THE SMIDGEN REPORT UPDATE: How Congress Botched the IRS ProbePosted: May 15, 2015
Top officials repeatedly misled investigators without consequences. Congress needs to get tougher.
Cleta Mitchell writes: Two years ago this week, a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Information confirmed what hundreds of tea party, conservative, pro-life and pro-Israel organizations had long known: The Internal Revenue Service had stopped processing their applications for exempt status and subjected them to onerous, intrusive and discriminatory practices because of their political views.
“Lying to Congress is a felony. But the Obama Justice Department has not lifted a finger to prosecute anyone responsible for the IRS scandal, including top brass who repeatedly gave false testimony to Congress.”
Since the report, additional congressional investigations have revealed a lot about IRS dysfunction—and worse. But they’ve also revealed Congress’s inability to exercise its constitutional oversight responsibilities of this and other executive agencies.
Consider the repeated testimony and other statements to Congress subsequently shown to be false. The report issued in December by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.)—then chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—details numerous instances in which senior IRS officials, including former Commissioner Doug Shulman, Acting Commissioner Steven Miller and Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lernerlied to Congress, denying and covering up the targeting of tea party and conservative groups before the inspector general’s May 2013 report.
Mr. Shulman told the Ways and Means Committee in March 2012 that there was no targeting of conservative groups. Congressional investigations, the Issa committee report notes, established that at the time of his denial Mr. Schulman knew there was “a backlog of applications, delays in processing, and the use of inappropriate development questions.”
In the early months of 2012, Ms. Lerner made multiple false statements to Congress. In personal meetings, telephone interviews and written communications with congressional investigators, Ms. Lerner denied there were any changes in the criteria for evaluating applications for exempt status. She stated, falsely, that the intrusive demands from her agency for proprietary information from grass-roots organizations were “ordinary”—a characterization the inspector general’s report specifically rebutted.
Ms. Lerner also told Congress that “nothing had changed” about the way her unit handled such applications. But at the very time she said that, the IRS, including Ms. Lerner, had already identified seven types of information that it had inappropriately demanded from conservative groups between 2010 and 2013. These included donor lists, transcripts of speeches by public officials to meetings, and lists of groups to whom leaders made presentations.
Between May 2012 and May 2013, Mr. Miller testified before Congress on at least six occasions, first as deputy IRS commissioner, then as acting commissioner. He withheld information from Congress each time about the targeting. In a November 2013 interview with congressional investigators—well after the targeting had been documented in the inspector general’s report—Mr. Miller admitted that he became aware of possible IRS misconduct in February 2012.
In the 15 months since he became the IRS commissioner, John Koskinen has testified repeatedly, sparring with members of Congress on a variety of subjects. In June 2014, after the IRS informed the Senate Finance Committee of the “missing Lois Lerner emails,” he told the Ways and Means Committee of the yeoman, but unsuccessful, efforts by various people within the agency to recover the Lerner emails. He claimed that it would cost “$10 million to upgrade the IRS’s technology infrastructure to begin saving and storing emails sent or received by” agency employees….(read more)
Ms. Mitchell is a partner in the Washington office of Foley & Lardner. She represents many conservative and tea party organizations targeted by the IRS.
- Lois Lerner Lost Email Narrative Debunked by IT experts on The Mark Levin Show (Audio) (thegatewaypundit.com)
- House Ways and Means committee refers Lois Lerner to DOJ for criminal prosecution (dailycaller.com)
- US Archivist: The IRS ‘did not follow the law’ (hotair.com)
- LIVE: House Oversight hearing on #IRS targeting – Lois Lerner to appear (legalinsurrection.com)
- IRS Erased Key Records in Lawsuit, NetJets Says (nationalreview.com)
- The IRS scandal: A refresher (powerlineblog.com)
- Republican National Committee sues the IRS (dailycaller.com)