By Kevin D. Williamson
You may recall that when the IRS political-persecution scandal first started to become public, the agency’s story was that the trouble was the result of the misguided, overly enthusiastic actions of a few obscure yokels in Cincinnati. That turned out to be a lie, as we all know. But the IRS made a similar case successfully in the matter of its criminal disclosure of the confidential tax records of the National Organization for Marriage, whose donor lists were leaked to left-wing activists in order to use them against the Romney campaign. The IRS admitted that an employee leaked the information, but said it was an accident, that it involved only a single employee making a single error, etc., and the court agreed that NOM could not show that the leak was the result of malice or gross negligence.
Truly, the IRS must be the unluckiest agency in the history of the federal government. Oops! It’s leaking confidential taxpayer information to political activists. D’oh! It’s improperly and illegally targeting conservative organizations for harassment and investigation and misleading Congress, investigators, and the public about the scope and scale of that wrongdoing. Dang! It cannot produce the emails that investigators have demanded as part of the inquiry into its actions. Rats! Its employees are openly campaigning for Barack Obama’s reelection while on the IRS’s clock, using IRS resources, and holding taxpayers hostage. And, who could have seen it coming? The IRS violated the Federal Records Act by refusing to archive relevant documents. With a string of bad luck like that, sure, accidentally releasing NOM’s confidential taxpayer information to left-wing activists seems right at home.
That these events represent an unconnected string of unfortunate events — all of which just so happen to benefit the Left and its IRS allies while hurting conservatives and IRS critics — beggars belief. Add to that mix the willful dishonesty, the staged press rollout, complete with planted questions, intended to preempt questions about the internal investigation and its results, the naked lie that the wrongdoing was limited to a few nobodies in Cincinnati — the only way to believe that story is to desire very deeply to believe it.
The alternative and much more likely — undeniable, to my mind — explanation is that the Internal Revenue Service is engaged in an active and ongoing criminal conspiracy to misappropriate federal resources for political purposes, to use its investigatory powers, including the threat of criminal prosecution, for purposes of political repression, and to actively mislead Congress and the public about the issue; that the Justice Department is turning a blind eye to these very serious crimes for political purposes and is therefore complicit in the cover-up; that these crimes were encouraged if not outright suborned by Senate Democrats; and that the White House is at the very least passively complicit, refusing to lift so much as a presidential pinkie as the IRS runs amok.
And, apparently, there’s nobody in Washington with the power and the inclination to do anything about it.
Mr. Williamson, who now writes for National Review, was once the editor of the Ardmore Pa. -based Main Line Times