Russell George, the inspector general responsible for investigating the IRS, agreed with ousted IRS commissioner Steven Miller that no laws were broken when the conservative groups were targeted by the IRS.
“It is not illegal, sir, but it was unusual,” George said in response to a question during his testimony in front of Congress.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants to know “who’s going to jail” over the IRS scandal, but if House Republicans or courts of law can’t prove that laws have been broken, it’s likely that no one will end up going to jail over the IRS targeting conservative groups.
The Constitution’s 1st. Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech may have been violated by the IRS’s targeting of groups like the TEA Party if the IRS’s extra scrutiny of their tax records interfered with this right.
The Constitution’s 14th. amendment may have been violated if this practice violated the equal protection clause, thou it would have to be proven that the IRS’s policies was evidence of the government discriminating against its people.
The Constitution’s 4th. amendment may have been violated if it can be demonstrated in court that the practices of the IRS are seen as “unreasonable search and seizure.”
Even if all of these amendments were broken, violations of the Constitution are technically not considered to be crimes.
Attorney General Eric Holder stated in his testimony before a House committee Wednesday that three laws that may have been broken.
These are civil rights laws that protect people from being discriminated against by the government; the Hatch Act, which prevents civil servants from engaging in partisan political activity; and perjury laws, which prevent people from lying to Congress.
But while it’s possible for a taxpayer to sue individual employees for allegedly denying them constitutional rights, according to Republican lawyer Jan Baran, who served as general counsel to George H.W. Bush and the RNC, “I am not aware of any statute that prohibits IRS targeting of applicants.”
Proving in a court of law that the IRS’s motivations were political will likely be difficult. If it can’t be proven that the IRS was politically motivated in their targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny, getting convictions of IRS officials might be impossible.
The actions of IRS commissioner Steven Miller, when they came to light, caused him to be ousted. His actions could be considered as proof of his incompetence. But, they aren’t necessarily proof of the IRS acting out of political motivation.
That’s why the IRS is trying to argue that the scrutiny of conservative groups was about incompetence and not due to political motivation.
Written by: Douglas R. Cobb