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Ron DeSantis wants Obama to remove IRS commissioner — or else

Jacksonville area GOP U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis says President Barack Obama needs to fire IRS Commissioner Josh Koskinen, and says if he fails to do so, Congress should impeach Koskinen.

In an op-ed co-written in The Wall Street Journal with Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan on Tuesday, the duo says that since Koskinen replaced acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel in 2013, he “has failed the American people by frustrating Congress’s attempts to ascertain the truth.”

The reason for their ire is what they say has been a dereliction of duty since Kockinen was hired by Obama to clean up the situation at the IRS, which was rocked when an inspector general’s report revealed that the IRS had inappropriately targeted groups for extra scrutiny based on their political ideology. Kockinen oversaw the government’s preparations for Y2K and helped lead Freddie Mac out of the financial crisis. He was also deputy mayor and city administrator for the District of Columbia from 2000 until 2003.

DeSantis and Jordan accuse Koskinen of destroying evidence, of failing to inform Congress and providing “false testimony before Congress, all regarding the congressional investigation into the allegations revealed by the I.G.:

Mr. Koskinen made statements to Congress that were categorically false. Of the more than 1,000 computer backup tapes discovered by the IRS inspector general, approximately 700 hadn’t been erased and contained relevant information. But Mr. Koskinen testified he had “confirmed” that all of the tapes were unrecoverable.

He also said: “We’ve gone to great lengths, spent a significant amount of money trying to make sure that there is no email that is required that has not been produced.” In reality, the inspector general found that Mr. Koskinen’s team failed to search several potential sources for Ms. Lerner’s emails, including the email server, her BlackBerry and the Martinsburg, W.Va., storage facility that housed the backup tapes.

The 700 intact backup tapes the inspector general recovered were found within 15 days of the IRS’s informing Congress that they were not recoverable. Employees from the inspector general’s office simply drove to Martinsburg and asked for the tapes. It turns out that the IRS had never even asked whether the tapes existed.

Three weeks after the 422 other backup tapes were destroyed by the IRS, Mr. Koskinen told the committee that he would produce “all” Lerner documents. This statement was clearly false — you can’t give Congress “all” of the material if you know that you have already destroyed some of it.

• Failure to correct the record. After his false statements to Congress under oath, Mr. Koskinen refused to amend them when given the opportunity at a public hearing earlier this year. If a lawyer makes a false statement to a court, he has a duty to correct it. Civil officers like Commissioner Koskinen have a duty to the American people to revise their testimony when it contains inaccuracies.

The two lawmakers also note a Government Accountability Office report released last week found that the IRS continues to lack the controls necessary to prevent unfair treatment of nonprofit groups on the basis of an “organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.” “In other words,” DeSantis and Jordan write, “the targeting of conservative groups may very well continue.”

They then go on to write that if Obama doesn’t sack Koskinen, they will unveil the I-word: impeachment.

“John Koskinen has violated the public trust, breached his fiduciary obligations and demonstrated his unfitness to serve,” DeSantis and Jordan write. “Mr. President, it’s time for Commissioner Koskinen to go. If you don’t act, we will.”

DeSantis is one of four declared Republicans vying for the U.S. Senate seat in 2016, along with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, and retired CIA contractor Todd Wilcox.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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