Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

With IRS decision, another favorite GOP myth crumbles into dust

Once again, reality has been shown to directly contradict Republican mythology.

Once again, the Republican response is to brush aside that contradiction as just further evidence of the dark forces that conspire against them. Once again, facts be damned, they refuse to even entertain the notion that their collective mythology might be wrong.

The latest example -- coming the same week that the Benghazi story exploded on them -- is the decision by the Justice Department not to file charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, whom conservatives had long ago identified as the perpetrator of a White House-orchestrated plot to use the agency to punish its political enemies. In a letter explaining its findings, the Justice Department said it had indeed found "substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia" at the agency, all of which had been previously documented.

However, it uncovered "no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution. We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice.”

Note the definitive nature of that statement. They found NO evidence. Not insufficient evidence for a prosecution, but NO evidence. After conducting more than 100 interviews over a two-year period, including extensive interviews with Lerner, and after perusing more than a million IRS documents and almost 500 non-profit applications, NO evidence of any criminal wrongdoing or malign intent.



"Throughout the investigation, not a single IRS employee reported any allegation, concern or suspicion that the handling of tax-exempt applications -- or any other IRS function -- was motivated by political bias, discriminatory intent, or corruption. Among these witnesses were several IRS employees who were critical of Ms. Lerner's and other officials' leadership, as well as others who volunteered to us that they are politically conservative."

Again, it is hard to imagine a more definitive statement of fact. No evidence, not even allegation or suspicion, from any employee, on any count. None. And that conclusion includes claims that Lerner and others tried to hide their tracks by destroying her computer, deleting emails, yadda yadda yadda yadda yadda, ad infinitum.

No evidence. Of anything.

To which the hapless Darrell Issa has responded by claiming the Justice Department "ignored volumes of evidence in the public record and efforts to obstruct legitimate inquiries." House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte was similarly dismissive.

"The American people should be concerned that this kind of politicization continues to go unchecked by this administration and a Justice Department charged with pursuing wrongdoing," Goodlatte said. "You can be sure this will be a major issue during the committee’s (Department of Justice) oversight hearing with Attorney General Lynch next week.”

Yeah, that's the ticket. Maybe we should put it on national TV.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.