By Tom Toth
If you’ve ever contributed financially to a Conservative non-profit organization, your odds of being audited by the IRS have jumped significantly.
Congressional investigators have found that, from the donor lists the IRS was able to illegally procure from conservative groups seeking tax-exemption, almost one in ten of the names listed were audited by the IRS. Given that the IRS audited less than one percent of all tax returns — the lowest percentage in years — the odds of these audits being purely coincidental are negligibly low.
This news proves that the IRS scandal goes far above and beyond the Cincinnati IRS office and even Lois Lerner and her Exempt Organizations office. Prejudicial government targeting of conservative activists during the 2010 and 2012 elections spread systemically through the entire IRS hierarchy.
How else could the donor documentation have found its way from Lois Lerner’s office to the IRS’s auditors?
Lois Lerner was complicit with, if not the leader of, political targeting within the federal government’s tax collection arm, compromising its very integrity.
She has been charged with criminal contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives for failing to testify before the investigating House Committee. However, the Department of Justice appears wholly uninterested in further pursuing even the smallest legal means to hold responsible the guilty parties within the IRS and clear the name of the administration.
If the House is truly interested in investigating the IRS scandal further, and possibly preserve the functional integrity of the agency, Ms. Lerner should be jailed for her contempt charges for either the maximum sentence period of one year or until she decides to testify before the House of Representatives and disclose all she knows about political targeting within the IRS.
Such a move would not be unprecedented. In 1983, the House, led by Speaker Tip O’Neill, had a Reagan EPA staffer, Rita Lavelle, prosecuted for criminal contempt of Congress for failure to testify. She was later convicted of federal perjury charges related to the mismanagement of a waste land cleanup fund.
With precedent for penalizing such a comparably less damaging offense, a Democrat-led House of Representatives with any sense of responsibility would not refrain from jailing a senior IRS staffer guilty of targeting a Republican administration’s political opponents and then refuse to testify or legally claim the fifth amendment.
If Congressional leadership is indeed interested in getting to the bottom of this scandal, then they cannot allow Lois Lerner to simply walk away from the investigation with a strongly worded letter and a public citation no more inconsequential than an unpaid parking ticket.
For the sake of the federal government’s integrity, it is the responsibility of Congress to make up for the Justice Department’s inaction by withholding funds to Eric Holder’s budget unless criminal prosecution of the contempt charges moves forward. Otherwise, the integrity of Congressional leaders assumes the same level of scrutiny.
Tom Toth is the Social Media Director for Americans for Limited Government.