White House

Trump should show no mercy in terminating IRS's John Koskinen

The swamp grows.

It's so far beyond time for President Trump to fire Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen that it's truly unbelievable he's still there.

What other reasonable conclusion can be drawn from the revelation this week that his agency - already under fire for allowing 700,000 taxpayer files to be hacked two years ago - last Friday decided to award a sole-source, no-bid contract to Equifax, the credit bureau titan that recently revealed it had failed to protect the security of the credit files it holds on 145.5 million Americans?

Surely, this must be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

In early September, Equifax revealed that hackers had breached its massive database and stolen credit files on 143 million consumers. That number was later upped to 145.5 million.

Then the data company posted a message to its Twitter account advising consumers who wanted to learn if their data had been compromised that they could find out by following a link - and they posted a link to a bogus site. Three times, over nine days.

Ultimately, the Equifax CEO in charge at the time - Richard Smith - was pressured into retirement by his board. Fortune magazine estimates that because he retired rather being fired, he will leave with "a pay day worth as much as $90 million - or roughly 63 cents for every consumer whose data was potentially exposed in its recent security breach."

So, we have here a company that has proven it cannot protect its own data files, and rewards its outgoing CEO with a $90 million payoff.

This is the company that wins a sole-source, no-bid contract to protect IRS files?

That Koskinen has survived as long as he has is a testament to his good fortune, and the willingness of top GOP congressional leaders to look the other way.

Just a year ago, House conservatives began the process of impeaching Koskinen, based on his decision to mislead Congress and his failure to respond properly to Congress' attempt to investigate the IRS targeting scandal.

Specifically, Koskinen lied to Congress when he declared he had produced all of disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner's emails, even though the IRS's Inspector General said backup tapes held thousands of her emails intact. He failed to comply with a preservation order pertaining to Congress' ongoing investigation of the IRS targeting scandal. He allowed subpoenaed documents - including 422 tapes that may have contained as many as 24,000 Lerner emails - to be destroyed on his watch.

Yet he survived, and, contrary to what the mainstream media would have you believe, the targeting is still happening.

Said the IRS, when asked about the propriety of hiring Equifax, "Following an internal review and an on-site visit with Equifax, the IRS believes the service Equifax provides does not pose a risk to IRS data or systems. At this time, we have seen no indication of tax fraud related to the Equifax breach, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation."

In response to which, I thought, "Are you bleeping kidding me?!"

Is it possible the IRS feels that "the service Equifax provides does not pose a risk to IRS data or systems" because its own internal method for handling sensitive data is to wipe its servers, throw hard drives in dumpsters, and then say, "Oops?"

The irony is palpable. The IRS, which has been caught erasing data it was legally required to maintain, has decided to outsource its incompetence and willful disregard for important records to what is truly the one and only company in America on par with the IRS when it comes to blatantly failing to protect sensitive data.

Koskinen's term of office ends on Nov. 12, just one month from now.

But he should be fired for cause, rather than be allowed to retire. It makes no difference if his term of office expires in five weeks or five days. Allowing him to retire rather than be fired would send all the wrong signals to government employees. It would mean there are no negative personal consequences for decisions poorly made, no cost for not doing your job properly.

Frankly, he should have been fired - or impeached - long ago, for the way he responded to Congress' legitimate investigation.

But this latest breach of the public trust takes the cake. Surely, even his staunchest defenders must understand that this latest move is a breach too far.

The good news is that, unlike the Equifax board, President Trump has demonstrated he has no difficulty making personnel decisions. Ask Tom Price.

Jenny Beth Martin (@JennyBethM) is president and cofounder of Tea Party Patriots.

Outbrain
View desktop version