An IRS Out of Control
The Internal Revenue Service is out of control.
With each day, it gets worse.
Let's start with the IRS scheme to secretly target conservative groups. We now know this program was widespread and has deep connections with the national IRS office in Washington, D.C.
What we still don't know is how all of this began and who ultimately made the decision to launch this invasive scheme.
The fact is the IRS is in complete disarray. Lois Lerner, the Director of Exempt Organizations, has been put on administrative leave, but apparently still has access to her IRS computer and taxpayer data of these conservative groups.
Let's not forget - it was Lois Lerner who admitted to this targeting scheme at a meeting of the American Bar Association in early May (after she planted a question in the audience). She claimed that this campaign originated with a couple of low-level employees out of the agency's Cincinnati office. The claim is not sitting well with employees in the Cincinnati office who likened Lerner's finger-pointing as a "nuclear strike" on the Cincinnati office.
And, more importantly, the claim is bogus - it just doesn't square with the facts.
We know this scheme was widespread and had the approval and participation of top IRS officials in Washington. In addition to correspondence being sent out of the Cincinnati office, our clients also received questionnaires from the Washington, D.C. office as well as two offices in California - El Monte and Laguna Niguel.
Further, we have letters signed by Lois Lerner herself - 15 letters from her to our clients - demanding additional information that was beyond the scope and constitutionality of what the IRS is permitted to ask.
We're moving forward with our federal lawsuit against the IRS representing 25 conservative groups that were unlawfully and unconstitutionally targeted by the IRS simply because of their beliefs. In fact, since we filed the suit a couple of weeks ago, we have been inundated with requests from other conservative groups that were also targeted by the IRS. We will be amending our complaint in the next few weeks adding additional plaintiffs to our lawsuit.
This week, we heard Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, declare the IRS scandal was over. The case, he said, was solved. No one believed that and he had to walk back that comment days later and admit the obvious - the IRS scandal is not solved. Not even close.
As if the targeting scandal wasn't enough, CNSNews.com this week uncovered plans by the IRS to purchase spy equipment - cameras that could be hidden in coffee trays, plants, and even clock radios. After that story broke, the IRS abruptly cancelled its rush order for the cameras.
From spy equipment - to semi-automatic weapons. Amazingly, we now learn IRS agents are being trained and equipped with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. The discovery was made by Rep. Jeff Duncan who is chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee: "I think Americans raise eyebrows when you tell them that IRS agents are training with a type of weapon that has stand-off capability. It's not like they're carrying a sidearm and they knock on someone's door and say, 'You're evading your taxes,'" Duncan said.
Apparently the IRS needs more than just calculators and computers.
As Congress continues to move forward with its investigation into the IRS, we are confident that the truth about this scandal will be revealed and those responsible will be held accountable.
Members of the House Ways and Means Committee were able to hear from some of our clients firsthand. At a recent hearing, our clients explained in their own words the abuse and harassment they have suffered at the hands of the IRS.
Many questions remain. Where will the investigation go? Who gave the orders? Was the White House involved?
All of this adds up to a serious erosion of public confidence and trust in the Obama Administration. A new poll reveals that two-thirds of American voters (66 percent) believe the IRS targeted conservative groups as part of a high-level operation to punish political opponents.
Here's the problem: The IRS is institutionally incapable of operating - institutionally incapable of governing or self-correcting.
The IRS is no longer credible, trustworthy, or capable of carrying out its mission.
This is the perfect time for Congress to abolish the IRS and create a fair and simple tax code free from IRS abuse and bureaucracy. In just the past few days, more than 50,000 Americans have signed on to our petition urging Congress to scrap the IRS.
It's time for a change. It's time for real tax reform.
The American people deserve nothing less.
Editor's Note: Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Washington, DC-based law firm that has filed a federal lawsuit against the IRS on behalf of 25 conservative groups.