USA TODAY US Edition

Im­peach the IRS com­mis­sioner

- John Flem­ing Rep. John Flem­ing, R-La., is a mem­ber of the House Free­dom Cau­cus.

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.

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