On Nov. 12, 2017, one of the best things that could have happened to Washington happened. The term of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen ended.
Mr. Koskinen supervised the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups. He lied to Congress. He misled Congress. He ignored subpoenas and at least tried to allow evidence to be destroyed. If that sounds bad, don’t worry. Mr. Koskinen is a Democrat and for Democrats, those are resume enhancements, not felony offenses.
Conservatives in the House of Representatives wanted to impeach Mr. Koskinen but unfortunately, the House leadership blinked, and he was not impeached.
With Mr. Koskinen’s departure, President Trump has the opportunity to try and set things right. He has nominated Charles Rettig, who is a tax lawyer from California. Mr. Rettig must first be confirmed by the Senate.
Before he is confirmed by the Senate, there are many questions Mr. Rettig needs to answer about the IRS.
In 2016, 94 percent of the political contributions from IRS workers went to Hillary Clinton. What is the nominee going to do to address the political imbalance at the IRS? Republicans are at least half the nation, politically. Why doesn’t the IRS look like America?
What is the IRS doing to prevent a repeat of the 2010 through 2013 targeting scandal? The IRS targeted conservative and specifically tea party groups for greater scrutiny. But it was much more than that. In 2014, every single 501(c)(4) group that was audited was a conservative group.
Lois Lerner, the disgraced IRS executive, conspired with Obama appointees in the Department of Justice to prosecute conservatives for the crime of being conservative.
What is being done to clean house and fire the people responsible for these offenses against Americans? More importantly, what is being done to make certain that the IRS never again targets Americans for harassment because they are conservatives or Republicans?
The IRS collects an incredible amount of information on Americans. Americans are forced, under threat of criminal prosecution, to tell the agency all about their lives and their finances. Conservative groups have been victimized by IRS data “leaks.”
The conservative group the National Organization for Marriage was a victim of one of these leaks. Its 2008 tax return, along with the names and contact information for its major donors, was put on a left-wing website. This is information that came straight from the IRS. In 2014, the IRS was fined $50,000 for that leak. Will the IRS not only disclose the names of employees who leak confidential tax information, but will the IRS now fire these employees?
The IRS is such a weaponized agency, it is probably beyond redemption. It a perfect world, or even a good world, the IRS would be abolished and replaced. But this world is neither perfect nor good, and Mr. Trump is probably unwilling to embrace such a radical approach. And even if he did, the establishment or the swamp, as the president calls it, would fight and probably save the IRS.
Mr. Trump needs to clean house at the IRS. The question senators need to ask, before they vote to confirm Mr. Rettig to be the next IRS commissioner, is whether or not he will be the house cleaner.
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