The Corner

Cummings Objects

I wrote on the homepage today about the Department of Justice lawyer who is defending IRS commissioner John Koskinen against claims from a pro-Israel group that the agency violated its First Amendment rights in the processing of its application for tax exemption. Before landing at the Justice Department, the lawyer worked for Lois Lerner at the IRS, where documents indicate he handled tea-party cases, and where Lerner became a friend and mentor to him.

I noted that the coincidence illustrates both the reach of the IRS and the closely knit nature of the larger federal bureaucracy, and pointed also to Susanne Sachsman Grooms, a former IRS employee who works now as the deputy staff director for the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings (D., Md.). Cummings has for months now objected to the committee’s continued investigation of the IRS’s targeting of right-leaning groups, going so far as to call its treatment of Koskinen “public harassment.”

Cummings wrote today to dispute my characterization of Grooms’s work for the IRS. His letter is below. In it, he refers to a Wall Street Journal piece I wrote on the same topic last year.

Cummings is incorrect. At the IRS, as he notes, Grooms served as an adviser to the deputy commissioner of services and enforcement until mid 2009; Steven Miller, who went on to become the IRS commissioner, and who resigned in the wake of the targeting scandal, was appointed deputy commissioner of services and enforcement in September 2009. It’s unclear whether they overlapped. But Grooms then served as a senior counselor to the chief of criminal investigations until she left the agency in 2011. As this organizational chart illustrates, the criminal-investigations unit falls under the purview of services and enforcement; ultimately, Grooms reported to the commissioner for services and enforcement and his deputy, Steven Miller — and of course to then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman.

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