Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Monday called on the IRS commisioner to resign in the wake of the agency's admission that staffers in the Cincinatti branch targeted conservative non-profit groups for extra scrutiny in the run-up to the 2012 elections.
"[I]t is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership," Rubio wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. "Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public."
Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, who was appointed by President Bush in 2008 and held by President Obama, left the agency in Nov. 9, 2012. Any pre-election misconduct would have had to occur on his watch. The current acting commissioner is Steven T. Miller -- a permanent replacement has not been nominated.
In response to TPM's query, Rubio's spokesman Alex Conant noted that Miller was deputy commissioner when the targeting took place. He did not suggest the IRS acted inappropriately under Miller's watch as acting commissioner.
"He was Deputy IRS Commissioner when all this occurred," Conant said in an email.
Read Rubio's letter to Lew in full:
Dear Secretary Lew:
Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.
The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.
The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.
Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.