by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Lois Lerner managed to contain her disappointment when she learned in 2011 that she had lost two years worth of emails—forever. After being told that her data was being sent to the “hard drive cemetery” never to return, Lerner replied with philosophical equanimity, “Sometimes stuff just happens.”
Yes, the IRS is incredibly susceptible to stuff happening.
First, it happened when the agency singled out the applications of conservative groups for special scrutiny and delayed their applications for tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 elections.
Then, it happened when then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman went before Congress in March 2012 and denied that the aforementioned targeting was taking place.
It kept happening last year, when Lerner arranged to reveal the targeting via a planted question at a tax conference, and proceeded to falsely blame the whole thing on a few rogue employees in the Cincinnati office.
It is still happening now, as demonstrated by the IRS failing to tell Congress about the missing Lerner emails until two weeks ago, despite their centrality to an intense ongoing congressional investigation.
As my colleague Kevin Williamson notes, the IRS seems peculiarly unfortunate. So much stuff happens at the IRS that top officials must routinely break mirrors, open umbrellas indoors, spill salt and speak the name “Macbeth” inside theaters. They set out to fairly administer the nation’s tax laws and through a series of bad breaks ended up applying them lopsidedly against their ideological enemies. They intended to cooperate fully and frankly with investigations into their unfair practices; through unfortunate circumstances beyond their control, they haven’t pulled it off.