Once upon a time back in 2013, the IRS was accused of targeting conservative groups who had applied for a tax-exempt status. Fox News pundits and far-right GOP politicians dubbed it “Obama’s Watergate” and insisted it was the scandal that would bring down the Obama administration and expose the left for their unfair treatment of GOP patriots. Several among the most ardent fighters for truth and justice as a result of this scandal still fight the good fight today.
There is one problem with this. Just like the Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal never happened. President Obama had nothing to do with the IRS’s daily operating procedures, no matter how many times the GOP insisted that the targeted groups were straight off the “the enemies list out of the White House.” An investigation found no criminal wrong-doing, although they did find a lot of other things, which were described in a letter from House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who is a Republican:
“Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime, We found no evidence that any IRS official acted on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.”
That mismanagement delayed the applications for tax-exempt status from groups that espoused all kinds of beliefs: liberal, conservative, and everything in between. There was no targeting, specifically, of any conservative group. No civil rights or free speech had been violated. The GOP fear-mongers should have understood the stand-down order fairly plainly.
Of course, that’s not what happened. This is the GOP and this story had all the earmarks of two of their favorite things: scandals and conspiracy theories, and the fiscally conservative party had already spent roughly $20 million on the investigation.
Nevertheless, the fight continues today, because of course it does. Despite the fact that a committee already decided that no criminal charges would be filed because the scandal was just another GOP-led non-scandal, those brave warriors for truth and justice have still managed a victory in this fight against nothing.
They’ll have a chance to impeach the IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen.
“The House Judiciary Committee’s decision to hold hearings a week from today on whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is a victory for the chamber’s far-right caucus, still smarting over the agency’s treatment of conservative groups.
Over five years, House Republicans have slashed the IRS budget, passed bills banning employee bonuses and prohibiting employees fired for misconduct from getting rehired. The GOP has vowed to simplify the tax code, pounced on agency management failures and assailed customer service breakdowns caused by the budget cuts.
And last week, anti-IRS lawmakers persuaded previously hesitant House leaders to start the unusual process of removing the tax collector from office.”
Jason Chaffetz, who chaired the committee that conducted the investigation and wrote the letter that informed US Representative Elijah Cummings, a ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, that no criminal activity had been uncovered, is leading the fight toward impeachment and moved to censure the IRS Commissioner just days ahead of the impeachment hearings.
“Chaffetz, the far-right chairman of the House Oversight Committee, explained in a statement yesterday, ‘I view censure as a precursor to impeachment.’ He added a few weeks ago, ‘My foremost goal is impeachment and I’m not letting go of it.'”
Lest anyone think that Chaffetz is making this move to impeach Koskinen because of the discovery of “mismanagement and poor judgment” that Chaffetz found during the useless investigation, there’s one more critical piece to this story.
“Koskinen wasn’t even at the agency at the time of the alleged wrongdoing, GOP lawmakers want to impeach him because they disapprove of his handling of the imaginary controversy.”
That’s $20 million in taxpayer money for the GOP version of a Jerry Springer episode, but God forbid a single mother get less than $400 a month to feed, clothe, and house her child or a family of four get less than $2 per person per day to feed them all.
That’s the GOP.
For The Young Turks segment on the IRS scandal, see video below:
Featured image via Getty/Drew Angerer