TaxProf Blog

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1268: Sen. Whitehouse — Republicans Are Using Koskinen Impeachment To Bring IRS To Heel On Dark Money Campaign Financing

IRS Logo 2The Hill op-ed: The Republican Mission to Quell the IRS, by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI):

It looks like any other slick political ad on your TV. There’s ominous music, a dramatic voice-over, a grainy picture of President Obama. But this isn’t just another campaign commercial.

The news broke recently that a Republican mega-donor plans to spend about $1 million a week on ads calling on Congress to impeach John Koskinen, the commissioner of the IRS. It seems like an odd way to spend your millions. While it’s true that the IRS is the right’s favorite whipping boy, why the campaign-style ad blitz?

Well, in my years as a prosecutor, it’s become a habit to consider motive. So it got me thinking: What motive do the Republicans have to impeach the IRS commissioner? Maybe it’s just emotional acting-out against an agency they hate because it collects the taxes they hate. Maybe it’s an outbreak of political madness.

Or maybe there is method to their madness.

Let’s look at the Republican Party and how it is funded. While it raises a healthy amount for its campaign committees, Republicans and their allies depend increasingly on the super PACs and shadowy outside spending groups made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. ...

An under-funded and harried IRS has been unwilling to police the activities of powerful social welfare groups after an effort to separate out new applicants blew up in its face. In 2013, the IRS signaled it would begin the process of drafting a rule to better enforce our laws limiting dark money in elections. It later put the rulemaking process on hold after an especially loud outcry from conservative groups. The agency also came under heavy fire in the press from conservatives and Republicans in Congress who feared having the hose to their political oxygen crimped. And since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2011, they’ve worked to slash the IRS budget. Funding in 2016 was $11.2 billion, or 17 percent below 2010 levels, adjusted for inflation.

So the dark-money floodgates remain wide open, deluging our politics in special-interest slime.

The GOP’s crusade against Commissioner Koskinen may seem overblown, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider motive: Republicans need dark money, and dark money needs a cowering IRS.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/10/the-irs-scandal-day-1268-sen-whitehouse-republicans-are-using-koskinen-impeachment-to-bring-irs-to-h.html

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Political News, Tax | Permalink

Comments

Now, if Republicans could just find any evidence that someone in the IRS thinks that climate change science has not been fully settled...then they could count on Senator Whitehouse to open the floodgates of legal hell, starting with RICO. What a crass hypocrite. Richard Nixon has nothing on this hack.

Posted by: MG | Oct 28, 2016 3:56:31 AM

Which Presidential candidate ahas benefitted the most from so-called dark money this campaign cycle?

Senator Whitehouse goes after the elephant in the room, but it turns out to be a donkey, both in the primaries and general election:

http://commondreams.org/views/2016/04/01/leader-clintons-dark-money-alliance-files-ethics-complaints-against-sanders

Posted by: MM | Oct 28, 2016 6:29:02 AM

Perhaps Sen. Whitehouse might read yesterday's Scandal lead to answer his question on motivation: "The IRS Scandal, Day 1267: Court Orders IRS to Give Account For Targeting Conservatives"

Posted by: James Millican | Oct 28, 2016 7:44:49 AM

Impeaching Koskinen should have been a no brainer, a year ago. Now, it's just a show vote for the election. I used to think the Republicans were the stupid party, for not getting this done, but the reality is, they don't want to go through with impeachment because they were involved, up to their eyeballs, in the IRS targeting of the tea party. The truth be known, there are many in the Republican Party, who didn't want the tea party to gain any political clout before the 2012 election and, it wouldn't surprise me, if the IRS saved the proof.

Posted by: bflat879 | Oct 28, 2016 8:34:49 AM

What motive do the Republicans have to impeach the IRS commissioner? Maybe it’s just emotional acting-out against an agency they hate because it collects the taxes they hate. Maybe it’s an outbreak of political madness.

Or maybe they are upset because the Obama administration and congressional Democrats weaponized the IRS to persecute dissidents.

So the dark-money floodgates remain wide open, deluging our politics in special-interest slime.

Democrats always say this but never go after their far more extensive dark money network. Democrats have a multibillion dollar industry built up around money laundering in the name of politics. And as we saw with the Project Veritas videos, Democrats use their dark money to organize violence against their political opponents, just like they have been doing for over 100 years.

Posted by: wodun | Oct 28, 2016 8:39:16 AM