04.30.2010 0

The IRS may have some explaining to do

  • On: 05/04/2010 06:43:23
  • In: Hard Left
  • By Rick Manning

    Headlines screamed all over the internet two weeks ago that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is investigating Marco Rubio, the GOP frontrunner for the U.S. Senate. Mysteriously, these damaging headlines appeared just after Republican Florida Governor was rumored to be dropping out of the primary, and mulling whether to run for the seat as an Independent — the one hope that Democrats have of retaining the seat.

    So, the frontrunner Rubio gets smeared, and the only people who actually benefit are the Democrats trying to take this seat that is currently held by a Republican.

    Suspicious? Yes. But is it illegal?

    Americans for Limited Government Counsel Nathan Mehrens notes, “Anyone who is a regular follower of law enforcement activity knows that the typical response from law enforcement agencies is to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ when asked about current investigatory activities.”

    Mehrens continues, “In the context of tax information and investigations into tax issues federal law prohibits the release of many types of information.”

    The Internal Revenue Code makes it clear that it is a felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison to “willfully disclose to any person except as authorized in this title, any return or return information.”

    So, this leaves us with the uncomfortable question: was this obvious and apparent breach of the law motivated by politics, or just unfortunately timed?

    In light of a similarly convenient announcement of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation against Goldman Sachs that launched the Administration’s financial services takeover bill, charges that the enforcement arms of the federal government are being abused for political purposes are becoming more and more plausible.

    In the Florida case, this obvious abuse of the IRS investigative powers reminds old-timers of when President Nixon was accused of contemplating using IRS audits against his notorious “enemies list.” In order to reassure the public that the IRS enforcement powers are not politically tainted, Americans for Limited Government has called upon the Inspectors General of both the Justice and Treasury Departments to open independent investigations into this leak, identify the perpetrator(s) and prosecute them.

    Whether or not this leak was politically motivated or just poorly timed, the very appearance that the powers of the IRS are being used to intimidate and influence the political process should not be tolerated.

    Rick Manning is the Director of Communications for Americans for Limited Government, and the former Public Affairs Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Labor.

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