“We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” says Peggy Noonan in her weekly column for the Wall Street Journal. Noonan argues that this is no ordinary scandal. The IRS’s targeting of groups according to their political beliefs is serious, sinister business. She also reveals the breadth of the scandal in a way that few have. This is not simply about denying tax-exempt status to certain groups. It goes beyond that. The IRS scandal has two parts. Noonan writes:
The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists…
The second part of the scandal is the auditing of political activists who have opposed the administration…
Franklin Graham, son of Billy, told Politico he believes his father was targeted. A conservative Catholic academic who has written for these pages faced questions about her meager freelance writing income. Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they’re afraid of saying they were audited.
If these reports are true, the IRS has used its auditing powers to punish opponents of the Obama administration. To add insult to injury, the allegations include the suppression not only of certain political speech, but also of religious speech. It’s not just free speech that the IRS attacked, but in some cases they targeted religious liberty is as well.
I’m no fan of independent counsels, but I agree with Noonan’s conclusion that we need one in this case. The stakes really are that high. She writes:
What happened at the IRS is the government’s essential business. The IRS case deserves and calls out for an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position’s powers. Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned. Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don’t, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn’t stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.
Read the rest here.