Failing to comply with a subpoena for evidence in a major investigation; lying under oath in testimony before Congress; providing misleading and inaccurate information to Congress; hampering an ongoing investigation into the targeting of innocent American citizens. These are all serious offenses, violations of the public trust.
John Koskinen, the current IRS Commissioner, committed each one. Incredibly, he has not been removed from his post. Americans, are understandably disgusted that the rules that apply to the rest of us appear not to apply to government officials who enjoy comfortable jobs with guaranteed pension packages.
Consider Lois Lerner. She served as director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit from 2005 until 2013, and was the central figure in the IRS’s abuse of power and targeting scandal. For years, during her time as director of that office, the IRS orchestrated a massive targeting operation that singled out conservatives (especially those affiliated with tea party groups) for additional scrutiny and audits. My organization, Tea Party Patriots, was one of the organizations targeted for special attention in the targeting scandal, and I can attest that the IRS actions had a chilling effect. I have heard countless stories from conservatives across the country who also experienced audits and harassment from the IRS during this time.
So where is Lois Lerner today? She resigned in 2013, unscathed by her involvement in this targeting scandal. The Justice Department recently announced it would decline to prosecute her. Today she is enjoying her government pension and early retirement and will never face any consequences for her actions. Justice will never be served in her case.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen assumed his position shortly after the IRS scandal broke in 2013. In the two-and-a-half years since the outrageous actions by the IRS became public knowledge, several congressional committees have undertaken laborious and time-intensive investigations of how this scandal unfolded. Throughout the investigations, Mr. Koskinen has obstructed justice at every turn. He has lied to the investigators, withheld vital information and failed to notify Congress when Ms. Lerner’s emails were destroyed.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has introduced a resolution to impeach Mr. Koskinen. In support of that effort, Tea Party Patriots has launched the website ImpeachJohn.com to gather signatures from concerned Americans who want Mr. Koskinen impeached. Already, more than 17,000 Americans have signed their name to voice their objections to Mr. Koskinen’s actions and to urge Congress to impeach him.
Apparently, some in Congress misunderstand the function of impeachment. They seem to think impeachment is a tool to be used only against a government official proven guilty of committing a crime. But impeachment is not a legal remedy; it is a political remedy.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65, impeachment was meant as a remedy for “those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”
In an age where the Justice Department is unwilling to prosecute those seen to be doing the president’s will, even in violation of the law - or, at the very least, the public trust - impeachment is the necessary and appropriate response.
At the heart of our system of government, and in fact the entire fabric of our society, is the notion of trust. Americans must be able to trust our government and have confidence that the IRS has not become a political weapon silencing people who disagree with the current administration. For violating the public trust, and for damaging the public’s faith in the integrity of our government, Mr. Koskinen must be removed from his position. There is simply no better first step to restore the public’s confidence in our government.