Georgia editorial roundup

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Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

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June 22

Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on IRS scandal:

If anyone outside the Internal Revenue Service - shall we say, close to the White House - was involved in targeting “tea party” or other right-leaning groups for extra scrutiny, Justice Department investigators were sure to look for clues in one place:

Emails sent to and from Lois Lerner.

Lerner once headed the IRS division that handled applications for tax-exempt status. She has refused to testify about her alleged involvement in the scheme. Instead, she has pleaded the Fifth Amendent against self-incrimination.

If she chooses to clam up, that’s her right. But what do her emails reveal.

Um, there aren’t any.

According to the IRS, they’re lost. Officials said they can’t locate tens of thousands of them between the period of 2009 and 2011, when the agency was targeting these groups. Why? Because her computer crashed.

That’s too convenient by half. It destroys what little credibility the IRS has left about this politically charged issue.

This isn’t a new scandal. The IRS has faced requests, then subpoenas, for Lerner’s outside messages for more than a year.

On top of that, it appears the IRS knew in February that it couldn’t locate these communications (about 50,000 of them, which suggests Lerner was prolific if not talkative). Yet John Koskinen, who heads the IRS as its appointed commissioner, testified before Congress in March that his agency could produce her emails if Congress was willing to wait.

Koskinen, who used to head the U.S. Soccer Federation, must know how ridiculous he and his agency look. He has misled Congress.

There are plenty of targets to boot. That the IRS might use its immense powers to go after groups for ideological reasons should concern all Americans, whether they are Republicans or Democrats. Imagine if a Republican president was accused of using the tax man to target left-leaning organizations. Democrats would howl. And rightly so.

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