The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled hearings to examine alleged misconduct by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. On May 24, the House Judiciary Committee will hear the findings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation of the IRS chief. As the IRS Scandal reached Day 1102, House Republicans are still considering impeaching the Commissioner. Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) made this statement on the Judiciary Committee hearings:
I applaud Chairman Goodlatte’s decision to hold hearings on the resolution for impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Commissioner Koskinen failed to fulfill his duty to the American people by allowing back-up tapes containing potentially 24,000 emails to be destroyed. He failed to inform Congress about the destruction of these back-up tapes in a timely manner. He gave false testimony before Congress regarding the back-up tapes, and then refused to correct the record when given the opportunity.
Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist papers that impeachment should be used to protect the public against ‘the abuse or violation of some public trust.’ Commissioner Koskinen has most assuredly violated the public trust. It’s time for him to go. A hearing is the right first step, but ultimately Congress should hold a vote on impeachment.”
Last year House Republicans introduced a resolution to impeach the IRS Commissioner. The House members accuse the IRS chief of making false statements under oath and failing to comply with a subpoena for evidence. The impeachment resolution was introduced by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and 18 others. Mr. Chaffetz and others also penned a long letter to President Obama requesting the President to remove the Commissioner for obstructing the congressional investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.
That letter had no effect and House Republicans still want action. The resolution claimed that the IRS chief violated the public trust by:
- Failing to comply with a subpoena resulting in destruction of key evidence.Commissioner Koskinen failed to locate and preserve IRS records in accordance with a congressional subpoena and an internal preservation order. The IRS erased 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails – key pieces of evidence that were destroyed on Koskinen’s watch.
- Failing to testify truthfully and provided false and misleading information. Commissioner Koskinen testified the IRS turned over all emails relevant to the congressional investigation, including all of Ms. Lerner’s emails. When the agency determined Ms. Lerner’s emails were missing, Commissioner Koskinen testified the emails were unrecoverable. These statements were false.
- Failing to notify Congress that key evidence was missing. The IRS knew Ms. Lerner’s emails were missing in February 2014. In fact, they were not missing; the IRS destroyed the emails on March 4, 2014. The IRS did not notify Congress the emails were missing until June 2014 – four months later, and well after the White House and the Treasury Department were notified.
Some of the anti-IRS movement is arguably due to the seething animosity some Republicans still have over the targeting, and the way the IRS chief handled it. A raft of scandals involving the IRS, poor and even evasive responses to Congress, bungled approaches to security, and a seeming diffidence to the public and concerned legislators have not won the IRS any friends. For Republicans, the IRS Commissioner has been a lightning rod.
In the meantime, Republicans have pushed to pass laws slashing IRS power. President Obama has already threatened to veto bills that cut back on IRS budgets or power. Supporters say that the goal of such laws is to help improve customer service, prevent fraud, and ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately.
For alerts to future tax articles, email me at Wood@WoodLLP.com. This article is not legal advice.
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