Time for a special prosecutor at the IRS?

posted at 3:21 pm on June 25, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It depends.  Do the assurances of newly-arrived Barack Obama appointee and political ally Danny Werfel that all is now well at the IRS and that no malice was intended in its disparate treatment of conservatives groups fill you with a sense of well being?  It doesn’t with National Journal’s Ron Fournier, either, who argues today that nothing short of an independent investigation will clear the air. That means a special prosecutor, not an Inspector General audit, and especially not the two political parties spinning the situation to their advantage:

Obama backed his strong words with middling action, transferring political ally Danny Werfel from the Office of Management and Budget to the IRS, where as acting commissioner Werfel would investigate his own administration.

Werfel may be a stand-up guy with a solid reputation in Washington. But the public doesn’t know him. The public also doesn’t trust the federal government. And the public doesn’t like the IRS.

Why, after the agency’s massive breach of trust, would Obama think a Werfel-led investigation will restore the public’s faith?

Fournier isn’t buying the latest spin either, which is that the IRS supposedly went after progressive groups with their BOLOs:

Werfel announced Monday that instructions used by the IRS to look for applicants seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their title also included groups whose names included the word “Progressive” and “Occupy.” Jonathon Weisman of The New York Times reported, “The documents appeared to back up contentions by IRS officials and some Democrats that the agency did not intend to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny.”

The White House and its allies declared the scandal over. Said David Axelrod, one of Obama’s longest-serving advisers, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show: “I think the implication that this was some sort of scheme is falling apart.”

Don’t buy it. Like Issa and the GOP, Democrats are jumping to convenient conclusions based on incomplete evidence and no credible investigation.

National Review looked at the data and confirmed Fournier’s suspicions:

A November 2010 version of the list obtained by National Review Online, however, suggests that while the list did contain the word “progressive,” screeners were in fact instructed to treat “progressive” groups differently from “tea party” groups. Whereas screeners were merely alerted that a designation of 501(c)(3) status “may not be appropriate” for applications containing the word ”progressive” – 501(c)(3) groups are prohibited from conducting any political activities – they were told to send those of tea-party groups off ”to Group 7822″ for further scrutiny.

That means the applications of progressive groups could be approved on the spot by line agents, while those of tea-party groups could not. Furthermore, the November 2010 list noted that tea-party cases were “currently being coordinated with EOT,” which stands for Exempt Organizations Technical, a group of tax lawyers in Washington, D.C. Those of progressive groups were not.

The AP reported earlier on Monday that “Terms including ‘Israel,’ ’Progressive’ and ‘Occupy’ were used by agency workers to help pick groups for closer examination.” That appears to be misleading, as there is no indication from the list examined by NRO that progressive groups were singled out for heightened scrutiny in a manner similar to tea-party groups. Cases involving healthcare legislation, however, were. “New applications are subject to secondary screening in Group 7821,” the list notes.

Also sent along for more further examination were applications involving ”disputed territories in the Middle East,” in particular, those that advocated a “one sided point of view,” which perhaps explains the testimony of Cincinnati screener Gary Muthert, who told commitee investigators that the applications of pro-Israel groups went to an antiterrorism unit within the agency.

The only real solution to this is the appointment of an independent counsel answerable only to the courts.  Fournier, who did some early reporting on the land deal that would eventually spawn the Whitewater investigation and the Monica Lewinsky-affair impeachment, can hardly believe that he’s offering this advice:

If forced to guess, I would say that the IRS and its White House masters are guilty of gross incompetence, but not corruption. I based that only on my personal knowledge of – and respect for – Obama and his team. But I shouldn’t have to guess. More importantly, most Americans don’t have a professional relationship with Obama and his team. Many don’t respect or trust government. They deserve what Obama promised nearly six weeks ago – accountability. They need a thorough investigation conducted by somebody other than demagogic Republicans and White House allies.

Somebody like …. a special prosecutor. Those words are hard for me to type two decades after an innocent land deal I covered in Arkansas turned into the runaway Whitewater investigation.

Frankly, I share the same distaste for special prosecutors as a process. They tend to run amok, expanding their reach into unforeseen areas, and acting like a fourth branch of government.  They occupy space that Congress should occupy instead, with accountability directly to the voters.  And for the moment, Congress seems to be moving forward on their probe, although the recent stunt by Rep. Elijah Cummings may well derail that effort.  I’d prefer to see that process play out a little longer first before surrendering all accountability over a probe.

If that turns into a quagmire, then Congress will need to press for the special prosecutor — and we should be prepared for that eventuality sooner rather than later.

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The IRS investigated the IRS and found no wrong doing. The end.

forest on June 25, 2013 at 3:25 PM

We really don’t need to look in to any of what the administration has been doing. Most transparent ever, right leftists?

Bmore on June 25, 2013 at 3:25 PM

It was time about 2 months ago when the news broke. I’ll take it now.

Rixon on June 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Nah IRS is doinga bang up jobn…

turns out the Presidency is all about total control of the nation through regulatory hyperfioat…

WHO KNEW?

Save freedom headbutt a jounalist

harlekwin15 on June 25, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Wait until everyone returns from their vacay. September would be good.

faraway on June 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Yes

cmsinaz on June 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Lsm already calling it over so yeah we need it now

cmsinaz on June 25, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Two months. No one has been fired.

Think about that… NO ONE has been fired. Not even the “two rogue agents in Cincinnati.”

UnderstandingisPower on June 25, 2013 at 3:34 PM

I didn’t want a special prosecutor initially, but it’s pretty obvious at this point that Congress won’t get very far on their own. The Dems are trying to bury this, the IRS is stonewalling and lying, and no one is being held accountable.

The problem is that apparently the only way a special prosecutor is appointed right now is through the DOJ. Anyone really believe Eric Holder will do that?

Doughboy on June 25, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Ot: so now it comes to light that Snowjob pulled a Juilian Assange, making multiple copies of his files, encrypting and uploading to various clouds and providing the encryption key to others should he be “droned”….

can_con on June 25, 2013 at 3:35 PM

If forced to guess, I would say that the IRS and its White House masters are guilty of gross incompetence, but not corruption.

If you can say that with a straight face, you are a liar.

WitchDoctor on June 25, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Huh? Elijah Cummings told me this was already resolved?!?

crrr6 on June 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM

If that turns into a quagmire, then Congress will need to press for the special prosecutor — and we should be prepared for that eventuality sooner rather than later.

Yup. If the House investigation is stymied, then bring in a SP.

whatcat on June 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Time for a special prosecutor at the IRS?

Is it a tax right-off?

For us that is…..

Electrongod on June 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

What about a Select Committee in the House..?

d1carter on June 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Why don’t you EVER publish the political cartoon you’re using as a teaser??!?!?!?!

E9RET on June 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Oh, hi officer. You say my son might have robbed the bank? Ok, me and my son will launch an immediate investigation of him and get right back to ya.

BacaDog on June 25, 2013 at 3:41 PM

“You Betcha”. Prosecute.

TerryW on June 25, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Let’s see;

*IRS investigating IRS
*IRS holding documents from congress
*Employees taking the 5th
*Inspector General, in 6/2012 informs Obama & IRS of his audit but doesn’t inform a republican congress in an election year
*Targeting only conservatives (this progressive stuff is crap)
*The IG has an Obama flunky sitting in on all employee interviews
*Financial info sent to conservative foes
*Tea party 501C’s were held (no Action” so they couldn’t form in an election cycle
*No one has been accountable yet
*Over 157 visits by IRS head to the white house, his associate (who now heads Obamacare IRS enforcement) had over 300 visits to white house

Yeah right, nothing their!!!

Danielvito on June 25, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Eric Holder is waiting for Chauncey Gardner to become available as Special Prosecutor.

trigon on June 25, 2013 at 3:47 PM

If forced to guess, I would say that the IRS and its White House masters are guilty of gross incompetence, but not corruption. I based that only on my personal knowledge of – and respect for – Obama and his team.

Words I doubt he ever uttered about Bush and his team.

Bitter Clinger on June 25, 2013 at 3:48 PM

E9RET on June 25, 2013 at 3:40 PM

It’s in the Green Room.

Barred on June 25, 2013 at 3:52 PM

If forced to guess, I would say that the IRS and its White House masters are guilty of gross incompetence, but not corruption. I based that only on my personal knowledge of – and respect for – Obama and his team.

Um, what? Mr. Fournier, please explain how incompetence resulted in TEA Party group applications taking 600+ days to approve (or are still being stonewalled to this day) while progressive groups like Team Obama’s OFA received their approval in a mere 30 days. That is some sort of amazingly selective incompetence, no?

Yeah, something tells me that Mr. Fournier may not be an objective observer. Oh:

Knowing the consequences that would befall the Obama administration if the White House or Obama’s reelection campaign knew in real time that the IRS was targeting conservatives, I desperately want to believe Pfeiffer. I’ve known him for years. I like him. He’s never lied to me.

rcpjr on June 25, 2013 at 3:53 PM

IRS: “We’re an open book so long as we’re the only people allowed to read.”

BuckeyeSam on June 25, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Obama and Holder to the IRS “shred those documents faster!” “Can’t you erase that data quicker?”

We are fiddling and the IRS is burning….the evidence.

neyney on June 25, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Yeah.

I was going to suggest a Special Prosecutor on the White House, but that would take decades, given the number of scandals that point there.

ProfShadow on June 25, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Why in the world would anyone here trust the Holder DOJ to appoint a Special Prosecutor. Come on.

Curtiss on June 25, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Seriously, who here actually still believes Whitewater was an “innocent land deal?”

PJ Emeritus on June 25, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Werfel announced Monday that instructions used by the IRS to look for applicants seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their title also included groups whose names included the word “Progressive” and “Occupy.” Jonathon Weisman of The New York Times reported, “The documents appeared to back up contentions by IRS officials and some Democrats that the agency did not intend to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny.”

Blah, blah, blah.

In addition to the 2010 report linked to above, which disproves the claim:

1. 3 Progressive groups were asked additional questions when the for 501(c)(3) status, which is not the same organisational structure as that of most of the conservative, libertarian, pro-Israel, pro-life, etc, groups that were targeted.

2.

* Nearly 500 conservative groups were targeted. (Admitted by the IRS)

* At minimum, 5 pro-Israel groups were targeted and had their applications reviewed for ‘supporting terrorism.’ (Admitted by the IRS)

* Constitutional, libertarian, and patriot groups were targeted. (Admitted by the IRS)

* At least 2 pro-life groups were targeted. (Admitted by the IRS)

* At least one voting rights group was targeted. (Admitted by the IRS)

* Groups that criticised Obama, personally, or had statements in their case files criticising how the country was being run/governed were target. (Admitted by the IRS)

* Individuals and businesses critical of Obama, Democrats or left-leaning causes were targeted. (Admitted by the IRS)

* Many individuals were audited after donating to the Romney or other Republican/conservative/right-leaning campaigns. (Admitted by the IRS)

* At least one conservative Hispanic groups was targeted. (Admitted by the IRS)

3. Compare the questions asked of Progressive groups with those of Conservative orgs.

4. For 27 months, not one, single conservative/libertarian/patriot/constitutional/right-leaning organisation received approval and most were purposefully marked for no action. (Admitted by the IRS)

5. Oh, My…Just When You Thought That It Couldn’t Get Any Worse… Obama’s IRS Went After A Survivor Of A Japanese Concentration Camp For Her Political Speech

Nice try, IRS, but no sale. The lot of you should be in orange jumpsuits.

BTW, thanks for destroying Progressives’ argument that ‘government is good.’ Between you, the NSA, the DOJ, the EPA, the White House, and Obamacare, those of us that advocate small, limited government owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude. You’ve done more for our cause in the last few months than we’ve been able to accomplish in, like, forevah!

Resist We Much on June 25, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Why, after the agency’s massive breach of trust, would Obama think a Werfel-led investigation will restore the public’s faith?

Why, after Obama’s repeated and massive breaches of the public trust, does Fournier think he gives a damn about the public’s faith?

Obama’s agenda is to suppress the truth about his corrupt politicization of every branch of the bureaucracy just long enough for him to get out of office without being impeached. In the meantime, he will do as much damage as he can, reward as many friends as he can, an punish as many enemies as he can. After he’s done, he will spend the rest of his life basking in the afterglow and re-writing history.

Fournier just wonn’t get it. He doesn’t want to recognize the magnitude of his misjudgment of Barack Obama.

novaculus on June 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Group 7822

That has an ominous, bureaucratic tone to it. Kind of like Directive 10-289.

iurockhead on June 25, 2013 at 4:28 PM

nothing short of an independent investigation will clear the air

Ain’t gonna happen. Last thing King Barry wants is all the IRS dirty laundry out in the open. That would naturally lead to people NAMING NAMES.

GarandFan on June 25, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Yes.

Probably the only way to get it past the Senate would be to limit the prosecutions to IRS employees (all levels), current and past, and anyone outside those would be turned over to Holder. And use the crisis to stampede the Senate into the Special Prosecutor.

We would find out if the S.P. was serious if the indictments started at the bottom (just like going after the Mafia). If the depositions start at the top, it is just for show.

jhnone on June 25, 2013 at 4:54 PM

A question ? Really ?
What about the $’s spent on IRS
credit cards on non IRS business .
Pretty tough to imagine how this
can be constructed as a question .

Lucano on June 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM

I based that only on my personal knowledge of – and respect for – Obama and his team.

Paging David Hannum, David Hannum, please pick up the red courtesy phone.

http://www.historybuff.com/library/refbarnum.html

Fallon on June 25, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Why in the world would anyone here trust the Holder DOJ to appoint a Special Prosecutor. Come on.

Curtiss on June 25, 2013 at 4:03 PM

yep

entagor on June 25, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Nothing will happen. The 2012 election was stolen. The Oministration successfully silenced its opposition using full Alinsky. To discuss this any longer means you’re racist. Face the facts already.

/

Key West Reader on June 25, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Nothing will happen. The 2012 election was stolen. The Oministration successfully silenced its opposition using full Alinsky. To discuss this any longer means you’re racist. Face the facts already.

/

Key West Reader on June 25, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Yep. Call him President Asterisk Downgrade McChoomer.

slickwillie2001 on June 25, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Fournier’s wrong, of course. Obama doesn’t need a special independent prosecutor, at least not at this point. First, he needs to be investigated thoroughly by his political rivals, with full power to dig up the facts and no power at all to punish. Once the facts are out there, then you can turn it over to a special prosecutor, if you can find one who is truly independent and not impressed by the media calling him names.

Too often we treat “nonpartisan” as if it means “interested in the truth.” That’s not something you can count on. There are a whole lot of people in this world who are nonpartisan because they don’t care enough about the truth to know what it is.

Obama is a partisan and political president, as anyone who’s been paying attention should know by now. He needs to be investigated by equally partisan politicians who will be motivated to dig up the dirt.

In the real world, the closest we can come to this ideal is a Congressional investigation. Let it continue until the truth comes out, then you can nominate a special prosecutor if one is needed.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 25, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Work harder. Times are glorious for the ‘civil servants’.

They are neither – it’s a doubl oxymoron.

Schadenfreude on June 25, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Explain how the pipeline can add greenhouse emissions? The oil is currently moving by rail, those locomotives add greenhouse emissions. Every drop of that oil will eventually be produced whether it moves by that pipeline or not. That pipeline not existing will not prevent the oil being produced.

Idiocy.

crosspatch on June 25, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Stop being distracted.

Thousands and thousands of red flag violation reports were generated. People responded to those red flags. Supervisors and superiors were notified of those red flags. It went on for nearly two years.

How many red flag reports were generated? What did the responses say? What did supervisors and superiors do when the red flag reports started flooding in, and they were flooding in by the thousands.

This is the most partisan, scandalous, bold-faced political attack in American history and begs only one question. “Who else is going to prison?”

HopeHeFails on June 25, 2013 at 7:54 PM