• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

The Joint Committee on Taxation yesterday leaked its long-awaited
report on Internal Revenue Service political audits to a few select
reporters.

Given the direction of the committee and its pitiful results after
three years, it’s no wonder I wasn’t one of them.

You see, I broke the story that led to the congressional
investigation. On Oct. 22, 1996, I first told the story of how the IRS
targeted my organization, the Western Journalism Center, which had
broken a number of stories the Clinton administration didn’t like. The
expose also provided evidence of a pattern of such audits against other
non-profit organizations critical of the White House.

Within days of the story, Rep. Bill Archer, co-chairman of the Joint
Committee on Taxation, had demanded of IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner
Richardson all of the agency’s records on the WJC case. Within weeks,
the Joint Committee had begun a probe. Within three months, Richardson
had resigned unexpectedly as commissioner.

The only problem is the committee never did its job. The committee
never bothered to contact me — the guy who started it all. That should
tell you a lot right there. I had to contact the committee and fly to
Washington at my own expense just to meet with staff. They never
bothered to get in touch with me again. And guess who is the last one to
get a courtesy copy of the whitewash report?

I’m quite sure the committee never even bothered to examine a
Treasury Department report obtained by me last July through the Freedom
of Information Act. It concluded, quite clearly and unambiguously, that
the audit of the Western Journalism Center was launched as a result of a
letter sent from the White House to the IRS Exempt Organizations
Division. The letter was written to Bill Clinton from a constituent and
it was critical of the center and called for IRS action.

If that isn’t a paper trail, I don’t know what is. If that is not a
direct action by the White House, I don’t know what it is. If that isn’t
an abuse of power and political targeting, I don’t know what else to
call it.

As a result, that letter, addressed to Bill Clinton calling for
revocation of the tax-exempt status of the center and bearing the stamp
of the White House, remained at the top of the Western Journalism
Center’s IRS case file while the audit took place.

No matter. I still believe the truth will come out. Maybe it will
have to come out in a court of law. After all, thanks to Larry Klayman’s
Judicial Watch, we still have two
lawsuits pending that will go a long way to proving our case and
securing justice.

The real question is: How long will it take? A new administration
will take power next January. What will its rules of engagement be? Will
it have carte blanche to run roughshod over the civil liberties and
First Amendment rights of media critics and political adversaries? If
this precedent is allowed to stand, that will be the case.

Bill Clinton abused his power by using the IRS to target and harass
political enemies and he got away with it. Who will be next? Will George
W. Bush or Al Gore have any reluctance to abuse power in similar ways?
Why should they?

We’re being told everyone does it. Does that sound familiar? That’s
why no high officials have been held accountable for campaign finance
violations. Everyone does it. That’s why the president wasn’t removed
from office for committing perjury. Everyone does it. That’s why no one
has been prosecuted for transferring sensitive missile technology to
China. Everyone does it.

And now this. No action will be taken against the White House,
because everyone uses the IRS to go after political enemies. By that
they mean members of both political parties, members of both the
executive branch and the Congress.

I have no doubt that is true. But that is all the more reason we need
to hold those responsible for the illegal activity accountable. This
must stop. The very essence of our fragile republic is at stake.

It’s time to blow open the closet doors of the Republicans and the
Democrats and have a good look at all the skeletons.

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.