In today’s Wall Street Journal, Rep. Jim Jordan summarizes some of the evidence that the IRS has committed serious crimes at the behest of its political masters. Rep. Jordan is a member of the House Oversight Committee that has held hearings and conducted an investigation of the IRS’s criminal misconduct. Analyze this:
I have spent a considerable amount of time and energy on the investigation—which included 38 daylong interviews of IRS and Treasury employees ranging from line employees in Cincinnati to the IRS commissioner to the chief of staff of the U.S. Treasury. The real news has been revealed at the Lois Lerner hearing on March 5 and in the report of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on March 11: “Lois Lerner’s Involvement in the IRS Targeting of Tax-Exempt Organizations.”
The evidence brought to light in that hearing and report completely discredited Ms. Lerner’s claims about her involvement in what went on. It also eviscerated the notion that liberal and conservative groups were targeted.
When Ms. Lerner appeared before Congress in May 2013, she made this statement: “I have done nothing wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations.” But Ms. Lerner, we discovered, forwarded confidential taxpayer information to her personal email account in early May 2013, which is a violation of IRS rules. About the infamous “Be on the Lookout” targeting list—a document used to identify conservative groups for additional scrutiny—she told Congress that the criteria for screening tax-exempt groups for extra scrutiny never changed. In fact, she personally ordered it changed in July 2011 according to documents and testimony received by the committee.
Ms. Lerner was most certainly driven by politics. One email of June 11, 2011, shows that she directed her subordinate to focus on the issues surrounding the application of Karl Rove’s group, Crossroads GPS. In another email of Feb. 1, 2011, she frets about the Supreme Court “overturning the ban on corporate spending” as it applies to nonprofits. (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission also overturned the ban on union political spending, but she expressed no concern about that.)
Emails and testimony that we confronted Ms. Lerner with showed her saying that the tea party is “very dangerous,” ordering a “multitiered review” (read: delay) of the cases, and managing the optics of her operation so it would not be revealed as a political project.
Rep. Jordan proposes the appointment of a special prosecutor or independent counsel. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Help will not be forthcoming from the executive branch. We are left with political remedies in Congress and self-help through the courts.
Reminder: The charge that Richard Nixon attempted to misuse the IRS for political purposes made its way into the second of the three articles of impeachment against him. Nixon “endeavoured” to misuse the IRS, as set forth in in article 2. Nevertheless, Nixon’s efforts to misuse the IRS were futile. They went nowhere. Nixon and his henchmen desired the IRS to “screw” their political opponents, but their efforts were a pathetic failure.
Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield astutely complained that the IRS was a “monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.” As we have come to see, Caulfield was on to something. By contrast with Nixon’s failures to misuse the IRS, the IRS has very effectively “screwed” Obama’s political opponents, and we have yet to learn what the president knew and when he knew it.