Roskam still awaiting justice over IRS debacle, not sure if he will support Rauner re-election bid
Though the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced two settlements in cases in which conservative groups alleged they were wrongfully targeted by the Internal Revenue Service and their tax-exempt status had been significantly delayed by the agency, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) said he still has issues regarding those cases.
In announcing the settlements late last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the IRS used inappropriate criteria when screening the groups' applications for tax-exempt status.
"These criteria included names such as 'Tea Party,' 'Patriots,' or '9/12' or policy positions concerning government spending or taxes or statements criticizing how the country was being run," Sessions wrote. The delayed screening process disproportionately impacted certain conservative groups and led to "additional levels of review and questioning."
In many cases, the IRS asked for highly sensitive information including donor information which was not normally needed to determine tax-exempt status, Sessions said.
Despite the announcement, Roskam said he still has issues with these cases.
“We don’t have justice,” Roskam said.
Roskam brought up three points while discussing his concerns with Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson, hosts of Chicago’s Morning Answer radio show.
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
“John Koskinen (the IRS commissioner) is leaving because his term is up so it’s not like he was dismissed early,” Roskam pointed out.
He also took issue with how long it took to get justice for the conservative groups in the cases dating back to 2013.
“There’s still a big issue on the civil asset forfeiture side of things where it’s the Justice Department that is sitting on people’s money,” Roskam said.
The IRS has already made a recommendation to return money that Roskam said was wrongfully taken.
Roskam also believes the Department of Justice’s response to a House of Representatives inquiry and Attorney General Jeff Sessions was obtuse.
“Number one, the response was not responsive to all of the claims that we made but secondly what in the world is the Trump administration doing not bringing justice as it relates to Lois Lerner?”
Lois Lerner was the head of the IRS Exempt Organizations unit in 2013 when about 400 conservative groups say their applications for tax exempt status were improperly handled, according to Fox News. Later that year, the IRS admitted it applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.
Roskam said one of the reasons the IRS is so powerful is because they’ve got 70,000 pages of the internal revenue code that they are able to manipulate against people.
“If the code were clearer, if it were easier, if it were simpler, they would have fewer tools with which to manipulate and that’s why we’ve got to reform the tax code,” Roskam said.
He said he believes a tax reform bill will be on President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the year.
Turning to Illinois politics, Roskam wouldn't say whether or not he plans to support Gov.r Bruce Rauner’s re-election bid.
“The governor was too cavalier in my view and very dismissive of a lot of concerns of a lot of people, so it’s not surprising to me that he finds himself in some level of isolation right now,” Roskam said.
“I’m interested in seeing who’s on the ballot. There’s a long way to go before the 2018 election.”