More than 200 IRS personnel who were fired for unethical and even criminal actions in connection with the targeting of conservatives are now back on the job, according to an inspector general’s report.
According to the Office of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, 213 people were rehired by the IRS despite a checkered history with the agency.
Those allowed back in between January 2015 and March 2016 include four people who were fired or resigned for failure to properly file their own income taxes. Four had been axed for improperly accessing taxpayer information, 86 others left while being probed for questionable leave, disrupting the workplace or failing to follow instructions, and 27 failed to disclose a conviction or being fired on their applications.
The inspector general’s report shows the audit was requested by an unnamed U.S. senator who was concerned about lax hiring practices at the IRS. The report concludes there was reason to be concerned.
“The IRS has not effectively updated or implemented hiring policies to fully consider past IRS conduct and performance issues prior to making a tentative decision to hire former employees, including those who were terminated or separated during an investigation of a substantiated conduct or performance issue,” said the report.
Out of 7,500 hires in the evaluation period, 213 raised red flags, and six of those were also flagged for improper conduct since returning.
“Although the IRS may have had a valid basis to rehire some of the more than 200 former employees with prior conduct or performance issues, TIGTA has serious concerns about the IRS’s decision to rehire certain employees, such as those who willfully failed to meet their Federal tax responsibilities,” the report stated.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is a fierce critic of the IRS. He told WND and Radio America it’s pretty easy to distill this story.
“You could simplify all that and say they rehired 200-some people who were cheating, lying, and snooping on the American taxpayer. That’s what they were doing and, ‘Oh, we’re going to rehire them now and let them work in the Internal Revenue Service,'” Jordan said.
“You can’t make this stuff up, can you? Just when you think you’ve heard it all about the IRS, they go and rehire people who have had this kind of background,” he said. “It is truly unbelievable.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Jim Jordan:
Jordan led the charge to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for obstructing congressional efforts to investigate the IRS targeting of conservative organizations applying for nonprofit status. GOP leaders tabled the impeachment push, but Jordan said the same corrupt culture obviously still exists at the IRS.
“Remember what they did when they got caught targeting, systematically, for a sustained period of time, they were going after people based on their political beliefs. Political speech rights were under attack by an agency with the power, the clout, the potential influence on your life that the IRS has, that’s what they were doing,” Jordan said.
“It boggles the mind that the same people are still [there]. You almost want to laugh, but you can’t because it’s so serious,” said Jordan, with clear exasperation in his voice.
He said this type of government corruption and incompetence grinds the gears of honest Americans.
“There are a lot of things that make taxpayers mad but a couple in particular: one is when politicians don’t do what they said. A second one is when you have this kind of egregious behavior from the people whose salaries we pay,” Jordan said.
“And, frankly, the third is – and it goes along with the second – is this idea that there are two standards, one set of rules if you and I do something wrong but a different set if you’re part of the politically connected class. If your name is Clinton, Comey, Koskinen, Lerner, Lynch, you get a different set of rules than us regular folk. That’s the part that really bugs the American taxpayer, as well it should.”
Jordan said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a subcommittee that he chairs will be having hearings on this, but Congress has no power over IRS personnel decisions other than to shine the spotlight on problems.
He said the most important step in the coming months will be President Trump’s choice to replace Koskinen as IRS Commissioner. Koskinen’s term ends in November.
While the IRS has tremendous power to meddle in Americans’ finances, Congress has its own financial deadlines coming up, namely a looming debt-ceiling fight and spending decisions for Fiscal Year 2018.
Democrats are already demanding a clean debt-ceiling hike. Jordan said GOP leaders would be foolish to embrace that idea.
“I would find it hard to believe that the speaker of the House (Paul Ryan) would go along with a clean debt-ceiling [increase],” Jordan said. “He understands that we’ve got a $20 trillion debt. You don’t just increase the limit on the credit card without also putting in place things that begin to help you address the real problem, which is that $20 trillion debt burden we now have.
“At the Freedom Caucus, we are opposed to a clean debt ceiling [increase]. We’ve been very clear about that. Every time we’ve increased the debt ceiling, we’ve done something that begins to help us with the huge debt problem that we have,” Jordan said. “Republicans control all of government. We just can’t do that.”
Jordan is not sure what to expect in the appropriations process, which seems destined for another continuing resolution or omnibus package rather ran regular order on individual bills. However, Jordan is resolute in keeping the taxpayer dollars out of the hands of insurance companies.
“One of the big issues that we’ll face is the idea that we’re going to provide these (cost-sharing reduction) payments, these bailouts to the health insurance companies,” he said. “I think that is a big problem, a big concern and something we should not do.”
Jordan is bullish on tax reform getting done in the coming months because “it has to” get done. He is also hoping to resurrect the Obamacare repeal effort. Jordan and two other Freedom Caucus members are circulating a discharge petition, which would force a floor vote on the 2015 “clean” repeal that passed the House and Senate.
But he said getting anything through the Senate will be a very tall order.
“As someone said the other day, ‘I don’t know if the Senate could pass a resolution right now that says motherhood is wonderful.’ It just seems like they can’t get anything passed over there,” Jordan said. “That’s a problem.”