The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House counsel was advised of the Inspector General’s audit findings weeks ago. Doug Ross has compiled a useful IRS scandal timeline into which this latest tidbit fits.
A friend with substantial experience as a chief executive officer looks back on what we have learned to date about the IRS harassment of Obama administration political opponents. He raises the issue of executive responsibility:
Someone needs to call out Obama on the phony claim that he was precluded from being alerted in 2012 because of the investigation. They are hiding behind the existence of the investigation to justify his failure to act. His staff has an obligation to bring to his attention any improper and illegal activities and he has the authority and obligation to act upon hearing of them. Once alerted, and the activities halted, the investigation could proceed unhindered. If Obama’s logic prevailed, the mere initiation of an IG investigation gives you a hall pass to do anything you want until it leaks.
In this case, there is no evidence that the targeting activities were stopped once the IG office began its inquiries. They got the best of all worlds — unhindered political malfeasance in an election year and claims they were powerless to do anything about it. We, of course, know they didn’t want the activities to stop, which explains why they are taking the position that it was “out of their hands.”
UPDATE: My friend writes to specify that he was referring to the June 2012 alert given by the IG to senior Treasury department officials:
Upon hearing of such potential improper activity, the administration had an obligation both to alert his superior and to take immediate action to get it stopped. A simple memo could have been written to halt the activity immediately: “We are concerned improper targeting may be taking place. Please alert us if you are aware of any activity like this occurring. If you have initiated such activity, halt it immediately.”
By neglecting to take action to halt the activity immediately, the administration is guilty of suborning it. Any business executive that caught a whiff of something in his or her business such as bribery, insider trading, or out-of-compliance quality, and delayed halting it, would face legal sanctions.
On a related note, a reader points out the dog that didn’t bark in Doug Ross’s timeline: “One obvious omission from the table of events is a stopped the targeting event, which is one key….Congress does not ask the critical question.”