Cornyn Calls on IRS Commissioner to Resign, Condemns Agency for Targeting Texans
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‘It's the kind of behavior we associate not with the greatest democracy in the world but with corrupt tin-pot dictators.’
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today called on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Acting Commissioner Steven Miller to resign, and condemned the agency for specifically targeting conservative groups in Texas, including the King Street Patriots, San Antonio Tea Party, Waco Tea Party, and True the Vote.
His speech is printed below. (Or you can watch video of his speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aacmRec7zZE)
“Mr. President, I see the Senator from Vermont here and I won't be long, but I did have a few comments to offer about the unusual developments of the last few days here in Washington, D.C. Back in 2011 and 2012, my office was contacted by some constituents who were active politically in organizations like the King Street Patriots, True The Vote, the Tea Party, particularly in Waco and San Antonio, and they were concerned that they were being targeted by the federal government, specifically the Internal Revenue Service, for their political activity.
“And they were concerned that the activities of the Internal Revenue Service seemed excessive, unreasonable, and improper. They feared the government officials were targeting them for doing nothing more than exercising their constitutional rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
“So I did what I think any Senator would do, any member of Congress: I wrote a letter to the Internal Revenue Service and I asked them, first of all, about any indication they had that -- that this was the case. And Douglas Shulman, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, testified later before Congress and categorically denied that any type of targeting was, in fact, taking place.
“Well, last Friday we learned that my constituents were correct and the Internal Revenue Service is wrong. It turns out the Internal Revenue Service really was targeting American citizens for exercising their most fundamental rights. And even though the Internal Revenue Service did not acknowledge this until last Friday, the Associated Press has reported that senior agency officials learned about the abuses as early as June 2011, nearly two years ago.
“Let me be clear. These abuses are not simply inappropriate, they're a breach of faith with the American people and they are potentially violations of our criminal law. Now, as my friend from Vermont knows, if the IRS, if the government can target conservative groups, like the King Street Patriots and the Tea Party, they can target anybody, anywhere across the political spectrum. That's why you're seeing such bipartisan outrage over this news.
“But not only was the IRS targeting Tea Party groups, they were targeting other people based on their advocacy of restoring the federal government to its basic constitutional framework. People concerned about government spending. Meanwhile, there's evidence that the IRS also in some cases targeted Jewish organizations as well. I would hope we would all on a bipartisan basis rise up and say, this is unacceptable and it's immoral. It's the kind of behavior we associate not with the greatest democracy in the world but with corrupt tin-pot dictators. President Obama has said, to his credit, that all guilty parties will be held fully accountable. Well, I wish I could take some comfort from the President's comments.
“Unfortunately, this Administration has repeatedly stonewalled and misled U.S. officials investigating programs like the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The President of the United States got four “Pinnochios” today from the fact checker in The Washington Post. That's got to be a first. So why should we expect the Internal Revenue Service investigation to be any different?
“Unfortunately, this Administration has shown a tendency to put politics ahead of the rule of law too many times. For example, during the government-run Chrysler bankruptcy process, the company's secured bondholders received much less for their loans than did the United Autoworkers' pension funds --a favorite of the Obama Administration. As Solyndra was going bankrupt, the Administration violated the law by making taxpayers subordinate to private lenders so the taxpayers got gored first before private lenders were at risk.
“Last year, the Administration made unconstitutional recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And last year, the Administration illegally waived key requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law. Finally, to help implement Obamacare, the IRS has announced that it will violate the text of the law and issue health insurance subsidies through federal exchanges, something Congress did not authorize. The law clearly states that these subsidies are not available to the federal exchange but only to the state-based-exchanges.
“Indeed, it's the case that the President's health care law will dramatically expand the power of the Internal Revenue Service because the agency is responsible for implementing so much of Obamacare's most important provisions. Well, given what we've learned about IRS malfeasance, does that really sound like a good idea, to give them more responsibility, to hire more agents before we get to the bottom of the present scandal? Do we really want the IRS to administer a law that will affect one-sixth of our economy, as Obamacare will? And do we really want the Internal Revenue Service agents collecting so much personal information about millions of American citizens?
“Even before Obamacare became the law, the IRS had more than enough power to destroy the lives of individual Americans. Chief Justice John Marshall at the very beginning of our country, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, said, ‘the power to tax involves the power to destroy.’ And those words are still true today.
“With trust in the federal government already at an all-time low, the IRS scandal will further diminish public confidence in public institutions and in Washington, D.C. As a result, this scandal will make it much harder for us to work together to adopt the fiscal policy and economic reforms that our country so desperately needs.
“When the IRS starts behaving like a rogue agent that considers itself above the law, we've entered truly dangerous territory.
“So, Mr. President, today I am going to join others of my colleagues to call on the acting IRS Commissioner, Steven Miller, to resign. If it is true what currently appears to be true - that Mr. Miller willfully misled Congress when inquiries were made earlier about this sort of scandalous political activity - he should resign today.
“Furthermore, I'm encouraged actually by Chairman Max Baucus of the Senate Finance Committee and Senator Orrin Hatch, who said that they believe it's important for the Finance Committee, as the appropriate standing committee of the Senate with jurisdiction over the Internal Revenue Service, to conduct an investigation.
“And I hope that the first witness they will call is the Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, who's Mr. Miller's direct reporting boss. I look forward to a thorough bipartisan investigation that will deliver justice to these government officials who betrayed the American people in such a shameful and egregious manner.”
Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance and Judiciary Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.