Last week, a top official with the IRS who headed the division that targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny pleaded the Fifth when brought before a House investigative committee for questioning.
That’s her right. But it wasn’t a pretty sight.
And it sure doesn’t help the public get at the root of why the IRS engaged in what appears to be a political witch hunt.
“If you refuse to answer, you will leave us no choice but to ask for a special counsel or the appointment of a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of this,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch. He’s a Democrat from Massachusetts. In other words, he’s not one of those partisan Republicans that the Obama administration blames for everything that’s wrong.
“I hope that’s not the approach of the IRS going forward, because there will be hell to pay,” Lynch added.
To which Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS’ tax-exempt organization divisions, replied, “I have not done anything wrong. ... I will not answer any questions or testify about the subject matter.”
Such stonewalling, sadly, is par for the course right now for the Internal Revenue Service. ...
The Justice Department, which has already snooped on Associated Press reporters and dogged a Fox News reporter like he was a common criminal, is opening a criminal investigation of the IRS targeting. It will be interesting to see how aggressive that investigation is and what the feds turn up.
That’s why what Lynch said makes sense. Bring in a special prosecutor.
Yes, there’s a risk involved. Special prosecutors can get carried away, spend a lot of money and have little to show for their work.
But sometimes, you need someone who’s independent to get to the bottom of a cesspool.
Government officials don’t make scandals go away when they use the silent treatment. Like IRS auditors who become bulldogs when someone clams up, it makes the public hungrier for the truth.