IRS Scandal Update: Christine O’Donnell & IRS General Counsel

Two pieces of news on the IRS scandal this week. First, TIGTA announced that four politicians’ tax returns were improperly accessed though only one of these was done deliberately. That case was referred to the US Department of Justice for prosecution, but the DOJ refused to do so. It appears that case involved former Tea Party candidate for US Senate Christine O’Donnell. Now, am I so cynical to think that the DOJ refused to prosecute whomever looked at the records because O’Donnell is a member of the Tea Party and the current Administration isn’t exactly enamored by the Tea Party? Yes, I am.

Meanwhile, former IRS attorney Carter Hull and two other attorneys said that the orders to hold up approval of Tea Party organizations came from the IRS Chief Counsel’s Office. The head of the IRS Chief Counsel is one of only two political appointees at the IRS. Eliana Johnson’s report on National Review Online is an excellent source on this information.

For those who say this is meaningless, it’s not. This is huge news. It’s been clear from the start that someone ordered this. It was never rogue agents in Cincinnati. It’s almost certainly, given the nature of what happened, someone with a political slant. Sure, it could have been someone high-up at the IRS who didn’t like the Tea Party. It’s far more likely that a political appointee would make this decision. Again, the IRS Chief Counsel is such a person.

Peggy Noonan’s commentary is also must reading. She noted that the trail goes to the Chief Counsel’s office. She also notes the change in how the scandal has been characterized by Democrats:

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, finally woke the proceedings up with what he called “the evolution of the defense” since the scandal began. First, Ms. Lerner planted a question at a conference. Then she said the Cincinnati office did it—a narrative that was advanced by the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney. Then came the suggestion the IRS was too badly managed to pull off a sophisticated conspiracy. Then the charge that liberal groups were targeted too—”we did it against both ends of the political spectrum.” When the inspector general of the IRS said no, it was conservative groups that were targeted, he came under attack. Now the defense is that the White House wasn’t involved, so case closed.

For those who think the IRS scandal has ended, it hasn’t. It’s clearly linked to Washington, not Cincinnati. The only question now is who did the ordering.


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