Grover Norquist: IRS Commissioner Should Be Fired Next
Conservative leader says Trump should dismiss Koskinen 'now' for role in targeting Tea Party groups
One of Washington’s top conservative leaders is asking why the president fired the head of the FBI but hasn’t yet fired John Koskinen, the IRS head who obstructed the congressional investigation into IRS targeting and harassment of Tea Party groups, actions thought to have altered the outcome of the 2012 election.
“Hey Why did James Comey get fired and the head of the IRS is still getting a paycheck. ‘You’re Fired’ should be said more often in DC,” Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform tweeted early Tuesday morning.
“If what they did is not illegal, they should change the law, because it should be illegal.”
The IRS targeting of groups that had “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names, which often involved requests for thousands of documents as a condition of approval for tax-exempt status as nonprofit organizations, was deadly. Many of the groups dissolved or changed their names, and were never heard from again.
“It was a nightmare. We basically just gave up on it,” Everett Wilkinson, chairman of a South Florida Tea Party group told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 2013. “Whatever they could do to send you around in circles, they would. A lot of other [Tea Party] groups just closed their doors or changed their status to for-profit — or just didn’t file anything.”
One conservative group was just approved for tax-exempt status in April, after seven years.
"If what they did is not illegal, they should change the law, because it should be illegal," Norquist told LifeZette on Tuesday.
John Koskinen was appointed IRS Commissioner in 2013 after the IRS scandal involving the agency's targeting of conservative groups under previous commissioner Lois Lerner. His five-year term expires in November 2017.
In 2015, the House Oversight Committee chairman, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), introduced a bill to begin impeachment proceedings against Koskinen for failing to stop the destruction of backup tapes containing 30,000 IRS emails and for making false statements under oath to the committee. The House leadership, however, did not move forward with impeachment.
In January, 53 House Republicans signed on to a letter sent to President Trump, asking him to remove Koskinen, saying the IRS has "forfeited the trust of a free people."
"Congressional investigations, hearings and actions have shown that Commissioner Koskinen misled Congress, obstructed investigations into the IRS, and failed to comply with Congressional subpoenas," the letter reads. "Commissioner Koskinen's willful deception and obstructionism has only further eroded any remaining confidence."
It also cites the section of U.S. law that gives the president the authority to dismiss an IRS commissioner before his term has expired.
A spokesman for Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), the head of the Republican Study Committee, said there's been no response from the White House, and that House Republicans are looking to see what they can do legislatively to remove Koskinen.
"I vote let's do this, let's do this quickly," Norquist told LifeZette, saying Koskinen's failure to reform the IRS means "he should be fired now."
Norquist, a co-author with Newt Gingrich of the 1994 Contract with America, says he thinks it's likely that the only reason the White House hasn't taken action on this is that it doesn't have anyone to replace him.
But he says it shouldn't matter.
"If nobody gets fired, they haven't learned a lesson."
But who would replace him?
"We need somebody who can end the political weaponization of the IRS," says Norquist, adding that he'd favor someone like former California Congressman Chris Cox.
In addition to targeting of Tea Party groups, the IRS under President Obama also audited scores of conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation, and used donor lists obtained to audit individual donors to conservative groups.