House Republicans are being asked by The American College of Tax Counsel to reject resolutions to impeach the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, John Koskinen.
As reported in The Hill, the lawyer’s group wrote a letter to House leaders and the leaders of the Ways and Means Committee saying, “We do not see any benefit to the agency or our system of laws that could arise from moving forward with these actions.”
Members of the Freedom Caucus have threatened to force a floor vote on impeaching Koskinen if the House leadership doesn’t commit to a committee vote within a specific time frame. There have been two hearings on Koskinen held in the House Judiciary Committee over the past few months, but it had not announced votes on any legislation.
Chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said that the caucus is committed to impeachment. “We’ve been very clear: We think Mr. Koskinen should go. We’re committed to that happening,” Jordan said, “We’re committed to doing it, and we obviously are not going to preclude any options until we accomplish that goal.”
Freedom caucus members stated that the IRS Chief was engaged in misconduct during a House investigation into the IRS scandal over targeting conservative groups. They said that Koskinen did not comply with a subpoena and made false and misleading statements to Congress.
The American College of Tax Counsel attorneys said that impeachment or censure “are not commensurate with the alleged conduct and will damage the agency at a time when it needs strong leadership.”
The group says that the IRS has benefited from Koskinen’s leadership and they argued that if Koskinen were to be removed from office, the IRS would have had five commissioners in the past four years.
The lawyers said, “To be an effective leader, the Commissioner needs to take time to build up the knowledge base, as Commissioner Koskinen has done, and it takes time to build up trust in the employees.”
Recently, a group of former IRS commissioners also sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asking the House to halt measures to impeach or censure Koskinen. The former commissioners stated that Koskinen has been doing good work in the job.
“In our view, much of the success of the present IRS is attributable to its dedicated and capable employees and the leadership of Commissioner Koskinen,” they said, “Both within the IRS and among tax practitioners, Commissioner Koskinen is recognized as an honest and honorable public servant who is trying to do a good job on behalf of our country and its citizens in running the IRS under trying circumstances.”
Even some Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee said they would not impeach Koskinen. Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) said, “I just don’t see the ground for it there, and when you’re talking about impeachment, that’s a very serious matter.”
Other members said that they want the House to follow the standard process for impeachment. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Washington) said that he would not support a floor vote for impeachment because the regular process had not been followed.
Conservative group FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon said that Congress has an “institutional obligation” to act on impeachment. Brandon said, “The message being sent by inaction is that those who appear before a committee, lie or mislead lawmakers, and face no consequences at all. That’s a dangerous precedent.”