The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The IRS Scandal—Redux

It has been 1055 days since the first news of the weaponization of the Internal Revenue Service against political opponents of Barack Obama. The Obama White House, protected by Congressional Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media, stonewalled every attempt at investigation into the truth. No one went to jail, no one was fired, only a very few "resigned." The entire scandal was swept under the rug.

But law suits continue. James Taranto reports on recent events:
Will federal employees who support President Obama ever be held accountable for hijacking the Internal Revenue Service and using it to assist Obama’s re-election bid? Thanks to a ruling yesterday from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of appeals, it’s possible the answer is yes.

The Washington Times’s Stephen Dinan sums up the finding: “A federal appeals court spanked the IRS Tuesday, saying it has taken laws designed to protect taxpayers from the government and turned them on their head, using them to try to protect the tax agency from the very tea party groups it targeted.”

The ruling, in a case styled U.S. v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots, was a response to an IRS petition for a writ of mandamus—a command to an inferior court, in this case the Cincinnati-based district court of Judge Susan Dlott—to shut off the plaintiffs’ discovery efforts.

Writing for the unanimous three-judge appellate panel, Judge Raymond Kethledge observes that mandamus is “an extraordinary remedy reserved to correct only the clearest abuses of power by a district court.” The appeals judges not only found no such abuse; they ordered the IRS to comply with Dlott’s orders. The ruling closes by strongly suggesting that the Justice Department lawyers representing the IRS have been acting in bad faith:
The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws—all of them, not just selective ones—in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition. We expect that the IRS will do better going forward. And we order that the IRS comply with the district court’s discovery orders of April 1 and June 16, 2015—without redactions, and without further delay.

The Colfax, Calif.-based NorCal Tea Party Patriots brought the lawsuit in 2013, after an inspector general’s report revealed the IRS’s improper targeting of groups opposed to Obama. (The case is being heard in Cincinnati because that is the location of the IRS office that did the work of suppression.)
For almost three years the Obama administration has hoped to run out the clock—to stonewall, use legal blocking maneuvers, and otherwise attempt to thwart investigation into a scandal that is far, far more serious than, say, Watergate. They have largely succeeded.

Democrats have suggested that this is all "political," and they're right. The IRS was used to crush political opponents of a Democratic president. It was all "political" in the worst possible way. Once this scandalous behavior was uncovered, lies, obstruction, obfuscation, and delays were used to thwart a legitimate investigation into serious abuse. Incredibly, a senior IRS official took the fifth rather than testifying and was allowed to resign at full pension!

Taranto writes:
In 1972 the IRS itself had more integrity than the White House. As we noted in 2014, then-Commissioner Johnnie Walters ignored an order from White House aide John Dean to target 200 of Nixon’s political enemies. “If I did what you asked, it’d make Watergate look like a Sunday school picnic,” Walters told Dean.

Under Obama, the IRS itself appears to have taken the initiative to target political opponents of the president—and not just powerful enemies, but ordinary Americans seeking to organize lawfully to further their views.
The use of a federal tax agency in this way is something that happens in a banana republic. The Dems should be as concerned as the GOP that a federal agency is being used for partisan politics. Because they are not concerned and because they have worked tirelessly to thwart an investigation, their party does not deserve the presidency in 2016.


As an aside, it turns out that the Obama Justice Department has prosecuted far fewer public officials than the two administrations that preceded his. Kathryn Watson reports:
President Barack Obama’s administration is prosecuting fewer federal officials for public corruption than his two predecessors, but Department of Justice (DOJ) officials aren’t talking about why.

Obama’s administration has pursued 16 percent fewer public corruption charges against federal employees than the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, according to a 2014 DOJ report to Congress on public integrity.

The Obama administration has filed an annual average of 390 such prosecutions, which represents a 16 percent decrease from the Bush and Clinton years.
I suppose one could make the argument that the Obama's government is more honest than its predecessors (hence, fewer prosecutions), but since the size of government has grown dramatically under Obama, that claim strains credulity. Just maybe, this administration simply doesn't care or worries about the "atmospherics" associated with indictments. They've certainly tried very, very hard not to indict anyone at the IRS who targeted innocent taxpayer organizations.