In the summer of 2014, the Congressional Tea Party caucus held a meeting on Capitol Hill and invited the leaders of about 20 Tea Party groups. The meeting was to discuss strategy. As the meeting wound down, the door to the meeting room opened and in came Sen. John McCain.
The senator from Arizona received a polite but cool reception. He rambled for a couple of minutes, thanking the group for their work and asking them to work with him and the Republicans.
The reception would have been considerably less friendly had the Tea Party leaders known about the actions of Mr. McCain’s former staff director and chief counsel only a year earlier.
In April 2013, Henry Kerner, who was Mr. McCain’s staff director and chief counsel, met with Lois Lerner and others from the IRS. This was only weeks before the IRS targeting scandal broke. Mr. Kerner was meeting with the IRS to discuss 501(c)4 organizations. These were the activist organizations that the IRS tried to shut down. At least it was the conservative organizations that the IRS tried to destroy.
In this meeting, while discussing the issue of the 501(c)4 groups, Mr. Kerner suggested the IRS go after these groups by auditing them and audit “so many, it becomes financially ruinous.”
Mr. Kerner wanted to help Lois Lerner and Barack Obama destroy political organizations — to use the power of government to bankrupt these groups and silence them. It defies belief to think Mr. Kerner went to this meeting and offered this opinion without the explicit blessing from and direction of Mr. McCain. Though the office of the senior senator from Arizona has said allegations that he was involved in the IRS’ targeting “have no merit.”
John McCain has long had an uneasy relationship with the First Amendment. He was the co-author of one of the most constitutionally offensive laws this nation has ever seen: The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law might as well have been called the First Amendment Repeal Law or the Incumbent Protection Act. McCain-Feingold was largely declared unconstitutional and struck down in the famous Citizens United case.
America knows about the actions of Henry Kerner due to the ongoing work of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal activist group. America and even some of the conservatives targeted by the IRS have gone numb to this outrage. There is simply so much of it.
Perhaps the biggest question is, why hasn’t Congress done anything about the IRS abuses? Why hasn’t the Trump administration done anything?
The IRS still collects donor information from political non-profit organizations. What could possibly go wrong?
What has gone wrong? In the past, donor information has been leaked to left-wing groups and the information used to harass conservative donors. Daniel Webster, the respected American jurist said, “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy.”
The IRS has repeatedly shown its desire to destroy political groups that it disagrees with. The IRS has long since become a politicized weapon, used by the Democratic Party for the benefit of the Democrats.
Currently, Congress has legislation pending in front of it, authored by Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam and Tennessee Rep. Diane Black, to restrict the powers of the IRS.
It is a good start and should be passed. But it is not enough.
The IRS is a rogue agency. Its power and levels of abuse are antithetical to a free republic. This agency cannot be abolished soon enough.
Judson Phillips is the founder of the Tea Party Nation.
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