Congressional Attacks on Koskinen Are a Political Stunt

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
Statement by Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Note to reporters and editors: Common Cause is among a group of advocacy organizations that on Tuesday joined in a letter to members of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, opposing efforts to censure IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

It’s easy and popular to gripe about taxes and the tax collector. But bashing the IRS rather than doing the hard work of reforming the tax code gets us nowhere. 

Today’s attacks on Commissioner John Koskinen are unfounded, purely partisan, and a total distraction from the real issue between the commissioner and his critics on Capitol Hill. We’ve criticized him for moving too slowly, but at least Mr. Koskinen has been willing to explore giving voters something they want and deserve: clear rules that require non-profit groups to disclose the names of big dollar donors whose money is being used to influence our elections.

Commissioner Koskinen’s critics, on the other hand, think political operatives should be able to exploit the tax laws to buy our democracy. Their attacks are a stunt to distract media and voters. They want to protect partisan front groups, set up under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, that collectively funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into our elections.  Rather than comply with the law and do their election-related spending through organizations that are required to disclose their donors, these groups pose as social welfare nonprofits to keep their big donors anonymous.

Americans have a right to know who is trying to influence our democracy. The scandal at the IRS is not what it has done; the scandal is what these pandering politicians are trying to prevent it from doing: its job.