The Administration

Time to clean house and end corruption at the IRS

Getty Images

The sordid story of IRS corruption and political dirty tricks during the Obama years is widely known thanks to numerous documents and emails forced out of the government under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As it turns out, however, there may be much more to come.

After stonewalling and slow walking FOIA requests and lawsuits for years, the IRS recently admitted to the court that it has suddenly found an additional 6,924 previously unreported documents it now needs to search. This admission came in response to a 2015 Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit over IRS targeting of conservative groups. But, even as the recalcitrant agency finally agreed to begin producing documents by March 10, it refused to provide a timetable for completion of the review. So, the stonewalling continued.

{mosads}The IRS scandal blew wide open in early May 2013, when IRS official Lois Lerner acknowledged that the tax agency had inappropriately targeted conservative political groups for additional scrutiny during the 2012 election cycle. Lerner’s “limited-hang-out”—and carefully calculated—admission was made shortly in advance of an explosive report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, blowing the whistle on IRS malfeasance.


According to the revealing report: “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status (e.g., lists of past and future donors).” The illegal IRS reviews continued for more than 18 months and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” preparing for the 2012 presidential election.

Despite massive evidence of wrongdoing at the IRS, not a single criminal or misdemeanor charge has been brought against any IRS official or employee. The Obama Justice Department even refused to bring charges against Lois Lerner, who was held in contempt of Congress and was at the center of scandal running the tax agency’s Exempt Organizations Unit.

When the Obama Justice Department finally acknowledged the IRS scandals, it provided nothing more than a broad-brushed whitewash. It conceded in 2015 there was “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia.” But, it hastened to add that there was “no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.” 

The Obama Justice Department conveniently ignored its own conflicts in squelching a serious prosecution. We exposed how the Obama IRS (including Ms. Lerner), Justice Department and FBI collaborated on ways to prosecute and jail the heads of the very groups that Lois Lerner’s staffers at the IRS were targeting!

Another instance of corruption metastasizing and radiating out of the IRS occurred in October 2010 in a meeting between Lois Lerner, Justice Department officials and the FBI where plans were laid for the possible criminal prosecution of targeted nonprofit organizations for alleged illegal political activity. Records also detail how the Obama IRS gave the FBI 21 computer disks, containing 1.25 million pages of confidential IRS returns from 113,000 nonprofit social 501(c)(4) welfare groups—or nearly every 501(c)(4) in the United States—as part of its prosecution effort.

With a new Republican sheriff in town ensconced in the Oval Office and the Republicans in control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, one might expect forward action on holding the IRS to account for its corruption. That is especially so after a bill was introduced to impeach Obama holdover IRS commissioner John A. Koskinen.  Apparently not – such expectations are far too high.  So far, Congress refuses to do anything. It will be up to President Trump to clean up the IRS.

The consequences of turning a blind eye to government corruption go far beyond simply letting some corrupt politicians and bureaucrats walk free. Unhampered corruption breeds more corruption. And before long, the entire system becomes little more than a self-perpetuating crucible of escalating exploitation.

For example, email exchanges between the IRS’s Lerner and enforcement attorneys at the FEC show she colluded with the FEC in an apparent further attempt to harass and hamstring conservative groups. Under Lerner’s direction, the IRS provided detailed, confidential information to the FEC concerning the tax-exempt application status and returns of conservative groups including: annual tax returns (Form 990), request for exempt recognition forms (Form 1024), Articles of Organization and other corporate documents and correspondence between the nonprofit organizations and the IRS. Under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, it is a felony for an IRS official to disclose either “return information” or “taxpayer return information,” even to another government agency.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions should reopen the IRS criminal investigation – which, as you’ve seen here, is about more than the IRS.

The recent IRS disclosure that it suddenly found 6,924 documents it had been sitting on for well over a year—an election year, no less—proves conclusively that the IRS is a fetid cesspool feeding the larger D.C. swamp. 

If President Trump truly is interested in cleaning up Washington, he would be well advised to start with the agency that has become synonymous with blatant corruption and the overt oppression of its enemies. And the first decisive move to cleaning that house will be to show John A. Koskinen the door.

Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) is the president of Judicial Watch, nonprofit watchdog based in Washington, D.C.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags IRS Jeff Sessions John Koskinen Judicial Watch Tom Fitton
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video