Thrower set example refusing White House bid to abuse IRS power
by Don McKee
March 13, 2014 11:50 PM | 2581 views | 6 6 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
Randolph Thrower, who died last week at age 100, had the rare courage to resist a sitting U.S. president, at the cost of his job.

Thrower was a topflight Atlanta lawyer with Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, former FBI agent and Marine Corps veteran that Richard Nixon appointed commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service in 1969. For two years, Thrower did his job as fairly as he knew how — among other things — refusing tax-exempt status to private schools that practiced racial discrimination.

Then came the acid test. The Nixon White House wanted to use the IRS to go after its “enemies list” by auditing political opponents and tax-exempt organizations — a la the IRS under the Obama administration more recently targeting tea party and other conservative groups by denying or delaying tax exempt status.

Thrower’s response: “Sure, we’ll audit them — just like everyone else when their names come up through the regular audit selection process.” That’s from Bill Bradley, a senior partner in Sutherland’s New York office, quoted by the Daily Report.

Thrower’s daughter, Patricia Barmeyer, a partner at King & Spalding, said her father later told her he tried repeatedly to get past Nixon aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman “to meet face-to-face with the president and tell him of the attempted misuse of the IRS, but he was never allowed to see him. He felt if he could see him, he could explain how wrong this was.” Only after the Watergate scandal broke did Thrower learn of Nixon’s own involvement.

Also to Thrower’s credit, he would not hire G. Gordon Liddy to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (then part of the IRS) — before the Watergate scandal revealed his organizing role in the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, forced Nixon’s resignation and sent Liddy and other members of the White House “Plumbers” unit to prison.

Thrower got involved in the Georgia Republican Party in the early 1950s when the segregationist Democrats had a stranglehold on state government. But he believed in a two-party system and opposed the county unit system that gave disproportionate votes to smaller counties in Georgia primaries. The system was ruled unconstitutional in 1962 by another great Georgian, Judge Griffin Bell of U.S. District Court. His ruling was upheld on March 8, 1963, by the Supreme Court in its famous “one person, one vote” decision.

In the 1970s, when a promotion-exams cheating scandal engulfed the Atlanta Police Department, Mayor Maynard Jackson turned to Republican Thrower and Democrat Felker Ward Jr. to investigate pro bono. They did and uncovered the facts of the cheating, resulting in the mayor firing his public safety commissioner, Reginald Eaves.

Thrower gave much time to volunteer work, supporting the Atlanta Legal Aid Society for 60 years. In 1993, he received the American Bar Association Medal, its highest honor, recognizing that he “set a standard to which all lawyers can aspire.”

To which everyone else can aspire as well.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Kevin Foley
March 14, 2014
The IRS/Obama non-scandal is now officially a zombie. Rep. Darrel Issa shut down his partisan "investigation" and tried to silence Rep. Elijah Cummings, but here is what Cummings had to say (more at my most recent blog):

"(When Issa appeared on Fox News Sunday he) claim(ed) that (IRS official Lois) Lerner was quote, at the center of this effort to, quote, target conservative groups. Although he provided a copy of his report to Fox. He refused my request to provide it to the members of the committee.

"He cannot support these claims," Cummings continued. "We have now interviewed 38 employees, who have all told us the same thing. That the White House did not direct this or even know about it at the time it was occurring. And none of the witnesses have provided any political motivation. The (IRS) Inspector General, Russell George, told us the same thing. He found no evidence of any White House involvement, or political motivation."

Ben Twomey
March 14, 2014
Kevin, I don't think you are fool enough to believe this is over. If so, then you are more gullible than I believed you were,
March 14, 2014
"That the White House did not direct this..."

Of course, it didn't. It's obvious. Cummings is right.

"[The IRS IG] found no evidence of any White House involvement..."

Of course, it didn't. That is obvious as well.

"Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"

Sorry, I digress.

The question still stands: if there is not a smidgen of corruption, and this is a "phony" scandal, why did Lerner take the Fifth?

It's a reasonable question.

Please, KF, spare us the Cheet-ohs' jokes and let's have a discussion.
Kevin Foley
March 14, 2014
Twomey, it's over. So is Benghazi. So is Fast & Furious, all total BS with no substance and only Fox News to keep any of it alive.
Samuel Adams
March 14, 2014
Ahh, Don, but in Obama's admin, there is not one single, itty bitty minute TINGE of scandal or corruption, so his IRS takes the fifth and he gets by. "What difference does it make now?" Hilary so smugly said.

You would be hard pressed to find someone with one onehundredth of the integrity of Thrower these days.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides