In its attempt to get to the bottom of the Tea Party targeting scandal, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee introduced articles of impeachment on Tuesday against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen (shown) for lying, stalling, and deceiving Congress.
Koskinen was sold to the Senate as the one to break open and expose the scandal, promising to restore the IRS’s heavily damaged credibility. The Senate confirmed him as head of the IRS in December 2013, 59-36, and he took over as acting director in May 2013.
Almost from the beginning Koskinen has been, to put it charitably, less than forthright in his disclosures to Congress. Testifying ten times before Congress in 2014 over the targeting scandal, Koskinen has dithered, delayed, obfuscated, and ignored requests for more information. When pressed, he has lied. When he has been truthful, even those disclosures were hidden from view.
There are four charges made by Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). The first is Koskinen’s failure to comply with his committee’s subpoenas. In February 2014 Koskinen was directed to supply all e-mails related to Lois Lerner’s activities as head of the agency’s Exempt Organizations unit. When it was learned that somehow Lerner’s hard drive had crashed, the IRS then destroyed some 422 backup tapes containing an estimated 24,000 of Lerner’s e-mails.
The second charge was Koskinen’s “pattern of deception” he indulged in by making “materially false” statements to Congress under oath, including his assurances that none of Lerner’s e-mails had been lost when in fact, under his administration, the backup tapes containing them had been destroyed.
The third charge is that while Koskinen knew as early as February 2014 that Lerner’s e-mails had been “lost,” he failed to inform the committee in a timely manner. In fact, the truth came out in June of that year only when he “tucked the news into the fifth page of a third disclosure to an unrelated letter to the Senate,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Finally, Koskinen was charged with incompetence. He claimed that his agency had gone to “great lengths” to retrieve Lerner’s lost e-mails but failed to secure those backup tapes and keep them from being destroyed. When the Treasury inspector general did his own research, he found 1,000 Lerner e-mails in less than two weeks.
Eighteen members of the House Oversight Committee signed off on the articles. One exception was ranking minority member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who said, “This ridiculous resolution will demonstrate nothing but the Republican obsession with diving into investigative rabbit holes that waste tens of millions of taxpayer dollars while having absolutely no positive impact on a single American…. Calling this resolution a “stunt” or a “joke” would be insulting to stunts and jokes.”
Considering the source, that challenge to the committee’s efforts to uncover and expose the scandal becomes nothing but noise and nonsense. Cummings has four pages dedicated to him at discoverthenetworks.org, revealing his long history of working against the best interests of those Americans he claims to be concerned about. He is a member of the radical Congressional Black Caucus which he once chaired, as well as the equally radical Congressional Progressive Caucus. He was one of only 75 Democrats to vote in favor of continuing funding to ACORN after it was exposed. He has close working relationships with hard-core communists Van Jones and Barbara Lee, and has been outed by former Justice Department official J. Christian Adams, who called Cummings and his associates “liars” who “should be ashamed of themselves” for “bearing false witness against law-abiding citizens.”
If Chaffetz’s committee’s resolution is passed by the House (unlikely in light of time constraints and other pressing matters), it has very little chance in the Senate. This is unfortunate, as its failure will be another reminder that criminal activities in government agencies such as the IRS continue to go unpunished.
Photo: AP Images
A graduate of an Ivy League school and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at http://www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.