Sergeant Schultz to the Rescue!

Back in the 1960s there was a television show called Hogan’s Heroes. The comedy was set in a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during World War II. One of the characters on the show was Sergeant Schultz. Here’s an excerpt via YouTube:

Schultz’s famous line was, “I know nothing, I see nothing,….” That’s what it feels like when we deal with answers from the IRS and the Obama Administration. Federal judges have come to that conclusion, too. Here are two court rulings from this past week.

The first case isn’t related to taxes, but relates to the EPA. As reported by Kimberly Strassel in the Wall Street Journal, there’s a case relating to Pebble Partnership developing a mine in Alaska. An employee of the EPA, Phillip North, apparently didn’t like the idea. He’s alleged to have used private email to coordinate his activities as an EPA employee with anti-mine activists (which would definitely be a problem). On Thursday, a federal judge issued a subpoena for Mr. North over the EPA’s objection. Ms. Stassel concludes her piece,

…U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland strongly disagreed—noting that Mr. North “appears to be at the center of Pebble’s claims that EPA impermissibly” worked with outside groups, and that he is the “originator of documents likely related to the claims” held on “private computer equipment.” He issued the subpoena, dryly noting: “Mr. North’s personal appearance is necessary. Indeed, the court would be surprised if the EPA were not as anxious as Pebble to obtain testimony and access to documents controlled by Mr. North.”

Judge Holland, consider yourself surprised. The EPA isn’t anxious for Mr. North to appear, any more than the State Department is anxious for the FBI to scour Hillary Clinton’s server. Those agencies know exactly why their employees use private email. And they know the release of it means nothing but trouble.

Meanwhile, the organization Cause of Action won a round in federal court. Cause of Action was curious on whether the IRS sent confidential taxpayer information to the White House. This stemmed from Austin Goolsbee, the former White House Economic Advisor, making remarks on the tax status of Koch Industries. (Since Koch Industries is a private company, their tax status is known by Koch and the IRS.) Cause of Action took their curiosity one step further: They filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the IRS on any requests from the White House for confidential information.

The IRS refused to release anything, stating that Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits the IRS from even divulging such requests. Cause of Action then filed a lawsuit demanding the information, and Judge Amy Jackson agreed with Cause of Action that Section 6103 can’t be used to refuse to divulge the requests.

“This court questions whether section 6103 should or would shield records that indicate confidential taxpayer information was misused, or that government officials made an improper attempt to access that information,” the judge wrote in denying the IRS’s request to close out the case.

Now, I expect the Obama Administration to appeal this ruling, but sooner or later the truth will come out. There’s a pattern in this administration, and it’s one of secrecy, denials, and cover-up. Maybe it’s all innocent, but to me it’s failing the smell test. I try hard to avoid pushing one political view over another in this blog, but there is one thing that is clear to all but the most partisan Obama Administration supporters: The administration that promised to be the most transparent in history is likely the most opaque in history. Even Sergeant Schultz could have done better.

Addendum: Here is a link to Judge Jackson’s ruling.

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