USA TODAY US Edition
Impeach the IRS commissioner
If this election cycle has taught us anything, it’s that Americans are sick and tired of what they see as a double standard: one set of rules for the powerful and politically connected, another for ordinary Americans.
For years, the IRS abused its power to target groups based on their political views — a fundamental violation of citizens’ First Amendment rights. But no one has been held accountable.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was brought on in the wake of the Tea Party targeting scandal. President Obama said he was appointed to “restore the public’s trust.” In reality, he continued the pattern of stonewalling and obstruction. With two congressional subpoenas and three preservation orders in place — on Koskinen’s watch — 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails related to the investigation were erased by IRS employees in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Worse, a Government Accountability Office report confirmed last year, 19 months after Koskinen took over, that no effective protocols had been put in place to ensure that the IRS no longer unfairly targets groups. Last month, a federal court found that the IRS has not adequately demonstrated that targeting has been eliminated.
Perhaps the only argument against impeachment is that no agency head has ever been impeached by Congress. Despite that, Congress should do more to hold agencies accountable, not less.
In Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the power to impeach a civil servant exists to protect the public against “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” At every turn, Koskinen breached that trust.
Like Eric Holder, Lois Lerner and Hillary Clinton before him, Koskinen has faced zero consequences for his actions. The impeachment resolution charges that he obstructed justice, lied to Congress, allowed evidence under subpoena to be destroyed, and failed to comply with multiple subpoenas and preservation orders.
What’s it going to take to get some accountability? It’s time for Congress to do our part to hold the IRS commissioner to account.