The Smoking Gun In The IRS Corruption

It’s right there, for anyone who is willing to see it:

The mainstream press has justified its lack of coverage over the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups because there’s been no “smoking gun” tying President Obama to the scandal. This betrays a remarkable, if not willful, failure to understand abuse of power. The political pressure on the IRS to delay or deny tax-exempt status for conservative groups has been obvious to anyone who cares to open his eyes. It did not come from a direct order from the White House, but it didn’t have to.

Yup. As I wrote when the story first broke:

After the Supreme Court ruled against the administration in Citizens United (the case that some defending the IRS are claiming was the cause of the new scrutiny, despite the fact that it started before the caseloads began to increase), President Civility lectured them, a captive audience at the State of the Union speech, lying about the ruling to their faces (well, all right, to be fair, he may not have been lying — President Constitutional Scholar may have just been ignorant on the nature of the ruling). This undoubtedly made many in his government think that it gave them license to fight the ruling in the trenches against the sudden growth in enemies of the state it had spurred, since their president had said it was wrong.

Let me (as the president would say) be clear. I will be in no way shocked if emails are discovered showing that the White House actively ordered IRS officials to go after Tea Party groups, while green lighting his political allies. My only point is that, sadly, it wouldn’t have been necessary for them to do so.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170, it wasn’t done at the direct order of King Henry II. It didn’t have to be. All it required was for the monarch to muse, aloud, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

But sadly, while we have badly needed a better president for over four years, the real problem isn’t the men and women running the system, and it wasn’t a failure of the system — it is the system itself.

And nothing is happening to fix it, at least so far. There has been no accountability. Congress needs to call Lerner back, and if she refuses to testify, let her do some time for contempt.

[Update a while later]

What happens when Lerner returns to testify next week?

There is no doubt that crimes were committed by IRS officials. Cincinnati unit manager for tax-exempt organizations Cindy Thomas, released the tax applications of nine conservative organizations to left-wing Pro Publica. The IRS systematically delayed conservative groups’ tax-exempt applications across the 2010 to 2012 pre-election timespan, while at the same time, Malik Obama’s Barack H. Obama Foundation’s application was fast-tracked and back-dated. Most left-wing groups saw their applications for tax-exempt status sail through the IRS process. Someone set up a regime to scrutinize conservative groups’ applications more closely than liberal groups. The FBI has slow-dragged its investigation, and still has not even interviewed many of those who believe the IRS abused them. Someone also needs to explain how some conservative leaders have been subjected to IRS audits and long-term assault by an alphabet soup of executive branch agencies during the period in which the IRS abused conservative tax-exempt groups. As the person who first leaked the IRS abuse, and as someone who has a history of using government power against conservatives, Lerner is in a position to know quite a bit how the abuse began and who was directing it, if she was not directing it herself.

Congress lacks the power to prosecute Lerner, but it can grant her immunity from prosecution if she provides credible and compelling evidence that points to others with knowledge of the scandal. It’s unlikely that Lois Lerner is the kingpin of the IRS abuse scandal. She probably lacked the power on her own within the IRS to launch the scrutiny of the abused groups, and she certainly lacked the power to move other executive branch agencies against conservatives. But as the IRS official who first disclosed it, and excused it as actions by “rogue” officers in Cincinnati, Lerner obviously knew a great deal about it — enough to know that it should be downplayed to minimize its political fallout. She lacked any power over the FBI’s failure to fully investigate, and she could not have appointed Obama campaign donor Barbara Bosserman to investigate the case. The Tatler has been told by a very reliable source that evidence exists pointing to White House involvement in the scandal. Issa’s committee surely has the same information. Lerner’s appearance next week presents an excellent opportunity to pursue it.

We’ll see.

5 thoughts on “The Smoking Gun In The IRS Corruption

  1. Jon

    There is no scandal. Jim says so. All government employees are objective and rational, with no self-interest in perpetuating their jobs. They would never manipulate the system in order to preserve the status quo. Why, just look at the writings of Woodrow Wilson and other progressives. They all told us bureaucrats are independent of both parties, and are above political wrangling.

  2. Paul Milenkovic

    To “get Nixon”, this Alexander Butterfield fellow had to blab about the taping system.

    Yeah, yeah, Johnson also had tapes, but you know this that and all of that.

    They were smart enough not to have tapes.

    The other thing, is I really need to take notes when I surf the Web so I can give proper attribution. There was “this post somewhere” about David Axelrod, marketing genius. Yeah, yeah, I know where I read it, in the comments on that paleo of all paleo Conservative (not Libertarian sites) where these things get discussed.

    Whether the discussion over there can be repeated among polite company, there are some smart people “over there.” This is not about Right or Left or Liberal, Libertarian, or Conservative, it is all about marketing. I am heavily paraphrasing, but some railroad had Mr. Axelrod as a consultant and they wanted to route some hazmat cargo in tank cars through the South Side of Chicago. Many of you may know Chicago has a lot of railroad, with many lines transiting the expanse of the South Side because they have to skirt Lake Michigan.

    You would think that the community organizers (cough, Mr. Obama, cough) would oppose this because this is not just complaining, this is for real exposing all of the poor folk and minority folk and working class people of all races living on the South Side to those tank cars tipping over and driving them from their homes with fire and poison fumes. The story is that David Axelrod managed to “astro-turf” this issue that suddenly all the poor folk and minority folk and working class people of all races were complaining that the railroad was not permitted to carry this cargo.

    So what happens is that “everyone knew” that Mitt Romney was going to be the Republican nominee. Yeah, yeah, he was not really the Tea Party’s cup of tea and he was still living in the Ozzie and Harriet version of 1950′s reality TV, but 1) it was his “turn” and that is what the Repub Establishment does — take turns, and 2) he is this genius turn-around specialisst who was going to turn around the mess of our economy that Mr. Obama hasn’t fixed even if people believe Bush was responsible.

    Guess what. Mr. Marketing went to work. You see not only do turn-around specialists turn around failing businesses, they can be pretty ruthless at times with some people’s jobs and a lot of people’s pensions and benefits. Never mind that everyone loses when the company goes bankrupt, a lot of people lose, people like Mr. Romney win. A lot of non-minority people, who are not that hot about Mr. Obama, maybe for the virtuous reason that Mr. Obama ‘s economic plan hasn’t work, maybe for the not virtuous reason of racism, for whatever reason, they just couldn’t get themselves to the polls to mark their choice for Mr. Romney.

    David Axelrod pounded on the “vulture capitalist” theme, whether Mitt Romney deserved it or not. Mitt Romney ran, not on big ideas but on being the businessman who would “turn around” America, that is, on his record in business. I think I now know why Mr. Axelrod was so smug about winning the election. It is not about ideas or ideology, it is about marketing. Mr. Romney may be very smart, but Mr. Axelrod is a better marketing person.

  3. Arizona CJ

    I find this perplexing.

    Governor Christie’s bridge lane closing scandal is hurting him badly, because (as the left’s argument goes) although there’s no proof that he knew of it in advance or ordered it, he was in charge, and he engendered the culture which made such petty tyranny occur.

    But, with Obama and the IRS, the actual offense of the IRS was vastly more grave, yet, for some reason, the same logic that’s being used to hang Christie out to dry doesn’t apply to Obama?

    I’d really love it if someone on the left would explain to me why Christie is to blame (I happen to agree on that part) yet Obama isn’t?

    1. Jim

      The bridge scandal is hurting Christie because the scandal has the three necessary elements:

      1. There was wrongdoing (Christie’s aides closing the lanes, and Christie lying about when he knew about it)
      2. It was done for political or other illegitimate motives (there was no legitimate reason to close the lanes)
      3. The wrongdoing was committed by the officeholder in question, or people close to him (Christie’s top aides and appointees, and Christie himself)

      The IRS scandal has #1 (using “Tea Party” and “9/12″ as search terms, leaking taxpayer data), but not #2 and #3; a political motive has been inferred but not proved, and no link to anyone close to Obama has emerged.

  4. Jim

    What happens when Lerner returns to testify next week?

    The answer: she takes the fifth, again, and Issa cuts the mic while Rep. Cummings is speaking.

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