Paul L. Caron

Monday, October 19, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 893

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg View:  House Republicans' Latest Bad Idea: Impeaching the IRS Chief, by Albert R. Hunt:

If the House Republicans' Benghazi investigation craters after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony this week, the chamber's right-wing caucus has a sequel in mind: attempting the second impeachment of an executive branch appointee in 226 years.

The target is Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen. The specifics of any supposed impeachable offenses are vague. Koskinen, 76, is a respected, successful business and government executive who, at the behest of the White House, took on the job of cleaning up the beleaguered tax agency in December 2013, after offenses had been committed.

Since 1789, the House has impeached 19 officials: two presidents, 15 judges, a senator in the 18th century. The only executive branch appointee was William Belknap, President Ulysses S. Grant's war secretary.

Now, the 40-member Freedom Caucus, which played a role in Speaker John Boehner's resignation, wants to try again. The House Oversight Committee, where proceedings would start, is stacked with right-wing Republicans.

The accusations stem from 2013, when the IRS's tax-exempt division was found to have disproportionately targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. Although Koskinen was brought in after the damage had been done, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan and his Freedom Caucus followers say he has tried to cover up some wrongdoing. Some, rather recklessly, accuse him of lying. The tax agency is unpopular and makes an appealing political target.

Democrats say the allegations against Koskinen are unfounded: "It is despicable character assassination," said Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who serves on the Oversight Committee. "They are manufacturing a phony issue for ideological reasons."

The case has problems. The specific charges seem specious: There may have been miscommunication, but there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Koskinen. ...

A partisan impeachment probably would seem a foolish distraction from the real issues of jobs, health care, debt and terrorism. It could backfire in the same way as the impeachment of President Bill Clinton 17 years ago, the politically motivated government shutdowns and the fizzling Benghazi inquest is likely to.

The fight within the House Republican caucus reflects less an ideological split than the manifestation of an apocalyptic view from the right-wing minority that the political system has to be destroyed before it can be reformed. That justifies actions such as impeachment.

More than a few Republicans fear their colleagues would be making a huge mistake.

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"There has been no proof of intentional wrongdoing of the IRS". Chuckle. That's right up there with "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor", "Bill Ayers is just a guy in the neighborhood", "I have the most transparent administration in history", etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: Andrew Russell | Oct 20, 2015 9:53:39 AM

There has been no proof of intentional wrongdoing of the IRS with regard to the tax exempt status of various organizations-just reckless speculation.

Posted by: gator | Oct 20, 2015 6:32:19 AM

Mt Publius, the evidence is there whether or not you choose to recognize the reality of it. But then again you think giving OFA tax exempt status to engage in politics in such a short period of time, isn't favoritism and that denying Jewish groups tax exempt status based on their being Jewish isn't evidence of corruption.

Posted by: wodun | Oct 19, 2015 11:27:00 PM

"There is no evidence whatsoever that he intentionally made false statements."

Except that we know he made false statements and had access to information to know those statements were false, that it was impossible for a nonretarded person not to know the statements he made were false.

Posted by: wodun | Oct 19, 2015 11:24:38 PM

Mr. wodun: A "lie" is an intentionally false statement. Commissioner Koskinen made several statements that later proved partially inaccurate. There is no evidence whatsoever that he intentionally made false statements.

Mr. VOI: Please explain your ad hominem remark.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Oct 19, 2015 2:12:57 PM

Hunt is married to Judy Woodruff of PBS. Enough said.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Oct 19, 2015 10:14:39 AM

What's recklesses is not admitting Koskinan did lie repeatedly. And no, the government shutdown didn't hurt Republicans in the last election, just look at the numbers.

Posted by: wodun | Oct 19, 2015 10:14:32 AM