IRS scandal hurts nation

Published 11:23 am Friday, June 20, 2014

The Republican Congressional strategy of claiming every Obama administration decision on any front is a scandal or conspiracy has had an effect, just not perhaps the desired effect.

It has diminished the credibility of the Republican claims when Benghazi is a conspiracy, and the Bergdahl release is a scandal, and not sending troops into Syria is a weakness in foreign policy.

The truth is there remains no basis whatsoever to suggest Benghazi is anything other than a terrorist attack on Americans. Equally, there is no scandal in Bowe Bergdahl’s release, just a criticism of the choices made in the rapid paced negotiations to gain Bergdahl’s release.

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In Syria, those demanding a different response offer no alternative response, knowing committing combat troops was never a viable political choice. Yet the criticisms flowed like water to a drain.

All of these “If Obama does it we hate it” reflex responses would be laughable except for the concern that when a real potential issue of concern rises, it is mired in all the silliness of the other claims and absurdities.

Such is the case in the unfolding scandal of the IRS actions surrounding the decisions by the IRS to hold certain groups applying for tax-exempt status to extended scrutiny.

After the passage of Citizens United, a Supreme Court ruling that corporations are persons and money is speech, there was a rapid rise in Super PAC entities seeking tax-exempt status, with the largest number of groups representing Tea Party interests.

The groups examined, predominately Republican but including Democratic PACs, were asked extensive questions, held to long examinations, and sometimes rejected for tax-exempt status by the IRS.

The IRS Inspector General investigated and found no political motive for the actions. The IG noted the PAC’s were unreasonably flagged for words in their names rather than actions they had taken.

And that might have been the end of the issue but for the reality of a Republican-led House that fed off of committee investigations, both endless and pointless, in function and purpose.

But last week everything changed and now the IRS scandal should result in the naming of a special prosecutor.

What happened in the last week that changed everything was first the notification to Congress by the IRS that the computer files of Lois Lerner, an ex-IRS manager who has refused to testify before Congress, were irretrievably lost. Second, within just a few days, the notification that several of those who would have received emails from Lerner also had files lost without the possibility of recovery.

To suggest that this stretches credibility is an understatement, not unlike the dog that ate my homework excuse.

The oversight function of Congress is critical to the nation. And it is not only Republicans who have made the process often little more than political gamesmanship to inflame their supporters and antagonize their adversaries.

This time, however, these claims demand a nonpartisan response and a thorough investigation of the actual events at the IRS that underlie the disappearance of the missing emails.

Democrats in Congress should join Republicans in the demand for a Department of Justice naming of an independent special prosecutor. For if and when the IRS should act with political intent, such actions undermine the nation and cannot be tolerated.

There can be left no doubt of the integrity of the IRS, anything less harms the nation.

While Republicans have managed to miss the one true scandal by claiming every event is a scandal, they too must realize the seriousness of this issue and act responsibly to enlist Democratic support in this investigation.

Nothing less is acceptable.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.