GOP Lawmakers Still Want a Go at Lerner for IRS Tax-Exempt Scandal

April 12, 2017; The Hill

Perhaps it’s that the GOP has some time on its hands—so little is going on of any urgency—but The Hill is reporting that two top Republicans on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee are asking for a federal Department of Justice investigation into the earlier DOJ investigation of Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS’s tax-exempt division.

The request last week, made by committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX), Peter Roskam (R-IL), and 16 other Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee, urged President Trump to dump John Koskinen, the current IRS commissioner, alleging he impeded congressional investigations into the targeting of conservative groups.

The previous investigation pursued the charge, based in large part on a 2013 inspector general’s report, that the IRS was targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, subjecting them to greater scrutiny and delays than other applicants. Lerner was placed on leave in 2013 and subsequently retired, admitting that she had mishandled the issue. The letter from Brady, Roskam, and the other 16 House Republicans urges Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take a “fresh look…in order to assure the American people that DOJ’s prior investigation was handled fairly and to restore taxpayers’ trust in the IRS.”

In 2014, the Ways and Means Committee sent the DOJ a letter asking for it to launch a criminal investigation, but in 2015, the DOJ declined to file criminal charges, stating it found no evidence of IRS employees acting with political motives. The DOJ said it had found “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime.”

Another letter was sent by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Jason Chaffetz and more than 30 other House GOP members. Koskinen’s term as IRS commissioner ends in November, and he has said he has no plans to leave before then.—Ruth McCambridge