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Blog Post | January 25, 2018

Revolving Door Project’s Director Jeff Hauser Reacts to Potential IRS Commissioner Nomination

Revolving Door

The Revolving Door Project, with the support of a host of organizations interested in promoting good government (listed below), has for several months been shining a light on the importance of the IRS being run by either a Senate confirmed head or a career staffer. This effort has included sending letters to key congressional committees, the Treasury Department, and Inspectors General in September and December.

Politico reported Tuesday that the Trump Administration has finally identified an IRS Commissioner to replace John Koskinen, who departed at the end of his term two and a half months ago. While it is far too soon to say if Charles Rettig is a good choice, it has been clear since David Kautter’s second job was announced that it is deeply inappropriate for a political appointee like Kautter to serve both as Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy as well as Acting Commissioner of the IRS.

It is bad enough when presidents install political allies, rather than career public servants, as Acting Directors of agencies in the absence of a confirmed head. That practice has been far too common across the Trump Administration, as Acting political appointees represent an easy way to avoid scrutiny and ensure the loyalty that the President has demanded of, for example, senior FBI officials.

As the Revolving Door Project and other watchdogs have been arguing in the press, on the Hill, and to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s office, loyalty without scrutiny is particularly dangerous when it comes to running the IRS.

The IRS can be a powerful entity for a president whose:

a) Personal taxes are under purportedly under perpetual audit;

b) Closest allies are being investigated and at times indicted for tax evasion and money laundering; and

c) Whose most influential donor has a major stake in a multi-billion dollar case at the IRS.

If Politico’s reporting is correct that President Trump is actually making a nomination of an IRS Commissioner, that is welcome evidence that scrutiny matters. While Rettig may or may not be a good nominee, it is critical to restore the Constitutional mandate that agencies are to be run by officials in conjunction with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Organizations that have signed on to http://cepr.net/images/documents/koskinen-replacement-letter-9-21-17.pdf  and/or http://cepr.net/images/documents/December-IG-update-request.pdf:

American Family Voices

Center for Media and Democracy


Demand Progress


March for Truth


National LGBTQ Task Force

People For the American Way

Public Citizen

Revolving Door

More articles by Jeff Hauser

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