O'CONNELL: The IRS scandal reeks of greater corruption

The unfolding IRS investigation is like peeling an onion: each extricated layer only increases the stench. Photo: Al Behrman/AP Photo

LOS ANGELES, August 2, 2013 — The House Ways and Means Committee discovered e-mails showing the discrimination of conservative groups went far beyond the Internal Revenue Service, and could very well have involved collusion with the Federal Election Commission.

National Review Online obtained the e-mails and surmised that in at least one case, attorneys from the FEC’s enforcement division sought and received tax information about the status of the American Future Fund, a conservative organization. Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS’s exempt-organizations division worked at the FEC from 1986 to 1995. During this time, Ms. Lerner had a documented history of aggressive investigation of conservative groups; so it is not hard to connect the dots to the current IRS targeting under her watch. 

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The unfolding investigation of the IRS scandal is much like peeling an onion: each layer extricated only increases the stench. In light of these new revelations, Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and oversight-subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany are requesting the IRS release all communications between the agency and the FEC between 2008 and 2012.

Camp and Boustany wrote in a letter dated July 30: “The American public is entitled to know whether the IRS is inappropriately sharing their confidential tax information with other agencies.” Inappropriate sharing is an oxymoron. The IRS is not authorized to “share” citizen information with any agency, inappropriate or otherwise.

Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal peels back another layer, linking an FEC complaint filed by Bob Bauer, President Obama’s lawyer, against the American Issues Project during Lerner’s reign at the IRS. In 2009 an FEC attorney asked Ms. Lerner to share information on the AIP, and according to e-mails, Ms. Lerner obliged. This shows the first direct link of the Obama administration to the IRS scandal. Democrats and the Left have done their utmost to dismiss the issue, saying it has nothing to do with the White House. As Strassel notes, “Democrats are increasingly desperate to suggest that the IRS scandal was the work of a few rogue agents. With the stink spreading to new parts of the federal government, that’s getting harder to do.”

Interesting that as the smell becomes even more pungent, there is a rush by some to bury it as a non-scandal. Yesterday, The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein all but apologized for writing about a scandal that really wasn’t. This is on the heels of President Obama’s speech last week at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., where he dismissed the IRS targeting, and other investigations as “phony scandals”, a complete change of tune from the President’s comments in May, when the scandal first broke.

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The President’s tone has bordered on scathing as more evidence of the agency’s abuse of power is unearthed. Of course, a complicit media would fall in lockstep with an administration that has thus far denied, covered, and obfuscated its relationship to any of the scandals that plague it.

The IRS will be the oversight agency for Obamacare. The IRS already holds massive control over the livelihood of Americans, and we marvel at the depth of ugliness unfolding from this unchecked power. Yet, we are handing them greater control over our health concerns, medical history, and medical records. Even before this scandal broke, this was the equivalent to the fox overseeing the hen house.

In testimony before the Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, acting IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel revealed the haphazard and unformed policies that will be used to implement Obamacare. American’s sensitive tax information will be given to Health and Human Services, which in turn will translate this to “the marketplace” (insurance companies).

They will in turn provide a tailored health insurance plan to individuals and companies, supposedly at a reduced cost. Layers of bureaucracy rarely translate to efficiency or security, and this cabal of HHS, the IRS, and insurance companies only works toward building another out-of-control behemoth that further erode the protections and civil liberties of the citizen taxpayer. 

But there is no scandal here. As committee after committee seeks to get to the bottom of the IRS abuses, the question arises: What checks and balances will be put in place to stop the IRS from targeting individuals according to their health status? As more light is shed in the dark corners of the agency’s operation, it appears that this question deserves a legitimate answer.

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Jennifer Oliver O'Connell

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell is the "In My Orbit" columnist for Washington Times Communities, writes on Los Angeles Faith and Community for Examiner.com, teaches Yoga, and coaches on careers and reinvention.

You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website: (http://asthegirlturns.com).

Contact Jennifer Oliver O'Connell


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