more confrontational approach.

Early this month, he cornered Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte on the House floor and presented him with a choice: Haul Koskinen in for questioning under oath, or the Freedom Caucus would force a vote on the sensitive impeachment matter just a few weeks before Election Day.
Within days, Jordan got his hearing.

In the 18-plus months since he helped launch the Freedom Caucus, Jordan has emerged as arguably the second-most influential Republican in the House after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The 52-year-old ex-wrestling champion from Ohio has routinely thwarted his own Republican leadership’s priorities in a drive to push his party’s agenda rightward, rallying his troops to sink Ryan-led legislative initiatives they feel are way too accommodating to the left.

His power, though, seems to have reached a tipping point. An increasing number of Jordan’s Republican House colleagues are fed up with his tactics. In the case of the impeachment hearing, it gave him and his allies another cathartic moment to rake Koskinen over the coals, but the exercise mostly just angered other Republicans. And the odds of Koskinen ultimately losing his job are next to nil.

“You have the tail wagging the dog, a small group of 40 people basically dictating to leadership: This is what we will or will not allow you to do,” said one senior Republican allied with House GOP leadership. “It’s an inversion of political influence.”

Jordan stands by the group’s damn-the-torpedoes approach, on impeachment and plenty of other matters (and there have been plenty). He says Republicans have a disturbing habit of caving to Democrats, and a different approach is needed to start securing some GOP victories, especially on fiscal policy.

“We have to win on something,” he said during an interview in his central Ohio district, frustration bubbling in his voice. “It’s like a football team that’s 0 and 9. The last week of the season, you’re not playing for the state playoffs; you’re playing to win the game and set the tone for the future. My attitude is: Let’s win on one issue to set a different tone and create a different dynamic … We have to win on something!”

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October 2, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1241

IRS Logo 2Judicial Watch Press Release, Democratic Senator Sought Justice Department and IRS Criminal Prosecutions of Conservatives in 2013:

Judicial Watch today released 72 pages of Department of Justice documents revealing email conversations between Department of Justice officials and the staff of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) regarding the criminal prosecution of Tea Party groups for alleged violation of IRS rules.

The conversations were in preparation for a briefing by Justice Department officials for Sen. Whitehouse’s staff and for a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism hearing on April 9, 2013. ...

Judicial Watch obtained the documents through a federal court order in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v Department of Justice (No. 1:14-cv-01239)).

Later, at the Judiciary Subcommittee hearing, Sen. Whitehouse asked why the Department of Justice wasn’t prosecuting political groups on its own, independently of the IRS. ...

The newly released emails show that following the hearing, at the request of Justice Department lawyers, Sen. Whitehouse’s staff sent over examples of the organizations Whitehouse had in mind for prosecution. They included American Future Fund, Crossroads GPS, Americans for Responsible Leadership, Freedom Path, American is Not Stupid, Inc., RightChange.com II, and A Better America Now. All of these are conservative organizations.

The new emails also show collaboration in the Department of Justice with officials in the IRS in preparing for the hearing. The IRS sent a draft of its planned testimony for the hearing to the Justice Department.  Judicial Watch previously exposed a plan by the Obama IRS and Justice Department prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against the very Tea Party and anti-Obama groups that the IRS was targeting.

The Obama administration prosecution effort seemingly ended with the exposure of the IRS targeting in a May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).  IRS official Lois Lerner did not reveal the targeting until just before the report’s release, in response to a planted question at an American Bar Association conference.

“The Obama IRS scandal includes abuse of power by Democrats in Congress who wanted to jail Obama’s political opponents to help secure Obama’s reelection,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “And Americans should know that the courts have recently concluded the Obama IRS abuses haven’t stopped – even as we approach another presidential election.”

A 2013 study by scholars from the American Enterprise Institute and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University found that, “had the Tea Party groups continued to grow at the pace seen in 2009 and 2010, and had their effect on the 2012 vote been similar to that seen in 2010, they would have brought the Republican Party as many as 5 – 8.5 million votes compared to Obama’s victory margin of 5 million.”

In March 2010, the IRS decided to single Tea Party groups out for special treatment when applying for tax-exempt status by flagging organizations with names containing “Tea Party,” “patriot,” or “9/12.” For the next two years, the IRS approved the applications of only four such groups, delaying all others while subjecting the applicants to highly intrusive, intimidating requests for information regarding their activities, membership, contacts, Facebook posts, and private thoughts.

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October 1, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, September 30, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1240

IRS Logo 2Letter To House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (Sept. 20, 2016):

As you know, certain Republican members of Congress have renewed their effort to impeach Commissioner Koskinen in recent weeks, and their core accusation is that Commissioner Koskinen ordered the destruction of documents to conceal them from congressional and law enforcement investigators. ...

The fundamental problem with this accusation is that there is no evidence to support it. To the contrary, this specific allegation has been investigated and debunked by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which is led by J. Russell George, who formerly served as a Republican staff member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 

On June 30, 2015, the Inspector General's office issued a Report of Investigation entitled "Exempt Organizations Data Loss" (#54-1406-008-I). According to this report, the Inspector General's staff interviewed 118 witnesses—far more than the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Ways and Means Committee, or the Judiciary Committee—and they reviewed emails from employees in Martinsburg, West Virginia, where two low-level employees recycled, or "degaussed," backup tapes that included emails from lois Lerner.

In its report last year, the Inpsector General's office concluded:  "No evidence was uncovered that any IRS employees had been directed to destroy or hide information from Congress, the DOJ, or TIGTA." ...

We urge all Members to consider the evidence that has been obtained and the conclusions that several previous investigations have made in this case after reviewing a much more substantial record. If the Judiciary Committee decides to continue down this path with additional hearings, then we suggest that you invite the Inspector General to testify about his findings and the extensive investigation his office has conducted on this matter.

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September 30, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1239

IRS Logo 2Breitbart, Anti-Israel J Street Wants the IRS Scandal to Continue:

J Street, the far-left organization that styles itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace” but in practice works to lobby against Israel in Congress and the media, is continuing its pursuit of conservative pro-Israel non-profit groups as if the IRS scandal had never happened.

In 2010, J Street began pressuring the U.S. Treasury to investigate pro-Israel non-profit groups and charities that spent money in the West Bank, accusing them of fueling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by supporting Israeli settlements. (When pressed to explain why J Street was not also asking the federal government to investigate Islamic charities in the U.S. that may spend money on anti-Israel causes, J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami memorably said: “I don’t give a shit about Islamic charities.”)

J Street’s efforts were part of a broad campaign by the Democratic Party and its senior leadership, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, to encourage the IRS to investigate conservative non-profit groups and charities. As Wall Street Journalcolumnist Kimberley Strassel documents in her new book, The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech, these efforts, encouraged by President Barack Obama, helped encourage the illegal behavior in the IRS scandal.

One of the groups singled out for discrimination by the IRS was the pro-Israel non-profit group Z Street, which was meant to be a counter-weight to J Street (which is itself a non-profit, with a separate political action committee). Like Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations seeking recognition from the IRS at the time, Z Street faced additional, unusual scrutiny, which included questions that challenged the group’s political beliefs — which are none of the federal government’s business.

In 2010, Matthew Hausman of the Jewish Policy Center noted that the discrimination against of Z Street “occurred not long after the left-wing organization J Street announced its campaign to lobby the Treasury Department to revoke the tax-exempt status of Jewish charities that support religious and cultural institutions in Judea and Samaria.” Z Street is still fighting, and winning, legal battles against the IRS. But other than that, the culprits in the IRS scandal remain unpunished and unashamed. ...

J Street’s shameless effort to encourage Treasury and the IRS to continue the abuse of pro-Israel, conservative groups right where they left off is not only a sign of how dangerous the group is to the future of free speech and freedom of assembly in the U.S., but also a warning of the kind of abuse conservatives can expect under a Hillary Clinton administration if she wins. Clinton has vowed to repeal Citizens United, and wants the IRS to have the authority to do legally what it once did illegally.

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September 29, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1238

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, An Impeachment, the IRS and Accountability:

Regarding Rep. John Conyers’s op-ed A Dangerous Rush to Impeach John Koskinen (Sept. 23): My understanding of Mr. Koskinen’s actions is that as head of the IRS he did nothing to stop the destruction of email evidence, has not provided documentation requested under the FOIA and has continued to obstruct and obfuscate requests for information by the House of Representatives. If this is correct, I ask Rep. Conyers to explain, in a bipartisan fashion, why these as well as other IRS actions are not actions in “deliberate bad faith.” As head of the IRS, he is accountable for all actions taken by the IRS, period.
Stephen Kane
Troy, Mich.

Rep. Conyers lets the cat out of the bag in telling us that in government you must prove someone acted in bad faith to get fired. Mr. Conyers, in the private sector in Illinois and some other states, an employer doesn’t have to have a reason to fire someone. But Mr. Koskinen can be oblivious to employee malfeasance and not be held responsible. I bet Wells Fargo Chief Executive John Stumpf wishes he were head of a government agency.
Ken Nelson
Chicago

I’m pretty sure that if John Koskinen’s agency had targeted liberals using the IRS’s vast power, John Conyers would be leading the charge for impeachment.
Tom Fleming
Caseyville, Ill.

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September 28, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1237

Politifact

Politifact, John Fleming Attacks IRS in Inaccurate Radio Ad:

In a recent radio campaign ad, Louisiana senate candidate John Fleming claimed that the head of the Internal Revenue Service ordered 24,000 emails erased before Congress could see them.

"The head of the IRS ordered 24,000 emails erased before Congress could review them, making sure the American people will never know the real truth," Fleming’s ad says. "The officials in charge follow the same dishonest playbook they’ve used for every scandal from Fast and Furious to Hillary’s emails."

Fleming is running for senator of Louisiana against six Republican candidates, including David Duke, as well as three Democrats and one unaffiliated candidate.

Fleming — who currently represents Louisiana in the House — is calling for the impeachment of IRS commissioner John Koskinen.

So far, Democrats are largely against the impeachment, and Republicans are divided on it, citing due process concerns. A vote on the matter was expected on Sept. 15, 2016, but it was delayed.

Since destruction of documents is a serious charge, we wondered if it was true that the head of the IRS "ordered 24,000 emails erased before Congress could review them." Independent reports suggest that’s not the case. ...

Emails were erased, and up to 24,000 are likely unrecoverable. However, there’s zero evidence that the head of the IRS ordered them destroyed. Multiple independent investigations confirmed that the erasure was accidental and not intended to obstruct information from Congress. Fleming’s ad says the opposite.

We rate this claim False.

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September 27, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (23)

Monday, September 26, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1236

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, Reputation Under Fire, the IRS Pulls a Gun—Al Capone’s:

The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t enjoy an abundance of favorable press. At present, it finds itself mired in controversy as its director, John Koskinen, hauled before Congress last week, tries to fend off an impeachment attempt.

On Tuesday, however, the IRS will participate in an unveiling ceremony it hopes will remind people of the positive things its agents have done. At least, one positive thing.

The agency is playing on the great American story of how Chicago mob boss Al Capone ended up in prison 85 years ago. It wasn’t the FBI’s “G-men” who put him in Alcatraz, nor Elliot Ness’s Prohibition-era agents. It wasn’t on account of gangland murders such as the 1929 Chicago Valentine’s Day Massacre, either.

Capone was undone by an undercover operation of the “T-men,” members of the Treasury Department’s IRS investigative division. He was pinched for cheating on his taxes.

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September 26, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1235

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed: A Dangerous Rush to Impeach John Koskinen, by John Conyers (D-MI; Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee):

The power of impeachment is a responsibility entrusted to the House of Representatives by the Constitution and to the House Judiciary Committee by our peers. I take this charge very seriously—and, for the most part, so do my colleagues in the majority.

I have served on the House Judiciary Committee long enough now to see impeachment done right and to see impeachment done wrong. I have participated in six of the 19 impeachments approved by the House since its inception. I voted in favor of five of them. In the early 1970s I helped to draft articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. I joined with 20 Democrats and six Republicans to send three of those articles to the House floor.

But I have never seen anything quite like the obsession of a few House members determined to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen—without much evidence to back their claims, without an independent investigation by the House Judiciary Committee, and without even basic due process for the accused. ...

In the past few days, the actions of a small group of conservative House members threaten to break from this precedent and to lead us down a dangerous path. ...

On the merits, Mr. Koskinen’s critics have simply failed to make their case. They have been unable to produce evidence that the commissioner acted in bad faith at any point in his tenure. The Senate Finance Committee, the Justice Department and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration have all concluded that there is “no evidence” of intentional misconduct of any kind.

But even if there were some evidence of Mr. Koskinen’s wrongdoing, the push to impeach him without due process in the House Judiciary Committee is dangerously misguided. Never, in the history of this body, have we impeached a government official without first proving he has acted in deliberate bad faith. ...

If the commissioner’s critics have their way, I fear we will have a new rule going forward: The House may impeach any government official, for any reason, without supplying evidence of deliberate wrongdoing, without an independent investigation, and without regard to basic fairness toward the accused.

Forcing a vote on impeachment in this manner will certainly not result in the removal of Commissioner Koskinen. Even if his critics succeed in the House, Senators of both parties have already stated their intent to bury the matter. So for all their efforts they will have profited nothing. And in the process they will have turned impeachment from a constitutional check of last resort into a tool of political convenience.

Washington Post op-ed:  Republicans’ Kangaroo Court, by Dana Milbank:

Impeachment is among the most severe and solemn powers Congress has, right up there with declaring war. Not since 1876 has an executive-branch appointee been impeached, and not in the history of the republic has Congress impeached an executive-branch official below the Cabinet level.

Now, Republicans in Congress would change that. On Wednesday, they wheeled out the sacred tool of impeachment — weeks before an election — for the purpose of smearing an honorable public servant, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in service of a lie. ...

There are just a few wee problems with the Republicans’ logic. The targeting of conservative groups ended in 2013. The Treasury Department’s inspector general, originally a Republican appointee, reported no evidence of political motivation in the targeting. The Justice Department, too, found “no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives” and “no evidence that any official attempted to obstruct justice.” The official responsible for the targeting resigned before Koskinen came to the IRS at the end of 2013. And the same IG said last year that “no evidence was uncovered that any IRS employees had been directed to destroy or hide information from Congress, the DOJ, or [the IG].”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, eager to avoid the spectacle of the House voting to impeach an innocent man based on false charges without a proper hearing, got impeachment advocates to settle for Wednesday’s hearing in which Koskinen testified before the House Judiciary Committee. But that hardly improved matters: To say this impeachment inquiry is a kangaroo court would be an insult to marsupials. ...

There’s no dispute that Koskinen misinformed lawmakers in 2014 when he said that all evidence had been preserved relevant to the targeting. In fact, IRS workers a few months earlier had destroyed backup tapes that contained relevant emails. Koskinen says he didn’t know that at the time. The IG spent a year investigating the matter and attributed the erasure to bureaucratic errors, finding “no evidence that the IRS and its employees purposely erased the tapes in order to conceal responsive e-mails from the Congress.”

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September 25, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1234

IRS Logo 2Hot Air, The IRS Chief’s Meeting With the Judiciary Committee Didn’t Go Particularly Well:

You may recall that only a week ago the House decided to postpone an impeachment vote for IRS commissioner John Koskinen in favor of holding hearings instead. This clearly distressed a number of conservatives who feel that the mismanagement of the agency and its various scandals were more than sufficient grounds to give the man his walking papers. Still, the hearings were bound to produce some fireworks and the first round certainly didn’t disappoint. Today I wanted to hit a few of the highlights.

Right out of the gate, Koskinen was asked about previous statements he’d made under oath regarding the preservation and recovery of emails and other documents from the entire Lois Lerner affair. When pressed on the subject, the commissioner didn’t exactly say that he’d lied about it, but did admit that some of the things he said turned out not to be true. ...

I suppose that comes down to the age old question of whether you lied or you were simply wrong about something. That’s a question which the committee (and the public) will have to answer for themselves.

There was another question raised concerning the IRS employees who were found to have deleted all of those Lois Lerner emails. Surely these are the culprits we’re looking for here. I imagine they must be cooling their heels in jail by now or at least awaiting trial, right? Nope. Turns out that they are both still on the IRS payroll… just in a different department....

Don’t even get me started on that entire saga again. We’ve written about it here extensively and the idea that someone in that department could have been “unaware” of the maelstrom surrounding their office is beyond the pale. But as long as the stonewall continues, there doesn’t seem to be much that anyone can do about it… short of impeaching the boss. Yet when he was asked about the rather, er… suspicious timing of all those records being destroyed, Koskinen didn’t have much of an answer.

 

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September 24, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 23, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1233

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1232

IRS Logo 2New York Times, I.R.S. Chief Calls Efforts to Oust Him ‘Improper’:

The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, John A. Koskinen, expressed regret Wednesday for management mistakes, but called the attempt by House Republicans to impeach him “improper,” warning that such threats would discourage people from government service. ...

He also rejected Republican calls for him to resign, but said he would leave office if the next president so wishes. Otherwise, Mr. Koskinen’s term ends in November 2017. ...

At the Judiciary hearing on Wednesday, Mr. Koskinen again testified that the destruction of emails was inadvertent, and that his testimony in 2014 was based on what he thought was factual at the time. But he expressed regrets.

“The truth is, we did not succeed in preserving all of the information requested. And some of my testimony later proved mistaken,” Mr. Koskinen said. He added, “Even closer communication with Congress would have been advisable.” ...

Several Democrats denounced the hearings as a “sham,” and many changed the subject, instead asking Mr. Koskinen leading questions in reference to the Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump.

While Mr. Koskinen said he could not talk about any specific taxpayer, he said the I.R.S. would not object to someone releasing tax returns under audit — as Mr. Trump has suggested the I.R.S. would do in refusing to release his own returns. Mr. Koskinen also described violations of tax law by charitable foundations in hypothetical terms, much like critics have alleged against Mr. Trump’s foundation.

“I appreciate your being here to clear some of that up,” said Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida.

Wall Street Journal, IRS Commissioner Pushes Back on Impeachment Attempt:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen defended himself Wednesday against an impeachment attempt, labeling Republicans’ push to remove him from office as “improper” and warning that such a move would deter qualified people from serving in government.

House GOP hard-liners say impeachment is warranted because of the destruction of evidence sought by congressional investigators and because Mr. Koskinen failed to promptly inform Congress when he learned of the destruction. They also pressed him on the thoroughness of the agency’s search for records, which Congress demanded as part of inquiries into the IRS treatment of conservative groups under Mr. Koskinen’s predecessors.

“Your overall record is one of gross incompetence and extreme negligence,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R., Idaho) told Mr. Koskinen during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, urging the commissioner to resign.

Although he expressed regret for the agency’s shortcomings in protecting evidence and the fact that some of his statements later proved mistaken, Mr. Koskinen said he wouldn’t quit and said he hadn’t done anything to deserve impeachment.

“There is no evidence anywhere that I knew something I didn’t tell people about, that I falsified or misrepresented or lied,” he told reporters after the hearing, adding that it would set a “terrible precedent” if he were pressured out of office.

National Review: The IRS Commissioner Belongs in Prison, by Kevin D. Williamson:

I do not usually go out of my way to publicly disagree with National Review editorials, but I respectfully dissent from our piece calling for the impeachment of IRS commissioner John Koskinen.

He shouldn’t be impeached. He should be imprisoned.

When the feds couldn’t make ordinary criminal charges stick to the organized-crime syndicate that turned 1920s Chicago into a free-fire zone, they went after the boss, Al Capone, on tax charges. Under Barack Obama, the weaponized IRS has been transformed into a crime syndicate far worse than anything dreamt of by pinstriped Model-T gangsters — because Al Capone and Meyer Lansky did not have the full force of the federal government behind them. 

Koskinen was called before the House on Tuesday to explain a few things. One of those things is: Why is the IRS destroying evidence under subpoena in this case? Another was: Why is the IRS commissioner lying to Congress?

Koskinen is fluent in the mustelid dialect of Washington: “We did not succeed in preserving all of the information requested, and some of my testimony later proved mistaken.” There is a term for failing to “succeed in preserving information requested” during an official investigation: obstruction of justice.

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September 22, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1231

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Judiciary Committee Set to Audit Top IRS Tax Agent:

A last-minute deal between House conservatives and Republican leadership delayed a floor vote to impeach the head of the IRS last week. But the top taxman isn’t in the clear just yet.

For the first time, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will come under oath to plead his case, appearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. A product of compromise, that impeachment hearing means different things to different factions of Congress.

Freedom Caucus members, who have been demanding Koskinen’s early retirement for months, see the hearing as a formality necessary to fire Koskinen. Others see it as a prerequisite to a longer impeachment process and an opportunity to afford the taxman his right to due process.

It’s undisputed that Koskinen will face an unfriendly jury Wednesday, though.

Fourteen of the 23 Republican Judiciary Committee members have said already that the taxman is guilty of wrongdoing, including Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who first filed articles of impeachment last October.

Making matters worse for the IRS chief, seven Freedom Caucus members sit on the committee, including Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who has helped quarterback the effort to send Koskinen into early retirement.

Conservatives argue that Koskinen is unfit to lead the IRS because he obstructed a congressional investigation into the agency’s unfair treatment of tea party groups applying for tax-exempt status before the 2012 elections.

The White House has been unwavering in their support of Koskinen. Speaking at a Democrat fundraiser last week, President Barack Obama said the impeachment effort “is crazy.” And Koskinen, who has hired a personal defense attorney, maintains that those allegations “lack merit.”

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September 21, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1230

IRS Logo 2Americans for Tax Reform, Koskinen's IRS Failed to Search Five of Six Locations for Lois Lerner Emails:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to defend himself against impeachment charges following his role in the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.

Koskinen was appointed to lead the IRS after promising to bring transparency and openness to the embattled agency. He has failed.

The IRS failed to search five of six possible sources of electronic media for Lois Lerner’s emails, according to documentation released by the House Oversight Committee in July 2015.

Over the course of investigations into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal, Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly assured Congress that he would provide all of Lois Lerner’s emails. But based on testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), this did not occur. The agency’s ineptness -- or corruption -- resulted in 24,000 Lerner emails being lost when they were “accidently” destroyed. 

According to TIGTA official Timothy Camus, the IRS had six possible sources to search for Lois Lerner’s emails:

“The hard drive would have been a source, Blackberry source, backup tapes a source, the backup tapes for the server drives and then finally the loaner lap tops.”

When asked how many of these sources the IRS searched, Camus was unable to say for certain whether the IRS had searched for any. ...

Commissioner Koskinen stated that the IRS took “extraordinary efforts” to recover any emails, but this is clearly not the case. Years after the investigations into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal began, the agency’s unprecedented obstruction has meant Americans are no closer to the truth.

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September 20, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, September 19, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1229

IRS Logo 2Newsmax, Christie Backs Trump Tax Release Delay Given US Mistrust of IRS:

Donald Trump is being wisely advised to keep his tax forms under wraps during an audit "given the history of the Obama administration" to use IRS In "as a weapon" against conservatives, New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday.

In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Christie, a former primary presidential candidate who is now one of Trump's top advisers and surrogates, said most Americans' don't trust the IRS.

"Given the history of the Obama administration and IRS to use the IRS as a weapon against conservative groups and candidates, I don't blame the accountants for saying better safe than sorry," he said, in reference to the agency's tea party targeting scandal.

"I bet your listeners and viewers out there don't trust the IRS as far as they could throw them," he added. "I don't blame his lawyers and accountants for telling him until the book is closed, and the IRS can't go after you, you shouldn't release your tax returns."

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September 19, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1228

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Congress To IRS: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves, by Stuart Gibson:

A subset of House Republicans often disagrees with the priorities of their leaders. And the rules allow them to force a floor vote. Their most recent override of leadership’s priorities involves bringing to the House floor a resolution to impeach John Koskinen, who has served as commissioner of internal revenue for the past 33 months – perhaps the longest 33 months of his life. And here I side with leadership.

Koskinen was brought in to help the IRS recover from a 2013 scandal over its handling of applications for tax-exempt status by both right- and left-leaning groups. He took charge of the agency, bringing a can-do attitude and expertise from his experience in private industry. He cleaned house in the offending office and changed the way the IRS processes applications for tax exemption.

Koskinen’s problem was that he took office before congressional Republicans had extracted their pound of flesh from the agency that everyone loves to hate. Having decided upfront that the Obama administration had used the IRS to target its political opponents – a conclusion, unlike President Nixon’s well-documented enemies list, wholly unsupported by the evidence – Republicans began investigations to prove their predetermined conclusion. When they found no proof, they attacked Koskinen for failing to produce evidence confirming their view of what happened.

And it wasn’t just Koskinen. Viewing his alleged non-responsiveness as indicative of the agency’s overall unwillingness to perform sufficient penance for the sins committed by a few employees in one small corner of the agency, Congress placed a tourniquet on the IRS budget. And when that failed to elicit the desired outcome – whatever that might be – Congress tightened the tourniquet.

Here’s the problem: In an effort to punish the IRS institutionally, Congress has punished 90,000-plus dedicated employees who did nothing wrong, along with millions of American taxpayers. The best and brightest IRS employees are leaving – and they are not being replaced. Constituents endure unbearable wait times to get IRS assistance and receive poor service when they manage to reach a human being.

What is Congress’s goal? If it expects to improve taxpayer service by starving the IRS budget, impeaching its leader, and berating its employees, Congress will be disappointed. The longer the beatings continue, the harder it will be for the IRS to attract great – or even competent – leaders and employees, and the longer it will take for Americans actually to receive the service they deserve from the IRS.

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September 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1227

IRS Logo 2Letter From Reginald J. Brown (WilmerHale, Washington, D.C.) on Behalf of John Koskinen to House Judiciary Committee (Sept. 16, 2016):

As you know, Commissioner Koskinen deeply respects the work and authority of the Committee and has agreed to testify under oath on Wednesday, September 21, as requested. He hopes to address some of the confusion regarding basic facts and to explain the reforms that the IRS has implemented during his tenure to address unacceptable practices that took place before he arrived at the agency. We appreciate the professionalism and substantive nature of the Committee's inquiry to date under your leadership and hope that you will find the substance and tone of Commissioner Koskinen's testimony constructive and respectful as well.

We are concerned, however, that some may believe that Commissioner Koskinen's voluntary appearance at this hearing is an appropriate substitute for regular order and the traditional approach to addressing impeachment proceedings. As you know, the scheduled hearing, with an opening statement and timed rounds of Member-directed questions on any topic of their choosing, does not reflect the full range of deliberate and balanced procedures that this Committee has developed to ensure fairness and legitimacy in an actual impeachment inquiry.  Those procedures include the right to make opening and closing statements, the right to call and cross-examine witnesses, the right to present evidence, the right to examine all evidence obtained by the Committee, the right to make evidentiary objections for the record, the right to be formally and directly represented in proceedings by counsel, and the right to respond to all evidence cited by the Committee.

Should the Committee proceed to a formal impeachment inquiry, we would expect to be allowed to exercise those rights to present a robust legal and factual defense to the many false allegations that have been lodged against Commissioner Koskinen. Testimony under oath from a single witness-before he has even been allowed to see any evidence against him and with no right to present corroborating evidence to address false or mistaken allegations-is no substitute. Indeed a process of testimony followed immediately by a floor vote, with no established standards, validated evidence, or findings of fact would be more akin to a foreign show trial than the solemn process contemplated by the Framers and generations of Congressional leaders, including Members of this Committee. ...

We hope that, following Wednesday's hearing, this Committee will decide against reporting to the House floor a resolution authorizing a formal impeachment proceeding. However, should the Committee take that step, we are fully prepared to assist the Committee in developing a solid and vetted factual and legal record on which Members can rely in exercising their constitutional responsibility. After reviewing whatever documentary evidence the Committee gathers, we would expect to be allowed to make objections, cross-examine each witness that the resolution's proponents put forward, and call our own witnesses to expose what we believe are blatant factual errors in the resolution. We would also identify the proposed standards for impeachment in the resolution that are inconsistent with the Constitution's commands. We are confident that a complete record would show that the impeachment of Commissioner Koskinen is wholly unwarranted.

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September 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, September 16, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1226

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, The Impeachment Distraction: Koskinen and the IRS Deserve Rebuke, but Not If It Costs the Senate:

House Speaker Paul Ryan has managed to unite his fractious GOP caucus around some common campaign goals. So it’s a pity that two months from an election some House Members are driving an issue that could cost Republicans control of the Senate.

Louisiana Rep. John Fleming on Tuesday moved on a privileged resolution to force the House to vote as soon as Thursday to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The IRS chief has earned public opprobrium, but the timing of this effort could boomerang and end up making the IRS less accountable.

These columns have been out front in documenting Mr. Koskinen’s failures after he promised to clean up the IRS following its political targeting of conservative nonprofits. Mr. Koskinen has failed to be candid with Congress and defied subpoenas. Documents requested by Congress were destroyed on his watch. He’s done nothing to reform the agency and he has supported a new draft regulation, now in temporary abeyance, that would reinforce the agency’s political vetting.

The question is whether impeachment is the right remedy at the current political moment. The case for it is that Congress needs to reassert its own powers against a runaway executive branch. President Obama has diminished the power of the purse and won’t prosecute contempt citations against witnesses who refuse to testify on Capitol Hill. Impeachment is about all Congress has left.

The problem is that a trial is doomed to fail in the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is required to convict. There are differing views on whether a House impeachment vote triggers an automatic Senate trial, but if it does this could require vulnerable GOP incumbents to stay in Washington at the height of the campaign. This would be a gift to Democrats trying to regain the majority. ...

No doubt many House Members genuinely believe Mr. Koskinen deserves impeachment, but other Republicans have legitimate doubts that his offenses rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” mentioned in the Constitution. An impeachment trial now will divide Republicans while uniting Democrats. Why take the risk when Mr. Koskinen is leaving office in a mere four months?

Congress needs to think seriously about how to reassert its powers no matter who wins the White House. But the reality is that a Senate Democratic majority would make that task impossible. Republicans should focus on re-electing their majorities in Congress as a check on the next President, instead of making self-defeating political gestures.

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September 16, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1225

IRS Logo 2Politico, GOP Negotiators Reach Deal to Postpone IRS Impeachment Vote:

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) have reached a tentative compromise to postpone a vote to impeach the IRS commissioner, sources familiar with the talks told POLITICO.

Under the terms of the emerging deal, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen would testify before the Judiciary panel next week, and any impeachment vote would likely be postponed until after the November election rather than take place on Thursday, the sources said.

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September 15, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1224

IRS Logo 2New York Times editorial, Will Speaker Paul Ryan Stand Up to the Freedom Caucus?:

The leadership of the House speaker, Paul Ryan, is about to be challenged by the latest partisan mischief from ultraconservative Republicans — a meritless and unprecedented attempt to impeach the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, John Koskinen. ...

To impeach the commissioner, his antagonists aim to bypass the House leadership and bring the measure directly to the floor as a privileged resolution. Such a move threatens to set a dangerous new low in congressional politicking. Should this shabby precedent be established, what sub-cabinet officials and bureaucrats might be singled out next? ...

The speaker could show some leadership by sending any such floor motion to a quick and quiet death in committee. That is exactly what the Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi did in 2008, when Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio brought a privileged resolution to the floor to impeach President George W. Bush.

But there is already speculation that Mr. Ryan, fearing the Freedom Caucus, might try to appease it with a measure of censure for the same baseless charges. This would be no less damaging to Mr. Koskinen’s reputation — or to the speaker’s. It would be another signal that Mr. Ryan remains hostage to his ultraright members.

Los Angeles Times editorial, Don't Impeach the IRS Commissioner:

[T]he bill of particulars that accompanies the resolution proves, at most, that Koskinen wasn’t as attentive to the importance of securing records sought by Congress as he should have been. It’s also clear that he misspoke when he told a congressional committee that ”every email”  associated with Lois Lerner, a former IRS official responsible for tax-exempt groups, had been preserved; in fact, IRS employees in West Virginia had erased as many as 24,000 of her emails. (A Treasury Department inspector general found no evidence that the erasures were a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence.) But inaccurate or incomplete testimony isn’t the same as willfully lying to Congress.     

In short, there is nothing to suggest that Koskinen is guilty of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” the Constitution cites as grounds for impeachment. And even if the House were to vote to impeach him, there is no chance that the Senate would provide the two-thirds majority necessary for a conviction. 

The GOP’s ire at the apparent targeting of conservative tax-exempt groups is understandable, but that’s not the only thing motivating the Freedom Caucus. Instead, the attempt to impeach Koskinen is a political exercise that can’t be divorced from longstanding efforts by conservatives to demonize and defund the IRS. More directly, it’s tied to Republicans’ apparent determination to stop the IRS from enforcing the law barring political campaigns from masquerading as charities. If the House were to impeach the commissioner — or even censure him — the reputation of that body would suffer and members would be tempted to use the impeachment power to push other pet political causes. The only fair outcome is for the House to refer the resolution to the panel the Freedom Caucus is trying to bypass, the House Judiciary Committee. The resolution is likely to die there, as it should.

Responsible Republicans — including Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — need to support that action and stand against this abuse of the impeachment power.

Washington Times, Impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen:

The House Freedom Caucus will attempt to force a vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Tuesday on the House floor.

Good. The man needs to go. Or at least be held accountable. ...

What are Mr. Koskinen’s crimes?

He’s actively tried to stonewall congressional investigation into the tea-party scandal. He’s failed to comply to several congressional subpoenas. In 2014, he was asked to supply all of Ms. Lerner’s emails, but he did nothing to track or preserve such documentation. Weeks after the subpoena, IRS employees in West Virginia erased 422 backup tapes, destroying as many as 24,000 of Ms. Lerner’s emails (obstruction of justice, anyone?), despite an agency preservation order.

In congressional hearings, Mr. Koskinen withheld from Congress both the preservation order and the destruction of tapes and also failed to disclose details regarding Ms. Lerner’s destroyed hard drive.

Mr. Koskinen also assured Congress that his agency has gone to “great lengths” to retrieve Ms. Lerner’s lost emails, however, when the Treasury Department inspector general did its own search, it found 1,000 new emails in 14 days. It appeared the IRS never searched disaster backup tapes, Ms. Lerner’s BlackBerry and laptop, the email server and its backup tapes.

Then, to put salt in the wounds, Mr. Koskinen then declined to show up to his own impeachment hearing.

It’s Congresses job to be a check on the executive branch’s power, and Mr. Koskinen has repeatedly shown his disrespect for legislative branch.

Jonathan Turley, of the George Washington University Law School, said in June testimony to the House Judiciary Committee that the Koskinen controversy “falls at the very crossroads of expanding executive power, diminishing congressional authority, and the rise of the Fourth Branch,” which consists of “federal agencies that exercise increasingly unilateral and independent powers.” ...

For Congress’s job to hold the executive branch accountable, to serve as a check on its power, it must act if it doesn’t want to become irrelevant.

Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Scholars Say Impeaching IRS Commissioner Would Set Dangerous Precedent:

As House Republicans weigh impeachment proceedings against IRS commissioner John Koskinen, a group of constitutional scholars are urging lawmakers to hold back. ...

In a letter last week addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a group of constitutional law professors say impeaching the IRS chief would set a dangerous precedent. ...

A larger group of tax scholars also said they opposed impeachment proceedings in an earlier letter to House leaders.

National Society Of Accountants Send Letter to House Leaders Opposing Koskinen Impeachment:

Leaders of the National Society of Accountants (NSA) have sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives opposing any resolution to impeach or censure Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen.

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September 14, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1223

IRS Logo 2Seattle Times, Conservative Effort to Impeach IRS Chief Won’t Succeed:

A campaign-season drive by conservative House Republicans to impeach the IRS commissioner won’t succeed. With solid Democratic opposition and resistance from many in the GOP, there simply aren’t enough votes to oust John Koskinen from his post.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are pushing it anyway, and it could come to a head over the next week or two. A look at the effort:

Q: Why do conservatives want to impeach Koskinen?

A:  They accuse him of lying to Congress, not answering subpoenas and overseeing an agency that destroyed documents. They say those actions hindered the House GOP’s long-running investigation of how the Internal Revenue Service unfairly treated tea party groups that sought tax exemptions several years ago, before Koskinen was with the agency.

Two months to the election, going after Koskinen and the IRS is popular with many conservative voters, for whom the IRS has long been a dirty word. They’ve not forgiven its handling of tea party organizations. And Koskinen was appointed by President Barack Obama, another favorite conservative target.

Q: What do Koskinen and Democrats say?

A: They say the accusations are unfounded. “There is no evidence that Commissioner Koskinen ever in any way sought to impede Congress’ oversight of the IRS,” Koskinen’s personal lawyers wrote in documents they provided Sunday.

While the IRS acknowledged it subjected tea party groups to unfairly harsh treatment, the Justice Department and the IRS inspector general found no evidence the agency was motivated by political bias, and it’s not been proved that documents were purposely destroyed. Democrats say the impeachment effort is aimed at stirring up conservative votes and campaign donations.

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September 13, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, September 12, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1222

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, IRS Refuses to Abandon Targeting Criteria Used Against Tea Party, Conservative Groups:

The IRS is refusing to recant the targeting criteria it used to single out tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny, according to court filings made public Wednesday that show the tax agency still struggling with the fallout from the scandal.

At least three tea party groups are still awaiting approval from the IRS more than three years after agents publicly admitted they’d asked inappropriate questions and put the groups through unreasonable delays in obtaining tax-exempt status.

Last month the IRS told both Congress and a federal judge that it would start processing the outstanding applications — but the agency has refused to say how or when, leaving the groups themselves struggling to make sense of things.

Making matters ever more difficult, the IRS specifically refused in court papers to reject further use of the criteria it used to single out tea party and conservative groups in the first place.

“Despite all the representations made by the IRS about having changed its ways, it still asserts that the viewpoint-based Targeting Criteria are relevant for making a determination of tax-exempt status,” Edward Greim, the lawyer representing tea party groups in a class-action lawsuit, told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Just weeks ago, IRS Commissioner John G. Koskinen had assured Congress the targeting was a thing of the past, and said his agency will no longer use the “Be on lookout,” or BOLO, lists. ...

Mr. Greim said to be wary of IRS promises, saying the agency has been willing to mislead the court in the past with a “willingness to say one thing (in a sworn declaration, no less) and do the other.” And he said the IRS has hinted that while it may replace its targeting list, which delays or blocks applications at the front end, it could step up “less well-known forms of scrutiny,” including ongoing reviews of tea party groups.

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September 12, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1221

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, ‘Just a Charade’: House Conservatives Decry IRS Chief’s Capitol Hill Visit:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen made the rounds Wednesday on Capitol Hill to discuss his potential impeachment, meeting with two of the largest GOP House caucuses.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus were furious about Koskinen’s visits with lawmakers who belong to the moderate Tuesday Group or the conservative-leaning Republican Study Committee.

These conservatives have been calling for the top taxman’s impeachment since October.

One of the members who quarterbacked the impeachment effort, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., described the Koskinen tour as tantamount to allowing a defendant to chat up a jury “while the prosecuting attorney is away.”

“You’re going to give the most hated official in the Obama administration a free platform, without testifying under oath, to defend himself and his targeting of conservative groups?” Huelskamp told The Daily Signal. “This is just a charade.” ...

One member of the Freedom Caucus suggested conservatives might be persuaded to soften their stance on Koskinen if the establishment would agree to keep any spending bills from taking flight during the lame-duck session.

”It might very well be that we back off of Koskinen until the first of [next] year,” the lawmaker told The Daily Signal on condition of anonymity, “if you [GOP leaders] do a continuing resolution through March.”

Other members of the Freedom Caucus remain intent on getting their political pound of flesh. The IRS targeting scandal has been a focal point for Republicans since the public first learned in 2013 that the agency put conservative groups under extra scrutiny.

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September 11, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1220

IRS Logo 2Washington Post op-ed: Congress Should Impeach The IRS Commissioner — Or Risk Becoming Obsolete, by George F. Will:

Republican congressional leaders ardently want conservative members of the House to not force a vote on impeaching the IRS commissioner. The public does not care about John Koskinen’s many misdeeds. And impeachment will distract attention from issues that interest the public. And because Democrats are not ingrates, the required two-thirds of the Senate will never vote to convict Koskinen, whose behavior continues the pattern of doing what Democrats desire with the most intrusive and potentially punitive government agency.

These Republican leaders’ reasons are cumulatively unpersuasive. Resuscitating the impeachment power would contribute to revitalizing Congress’s Article I powers. Impeachments are rare — no appointed official of the executive branch has been impeached in 140 years. But what James Madison called the “indispensable” power to impeach should not be allowed to atrophy, as has Congress’s power to declare war. ...

In June testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School noted that the Obama administration stands accused of “effectively weaponizing the IRS.” And the Koskinen controversy comes as Congress “is facing an unprecedented erosion of its authority vis-a-vis the executive branch.” The “increasing obstruction and contempt displayed by federal agencies in congressional investigations reflects the loss of any credible threat of congressional action. Congress has become a paper tiger within our tripartite system — a branch that often expresses outrage, yet fails to enforce its constitutional authority.”

The Koskinen controversy, Turley said, “falls at the very crossroads of expanding executive power, diminishing congressional authority, and the rise of the Fourth Branch,” which consists of “federal agencies that exercise increasingly unilateral and independent powers.” As Turley noted (and as Hillary Clinton can ruefully attest), “private litigants like Judicial Watch” are nowadays more successful than Congress in prying information from the executive branch. And (as the Lerner case illustrates) “the administration has effectively foreclosed avenues like the referral of criminal contempt and other sanctions that should be imposed for providing misleading statements to Congress.” ...

The Constitution authorizes impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Madison favored this language and interpreted it to include “maladministration,” which surely encompasses perjury and obstruction of Congress. The idea that an IRS commissioner is not a high enough official for impeachment ignores, Turley says, “the realities of the modern regulatory state.” Commissioners have authority over 90,000 employees collecting $2.5 trillion in revenues annually. ...

One of the articles of impeachment filed by the House against Richard Nixon was that he, “acting personally and through his subordinates ” (emphasis added), had “endeavored” to use the IRS to violate Americans’ rights, causing IRS actions “to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.” If presidents are, as McCarthy says, “derivatively responsible” for misconduct by executive branch subordinates, surely those officials are responsible for their own misconduct and that of underlings. Refusing to impeach Koskinen would continue the passivity by which members of Congress have become, in Turley’s words, “agents of their own obsolescence.”

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September 10, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 9, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1219

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, House Republicans Weigh Impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen:

House Republicans have no affection for the Internal Revenue Service after three years of mounting frustration about what they see as the tax agency’s slow and incomplete responses to congressional investigations. But many are shying away from the aggressive step urged by some hard-liners: impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen now.

Lawmakers are debating how far to go as they weigh the political risks of irritating some of their most ardent supporters with any vote that even resembles letting Mr. Koskinen off the hook. What is giving them pause about impeachment are conservatives’ push to bypass the Judiciary Committee and the slim chances of removing Mr. Koskinen from office. That would require Senate Republicans to overcome their reluctance and also attract more than 20 Democratic votes—the number needed to get the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate—making it a clear dead end.

House Republicans’ internal standoff shows the limits of raw politics in the general-election season after years of conservatives rallying against the IRS, a movement that has helped to restrict the agency’s budget and inspired calls from the right to eliminate the IRS entirely. ...

Impeachment backers plan to use a procedural tactic to force a vote on the House floor as soon as next week, and House Republicans will meet behind closed doors beforehand in an effort to hash out the internal disagreement. ...

The bill of particulars against Mr. Koskinen stems from his response to congressional investigations. Under his watch, the agency destroyed backup data that included emails belonging to Lois Lerner, who had led the office that oversaw nonprofit groups. The impeachment resolution says Mr. Koskinen “failed to act with competence and forthrightness” in disclosing the destruction and that the agency didn’t try hard enough to preserve all documents.

Mr. Koskinen has said the destruction was unintentional and that he waited to inform Congress until he had complete information.

Republicans say Mr. Koskinen’s actions prevented them from uncovering the truth about what happened to tea-party groups and why.

Democrats say there is no evidence the agency’s actions were politically motivated. Instead, they say it is clear the IRS was trying—clumsily and slowly—to come up with a rule for judging whether tax-exempt groups met the tax code’s rules that limit political involvement of nonprofits.

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September 9, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1218

IRS Logo 2The Hill, IRS Chief Makes His Case to GOP Lawmakers:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Wednesday made his case against impeachment to two groups of House Republicans. Koskinen met with members of the moderate Tuesday Group as well as with members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, where some lawmakers support his impeachment. “He just wanted to state his case,” said Tuesday group co-chair Charlie Dent (R-Pa.).

Bloomberg, House Will Hold Vote on Whether to Impeach IRS Chief, Ryan Says:

Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday the House will vote on whether to impeach Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, and he indicated members won’t be pressured to vote one way or the other.

Daily Caller, Hatch Insists The Senate Will Never Impeach IRS Commissioner:

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch says there is not even the “slightest chance” the Senate will impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen anytime soon.

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September 8, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1217

IRS Logo 2Washington Post editorial, House Conservatives Want to Impeach the IRS Director. That Would be a Big Mistake:

Congress returned from its summer break Tuesday to what may be a brief but contentious pre-election legislative spell. Among the likely arguments: whether Congress should radically change its relationship with the executive branch and hobble the government in the process.

For months, a group of hard-line conservative lawmakers has been pressing to impeach Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, in an effort that may soon come to a head. The context for the campaign against Mr. Koskinen is the continuing GOP obsession with the way the IRS reviewed nonprofit groups’ tax-exempt status, following reports that conservative groups were disproportionately scrutinized. The initial reports turned out not to reflect much of a scandal, which was more about bureaucratic obliviousness than purposeful anti-conservative activity. ...

The Founders designed federal impeachment procedures to be used sparingly, erecting barriers to removing executive officers that did not exist in the English system, Michael J. Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor, told the House Judiciary Committee in June. They also purposely avoided allowing impeachment in cases of mere “maladministration,” raising the bar to the much more serious “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard. “The Founders did not want high-ranking officials in the executive or judicial branches to be subject to impeachment for their mistakes in office,” Mr. Gerhardt testified.

The cumbersome and partisan Senate confirmation process has made it hard enough to fully staff the highest realms of government with competent people. Never-ending, partisan impeachment proceedings against executive officers would make it even harder to keep the essential mechanics of government working. The result would be more bureaucratic bungling, not less.

Politico, Senate GOP Plots Way to Dodge Koskinen Impeachment:

Fighting to hold onto their slim majority, Senate Republicans are planning to wriggle out of considering the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen even if the House forces the issue.

It's a two-part plan: First Senate Republicans are attempting to convince their conservative House brethren to avoid the matter entirely. Then, if the House passes an impeachment resolution by a simple majority, Senate Republicans will seek a procedural out to avoid a controversial impeachment trial that would draw attention to a Senate GOP that's tried to portray itself as the stable arm of Congress.

But with House Republicans divided over the Freedom Caucus's charge to impeach Koskinen over his alleged obstruction of a congressional investigation, it's not too late, GOP senators say, to change course and punt on impeachment at least until after the November election.

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September 7, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1216

IRS Logo 2Charlotte Observer editorial, Should IRS Chief Be Impeached?:

Congress returns to work Tuesday, and at the top of several members’ to-do list is impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. ...

It’s hard, we know, to gin up much sympathy among Americans for the chief tax collector. It’s even harder when the Internal Revenue Service has made so many missteps in recent years. The extent of Koskinen’s imperfections, though, is debatable; they almost surely fall far short of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that impeachment requires. ...

It’s possible his performance has been sporadic and his commitment to transparency inconsistent. That would, unfortunately, make him a Washington regular, but not a criminal traitor.

At a minimum, he deserves an exhaustive hearing and opportunity to defend himself in front of the House Judiciary Committee before such an extraordinary — and politically motivated — action is taken.

That’s not what Freedom Caucus members like North Carolina’s Rep. Mark Meadows envision. They are willing to take Koskinen’s fate to the House floor for an up-or-down vote with no due process. That would violate tradition and establish an ominous precedent.

Koskinen (a Duke grad and former chair of Duke’s board of trustees) took over in December 2013, charged with cleaning up the mess made by Lois Lerner. Lerner was at the center of a scandal prior to Koskinen’s arrival in which the IRS mostly targeted conservative political groups in their applications for nonprofit tax-exempt status.

Congress issued a subpoena to Koskinen seeking all of Lerner’s emails. Weeks later, IRS employees in West Virginia erased 422 backup tapes that contained as many as 24,000 of Lerner’s emails.

There is no evidence that Koskinen was personally involved in the deletion. The Republican-appointed inspector general investigating Lerner’s actions said the erasure was an accident stemming from a miscommunication.

The rest of the resolution to impeach Koskinen is flimsy. It accuses him of making “false and misleading statements” to Congress. Koskinen says he testified to what he thought was true at the time, even if some of it later turned out not to be accurate. ...

Lerner’s actions were unacceptable, and the IRS’s failure to retain vital documents in the case is disturbing. So Congress is right to continue to pursue questions. Impeachment, though, is almost certainly using a bazooka to kill a roach. At the least, Koskinen, who has offered a lifetime of public service and ethical behavior, deserves a chance to fully tell his side of the story.

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September 6, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, September 5, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1215

IRS Logo 2The Hill, House GOP Braces For Spending, IRS Fights:

House GOP leaders are preparing their members for fights over government funding and whether to impeach the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service when Congress returns from its long summer recess. ...

Freedom Caucus members are pushing to vote on a resolution to impeach Koskinen, who they allege wasn't forthcoming with documents regarding the IRS's scrutiny of conservative nonprofits.

Reps. John Fleming (R-La.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) introduced a "privileged" resolution on the House's last day of session before the recess to force a vote on impeachment. It's unclear if members of the Freedom Caucus would have to re-file the resolution, given that House rules state that privileged measures must be acted on within two legislative days.

GOP leaders have been wary of staging an impeachment vote, given that the House has only voted one other time in history to impeach a Cabinet official: Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.

House Republicans' first conference meeting upon returning the day after Labor Day is expected to focus on strategy for the spending bill, with another on the IRS the following week.

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September 5, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1214

IRS Logo 2Newsmax, IRS Chief Faces Likely Impeachment Vote in US House:

U.S. House conservatives are set to re-launch ... their effort to impeach Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, with or without Speaker Paul Ryan’s go-ahead.

Representative John Fleming says he and other conservatives are prepared to unilaterally force an impeachment vote within days after Congress returns to session on Sept. 6. “The only thing up in the air is whether it will be the first or second week we’re back,” the Louisiana Republican said in an interview.

Any action would be largely symbolic, because the effort would get blocked in the Senate if it passes the House. But Republicans remain angry at Koskinen, who they accuse of impeding an investigation into whether the tax agency improperly targeted conservative non-profits. Their allegations include failing to prevent the IRS from destroying evidence and providing false and misleading information to Congress.

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September 4, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1213

IRS Logo 2Government Executive, IRS Chief Affirms That Agency Ended ‘Be on the Lookout’ Lists:

In the latest wrinkle in the controversy over the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of conservative groups, the tax agency’s chief has written to Congress [letter here] to assure lawmakers that its Exempt Organization’s division long ago discontinued use of so-called “Be on the Lookout” lists to sift through applications from nonprofits.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court handling an ongoing case from the conservative group True the Vote zeroed in on the IRS’s use of the term “suspended” to describe the practice of flagging groups based on their names, overruling a lower court and restoring the suit against the agency.

On Aug. 18, Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen sought to set the record straight in a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee harking back several years to the multiple investigations of IRS’s allegedly biased processing of applications for tax-exempt status from groups claiming to be social welfare organizations.

“I want to be clear that no matter how you say it -- whether it's suspended, eliminated or ended -- the IRS stopped this practice long ago and is committed to never using such a list or process ever again,” Koskinen wrote, citing his own repeated testimony to Congress, his speeches and the reports from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration saying the BOLO lists ended three years ago.

“The IRS and its leadership team have been, and remain, absolutely committed to avoiding any selection and further review of potential political cases based on names and policy positions,” he added. “There should be no doubt on this point, or regarding the continued, ongoing commitment by the IRS to be guided by the tax law and nothing else.”

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September 3, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (11)

Friday, September 2, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1212

IRS Logo 2The Daily Caller, Real Power Behind IRS Conservative Targeting Scandal Still A Mystery:

An FBI investigation missed the IRS official who first set in motion the illegal targeting of conservative and tea party non-profit groups applying for tax exemption, documents obtained by a government watchdog group reveal.

An internal IRS document prohibited the targeted applicants from being approved automatically for tax exemption, and agency officials were told to send all such applications to the Orwellian-named Group 7822 to await additional guidance, FBI interviews obtained by Judicial Watch show.

It’s still unclear who authored the internal document that established Group 7822 and who ordered targeted applications be sent to Group 7822.

Disgraced IRS senior executive Lois Lerner has taken most of the heat since retiring from the federal tax agency, but the FBI investigation, which resulted in no prosecutions, suggested that Lerner didn’t write the internal guidance. It’s unclear if she had a role in creating Group 7822. ...

It’s unclear why the FBI did not press IRS officials on who was behind the BOLO and Group 7822. Judicial Watch did reveal, however, that a Department of Justice attorney who donated $6,750 to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee spent more than 1,500 hours on the investigation.

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September 2, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1211

IRS Logo 2Forbes: More Than 100 Law Professors To Congress: Impeaching The IRS Commissioner Is A Bad Idea, by Kelly Phillips Erb:

More than 100 tax law professors have sent a letter to House leaders in opposition to a resolution to impeach or censure Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen.

The letter was addressed to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI); House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX); Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI). The letter urged those Congressional leaders to “oppose any resolution to impeach or censure John Koskinen, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.” ...

Censure is, of course, not as drastic as impeachment: it’s a public condemnation and requires a simple majority vote in the House and no action in the Senate. Impeaching an official requires a vote in the full House and, after a formal trial, a 2/3 vote of the Senate to remove the official from office. If that sounds like a high bar, it is: no agency official has been impeached in more than 140 years.

Tax Update Blog:  Profs For Koskinen, by Joe Kristan:

I favor censure because it’s clear that Koskinen has been, if you want to be charitable, tone-deaf to the implications of the IRS targeting of political opposition. He repeatedly has made statements on the investigation that have proven untrue, meaning he is either inept or a liar.

I oppose impeachment because it is a waste of time. The Senate would never convict.

I don’t like the letter because it completely ignores how Koskinen has completely lost the confidence of GOP Congressional appropriators. Nothing he has done provides them any reassurance that funding the IRS doesn’t mean funding their own opposition. If they really are concerned about the institutional integrity of the IRS, the professors should also call on Koskinen to resign in favor of somebody who can merit the respect of both parties.

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September 1, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1210

IRS Logo 2The Morning Call, Here's a Job for Lois Lerner:

There is no need for the taxpayers to bear the expense of a special prosecutor to investigate the Clinton Foundation. Lois Lerner can be asked to resume her position with respect to approval and oversight of nonprofits and foundations that have qualified under one of the IRS 501(c) classifications.

Lerner honed those skills when she copiously and intrusively examined the applications for recognition of tax-exempt status filed by conservative organizations. She might apply the same degree of intrusion and assertiveness toward the Clinton Foundation. Heck, she is drawing a taxpayer-financed pension so allow her skills to be applied with no additional expense to the taxpaying public. But then if questioned, will Lerner's emails (produced on taxpayer funded time) be lost or will the emails be forthcoming?

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August 31, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)