May 15th, 2013
10:30 AM ET
1 year ago

Boehner on IRS Scandal: 'Who is going to jail?'

(CNN) – The admitted targeting of conservative groups applying for tax exempt status is grounds for some Internal Revenue Service employees to lose their jobs, House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday.

"The IRS has admitted to targeting conservatives, even if the White House continues to be stuck on the word 'if,'" Boehner said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "Now, my question isn't about who's going to resign. My question is who's going to jail over this scandal?"

"There are laws in place to prevent this type of abuse," Boehner continued. "Someone made a conscious decision to harass and hold up these requests for tax exempt status. I think we need to know who they are, whether they violated the law. Clearly someone violated the law."

On Tuesday a report from the inspector general responsible for the IRS stated that lax oversight at the tax agency led to the targeting of tea party and other conservative groups who were applying for federal tax exempt status.

Asked after Wednesday's press conference what specific crimes Boehner was alluding to, an aide to the House speaker cited the illegal targeting of groups and the IRS's sharing of confidential information with the news organization Pro Publica, which said this week the agency shared conservative groups' applications for tax exempt status.

Obama first spoke on the controversy Monday, saying reports the IRS targeted the groups were "outrageous" and that there was "no place for it" in his administration. But he said he would wait for the official IG report to be released before demanding any action be taken by the Treasury Department.

After the report was released Tuesday, Obama released a statement saying the findings are "intolerable and inexcusable."

"The federal government must conduct itself in a way that's worthy of the public's trust, and that's especially true for the IRS. The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity," he said. "This report shows that some of its employees failed that test."

Obama ordered Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to ensure that each of the inspector general's recommendations are implemented soon, "so that such conduct never happens again."


Filed under: IRS • John Boehner
soundoff (725 Responses)
  1. Nick

    The IRS is part of the Treasury Department and is headed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who is appointed by the President. The Commissioner is accountable to the President reporting through the Treasury Secretary. Congress gave the President the power to hire and fire the IRS chief precisely to ensure that the tax authority is politically accountable.

    For Obama to say he learned about the issue through the media and not his own subordinates is just another sign of his gross incompetence. it doesn't matter who appointed the Commissioner – the current President is responsible and if he finds the person doing something wrong he has the power to fire him.

    May 15, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. LDH2O

    Yep, Douglas H. Shulman was the IRS commissioner Mar 24, 2008 to Nov 9, 2012 and was nominated in 08 by (wait for it...) George W. Bush!! BUT this is an Obama scandal.

    May 15, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. vincent

    Who is going to jail for the over use of force against the Occupied Movement? How many people went to jail over the Saving and Loans debacle. How about the Financial crisis in 2007? How about Hurricane Katrina after the Federal Government said it was ready?

    May 15, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. abmri60

    Jordan Sekulow is threatening to sue the IRS on behalf of his conservative clients.
    Marc Rubio has asked the Treasury Sec. to fire the acting IRS commissinoner.

    May 15, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. mique

    How about Bush and Cheney doing the first stint. I think 50 years for treason is fair.

    May 15, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. JJones

    The IRS throws people in jail for accounting mistakes. Boehner is right. Criminal charges need to be filed against these people for violating the law and the public's trust.

    May 15, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Jinx9to88

    Can someone tell me what on earth has Boehner accomplished since becoming speaker 5 years ago?

    May 15, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Dave D

    I like this whole "Who's going to jail" thing!! I assume this means that next we'll start going after the Wall St. guys that brought down our entire economy too, right?!?

    May 15, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Dennis

    Why not fire Boehner for his incompetence and his agenda to derail the legislative process of this country?

    May 15, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. steve

    If Cheney and Bush are not in jail.....then nobody is going to jail.....

    May 15, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    Nick

    The IRS is part of the Treasury Department and is headed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who is appointed by the President. The Commissioner is accountable to the President reporting through the Treasury Secretary. Congress gave the President the power to hire and fire the IRS chief precisely to ensure that the tax authority is politically accountable.

    For Obama to say he learned about the issue through the media and not his own subordinates is just another sign of his gross incompetence. it doesn't matter who appointed the Commissioner – the current President is responsible and if he finds the person doing something wrong he has the power to fire him.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Maybe that's why the former Commissioner – a bush appointee no less – left his job in December, a year before his term expired. His deputy is acting, but no successor has been named.

    May 15, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. jimboe

    Has Boehner, ONCE, ever asked which banker is going to go to jail?

    May 15, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Cephus

    Mr. Boehner it's not about who is going to jail it's all about why the system is broken, Bush used the same dirty tactics and Barack inherited the same! So the right question should be how can we rectify this broken system?

    May 15, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. B.

    Only one thing in their agenda, take down Obama.. They do absolutely nothing for the country, it is only partisan Warfare and the Republicans are wasting American tax dollars paying their salaries.

    Never has this country had more worthless people in the GOP than their current leadership!

    May 15, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. Thomas

    @Marc
    amazing that there actually people who think what the IRS was doing was ok. scrutinizing the conservative groups applications was not the crime. the crime was intentionally picking out conservative group applications above all others. if you don't understand the difference there, you shouldn't be allowed to vote.

    =======

    If you were an IRS agent would you not go after this form of corruption ?

    Former House majority leader Dick Armey says he took an $8 million consulting deal in return for leaving the conservative Non Profit organization FreedomWorks because the group was "dishonest" and because he "couldn't leave with empty pockets."

    The arrangement, he says, will allow him to "never have to work again forever."

    I can point out more cases of conservative none profit fraud , , should we start with Kenneth Lay and Enron contributing money to then Gov. GW Bush by way of non profit organizations .

    I find it funny when those manipulating the system , complain about the system not being fare.

    May 15, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. Ryan

    If only Mr. Boehner was as fervent in his desire to see some of the people responsible for the junk securities mortgage swapping that crashed the economy go to jail, I would listen to his complaints more. Since he thinks laws were violated, as opposed to policies (the difference between jail and being fired), maybe he could point out which ones?

    May 15, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. Sally Hourigan

    Doug wrote:

    "Boehner is such abhorrent, contemptible, despicable person that it pains me each time I have to see him stand up and speak on behalf of the United States. His service should come to an end and soon. He should be running a lobbying group somewhere on behalf of the extraction industry. He should go do something where he can't do as much damage as he is doing in the House."

    Hey Doug, I feel the same about Obama. That's all!

    May 15, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. Confused

    If these people deserve jail time, what of the bankers and wall street abusers who walk away from heinous financial crimes that essentially wreck the US Financial system and walk away with a fine and a slap on the wrist? Why John Boehner do you only care about these crimes when they are against your friends and financial supporters?

    May 15, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. D

    Nick, it may surprise you to learn that there is currently no permanent Commissioner of Internal Revenue (just an acting one since Nov 012 when the previous one left the position). It may also surprise you to learn that the previous Commissioner of Internal Revenue was appointed by the previous President. Thought you'd like to know!

    May 15, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. TRAMARIO ADAMS

    I understand the anger at the lack of oversight but if you oversaw hundreds of employees, yet alone thousands it is almost impossible to know whats going on at every turn. The problem was found out in 2011, a memo was issued that directed that this kind of targeting stop, the fact that it didnt seems to be a systemic issue not one that any one man can particuarlly stop.

    May 15, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. rl

    Is that responsible like nixon was responsible (because he was the boss) for Watergate, that Reagan and Bush I was responsible for Iran-contral (they really were), or that little George Bush being responsible for the lies to congress and the UN (if for no other reason, but that he was in charge), and Bus responsible for the hits of 9/11 as it was also onhis watch.

    May 15, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. ali

    Marc, I would really like to have more details before I decide if what they were doing is OK. Their job was to screen candidates for 501 C 4 status. To obtain this status an organization is supposed to be a social welfare organization. Unlike those organizations with a C 3 status they can lobby for political change. What that means is any wealthy corporation or individual can donate large sums of money to an organization who's sole purpose is to influence public policy. However, in order to qualify they can not be overtly political. To help identify the organizations who were really just political with no social wale fare activities, they focused on organizations who had overtly political names or represented themselves as being anti government.

    I'm so sick of hearing people complain about the IRS abuse of power. The whole concept of a 501 c 4 is a farce. Most are nothing more than organizations designed to allow millionaires and corporations to write off the billions they spend to influence the general public that we are oppressed and mistreated by our government.

    May 15, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  23. Pat in IL

    This man's over-the-top hatred and anger is going to make his head explode some day.

    May 15, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. Jim in PA

    FACT: Liberal groups were "targeted" also, and the only political organization denied status was a liberal group. So... YAWN.

    May 15, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    GWB's administration was marred by national desasters after national desasters of unprecedented and historic proportions, treason, abuse of power, war crimes, mass murder, failure to act in the middle of national crises, propoganda, lies, deliberate breach and misinterpretation of the constitution, illegal firings, unwarrant wire tapping of phones, emails, illegal surveilence, reckless and irresponsible domestic and foreign policies and instead of being tried for treason and war crimes, he was given a library. We haven forgotten Mr. Boehner!

    May 15, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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