The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

June 23, 2014

An arrogant and lawless IRS

WASHINGTON -- Noted management expert and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was apparently called out of retirement - like the Ted Williams of evasive, unapologetic bureaucrats - to destroy what is left of his agency's credibility.

At immediate issue is two years of subpoenaed emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner to outside agencies, lost in a convenient computer crash. The possible involvement of other agencies is one focus of a congressional investigation into the heightened IRS scrutiny of conservative nonprofit groups before the 2012 election.

In recent congressional testimony, Koskinen admitted that the emails were irretrievably gone; that the "backup tapes" had been erased; and that Lerner's hard drive was apparently destroyed in an aggressive act of recycling. With that settled, Koskinen expressed his "hope that the investigations ... can be concluded in the very near future."

It is a mix of arrogance and delusion that seems designed to incense Republicans. Koskinen had delayed informing Congress of the lost emails for months, even while assuring members they would be provided. "It was my decision that we complete the investigation," he said, "so we could fully advise you as to what the situation was." Translation from management-speak: We wanted to get our story straight before we advised you of anything. Koskinen complained about the breadth of subpoenas and the "piecemealing out" of information. Translation: We will provide you what we want when we want. "Every email," Koskinen assured the House Ways and Means Committee, "has been preserved that we have." Except the ones they don't have - and somehow snuffed out, tied to an anvil and thrown into the ocean.

Democrats were left to complain about a Republican "witch hunt" - while Koskinen set up a caldron, added some eye of newt and toe of frog, and hailed the Thane of Cawdor.

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