Gowdy to IRS Commish: "People Cite Ongoing IG Investigations When It Suits Them Not To Cooperate"

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REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC): How about the word confirmed. What does the word confirmed mean to you? Can you confirm the backup tapes no longer exist?

JOHN KOSKINEN, IRS COMMISSIONER: Confirmed. When I asked the question, I was told --

GOWDY: By whom?

KOSKINEN: I don't remember whom. We had four or five people who were working on the report, and was told. And Mr. Cain said in his testimony that was accurate as of June 13th.

GOWDY: What does the word confirmed mean to you?

KOSKINEN: Confirmed means that somebody went back and looked and made sure that in fact all backup tapes that existed had been recycled.

GOWDY: Are you still confirmed?

KOSKINEN: At this point I have no basis for not being confirmed. I do understand that the IG advised me that they were looking at tapes. I have not been advised that any of those tapes --

GOWDY: Well, confirmed is a pretty strong word, Mr. Commissioner. Are you still confirmed that no backup tapes exist?

KOSKINEN: Well, at this point I know the IG is looking and he hasn't found anything.

GOWDY: I am glad you mntioned the IG. And I find this confounding. I find it vexing that once the IG is involved, nobody else can do anything. That is not supportive by the law. Can there be a criminal investigation while there is an IG investigation?

KOSKINEN: There can be all sorts of investigations. What I was talking about --

GOWDY: Right. And there can be a Congressional investigation while there is an ongoing IG investigation also, correct?

KOSKINEN: Of course.

GOWDY: And there can be an IRS investigation. If there were sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace, are you telling this committee that you would wait until the IG investigated it before you had stopped some insidious practice?

KOSKINEN: We would take whatever action was necessary --

GOWDY: Precisely. You would not wait until an IG concluded his or her investigation...

Let me give you possibly an alternative view, commissioner, which is that people cite ongoing IG investigations when it suits them to not cooperate, and they don’t cite competing IG investigations when it doesn’t suit them.

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GOWDY: I am going to say this in conclusion. Mr. Koskinen, I really could not believe the colloquy you had with one of our colleagues about the morale at the IRS. It takes a lot to stun me, but that stunned me. Here's a piece of advice I would give. If the folks like Lois Lerner and others would have spent more time working on the backlog, more time working on their caseload and less time targeting groups and less time trying to overturn Supreme Court decisions they didn’t agree with, maybe morale would be better and maybe their backlogs would be lessened.

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