Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"I Don't Know the Law, But I'm Sure We Didn't Break It"

"You have already said, multiple times today, that there was no evidence that you found of any criminal wrongdoing," Gowdy said. "I want you to tell me: What criminal statutes you have evaluated?"

"I have not looked at any," the IRS commissioner admitted.

"Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there is no criminal wrongdoing if you don't even know what statutes to look at?" Gowdy followed-up.
"Because I've seen no evidence that anyone consciously --"

"Well how would you know what elements of the crime existed? You don't even know what statutes are in play," Gowdy said, visibly annoyed. "I'm going to ask you again: What statutes have you evaluated?"

"Uh," the IRS commissioner stumbled, "I think you can rely on common sense--"
A couple of interesting thoughts here.  First, Koskinen is relying on the concept of "mens rea", or guilty mind as the test for whether or not laws have been broken by the IRS. His implicit argument is that if the IRS didn't think they were breaking the law, then they weren't breaking the law.  And the notion that common sense is sufficient guide to behavior in the world of bureaucracy, is belied by the fact that there are so many laws and regulations that, at leas according to some estimates, many of us commit at least three felonies a day without even knowing it.

And another tidbit, in the ongoing IRS scandal, is that Koskinen is a major democratic donor, donating more than $100,000 to the Democrats and the Democratic party:
Koskinen has been contributing to Democrats for four decades, starting with a $1000 contribution to Democratic candidate for Colorado Senate candidate Gary Hart in 1979.

Koskinen has been a reliable donor over the years, contributing a total of $19,000 to the Democratic National Committee from 1988 to 2008. He has made a contribution to the Democratic candidate for president in each election since 1980, including $2,300 to Obama in 2008, and $5000 to Obama in 2012.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has received $3,000 from Koskinen since 2008, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee received $2,000 from 2004 to 2006.

Hillary Clinton has received $3,800 for her various political campaigns from Koskinen.

Koskinen’s most recent contribution was $2,500 to Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) in February of 2013.
You'd think that $100,000 would buy you a better position than the head of an unpopular agency enmeshed in scandal, like maybe Ambassador to the Seychelles or something.

It's certainly not illegal for Koskinen to have donated this way, but after the fuss raised by Harry Reid over the Koch brothers, turn about is surely fair play.

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