It’s time for a special prosecutor


Calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are getting louder, stronger, and more widespread. For newspapers around the country, it’s beginning to sink in just how much the IRS, if left unchecked, can infringe on the First Amendment and freedom of speech. This isn’t political anymore; it’s about basic rights.

Last week, the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board [1] called on its city’s entire delegation – Republican and Democrat to “demand action.” On noting the IRS losing pertinent emails in a computer crash, the Union-Tribune summed it up thusly: “How convenient. How outrageous.”

The Dallas Morning News called [2] the lost email excuse the “last straw” that should lead to special counsel.  “It’s almost impossible to overstate the seriousness of an IRS accused of using its immense power to discriminate against groups based on ideology,” the Dallas editorial continued.

The Chicago Tribune followed [3] with an editorial in Sunday’s paper calling for a special prosecutor and stating that “On a matter this serious, the administration can’t adequately investigate itself… Why Holder won’t act is a mystery he’s inviting Americans to resolve, uncharitably, in their own minds.”

Ron Fournier of the National Journal [4] said “The White House is stonewalling the IRS investigation. The most benign explanation is that Obama’s team is politically expedient and arrogant, which makes them desperate to change the subject and convinced of their institutional innocence. That’s bad enough. But without a fiercely independent investigation, we shouldn’t assume the explanation is benign.

The Washington Post’s George Will explained to Fox News [5] “let me tell you why we need a special prosecutor in this…We wish the Justice Department were interested in this…We can no more expect Mr. Holder to investigate this White House than we could have expected John Mitchell to investigate the Nixon White House.”

We couldn’t agree more. It’s time for the administration to admit its early, casual dismissal of the IRS targeting scandal was as premature as it was wrong.  President Obama even undermined his own administration’s investigation when he stated there wasn’t a “smidgen of corruption” at the IRS.

The refusal to appoint a special prosecutor is soon enough, going to become a story – maybe scandal? – in its own right. When asked, administration officials, including the president [6], claim they want to get to the bottom of the IRS targeting as much as we do. Yet time and time again Hill investigators have been met with flippant attitudes, arrogance [7], lack of cooperation [8], and even silence [9]. Enough is enough. American’s deserve the truth, and this administration is withholding it.

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was right when he looked right at the IRS commissioner and said the agency turns people’s lives upside down with one phone call, one letter, one email.  He was incredulous that the same agency could just somehow lose six months of emails and blame the loss on computer crashes.

The IRS doesn’t tolerate such stunts from citizens it investigates and neither should we.