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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

IRS Smells of Cover Up

June 23, 2014
Weekly Columns

Americans trust that their freedom of speech and religion as outlined and promised in the United States Constitution will be protected. When threatened, Americans also expect and trust those responsible for threatening these rights will be held accountable and that justice will be served. Unfortunately, in this scandal-plagued Administration, such attacks on our First Amendment rights are more likely to be covered up.  

As we remember, last year the IRS was exposed for purposefully targeting conservative and religious groups seeking tax-exempt status—a clear assault on the first and arguably most foundational amendment to the United States Constitution. Since this unconstitutional targeting was discovered, America has watched the IRS scandal unfold and become more outrageous by the day. 

First, IRS officials and employees involved in the targeting have refused to cooperate with the investigation since the beginning. This includes Former Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, who refused to comply with a congressional subpoena issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. When she appeared before the Committee on May 22, 2013, she attempted to plead the Fifth Amendment even after she had already made a statement proclaiming her innocence. Due to her refusal to cooperate with the investigation, discovering the truth becomes much more difficult.

Most recently and even more shocking, the IRS now claims that all the e-mails sent by those involved in the targeting cannot be produced. That’s two years’ worth of emails sent and received by the individuals at the center of the scandal, including Lerner. I suspect that this is no coincidence but rather, an unbelievable and obvious cover up by the Administration. Additionally, we’ve also learned that the IRS has known since at least February that the emails were gone. While the president promised that he would “work hand-in-hand with Congress to get this thing fixed,” this situation smells more and more of deceit and wrongdoing by the day. 

The IRS is a frighteningly powerful agency in the first place, but when its considerable powers are used to silence speech with which the administration disagrees, all Americans should be concerned. Further, when the president responsible for overseeing this entity fails to take responsibility, it speaks volumes about the transparency and accountability of the Administration he heads.