Tax lawyers to GOP: Don't impeach IRS chief

Tax lawyers to GOP: Don't impeach IRS chief
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The American College of Tax Counsel is asking House Republicans to reject resolutions to impeach or censure Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen.

"We do not see any benefit to the agency or our system of laws that could arise from moving forward with these actions," the lawyers group said Wednesday in a letter to House leaders and leaders of the Ways and Means Committee.

The letter comes as members of the Freedom Caucus are threatening to force a floor vote on impeaching Koskinen if House leadership doesn't commit to a committee vote within a specified time frame. The House Judiciary Committee had held two hearings on Koskinen in recent months but hasn't announced votes on any legislation.

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Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that the conservative group of lawmakers is "committed" to impeachment.

Caucus members argue that Koskinen engaged in misconduct during a House investigation into the IRS scandal over targeting conservative groups. They have said that Koskinen didn't comply with a subpoena and made false and misleading statements to Congress.

But the tax lawyers said that impeachment or censure "are not commensurate with the alleged conduct and will damage the agency at a time when it needs strong leadership." 

The group said it has seen benefits from Koskinen's leadership and pointed out that the IRS would have had five commissioners in four years if Koskinen were removed from office. 

"To be an effective leader, the Commissioner needs to take time to build up the knowledge base, as Commissioner Koskinen has done, and it takes time to build up trust in the employees," the lawyers said.

The American College of Tax Counsel is not the first group of stakeholders that has urged the House to reject impeachment in recent days. A group of former IRS commissioners  also asked the House to shoot down measures to impeach or censure Koskinen.

Some Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee said they would vote against impeachment.

"I just don't see the grounds for it there, and when you're talking about impeachment, that's a very serious matter," said Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).  

Rep. Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertOutgoing GOP rep says law enforcement, not Congress should conduct investigations Washington New Members 2019 How Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms MORE (R-Wash.) said he wouldn't support a floor vote for impeachment because the regular process hasn't been followed. Ways and Means members want the House to follow the standard process, he said.

But other groups have spoken out in favor of impeachment.

Adam Brandon, CEO of the conservative group FreedomWorks, said that Congress has an "institutional obligation" to act on impeachment. 

"The message being sent by inaction is that those who appear before a committee, lie or mislead lawmakers, and face no consequences at all," Brandon said. "That’s a dangerous precedent.”