Tags: Noonan | IRS | investigation | stonewall

WSJ's Noonan: IRS Stonewalling on Investigation

Image: WSJ's Noonan: IRS Stonewalling on Investigation Tea party activists demonstrate on Fountain Square on May 21 before marching to the John Weld Peck Federal Building in Cincinnati. The federal building houses the main offices for the Internal Revenue Service in the city and is tied to the targeting of conservative groups.

Sunday, 26 May 2013 02:45 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

The Internal Revenue Service is stonewalling on the investigation into its targeting of tea party and conservative groups, and the nation is nowhere near knowing how politically corrupt the agency is, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote.

The claims of "I don't know" and "I don't remember" are all too familiar coming from Washington, said Noonan, and as are the sound of stonewalling from people who are "smooth, highly credentialed and unaccountable."

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But even though higher-ups like suspended IRS regional director Lois Lerner and others are refusing to take blame for the targeting, their answers teach a lot about the scandal and its origins, Noonan said in her Saturday column.

"We learned the people who ran and run the IRS are not going to help Congress find out what happened in the IRS," she said.

Nobody knows who ordered the targeting, executed the order, or how many applicants were abused, she said.

However, Noonan said the public has learned the IRS commissioner lied in March 2012 when saying there was no targeting going on, and that Lerner lied about when she first learned about the abuse.

"We know the tax-exempt bureau Ms. Lerner ran did not simply make mistakes because it was overwhelmed with requests — the targeting began before a surge in applications," Noonan said.

Noonan said the most important story about the IRS abuse was on Mike Huckabee's Fox News' program, in which he told the story of Catherine Englebrecht whose personal and professional taxes were attacked with full IRS force almost every month for over a year after she founded two groups, King Street Patriots and True the Vote, and sought tax-exempt status.

"This was a political operation," Noonan said. "If it had not been, then the statistics tell us left-wing groups would have been harassed and abused, and seen their applications leaked to the press. There would be a left-wing equivalent to Catherine Engelbrecht."

Further, Noonan said, the timing – right before the November 2012 election – shows the political nature of the targeting.

"A dead serious investigation is needed," Noonan said. "The IRS has colorfully demonstrated that it cannot investigate itself. The Obama administration wants the FBI — which answers to Eric Holder's Justice Department — to investigate, but that would not be credible. The investigators of the IRS must be independent of the administration, or their conclusions will not be trustworthy. An independent counsel, with all the powers of that office, is what we need."

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But if the IRS actions aren't stopped now, she said, "The American people will never again be able to have the slightest confidence in the revenue-gathering arm of their government. And that, actually, would be tragic."

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