Sen. Marco Rubio sent out a letter this Monday, calling for the IRS commissioner to resign in the wake of the latest dust up over the agency's admission that there were some conservative groups targeted by the branch in Cincinnati. The problem with his request -- the IRS commissioner when these scandals occurred was a Bush appointee who no longer heads the department:
Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, who was appointed by President Bush in 2008 and held by President Obama, left the agency in Nov. 9, 2012. Any pre-election misconduct would have had to occur on his watch. The current acting commissioner is Steven T. Miller -- a permanent replacement has not been nominated.
When TPM originally posted their report on this, they had not heard back from Rubio's office. As they noted in their update, here's their response:
In response to TPM's query, Rubio's spokesman Alex Conant noted that Miller was deputy commissioner when the targeting took place. He did not suggest the IRS acted inappropriately under Miller's watch as acting commissioner.
"He was Deputy IRS Commissioner when all this occurred," Conant said in an email.
So after someone pointed out to them that it was a Bushie that was in charge when these supposed abuses took place, now he wants the acting-director fired, even though the practice was not continued under their watch. Chris Jansing couldn't be bothered to point that out in the clip above, where she basically just read Rubio's letter with no context.
Some saner coverage of the topic aired a little later on the network, with both Joy Reid and Katrina vanden Heuvel doing a fine job of trying to put this story into its proper perspective and with Reid making sure the audience knew just who Rubio was initially calling to have fired -- someone who no longer works for the agency. Vanden Heuvel made some very good points about the fact that all of these groups ought to be getting a lot more scrutiny after the flood of them that came in after the Citizens United ruling.
In the meantime, all this is going to be is an excuse for more Obama derangement syndrome out of Republicans -- which is in full force already -- and more partisan witch hunts in the form of more hearings from Darrell Issa.
Video and Rubio's letter below the fold.
Read Rubio's letter to Lew in full:
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.
UPDATE:: One last note on this. As Alec MacGillis at the New Republic pointed out, the real scandal may not be which groups the IRS decided to target, but who got a pass and of course it's the big fish like Rove's group: The Real Scandal Behind the IRS Controversy - It wasn't the agency's targeting of conservative groups, but which of those groups it targeted.