House Issues Censure Resolution for IRS Commissioner

By on May 19, 2016 in Agency News with 21 Comments
image of John Koskinen and Jason Chaffetz

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)

The latest punch thrown in the lengthy and growing battle between the House and the IRS comes from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

Chaffetz has introduced a resolution (H. Res. 737) this week to formally censure IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The resolution urges for his resignation or removal from office, and it also requires him to forfeit all rights to his government pension and any other federal benefits for which he is eligible.

Chaffetz says in the resolution that removal of Koskinen from his position is warranted for the following reasons:

  • Failure to comply with a subpoena resulting in destruction of key evidence: 
    • Koskinen failed to locate and preserve IRS records in accordance with a congressional subpoena and an internal preservation order where 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails – key pieces of evidence – were destroyed on Koskinen’s watch. 
  • Failure to testify truthfully under oath and provided false and misleading information:
    • Koskinen falsely testified the IRS turned over all emails relevant to the congressional investigation, including all of Ms. Lerner’s emails.
    • Falsely testified emails were unrecoverable once the agency realized some of Ms. Lerner’s emails were missing.
  • Failure to notify Congress key evidence was missing.
    • Despite destroying Lois Lerner’s emails on March 4, 2014, the IRS did not notify Congress the emails were missing until June 2014.

The House began its efforts to have Koskinen removed from office dating back to July 2015 at which time a group of House Members sent a letter to the White House demanding that the IRS Commissioner be fired.

When that got no response, a resolution was introduced in the House to have Koskinen impeached. The resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and currently has 69 co-sponsors.

Since that time, the House has approved bills that were aimed at making the IRS more accountable for its actions. The White House, however, is on record as being against these.

The House has also questioned the ability of the IRS to protect taxpayer data and also sent Koskinen a letter wanting to know how the IRS was suddenly able to find the money to hire new employees after Koskinen testified that the agency lacked the funds needed to hire more workers.

The House is waging an uphill battle in its fight against Koskinen given the fact that this is an election year with a short Congressional calendar remaining until the election. The White House is also on record as opposing the House’s efforts. Nevertheless, some House Members, most notably Chaffetz, seem steadfast in their efforts.

Speaking on the censure, Chaffetz said:

“The resolution seeks Commissioner Koskinen’s resignation or removal, and requires the forfeiture of his pension. Censure affords Congress additional consequences to consider in identifying appropriate penalties for the Commissioner’s misdeeds. Mr. Koskinen must be held accountable for his misconduct. I am committed to using every tool at my disposal to hold Mr. Koskinen responsible for his offenses toward Congress and toward the American people. I view censure as a precursor to impeachment as it allows the House the opportunity to formally condemn Mr. Koskinen.”

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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