Sen. Marco Rubio has sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (full text below the fold) in which he says “I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately.” It’s perhaps a sign of how interested in the details of this matter Rubio is that there in fact is no IRS commissioner at present. The last IRS commissioner, Douglas Shulman, was appointed by George W. Bush in March of 2008 and resigned in November. It seems unlikely that this Republican appointee was engineering an inquiry in Tea Party groups’ tax status for partisan reasons and even if Shulman is to blame he can’t resign because he’s … already resigned.
The problems Republicans seem to be having with the IRS scandal is that the misconduct in question is so clearly misconduct that nobody is defending it or covering it up. For partisan purposes, it’d be better to have an ongoing controversy than to have the matter settled promptly and correctly. So they need to pick a fight. But there’s no fight to be picked over Obama’s IRS commissioner because Obama doesn’t have an IRS commissioner. Perhaps the best critique of the administration one can make here is that they ought to appoint an IRS commissioner. Senate Republicans have been monstrously uncooperative about confirming Obama’s appointees, but Obama’s been scandalously slow in actually putting people forward.
Dear Secretary Lew:
Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.
The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.
The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.
Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.