Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today filed an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from abusing its powers to violate first amendment rights. Rubio will introduce identical legislation, the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination & Protection Act of 2013, in the Senate tomorrow. The legislation, introduced today in the House by Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), provides for mandatory termination and criminal liability for Internal Revenue Service employees who willfully violate the constitutional rights of a taxpayer. The need for the legislation is demonstrated by current reports of the IRS deliberately targeting conservative organizations, and it expressly states that political speech and political expression are protected rights.
The legislation reads in part, “Whoever being an employee of the Internal Revenue Service, engages, during the performance of that employee’s official duties, in an act or omission described in section 1203(b) of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 shall be fined under this 8 title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.’’
“A government organization like the IRS discriminating against political organizations is an outrageous abuse of power, and the American people have every right to demand answers and accountability,” said Rubio. “Those responsible individuals should face all appropriate punishment available under current law, and all organizations and individuals who engage in political speech and expression should be protected against this kind of discriminatory behavior in the future. I commend Congressman Turner for championing this legislation in the House and hope our colleagues will join us in providing protections to deter this kind of governmental abuse from happening again.”
Earlier, Rubio sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to demand the resignation of the current IRS Commissioner. “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,” Rubio wrote. “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.”
To view the legislation, click here.
Below is the full text of the letter:
May 13, 2013
The Honorable Jack Lew
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
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.