This post was originally published on Forbes Oct 6, 2015
The interminable IRS scandal is now on Day 880 by TaxProf count. The TaxProf is Paul Caron, a law professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and Editor of the TaxProf Blog. I consider Paul Caron the dean of the tax blogosphere. His IRS Scandal series is a valuable reference tool if you want to reconstruct the chronology of the scandal, but I think the series may have finally jumped the shark.
After months of denying that the IRS has been targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny, Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS's Exempt Organizations Division, admitted that the IRS had been giving additional scrutiny to applications for tax-exempt status from goups with the "Tea Party" or "patriot" in their title. She denied there was any political motivation and blamed the practice on a low-level employee in Cincinnati.
In a February 2011 email, Ms. Lerner advised her staff—including then Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz—that a Tea Party matter is "very dangerous," and is something "Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on." Ms. Lerner adds, "Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.
Not Even A Smidgen
“So you’re saying there was no corruption there at all?” O’Reilly asked.“Absolutely not,” the president replied. “There were some bone-headed decisions out of a local office.”“But no mass corruption?” O’Reilly persisted.“Not even mass corruption,” a visibly-annoyed Obama replied. “Not even a smidgen of corruption.”
The idea that politicians should write laws restricting people critical of them is as perverse as the idea that the sprawling, opaque IRS bureaucracy should be assigned to construe and apply such laws.
On Day 327, you might have thought there was light at the end of tunnel.
In a stunning bipartisan agreement, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chair Darrell Issa and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings committed to aggressively pursue investigations into the IRS's targeting of conservative groups in advance of the 2012 presidential election.
Day 369 gives us a piece by Paul Caron, himself - The Media Ignore IRS Scandal - (As someone who took Greek in high school I have to admire the prof for knowing that the word "media" is plural)
Today's news media are largely ignoring the IRS scandal, and it is impossible to have confidence in the current investigations by the FBI, Justice Department, and House committee. I am not suggesting that the current scandal in the end will rise to the level of Watergate. But the allegations are serious, and fair-minded Americans of both parties should agree that a thorough investigation needs to be undertaken to either debunk them or confirm them.
Step one should be to give Lois Lerner full immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. And then let the chips fall where they may.
One would think that the lack of any new evidence, after a year of herculean efforts by conservative activists and elected Republicans, would cause all but the most committed scandal mongers to move on. Some activists, however, pointed for support to the TaxProf Blog, an “aggregator” website that provides links to tax-related news items (and items relevant to law professors at large), providing those links generally without comment, and thus without political spin or commentary.
Professor Caron used every political signal in the book, and permanently compromised his public reputation, to implore conservatives to prove what he suspects is surely true, but which only suppositions currently support. One must hope that his compatriots honor his sacrifice and listen to him.
Day 516 brings us something on the pre-Lerner scandal which I dubbed Goolsbeegate which was triggered by a remark by Austan Goolsbee in 2010 about Koch Industries being an S corp (which it is likely not). The litigation about how it is that TIGTA determined that Goolsbee's remark was not a result of improper disclosure is still ongoing.