Rep. Kenny Marchant represents the 24th Congressional District of Texas. He sits on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight and last month heard from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about lost emails central to the committee’s investigation on the targeting of conservative groups.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) holds immense power to invade and disrupt the lives of the American people. Any person who has ever paid taxes knows there are serious consequences for failing to be fully transparent with the IRS, and that they accept no excuses for noncompliance. Yet, since discovering that the IRS abused their power to deliberately target conservatives for their political beliefs, the administration has given nothing but excuses while working to impede our efforts to get Americans the truth.
I first became aware of the IRS’s political targeting in March of 2012 when I learned that conservatives in my district were being subjected to an extraordinary amount of scrutiny. Shortly thereafter, I raised serious concerns about this to then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman. His response – “I can give you assurances… [t]here is absolutely no targeting.” This would be the first of many statements from the administration regarding the targeting that we now know to be completely false.
The Ways and Means Committee’s subsequent investigation into the IRS’s political targeting has uncovered disturbing material evidence that the IRS did, in fact, unfairly target conservatives and, in some instances, unlawfully accessed and leaked confidential taxpayer information. We have even discovered that ex-IRS official Lois Lerner – a central orchestrator of the agency’s political targeting – attempted to initiate a baseless tax examination of a sitting Republican Senator.
But, we have now come to yet another administration created roadblock with their supposed loss of two years of Lerner’s emails from the height of the targeting activity. It is extremely hard to believe that these critical emails – along with those of six other key IRS employees – would all be lost to a computer crash just days after being requested by the Ways and Means Committee. What makes it even more questionable is the fact that the administration knew of this crash, did not disclose it to Congress for months, and then buried it within a 27-page report during one of their signature Friday news dumps.
The time for excuses and obstruction has long passed. The American people – especially those who were personally targeted by the IRS – deserve real answers. Our nearly two year investigation has proven that the administration is not going to willingly provide these answers. It is going to take appointing a special prosecutor to investigate every angle of the case and uncover anything they may still be hiding. Then and only then will we know the full extent of the IRS’s abuses of Americans’ First Amendment rights. An agency that wields such immense power must always be held in check.