Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1119

IRS Logo 2Des Moines Register editorial, Facts Fail to Support IRS Impeachment Effort:

The aphorism known as Hanlon’s razor dictates that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Where some people see evil intent and conspiracies behind every misdeed, the more likely explanation is good old-fashioned incompetence. That's particularly true in Washington, D.C., where, despite the political machinations that seem to drive every decision, bureaucratic bungling is responsible for most of the federal government's sins.

Even so, some Republican leaders in the House believe IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has engaged in a long-running effort to deceive Congress and the public. As they see it, Koskinen should be impeached for his response to claims that the agency targeted conservative organizations that sought tax-exempt status. ...

The Justice Department investigated the matter for two years and ultimately concluded that there was no evidence that IRS officials had acted out of political bias in focusing on any organizations, conservative or otherwise.

Given all of that, the effort to impeach Koskinen appears to be a face-saving move by Chaffetz to justify his fruitless, six-year campaign to demonize the IRS for political bias.

Even Fred Goldberg, who served as IRS commissioner under the first President George Bush, says Chaffetz’s allegations are “preposterous” and calls the impeachment effort “way over the line.”

When it comes to abuse of power, Chaffetz has more to answer for than Koskinen.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


Mr. Publius,

Methinks you're hardly qualified to speak as to the attitudes and motivations of management and employees at the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit, unless you've actually worked there.

Luckily, this much-loathed investigation brought to light the inner thoughts of someone who did work there, Ms. Lerner herself:

Lerner (Re: "the whacko wing of the GOP"): "Maybe we are through if there are that many a--holes... We don’t need to worry about alien terrorists. It’s our own crazies that will take us down."

Lerner: "Look my view is that Lincoln was our worst president not our best... He should [have] let the south go... We really do seem to have [two] different mind sets."

Forget indifference, this is plain old bitter hostility and condescension from an overpaid bureaucrat. Nothing untoward about that, of course. Bosses' attitudes never influence office environments, that never happens. And no reasonable person might get the impression that IRS employees are ever "political" on the job, not in a million years. They've obviously demonstrated the utmost objectivity and professionalism, you know, like violating their own policies by releasing confidential taxpayer information to the public, flouting the Federal Records Act and Freedom of Information Act by destroying documents, and then pleading the 5th Amendment before Congress...

Posted by: MM | Jun 1, 2016 7:54:33 PM

Convenient to claim no evidence when the IRS destroys it and lies to courts and congress.

Posted by: Wodun | Jun 1, 2016 6:10:34 PM

The Justice Department investigated the matter for two years (and is currently fighting FOIA requests to uncover how diligently they actually investigated the matter) and ultimately concluded that there was no evidence (possibly due to destruction of evidence admitted by the IRS along with gross negligence in preserving evidence as detailed by the IRS IG) that IRS officials had acted out of political bias in focusing on any organizations, conservative or otherwise.
In short, the DOJ 'investigation', lead by a maxed out Obama campaign contributor, in no way precludes the necessity of the Koskinen impeachment investigation.

Posted by: WampusCat | Jun 1, 2016 4:29:57 PM

The IRS has testified the hard drive failure rate is 4-5%. This results in about 2000 hard drives failing every year.

Where the numbers suggest malfeasance is that the exact 7 hard drives necessary to prevent turning over the emails requested failed over a 3 year period (odds 1 in 6 billion).

Posted by: James | Jun 1, 2016 3:22:04 PM

Did the IRS invite the relevant hard drive manufacturers in to see whether their equipment could possibly have innocently had that failure pattern? Everybody who is knowledgeable on the subject has flagged the drive failures as signs of malice and destruction of evidence. Has there been any technical evidence gathered on the subject?

There is no viable stupidity argument available to explain the pattern of hard drive failures and lost information.

Posted by: TMLutas | Jun 1, 2016 9:34:50 AM

Cumming is the one who belongs in jail. He was one of those who started this whole targeting affair, and has now been OBSTRUCTING the inquiry every since.

Posted by: Spamf Roming | Jun 1, 2016 9:03:13 AM

What exactly is the penalty for failure to preserve evidence after receiving a court order requiring the IRS to do so? Is IRS Commissioner John Koskinen complicit due only to the destruction of the evidence by the agency he manages?

Posted by: James | Jun 1, 2016 8:30:57 AM

Mr. ATM: If you are suggesting that the Cincinnati IRS employees were indifferent, you are barking up the wrong tree. In 34 years of federal service, I rarely encountered an indifferent IRS or Chief Counsel employee. Most were dedicated, hard-working, and interested in their jobs. Some were ambitious, some were scared of management or taxpayers, a small number were incompetent. A few were "retired-in-place." But hardly any were indifferent.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 1, 2016 8:10:47 AM

Hanlon’s razor dictates that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Never attribute to malice or stupidity that which is adequately explained by indifference.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Jun 1, 2016 6:21:54 AM