IRS should be considered guilty until proven innocent
A massive IRS computer glitch supposedly deleted two years of emails belonging to Lois Lerner, the former head of tax exempt groups. Lerner, at the center of the IRS targeting scandal, twice invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before Congress after claiming “I have done nothing wrong.”
The same alleged glitch also took out emails belonging to six other high-ranking IRS officials, including Nikole Flax, the former chief of staff to IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.
The “lost” emails were dated between January 2009 and August 2011, coincidentally the same time period when tea party groups were singled out for extra scrutiny. One important point lost on many in the media is exactly which emails the IRS is claiming died in the crash. Not all of Lerner's IRS emails are missing — just the ones she sent to the White House, Department of Justice, FEC, Treasury Department, Democrats on Capitol Hill and other outside groups, says the House Ways and Means Committee. The IRS still has relevant emails Lerner sent to other IRS employees.
Multiple emails that weren't lost show Lerner feeding information about voter integrity group True the Vote to Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings. Cummings and the IRS have been bullying True the Vote for years. Emails also show Lerner discussing the possibility of criminal prosecution and jail time for tea party groups after a recommendation from Larry Noble, a former attorney at the FEC and current president of the liberal organization Americans for Campaign Reform.
And then of course there's the big data file Lerner sent to the FBI just ahead of the 2010 midterm elections full of confidential tax information belonging to conservative tea party groups.
Since the IRS uses a guilty until proven innocent approach to American taxpayers and their documents, I'm going to use the same standard for IRS officials who deliberately went out of their way to silence thousands of voices belonging to conservative groups. The IRS must prove the emails aren't backed up somewhere, that the emails weren't received by anyone and that they weren't destroyed by someone inside the agency in an effort to cover up criminal activity.
Emails don't get “lost,” as Lerner and her IRS allies would have us believe. At this point we're looking at destruction of evidence in a criminal case, a crime that carries a heavy prison sentence. Further, the IRS, like most federal agencies, is required by law to keep copies of emails backed up in servers. If backups weren't kept, that's also a crime and someone should be held accountable.
The double standard in this situation is incredible. The IRS sent conservative groups applying for tax exempt status hundreds of questions spanning dozens of pages. Conservative leaders answered those questions under threat of perjury and weren't given the luxury of not providing “lost” information requested by IRS officials to verify status or to complete tax audits.
If a private citizen were to tell IRS officials or Congress during an investigation that his hard drive crashed and requested documentation was not available, the FBI would be pounding down his door.
How strange — and how convenient — it is that the IRS only “lost” emails belonging to high ranking IRS officials at just the right time.
Katie Pavlich is news editor of Townhall.com. Her exclusive Trib columns appear the first and third Fridays of each month.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Flashback Friday for Pitt
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Run game needed for balance vs. Seahawks
- Pitt notebook: Boyd undecided about leaving early for NFL
- Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami
- Police: 4 officers injured in Colorado Springs shooting
- Man dies in ATV crash in Beaver County
- Absenteeism high on first day back after Peters Township teacher strike
- In Uganda, Pope Francis pays tribute to nation’s martyrs
- Suicide bomber targets crowd of Shiites in Nigeria
- Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson