The Olympics of Chutzpah: Awards Go to the NFL, the IRS, and the CFPB

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo: Catalina Fragoso/USA TODAY Sports/via Reuters)
How dare they?

Several Americans at or near the tops of some of this country’s major institutions have become portraits in brass. How dare they behave this way? Their hubris and high-handedness are award-worthy — if nothing else, to showcase them as people not to emulate. Let’s call these the Olympics of Chutzpah.

The 2017 gold medal for chutzpah goes to Roger Goodell. The NFL commissioner did little more than let his knees knock while leftist players turned a previously apolitical sports enterprise into a coast-to-coast social-justice workshop. Goodell should have told his league’s overpaid, childish athletes to get off their knees and reserve their activism to off-duty hours. Those who refused would be dismissed and replaced with any of the thousands of young men who would be thrilled to trade places with any of these ingrates.

Instead, Goodell stands by cluelessly as the Bended-Knee Brigade repeatedly insults the American flag, the national anthem, and the U.S. armed forces. In so doing, they have pile-dived stadium attendance and ratings right through the 50-yard-line. Rather than resign in shame, Goodell demands a $50 million annual salary, lifetime private-jet travel, and health insurance until death, for him and his family.


Team owners should have told him: “Just for that, you have five seconds to turn around, walk through the front door, and never show your face around here again. If not, we’ll call security.”

The 2017 silver medal for chutzpah goes to Lois Lerner. The former IRS official presided over the political targeting and abuse of some 471 tea-party and limited-government groups that applied for 501(c)(3) non-profit status. They waited and waited and waited and waited and waited for the IRS to approve (or reject) their applications. Some tea-party outfits were instructed to list the books that their members were reading. Even more Orwellian, others were told to describe the content of their prayers. This anti-conservative discrimination was designed to keep center-right groups so dazed, confused, and poorly funded (due to their inability to solicit tax-deductible donations) that they could not educate citizens about Obama’s shortcomings before the 2012 election.

This cynical ploy worked. These groups largely were muted. Obama won a second term for many reasons. Having the IRS put metaphorical duct tape over the mouths of these potentially vocal critics certainly helped him score four more years to cripple America.

As the head of IRS’ tax-exempt-organizations division, Lois Lerner was this effort’s ringleader. Despite her anti–First Amendment actions, the destruction of relevant documents, and the annihilation of her computer hard drive in an AMERI-SHRED AMS-750 HD high-powered metal shredder (as Americans for Tax Reform reported), Lerner scored paid leave for five months. She kept collecting her $177,000 annual salary — $3,000 per annum more than if she were U.S. Senator Lois Lerner — without having to cope with pesky job duties or even show up at the office. (Really nice work, if you can get it.)

Before she faced prosecution or otherwise answered for her misdeeds, Lerner retired. That clinched her  cornucopia of benefits as a former federal bureaucrat, including full medical care and, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation estimates, an annual pension of $102,600.

One would think Lerner would count her winnings and leave it at that.

But no!

Instead, she now wants her sworn deposition in related litigation to be sealed permanently. As if facing zero consequences for her actions were not sufficient satisfaction, she now wants to bury the records of her wrongs.

Lerner claims that opening these records would inflame tax fighters and, thus, physically endanger her. Lerner’s attorneys point their trembling fingers at Tea Party leader Mark Meckler, who once called IRS agents “criminal thugs.”

Meckler scoffs at this notion.

“Four years of harassing innocent American citizens for their political beliefs, and she’s scared of a guy in a cowboy hat talking to a bunch of little old ladies at a tea party event?” Meckler told the Washington Times, recalling the occasion where he made the “criminal thugs” remarks.

The Trump Administration should apply public pressure, including an amicus curiae brief, calling on federal Judge Michael R. Barrett to release these documents. If these papers were posted online, rather than stashed in a courthouse vault, Americans could learn many more details about this grotesque abuse of power. Who knows, enough facts may emerge to trigger the prosecutions of Lerner and her conspirators.

That would be justice.

The 2017 bronze medal for chutzpah goes to Obama holdout Richard Cordray, the just-resigned chairman of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. He named his chief of staff, Leandra English, as his deputy just before leaving office. Cordray believed that move would make her the acting director upon his exit, until the Senate can confirm President Donald J. Trump’s potential designee as a permanent replacement. Soon thereafter, President Trump instead appointed Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as CFPB’s acting director. The issue now heads to court.

Liberals complain that Mulvaney is a CFPB critic who once called it “a sick, sad joke.” So what?

Liberals complain that Mulvaney is a CFPB critic who once called it “a sick, sad joke.”

So what?

Presidents are not limited to appointing agency heads who are enamored of those institutions. If so, Democratic chief executives would be restricted to naming war hawks, rather than doves, to the Pentagon. If Democrats have a problem with this, they should try harder in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney should not be even microscopically controversial. The president of the United States appoints members of the executive branch, despite Democrats and the media (excuse the redundancy) conveniently forgetting Article II of the Constitution. After all — whether liberals like it or not — it’s the Trump administration. It’s not the Cordray administration.


Can the NFL Survive National Polarization?

Richard Cordray’s Tempest in a Teapot

Too Many Government Officials Never Pay the Price for Crimes and Misdeeds

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.