Imagine you go to your mailbox and find a letter from the IRS. Your heart skips a beat. You get an anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach. Why? It's because the IRS is a powerful and unforgiving agency of the government that is difficult and extremely costly to argue with. The contents of that envelope can strain, disrupt or even destroy your life.
The last thing Americans need, whether they are conservative or liberal, is the weaponization of this agency. Today, a Democratic administration controls the IRS, but that will not always be the case. No one deserves to be on an "enemies list" of the IRS simply because of their political beliefs. I hope we can all agree on that.
Enter John Koskinen, the new face of the IRS. He is the new IRS commissioner who has just testified in front of Congress concerning the targeting of conservative groups. His smug, arrogant and uncooperative attitude will only serve to magnify the IRS's harsh image. The IRS is one agency that needs to be totally nonpartisan, and Mr. Koskinen does not send a message of impartiality.
With that in mind, let's review the timeline of the IRS scandal. First, we must be reminded the actual targeting, which was admitted to by Lois Lerner, went on from August 2010 (just before the midterm "shellacking" as described by President Barack Obama) until May 2013.
On June 3, 2011, U.S. Rep. David Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote a letter to Douglas Shulman, who was IRS commissioner, asking him to investigate Lois Lerner for criminal activity in the targeting of conservative groups. Ten days later, on June 13, Lois Lerner's computer crashed, conveniently losing her email from January 2009 to April 2011, the critical time period to be investigated.
In September 2011, the IRS fires the company that protects their email system, Sonasoft. Keep in mind conservative groups are being harassed by the IRS and often the FBI, the Justice Department and even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the entire two-year period leading to the presidential elections in 2012. This is not theory. This is fact.
In May 2013, Lois Lerner plants a question at a news conference, which allows her to admit to the targeting of conservative groups. She even acknowledges it was wrong but, of course, claims there were no political intentions. While that is debatable, does it even matter? The damage has been done.
Later that month, the U.S. Department of Treasury inspector general concluded his audit and found the IRS had used "inappropriate criteria" to target conservative groups. After reading the inspector general's audit, President Obama said, if true, these actions were "outrageous" and he was going to hold people accountable.
About a week later, May 22, Lois Lerner pleads the Fifth Amendment at a Congressional hearing. That is certainly her right but might cause the average American to wonder what it is that could "incriminate" her. Calling Eric Holder!
Over a year later, no serious person is suggesting this targeting did not occur, yet no one has been fired or even reprimanded. The president tells us there is not a "smidgen" of corruption in this fiasco, yet he obviously has not read the email of the central person in this controversy during the critical time period. How could he possibly know?
Finally, do not be deceived by those who suggest progressive groups were investigated at equal rates to conservative groups. That depends on how you define "investigate." All groups who apply for 501(c)4 status are supposed to be "investigated," not obstructed.
The real issue is that 292 conservative groups were harassed through inappropriate questions delaying resolution to their requests. To understand their outrage, you need to read some of these questions. They truly were ridiculous.
Some groups were asked for a list of donors, which is specifically prohibited by 501(c)4 rules. Some were even asked what they prayed for. According to the inspector general, no progressive groups were subjected to similar questions. So, the real score is 292 to zero. Does that sound impartial?
This treatment and timeline is concerning for all Americans. The newest poll numbers show 74 percent of Americans want more investigation into this scandal. If you are a far-left zealot, imagine this persecution and dubious activity happening under George W. Bush. Be honest with yourself.
I personally hope this scandal does not lead to the White House and certainly not to the president. It would sadden me if it did, but someone needs to be held accountable for this travesty. In my opinion, someone probably needs to go to jail.
KEVIN CANFIELD OF SPRINGDALE IS AUTHOR OF "MASTERING SALES." HE ALSO BLOGS AT KEVINCANFIELD.BLOGSPOT.COM.Commentary on 07/06/2014
Print Headline: IRS Abuse A Scandal We Can’t Let Die