Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Cincinnati IRS Lawyer Speaks: We Are Democrats, But Nonpartisan Democrats

IRS Logo 2I previously blogged my Pepperdine colleague Rob Anderson's work showing that 95% of political contributions in the 2012 presidential campaign made by lawyers at the IRS went to Obama rather than to Romney. Rob followed up yesterday with a fascinating post with an email from an IRS attorney in Cincinnati:

The IRS lawyer's email provides a valuable perspective on the other side of the debate, one that attributes the support of Democrats by federal government attorneys to perceived hostility of Republicans toward government workers. The basic thesis of the email is that "if there is a lack of political diversity among federal government attorneys, it can be attributed almost entirely to the Republican Party agenda." The full text of the email is reprinted below.

The IRS lawyer's email raises three important points of comparison to my analysis. First, the IRS lawyer generally agrees that federal government attorneys substantially support Democrats but disagrees about why. He or she argues that these lawyers are Democrats in part because federal government lawyers convert from Republicans to Democrats once employed by the government. The reason, according to the IRS lawyer, is the perceived hostility of the Republican party to federal regulation and government workers. Finally, the IRS lawyer argues that even if the IRS lawyers are mostly Democrats, partisan politics is never an influence in the work of the agency.

UpdateAttorney in Federal Agency General Counsel's Office: There Is 'No Innocent Explanation' for IRS Chief Counsel's Meeting With Obama

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I call BS. I work for the IRS and am very much a conservative. If the tax law was simplified and the IRS went away, I'd be out of a job, but still happy. The "Republican Lawyers" that convert to Dimocrat is a myth and he's making that up.

Posted by: Former Lurker | Jul 29, 2013 5:29:04 AM

Hmmm... Perhaps government employees should not be allowed to be involved in the electoral process. It certainly seems like it is a conflict of interests to have people who vote and donate money to political candidates to be on government payrolls.

Posted by: BCL | Jul 24, 2013 5:59:53 AM

"partisan politics is never an influence in the work of the agency"

Never, huh?

Well, it must be so. Why would anyone doubt a Democrat lawyer working for the IRS?

Posted by: malclave | Jul 23, 2013 3:16:10 PM

Fritz, it would be better to fire 2/3, and replace 1/2 of them with conservatives.

Posted by: askeptic | Jul 23, 2013 12:47:16 PM

My modest proposal is to fire half the people at the IRS and replace them with explicit conservatives. We can call it something like, say "Affirmative Action."

Posted by: Fritz | Jul 23, 2013 12:06:49 PM

Then, they're not actual Democrats. Which, of course, they ARE.

"Don't worry", said the scorpion to the frog. "You can offer me a list across the pond, because---sure, I'm a SCORPION, but I'm a NONSTINGING scorpion."

Remember how that story ends?

Posted by: orangemtl | Jul 23, 2013 11:47:43 AM

Hi -- I'm a tenured professor at a top ranked school and I agree with Professor Seto's statements. I am disappointed that instead of responding with a carefully reasoned response, a fine scholar like Professor Tamanaha feels the need to engage in personal attacks. It reflects badly on him. In addition, I am disappointed by his failure to grasp and tackle the data head on, such as failing to understand present value calculations and why interest on student loans doesn't come into play. Instead he makes statements like "[l]aw grads from Harvard, Chicago, Penn, etc., have a great chance at high lifetime earnings, while grads of Thomas Jefferson are likely to end up with poor lifetime earnings." I take it as anecdotally true that this is the case. But what is his data on the long term earnings of Thomas Jefferson graduates? He may be correct, but he should back it up with the data or recognize that he does not have it.

I would suggest that he take a step back and partner with a labor economist or someone with the knowledge and experience to do the tasks he suggests. We'd all be better off by more careful study of the issue, as Simkovic and McIntyre attempt. Ultimately this will make us better informed no matter what the data turns out. And I would hope he recognizes that this is a valuable addition to the discussion no matter what the final studies and data find.

As scholars, let's all take a deep breath and look at this objectively.

Posted by: Agree with Seto | Jul 23, 2013 11:03:29 AM

A non partisan Democrat is like a green kangaroo or a vegan shark

Posted by: DanielShays | Jul 23, 2013 10:51:06 AM

"He or she argues that these lawyers are Democrats in part because federal government lawyers convert from Republicans to Democrats once employed by the government."

What he's saying is that in a workplace dominated by D's, the hostility of the R's, of whom there are none, is going to make me convert to being a D.

Alternate scenario: people convert to being D's or shut up so they can get a promotion.

Posted by: Ben | Jul 23, 2013 8:44:56 AM

The email makes a great argument for limiting the amount of time one can work for the government. If the employers get 'captured' by an ideology then they should be 'set free' after, say, 10 years, to see how the outside world operates.

Posted by: JorgXMckie | Jul 23, 2013 6:27:57 AM

One reply to the IRS attorney:


Posted by: Rich Vail | Jul 23, 2013 6:07:29 AM

Of course, it's always the Republicans who are fault. Blame the other guy.

Posted by: stan | Jul 23, 2013 6:04:12 AM

I'm sure this really isn't a surprise to anyone. You vote for the hand that feeds you whether you're an IRS attorney or a welfare recipient. The big difference is that it will be impossible to manage left wing attorneys in government because no election will ever touch them.

On the other hand, managing the 'income, redistributed' is only one IRS decision away finally. The IRS is going to be monitoring the entire population for Obamacare so they'll eventually need to track that 'other' income just like they do the regular income.

You know it will finally be obvious, even to Democrats, that making a wage slave take a W2 for working or making an independent contractor take a 1099-MISC for working just doesn't stand up to the light of reason for refusing to issue 1099-GOV for all the 'income, redistributed' that people get.

What I find most amusing is that the very idea of having government, at every level, issue 1099-GOV for monies they've converted to 'income, redistributed' cannot make it to front of anyone's consciousness. Without it, there is NO fairness. With it there is true management responsibility. Every government agency TODAY has systems to issue W2's to their employees and 1099-MISC to their contractors but can't figure out that their Detroit-ish failures might be related to failure to track the 1099-GOVness of their actions.

As someone with real brains, it seems to me that you could either affirm the idea or bash it into left field with a short sentence. Why haven't you tried?

Posted by: SenatorMark4 | Jul 23, 2013 5:11:29 AM