Thursday, July 25, 2013

IRS: Records? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Records!

Delaware state officials have told Congress that they likely destroyed the computer records that would show when and how often they accessed Christine O'Donnell’s personal tax records and acknowledged that a newspaper article was used as the sole justification for snooping into the former GOP Senate candidate’s tax history.

The revelations to Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office came Tuesday as the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, the government’s chief watchdog for the Internal Revenue Service, formally reopened its investigation into the matter by re-interviewing Ms. O'Donnell.

“It is an active investigation now,” Ms. O’Donnell told The Washington Times after meeting with the same Treasury agent who first informed her in January that her tax records were improperly accessed. She declined to be more specific about what the agent questioned her about in Tuesday’s session.
I do note that it's Delaware State officials who seem to be immediately at fault here for requesting Christine O'Donnell's tax records from the IRS on a flimsy pretext, and then destroying the records of who requested them.  And certainly no one has jumped up and claimed to remember the details of the incident. And yet, I still think the IRS should be held ultimately responsible for this.  It's their records, and they should not be releasing them, even to states, without assurance of a good justification (perhaps a judge needs to sign a warrant), and decent accountability.

Another good article on the IRS scandal from the Wall Street Journal, arguing that the investigation is beginning to get close to the White House, and why that's a good thing:

Meet William Wilkins: Will the IRS scandal implicate the White House? Let's hope so
Have you noticed that the Internal Revenue Service scandal seems to be getting ever closer to the White House? The IRS originally tried to set up "rogue employees in Cincinnati" as fall guys. But in congressional testimony, they revealed that the targeting of dissenting groups was directed from Washington.

As Peggy Noonan noted, the Washington supervisor, Carter Hull, last week implicated the IRS's office of chief counsel: "The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And . . . he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS."
So at this point, knowledge of the IRS targeting conservative groups reaches well into Washington D.C., and indeed, right up to the step below the Preznit.  And this is a good thing because?
As this column has argued before, the higher this scandal goes, the better it is for the country. We say that not because we don't care for Barack Obama--let's be honest, a President Biden would be no bargain either--but because the president can be held accountable if it turns out he or his top aides essentially instructed the IRS to steal the 2012 election. A corrupt administration can be dealt with, as Richard Nixon's was 40 years ago.

By contrast, if career IRS employees acted on their own, it means the integrity of American democracy itself is threatened by an out-of-control administrative state. In that case, how to solve the problem is not at all clear.
There's always my modest proposal for the IRS.

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