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IRS Is Ready to Move On, but the American People Are Not

IRS Is Ready to Move On, but the American People Are Not

Ever since the IRS scandal broke, the agency’s defenders have been saying it’s over. President Obama denied a “smidgen” of corruption. Elijah Cummings still says “the case is solved.” These statements have the same ring as an officer waving people away from a yellow crime scene tape: “Move along – nothing to see here!” – which, of course, means that whatever’s behind the tape is fascinating and horrific.

In 2013, President Obama appointed John Koskinen IRS commissioner. He comes with plenty of experience with handling a crisis – Freddie Mac, the Y2K panic, and the city of Washington, D.C., through events surrounding 9/11. Having helped more than one failing organization survive or recover from its own mess, the hope was that he could work magic at the IRS. Now, he’s trying to get the IRS through this unfortunate crisis and restore public faith in the agency, but he’s chosen an interesting way of going about it.

One would think someone appointed to whip an organization into shape would come in and do just that. However, Koskinen has prolonged the delays in getting information to investigative committees, while complaining that he needs more money to get things done.

Instead of addressing the issue head-on, he’s offered diversions to the American people, taking public attention off the wrongdoing at the IRS. Most recently, the IRS celebrated the release of the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.” These will be posted prominently in public offices and distributed with correspondence to taxpayers. How comforting: You’re being audited! Let me read you your rights.

We could laugh at this smokescreen, but taxpayer rights are actually serious business. So is the government’s violation of them. No number of cheap signs can camouflage the truth of their actions.

We’re not going to fall for this bluff. And unfortunately for Koskinen, neither are most people. 

Watchdog agency Cause of Action has solid reason to suspect “bad faith” on the parts of the IRS and the White House in the case of the “lost emails.” Many suspected foul play when the news broke, but Cause of Action reveals that the IRS had already received a letter from Rep. Dave Camp, then-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, asking about complaints they’d been hearing. This letter served the IRS’s first notice of an investigation and was received on June 3, 2011 – ten days before Lois Lerner’s hard drive supposedly crashed. 

Here’s how the timeline lays out:

JUNE 3rd, 2011 – Chairman Dave Camp sent Lois Lerner a letter inquiring about what activity the IRS was engaged in that would cause delays and additional inquiry from the IRS into “conservative groups” that were complaining to his committee. Camp asked for a response from Lerner’s office.

JUNE 13th, 2011 – Ten days after Chairman Camp’s letter arrived at the IRS, Lois Lerner’s email system had a mysterious malfunction. Her hard drive also mysteriously crashed, supposedly wiping out the communication trail for activity she was engaged in with entities outside the IRS offices.

“It’s very clear that this is obstruction of Congress,” Dan Epstein, executive director for Cause of Action, told The Daily Caller. “The IRS on June 3, 2011, became on notice that there was a congressional investigation, which automatically means that there is a duty to preserve documents.” The fact that they did not leads not only to an inference of bad faith, he stated. “It was actually destruction, it was actually intentional.”

Steve Forbes is another who is finished waiting for the agency to get its act together; he suggested defunding the whole thing–except the bare staff necessary for processing returns–until the mess can be sorted out.

This would show the Obama administration that the American people mean business. Forbes also suggested that “concerted campaigns … be launched to educate the public on what is taking place. It means attacking smartly and with focus.” Now is the time, he asserted. We have to agree: It is, in fact, past time to get to the bottom of this scandal and get the American people some answers.

It’s not over, but it’s time for the government’s deception to stop.

Mark Meckler is the President of Citizens for Self-Governance, which created the Convention of States Project.

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