Potentially explosive development in IRS scandals

One of the most important and so-far least noted threads in the IRS sandal cloth is the inexplicable remark made by Austan Goolsbee, at the time the Chairman of the White Council of Economic Advisors about the taxes paid by the Koch brothers - arch villains in the Manichean delusions of the American left - that would require his knowledge of their confidential tax returns. Did the White House senior staff illegally browse through the tax records of their political enemies? The Washington Free Beacon has been trying to find out, and uncovered an interesting response:

CJ Ciaramella reports:

The Treasury Department on Wednesday refused to confirm or deny the existence of an inspector general report investigating whether or not former White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee illegally accessed tax information on the Koch brothers.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Washington Free Beacon, declined to acknowledge the existence of the report.

"With regard to your request for documents pertaining to a third party, TIGTA can neither admit nor deny the existence of responsive records," said in its response. "Your request seeks access to the types of documents for which there is no public interest that outweighs the privacy interests established and protected by the FOIA (5 U.S.C. §§ 552(b)(7)(C) and (b)(6))."

Former White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Austan Goolsbee sparked a mini-scandal in 2010 when he told reporters during a background press briefing that Koch Industries-the company of libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch-paid no income taxes.

The American public deserves answers on this potentially serious scandal. The Congressional committees investigating the IRS scandals must start pressing the question on Goolsbee, who has now returned to the University of Chicago. I rather doubt he would turn out to be a stand-up guy, should an indictment be looming over his head. He might even be a position to let the public know what the president knew, and when did he know it.

To be sure, "no comment" does not mean affirmation, but it obviously does not mean denial on an open question -- whether or not a direct advisor of the president illegally accessed tax files.

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