Woodward: There’s obviously something wrong at the IRS

posted at 2:01 pm on April 14, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Tomorrow is Tax Day, and millions of Americans — myself included — will see a large drain from our bank accounts to satisfy our obligations to Uncle Sam. So far, though, we have not seen Uncle Sam fulfill his obligation to drain the apparent political corruption at the IRS, even with two Congressional investigations into the targeting of the administration’s critics in the tax-exempt department under Lois Lerner. Barack Obama claims that there isn’t “a smidgen of corruption” at the IRS, but the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward scoffed at that defense on yesterday’s Fox News Sunday. “There’s obviously something here,” Woodward said, and called into question the investigative techniques used by the House panels after George Will laid out five issues already brought to light in testimony:

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The investigation to take last first, has stalled because the Justice Department has already leaked its conclusion, which is that no one would be prosecuted. It rises to that level because the Internal Revenue Service is the most intrusive and potentially the most punitive institution of the federal government and has been thoroughly politicized. Let me give you five things we know that she’s done right now. She said the delay on approving conservative groups is caused by a serious uptick in applications. The inspector general of the IRS says that is just not true. She said the Tea Party group was very dangerous. In Texas and Kentucky and probably elsewhere, IRS employees have violated the Hatch Act by using federal resources for campaigning and obviously for Barack Obama.

WALLACE: Can we — I just want to point out — because the office of Special Council came out this week with a report and they said, now, there weren’t vast cases although in Dallas they apparently — they were wearing campaign buttons and there are screen saver said Obama and stuff like that. But there was at least one case where if you called the helpline this person was in effect tell you when you should vote for Obama and not for the Republicans because they’ll keep you in this mess. On the IRS helpline. So, (INAUDIBLE) with you recitation, I’m (INAUDIBLE).

WILL: Confidential taxpayer information of the organization, the National Organization for Marriage was leaked to a rival group. And finally, when Senator Schumer and Durbin and others were exerting the IRS to be more political in their application of views, she said with regard to Crossroads GPS, the most important conservative group, we are working on a denial of the application. Not expediting, not coming to a quick conclusion, but we are working on denial of it. That’s why this rises because as Bob Woodward remembers, the Watergate scandal was fundamentally in the words of John Dean using the machinery of the federal government to punish our enemies.

WALLACE: All right, Mr. Woodward, you know something about scandals. And if that’s forgetting them, how serious is the IRS scandal and, you know, I think one of the key questions is, does this really begin and end with a midlevel bureaucrat who we never heard of a year ago named Lois Lerner?

BOB WOODWARD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, there is obviously something here. And the question is does this committee know how to investigate? And they’re worried about this one person who has invoked her Fifth Amendment rights not to answer questions and you have congressmen on the committee going on and saying we have evidence she’s involved in criminal activity. I don’t think you should cross that line. The second thing is there’s always one person who’s not going to talk. And when you conduct an investigation like this, I have not gone into the details, you need to find people who will talk. And there are always people who will do this. And, you know, we should dig into it. There should be answers. It’s quite correct. And for the president to take that position is very, very unusual and say there is not a smidgeon of evidence here. I mean George has got a good list — I think, actually, there’s more. And there’s a question and you’re right, the IRS particularly this week as we know will file our tax returns has a big place in everyone’s life. And they have immense power. And the power of the federal government to come and say we’re auditing you or we’re going to do something to you, I mean it’s a ten ton truck coming at you. And it’s the sort of thing that the leadership and the White House should take a position. Look, we will not tolerate this.

Brit Hume blamed the media for its lack of attention:

HUME: Chris, the same set of facts that Bob and George have described would have touched off, I think, in previous days a media firestorm. What we had was kind of a campfire in most of the media, which was doused before very long and the story has been basically dormant. We at Fox News have continued to pursue it and some other media outlets have as well. But when that kind of firestorm occurs, it creates an atmosphere in Washington where for the administration with a message to try to promote day by day, you can’t get it out. You can get nothing out. We can all remember what it was like. And that creates a hothouse sort of atmosphere, in which all investigations end up being accelerated. There are minute details leaked, they get reported and the thing develops a life of its own and ultimately the combination of things, you know, brings the issue out and you get to the facts. It has not happened here.

Those who wonder why that may be the case should refer back to Sharyl Attkisson’s discussion with Howard Kurtz this weekend.

Bloomberg’s editors say the IRS should “get … out of politics (mostly)”, griping that both Republicans and Democrats shot down proposed regulations that would force the IRS to do the opposite:

Last year, the IRS issued draft guidelines to help clarify which activities are considered political. One might think that both Democrats (who like to complain about secret money in politics) and Republicans (who like to complain about the IRS intruding into politics) would welcome this move, or at least not oppose it.

One would be wrong. The agency received more than 150,000 comments on the proposed new rule, a record. Groups on the left and the right deluged the agency with objections, arguing that such regulations would prevent them from even conducting voter registration drives and issuing voter guides that rate candidates on issues. Even if that’s the case, so what? Such political activity should be funded by political committees subject to disclosure rules, not social welfare organizations.

Issuing more regulations and creating more ways to intervene in politics is a funny way to advise the IRS to “get out.” The IRS should just end tax exemptions from those running advertising for political purposes, and Congress should eliminate direct-contribution limits to candidates and political parties. That would encourage the money to flow toward political accountability rather than away from it, and would have the extra added benefit of truly getting the IRS out of the role of political-speech referee.


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Gee, Bob. Ya think so?

OmahaConservative on April 14, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Left to criticize Bob Woodward as a senile old coot in 3, 2, 1 . . .

rbj on April 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

He’s right in that the basic problem with these scandals is that the House Republicans have no idea how to run an investigation.

blue13326 on April 14, 2014 at 2:10 PM

The IRS is a powder keg with a very dry fuse.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere close to those people when the legal and political firestorms start.

Turtle317 on April 14, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Bob Woodward’s liberal cred took heavy damage since criticizing the Liberal God Obama.

I’m sure the left will accuse him of being a FoxnewsKochBrotherHalliburtonMouthbreatherCreationistZionistTEAparty
RacistClimateChangeDenierKKKCon just like they do anyone who dares not carry Obama’s baggage for him.

portlandon on April 14, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Bob might be old, but he did write a good book way back when on the Manson murders.

Woops, wrong author (sorry, Bugs).

MisterElephant on April 14, 2014 at 2:15 PM

There’s obviously something wrong at the IRS

No shiite Sherlock….

dentarthurdent on April 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Wow, Bob, you’re so obviously obvious.

ToddPA on April 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

I think Barry has a smidgeon of integrity.

Sven on April 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Gee, Bob. Ya think so?

OmahaConservative on April 14, 2014 at 2:03 PM

There always has to be someone who arrives late to the party

Roy Rogers on April 14, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Nothing to see here, King Barack said so. You might say that the “investigation” is investigating NOTHING.

GarandFan on April 14, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Captain Obvious.

ChicagoBlues on April 14, 2014 at 2:18 PM

So far, though, we have not seen Uncle Sam fulfill his obligation to drain the apparent political corruption at the IRS, even with two Congressional investigations into the targeting of the administration’s critics in the tax-exempt department under Lois Lerner.


You know, Ed …

… it just might be that certain members of the GOPe, like John Boehner, have done virtually NOTHING to move this investigation to the next level by appointing a select committee with broad subpoena powers.

What do you think? Do YOU think John Boehner and his masters in the GOPe Donor Class want the Tea Party and other independent conservative political groups suppressed as much as possible?

Or do you just roll out the daily GOPe Talking Points to save time and effort?

PolAgnostic on April 14, 2014 at 2:24 PM

…..and would have the extra added benefit of truly getting the IRS out of the role of political-speech referee.

But thats the beauty of it. The IRS has been transformed into a political ideology enforcer by politicians. Ever wonder why due process does not apply at the IRS? Because if it did, no one would be afraid of the IRS and the party that controlled the WH would not have the big stick to force their enemies into silence or bankruptcy through asset seizure.

NEVER.GOING.TO.HAPPEN.

BobMbx on April 14, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Hey Bob, i’ll bet yer ol buddy Berstein still thinks the IRS
did nothing wrong though…seeing as he is a hardcore
Leftist Jackazz.

ToddPA on April 14, 2014 at 2:25 PM

I think Barry has a smidgeon of integrity.

Sven on April 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

That’s a gross overstatement of how much he actually has.

Bitter Clinger on April 14, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Yeah that’s the problem with this IRS scandal. The GOPe tacitly agrees with what went down. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, eh comrades?

nullrouted on April 14, 2014 at 2:26 PM

And there’s something wrong with the media that refuses to cover anything of importance.

Flange on April 14, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Republican leadership does not to lose the election by pointing out government workers are corrupt. Republican leadership only listen and read far left news. If you tell people democrats are corrupt, then people will vote for democrat party. That is why John Boehner will not go after democrat with the IRS.

BroncosRock on April 14, 2014 at 2:35 PM

“There’s obviously something here,” Woodward said,

Next week, Woodward will tell us that there is something going on @ the Bundy Ranch !

burrata on April 14, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Well, somebody HAS to be the last person to figure out the obvious.

Missilengr on April 14, 2014 at 2:44 PM

No s___t Sherlock.

rplat on April 14, 2014 at 2:55 PM

I think Barry has a smidgeon of integrity.

Sven on April 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Objection, facts not in evidence.

JusDreamin on April 14, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Government Agencies Under Obama
All Being Politicized And Weaponized

VorDaj on April 14, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Since Obama went from “I’m outrageosly outraged at the IRS” to “not a smidgen of corruption” and he’s running them most transparent administration evah then I’m sure he’d be willing to share with us the details of the investigation he conducted to explain the change in his conclusion.

/sarc

gwelf on April 14, 2014 at 3:03 PM

I did criminal investigations for IRS for 22 years. Granted, they were all narcotics, money laundering, and organized crime, rather than tax cases, but the principle’s the same for all conspiracies. You have to get somebody to flip. And to do that, you have to credibly threaten somebody with jail time. There is no other way. I don’t believe Lois Lerner or anybody else at IRS thinks for a minute they’re at any risk of doing jail time as long as Eric Holder is at DOJ. Look back at Watergate. Once those white collar government employees/appointees were staring a special prosecutor in the face with iron bars in the background, they flipped like IHOP pancakes. You get competitions to see who can be first in line to tell their story to get the best deal. I’ve seen it happen dozens of times. Musical chairs. The problem here is, Holder’s made it clear he’ll never turn the music off.

mongoose on April 14, 2014 at 3:06 PM

The IRS should just end tax exemptions from those running advertising for political purposes, and Congress should eliminate direct-contribution limits to candidates and political parties.

Fixed.

davidk on April 14, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Enjoy your audit, Bob.

HumpBot Salvation on April 14, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Why won’t Boehner permit the appointment of a select committee to look into the IRS scandal?

TarheelBen on April 14, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Holder
obama

And this

All wrong

Schadenfreude on April 14, 2014 at 3:24 PM

The IRS is a powder keg with a very dry fuse.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere close to those people when the legal and political firestorms start.

Turtle317 on April 14, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Meaning you actually think they *will* start, I presume?

I’m not that confident.

Midas on April 14, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Woodward: There’s obviously something wrong at WITH the IRS

FIFY

deepdiver on April 14, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Woodward has said something about this before. They are right. In the old days reporters would have been all over the government corrupton. Anyone who did would be a shoe-in for a Pulitzer. But he better have good security and send his family out of the country.

They are also right that Republicans are doing nothing. They hold meaningless investigations. It looks like they don’t want to do anything.

crankyoldlady on April 14, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Someday people are going to be willing to talk.

The smart ones are writing the books now for later release after BHO is out of power.

Once the money starts flowing, they won’t be able to shut anybody up.

Carnac on April 14, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Say, Bob, sounds like a story that needs someone who can get an insider to start dishing out the dirt.

Do you know anyone that can do that?

Because YOU certainly can’t, it appears.

ajacksonian on April 14, 2014 at 3:55 PM

IRS employees are in the same bunker as the Benghazi witnesses…

d1carter on April 14, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Anybody willing to start the IRS boycott…? LOL

d1carter on April 14, 2014 at 4:01 PM

According to the Associate Press representative, they just don’t have anything to work with……….

d1carter on April 14, 2014 at 4:02 PM

There just has to be a leader like Bundy. Someone has to step up and say no and others will follow. I know I’m not a leader and I’m not in a position to be one but I will speak out.

crankyoldlady on April 14, 2014 at 4:31 PM

I think Barry has a smidgeon of integrity.

Sven on April 14, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Objection, facts not in evidence.

JusDreamin on April 14, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Objection, racist.

slickwillie2001 on April 14, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Yes, and I’m SURE none of those proposed IRS regulations could be construed as tilting the playing field toward accepting liberal ideals as NON-political, but anything resembling a conservative ideal as nakedly political.

Flat tax. Period. End of story. Nothing but nothing for the IRS to even DO except enforce the flat tax. THAT is how you get the IRS out of politics.

deadrody on April 14, 2014 at 4:56 PM

It never ceases to amaze me that the commenters who claim to be conservatives find no fault with the criminal corruption of the Democrats, but instead blame Republicans for the mess.

It’s as though the Democrats don’t exist in your world and the Republicans are in vacuum.

The real world just does not exist for you.

petunia on April 14, 2014 at 6:39 PM

The IRS should just end tax exemptions from [for?] those running advertising for political purposes,

But as long as the IRS decides (a) what constitutes advertising; and (b) what constitutes political purposes, the problem will continue.

Flat tax. Period. End of story. Nothing but nothing for the IRS to even DO except enforce the flat tax. THAT is how you get the IRS out of politics.

deadrody on April 14, 2014 at 4:56 PM

I would settle for eliminating all taxes on every organization, political or not, non-profit or business; they are only passed on to some individual eventually. (But every individual gets taxed at some point.)
No more squabbling over purposes and policies.

Then go for the flat tax, if you want.

AesopFan on April 14, 2014 at 6:48 PM

So, Boob. Why don’t you start asking the “correct” questions, like you did during Watergate?

tomshup on April 14, 2014 at 7:15 PM

>>”And the question is does this committee know how to investigate?”

No. And it begs the question: what DO Republicans know how to do?

rrpjr on April 14, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Media campfire? More like a media smoke screen. But what do you expect when the media is unionized just like the IRS. Union goons will always circle the wagons to protect each other. And they work together to destroy Republicans. If the president was Republican, the National socialist Party media would have raised such a stink that impeachment would have occurred a year ago…..
We should refuse to send any more money to the IRS until there is a fair, objective, non partisan alternative. Hey, if the Bundy ranchers can do it….

devan95 on April 14, 2014 at 7:33 PM

I can pretty much say that our Dallas office is full of incompetent morons. Pretty much every one of those in-office behaviors would result in a verbal, and then a write up if they weren’t discontinued, at any office I’ve worked in. The rep campaigning on the phone… they’d have been fired the minute a taxpayer complained. A note on that, if you have an actual abusive representative, do call back and ask that the next rep take a complaint. We record all calls and retain them for years, and managers have to review the call in question and call you back within 30 days if you complain. If they don’t, you can call TIGTA and file a complaint, and at that point, phone records are getting pulled and someone’s getting a grade or step pulled (salary cut) or getting fired. Hatch Act violations have some criminal penalties attached, too.

BobMbx on April 14, 2014 at 2:25 PM

IRS doesn’t give due process? We’re not the EPA…If you disagree with an assessment or tax, you have the following options:
Amendment
Reconsideration
Reasonable Cause (We actually will remove certain penalties for a good compliance history; this also covers all penalties for situations such as, “I was in a coma”)
Appeal
Tax Court (Different from Appeals)
US District Court
US Circuit Court
US Supreme Court

So… You get 5 administrative options and 3 legal options. And you can jump to the legal options at any time, though it’s generally better to go through the administrative options first. So full due process and then some.

Asurea on April 14, 2014 at 10:40 PM