IRS scandal being taken seriouslyPublished Jun 5, 2013 at 6:13 am (Updated Jun 3, 2013 at 10:16 am)
I appreciate Craig Grella’s May 21 open letter in which he makes many important points regarding how the ongoing scandal at the Internal Revenue Service impacts not just those organizations directly targeted, but places all nonprofits in jeopardy.
As many readers now know, the IRS singled out certain groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny. In what has been exposed as a concerted political screening process, IRS employees improperly used several key words to flag applicants seeking 501(c) 4 status, which is a designation for groups dedicated to education and dialogue in public policy. A recently released official report by the Inspector General detailed how senior IRS officials in Washington were aware of this political targeting by the Cincinnati regional office as early as August 4, 2011.
This scandal points to the importance of congressional oversight in holding accountable all government officials, those elected and appointed, who violate the sacred trust bestowed on them when working in public office. Oversight by lawmakers not only ensures Executive Branch officials stay within the confines of the law, but oversight also helps to expose waste, fraud or outright illegal activity in the executive branch.
Importantly, as demonstrated in this IRS case, congressional oversight also helps lawmakers understand and take action when changes to the law are needed. Towards that end, I’ve signed on to H.R. 1950, the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination and Protection Act, to make it a crime if IRS employees engage in targeted discrimination. The bill ensures violators, including any member of the president’s cabinet who directs overtly political acts against citizens, face fines and significant years behind bars.
Congressional oversight is not only a constitutional duty, but a vitally important check and balance to the executive branch. It’s a solemn responsibility and one I’m committed to continue as your representative for the 18th congressional district of Pennsylvania and as Chair of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Congressman Tim Murphy