WASHINGTON, D.C. (WALB) - Georgia Republican U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson didn't hold back his criticism of the Internal Revenue Service, after a bipartisan report released August 5, 2015, that confirmed the IRS targeted conservative political groups, overwhelmingly gave money to Democrat candidates, and worked for their union on government time.
"I am outraged, but unfortunately not surprised, by the contents of this report," said Isakson. "It is unconscionable that in the United States of America, conservative groups have been unfairly targeted by a government agency for exercising their First Amendment rights. This report adds to the urgency for Congress to enact meaningful tax reform that gets the IRS out of the business of micromanaging every aspect of Americans' lives. Furthermore, I agree with my Republican colleagues' findings that unions should not be allowed to influence the agency responsible for collecting federal revenues."
The report found that the IRS was influenced by a variety of factors, including the political beliefs of individual IRS employees, union activity, and even statements by the White House, all contributing to the way the IRS operated in limiting political speech by individuals and tax-exempt organizations.
They found that the IRS purposefully misled Congress about whether it targeted political organizations, and obstructed Congress's investigation in multiple ways.
Almost 50,000 IRS employees pay union dues, and in recent elections, more than 95% of their political contributions went to Democrats, and in 2011, IRS employees spent more than 600,000 hours of official time on union duties. More than 200 IRS employees work full-time on union issues.
"I have gone multiple rounds with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his threats to cut back even further on customer service, yet more than 200 IRS employees are working full-time on union issues," said Isakson. "The Department of Veterans' Affairs has this same problematic issue, and we have got to get it fixed. The priorities of these agencies are out of whack. Taxpayer dollars should not be used for union activities that should instead be conducted during the employees' paid time off, as would be demanded in the private sector."
Isakson is a co-sponsor of the Federal Employee Accountability Act to restrict the ability of federal employees to conduct as much union-related business as they want at the office while on the government payroll. He sent a letter to President Obama demanding full compliance with congressional investigation requests for information on how the IRS targeted conservative groups in May 2013.
He co-sponsored the Fair Tax Act of 2015, to end the IRS, repeal all federal income and payroll taxes, and replace them with a revenue-neutral, personal consumption tax, and the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act. That would stop the IRS from exploiting bureaucratic loopholes to restrict the free speech rights of the same types of tax-exempt social welfare organizations.