TaxProf Blog

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

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.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/09/the-irs-scandal-day-1223.html

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Comments

A campaign-season drive by conservative House Republicans to impeach the IRS commissioner won’t succeed. With solid Democratic opposition

Yup, Democrats are obstructing justice on congress just like Obama's DOJ and IRS are obstructing justice. It is a criminal party from top to bottom.

Q: What do Koskinen and Democrats say?

A: They say the accusations are unfounded.

Notice the way this is phrased, as if Koskinen and Democrats are on the same side. That is the problem and that is how the IRS acted as the Democrat's personal persecution squad to take out people and groups that Democrats hate.

For hundreds of years Democrats have waged pogroms of persecution against their opponents. They used to burn down the houses of Republicans who married Native Americans and they used to lynch Republicans who worked for black people to enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else. They use slightly less violence today but they still abuse the power of the government like the worst tyrants out of human history.

Posted by: wodun | Sep 13, 2016 1:01:57 PM

“There is no evidence that Commissioner Koskinen ever in any way sought to impede Congress’ oversight of the IRS."

Right, because destruction of subpoenaed documents after they've been subpoenaed and false statements to investigators really help Congress get to the bottom of things.

I have to say, I've been most impressed by Congressman Cummings, the Ranking Minority Member on the House Oversight Committee. His sterling record of public service really caught my attention right after the IRS story hit the news. On Jun. 9, 2013 he proclaimed, "the case is solved, time to move on," (later retracted), only 30 days after Lerner answered that planted question at the ABA conference, and before any serious investigation had even taken place. And I also applaud him for circumventing Congressional oversight every chance he got, despite sitting on a committee with the Constitutional mandate to police the behavior of unelected Executive Branch officials.

I suppose that's the benefit of having drawn his objective, well-considered conclusions before all of the facts, less any destroyed by the IRS, were known to the public. There's some irony, given that the eventual investigation, which he frankly never wanted to proceed, uncovered emails between his office and Lerner showing coordination in going after "True the Vote", a group they both apparently didn't like:

https://oversight.house.gov/release/new-irs-e-mails-lois-lerner-funneled-elijah-cummings-info-targeted-conservative-group/

Shocking, positively shocking. I guess that's par for the course in government. But in all seriousness, given a conflict of interest this glowingly radioactive, why has this bonehad been allowed to stay on the Oversight Committee and continue to thwart Congressional oversight?

Posted by: MM | Sep 13, 2016 7:12:37 PM

Hundreds of years, Mr. wodun? Really? The modern Democratic Party alignment dates from about 1964. The New Deal Coalition from 1932 or so. The Jacksonian version of the party, which most historians suggest was the beginning of the party, from 1828. Hundreds of years?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Sep 14, 2016 5:48:23 AM

Mr. MM: For real? Your sleight of hand is showing. The “subpoenaed documents” to which you refer were not documents dealing in any way with Commissioner Koskinen, and you know it. And let’s get really serious here. If Congress really wanted to “get to the bottom of things,” Chairman Chaffetz (or Chairman Issa before him) would have given immunity to Ms. Lerner. He didn’t and he won’t. Because if he did, and he compelled her testimony, his microphone would wither away.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Sep 14, 2016 1:53:03 PM

Pubs,

Koskinen was head of the IRS while some (most?) of the subpoenaed documents were destroyed, right around the time he promised Congressional investigators that all subpoenaed emails would be turned over. And he failed to notify Congress for 3 months that they had been destroyed. That the documents had nothing to do with him personally is irrelevant, and a lazy red herring from my favorite bloodsucking lawyer,

At a minimum in this case, the head of the IRS made public statements to Congress that turned out to be false, and by not notifying the National Archives, either intentionally or accidentally violated the Federal Records Act. By taking these actions, or rather inactions, he made himself responsible for clear wrongdoing IMO.

I don't think he should be impeached. Even censure is a waste of time. I think he should be fired, lose his pension, and be prohibited from ever working in government again. But the President doesn't fire career bureaucrats for dereliction of duty. He just fires them for doing their job a little too thoroughly, like the late IG Gerald Walpin.

As for Lerner, I'm no conspiracy theorist. There's no smoking gun leading to the White House. But this pattern of behavior, which originated within the IRS bureaucratic culture, was encouraged by officials at DOJ. Lerner's the prime suspect, obviously since she violated both civil and criminal confidentiality law, and granting her immunity would be letting her off the hook. And since nobody at the DOJ was ever going to seriously investigate her anyway, nor any of their own, for an illegal political fishing expedition aimed at conservative groups, the whole affair is a moot point.

But that doesn't mean there was no wrongdoing. Far from it, the pattern of behavior is clear to anyone familiar with government malfeasance. If the IRS did absolutely nothing wrong intentionally, they certainly acted like it with the Triple-D strategy: Defensiveness, Dishonesty, and Denial, virtually from Day 1.

Posted by: MM | Sep 14, 2016 8:56:15 PM