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Op-ed: Rep. Jordan: Impeach IRS commissioner

June 22, 2016
Opinion Pieces

Since then-IRS official Lois Lerner first revealed in 2013 that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative organizations for their political views, the American people have sought justice in the matter. President Obama appointed John Koskinen as IRS commissioner to clean up the agency and help Congress get to the bottom of the targeting scandal.

Koskinen has instead stonewalled and impeded congressional investigations into the matter. With two subpoenas and three preservation orders in place, under Koskinen's watch the IRS destroyed 422 backup tapes containing potentially 24,000 emails related to the scandal.

Despite knowing about problems with Lerner's hard drive and emails, Koskinen kept Congress in the dark for four months. He even testified before a congressional committee that he would provide all relevant documents. He did so even after learning that — with so many documents destroyed — he couldn't actually do what he said.

Koskinen claims he didn't tell Congress about the destroyed backup tapes because he was doing his due diligence to see if there was another way to get the records. But months after Koskinen learned of the destroyed tapes, the Treasury inspector general's office found hundreds of other backup tapes in storage in a West Virginia facility — where they were supposed to be. No one from the IRS had even looked. So much for due diligence.

No private citizen could get away with what the IRS did. If one of my constituents lost documents that the IRS had requested, and then waited four months to tell the IRS about it, that taxpayer would be in deep trouble. This is what frustrates the American people: government officials getting away with things that no ordinary citizen could.

Impeachment empowers Congress to hold public officials accountable for things like gross negligence and dereliction of duty. Koskinen failed to clean up the IRS and assist with congressional investigations. He violated the public trust. We owe it to the American people to impeach him.

This op-ed appeared in the June 22, 2016 edition of USA Today.

Issues:TaxesGovernment Reform