Former Sen. Baker Says He Was Target Of IRS Abuse
Senate hearings continue with more allegations of misconduct
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 30) -- An angry former Sen. Howard Baker
told Capitol Hill lawmakers Thursday a rogue IRS agent tried to frame him in a bribery, money-laundering and tax evasion investigation.
"I knew nothing of that investigation, either before or during
the time it was going on or after it was terminated, until I was
informed by (Senate Finance) Committee staff," Baker testified. "The allegations, as related to me, were
absolutely and totally without foundation and did not occur."
Baker appeared on the third day of hearings by the committee into problems at the IRS. Congress is considering legislation to bolster taxpayers' rights and improve accountability at the tax agency.
Appearing with Baker were two other targets of the aborted frame-up,
David Crockett, district attorney general for the First District in
Tennessee, and former congressman James H. Quillen, also of Tennessee.
Tommy A. Henderson, a retired IRS agent, told the committee
the attempted frame-up was an effort by an IRS supervisor with a severe drinking problem to gain points with his supervisors and repair his career.
Henderson said the target was a "former
United States senator," but two committee aides
identified the senator as Baker.
"What I had uncovered was an attempt to create an unfounded
criminal investigation on two national political figures for no
reason other than to redeem this agent's own career and ingratiate
himself with his supervisors," Henderson testified.
Earlier in the day, four IRS tax auditors offered additional horror stories about the tax agency, alleging misconduct and mismanagement inside the IRS.
The witnesses, who said they feared retaliation for coming forward, offered a series of lurid accusations, including money-laundering, tax evasion, favoritism toward wealthy taxpayers and even bringing a stripper to visit an IRS office to perform.
One of the witnesses, Maureen O'Dwyer, complained her supervisors prematurely closed an audit of a large multinational
corporation where she had recommended repayment of $12 million in
back taxes. With penalties, the possible revenue could have been twice that.
"My manager, through ambition, incompetence and lack of
integrity, gave up a potential tax deficiency which could have
brought in as much revenue as $24 million," O'Dwyer said.
Democrats on the committee complained again that they had no advance word of the witnesses or testimony, making it impossible to prepare. After some wrangling, the witnesses continued their testimony.
On Wednesday, senators heard from taxpayers who alleged mistreatment at the hands of the IRS' criminal investigations division. The hearings resume Friday with testimony expected from IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti. So far, he has declined to comment on specific allegations of misconduct or mistreatment of taxpayers.