- - Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Imagine: What if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) singled out hundreds of grassroots citizens groups across the nation and subjected them to ill treatment because of their political beliefs and values, mainly in opposition to the president of the United States? And imagine if that president ordered an investigation of the scandal and the lead attorney was a maximum donor to the president’s political campaigns. And then imagine if the president appointed as IRS commissioner to “clean up” the scandal someone who was a . maximum donor to the president’s political campaigns. Can you imagine such a thing? The watchdogs in Congress and the media would never allow such clear partisanship to rule the IRS, right?

But that is exactly the situation we have watched unfold over the past three years, since the Treasury inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA) confirmed that the IRS had, indeed, targeted conservative groups — hundreds of them — for singular mistreatment and abuse. The Department of Justice attorney charged with “investigating” the targeting was Barbara Bosserman, an individual who had contributed the maximum to President Obama’s political campaigns.

And what about IRS Commissioner John Koskinen? He is yet another maximum Democratic donor. Since 1997, Mr. Koskinen has contributed $51,550 to the Democratic National Committee, various Democratic congressional and Senate candidates and the presidential campaigns of John Kerry, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

In fact, Mr. Koskinen was an early donor to the Hillary Clinton Senate campaign in 1999 and 2000, and contributed the maximum to Hillary’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. In total, Mr. Koskinen has donated $6,800 to various Hillary campaigns since 1999. (He covered his political bases by contributing the maximum to Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns after Hillary was no longer a candidate).

What harm might arise from having one of Hillary Clinton’s staunchest supporters at the helm of the IRS? Think back. During the Bill Clinton administration, the IRS audited a host of Clinton “enemies”: According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Clinton-era IRS, like several before it, audited a wide range of organizations viewed as hostile to the White House agenda. These included leading conservative publications, think tanks and interest groups, among them the American Spectator, Judicial Watch, National Review, the Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the National Center for Public Policy Research, the American Policy Center, American Cause, Citizens for Honest Government, Citizens Against Government Waste, Progress and Freedom Foundation, and Concerned Women for America. The IRS also audited two Clinton paramours: Gennifer Flowers and Liz Ward Gracen, and sexual assault accusers Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick, as well as fired White House Travel Office Director Billy Dale.

There was never anyone in the IRS held to account for the Clinton administration’s targeting of its perceived “enemies” for IRS audits; there has likewise been no accountability for the oppression and discrimination practiced by Mr. Obama’s IRS via the targeting of those groups who have opposed and criticized the Obama administration.

Nor has Congress taken steps to prohibit the IRS from using donor information as a basis for generating IRS tax audits, and there is ample evidence that the IRS audited scores of donors to the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting Mr. Romney.

A Hillary Clinton presidency, with a maximum Clinton donor running the IRS, would not bode well for conservative organizations, donors, activists and sympathizers. We may have forgotten the 1996 controversy that erupted when the Clinton White House personnel office obtained the confidential FBI files of several hundred Republicans who were party leaders or had served in the George H.W. Bush administration. President Clinton called it “a completely honest bureaucratic snafu.” Does that sound like President Obama’s characterization of the IRS targeting of conservative organizations as “bone-headed but without a smidgeon of corruption”?

As long as the liberal media and congressional Democrats collude with Democratic administrations in their targeting and attacking of conservatives, the Democrats in the White House will feel free to use the agencies of the federal government — including the IRS — as political weapons against those who criticize and disagree with them.

A Hillary Clinton presidency, with an IRS commissioner who has long been an ardent political supporter and donor, does not present a very encouraging picture of a non-political IRS that will resist being used as an arm of the Democratic White House.

If that isn’t sufficient reason to vote against Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8, then you are not paying close attention to the dangers that she poses to all who disagree with her and her left-wing agenda.

Cleta Mitchell is a partner and political law attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of Foley & Lardner LLP.

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