Morning News, Savannah, Georgia, on IRS scandal:
If anyone outside the Internal Revenue Service — shall we say, close to the White House — was involved in targeting "tea party" or other right-leaning groups for extra scrutiny, Justice Department investigators were sure to look for clues in one place:
Emails sent to and from Lois Lerner.
Lerner once headed the IRS division that handled applications for tax-exempt status. She has refused to testify about her alleged involvement in the scheme. Instead, she has pleaded the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.
If she chooses to clam up, that's her right. But what do her emails reveal.
Um, there aren't any.
According to the IRS, they're lost. Officials said they can't locate tens of thousands of them between the period of 2009 and 2011, when the agency was targeting these groups. Why? Because her computer crashed.
That's too convenient by half. It destroys what little credibility the IRS has left about this politically charged issue.
This isn't a new scandal. The IRS has faced requests, then subpoenas, for Lerner's outside messages for more than a year.
On top of that, it appears the IRS knew in February that it couldn't locate these communications (about 50,000 of them, which suggests Lerner was prolific if not talkative). Yet John Koskinen, who heads the IRS as its appointed commissioner, testified before Congress in March that his agency could produce her emails if Congress was willing to wait.
Koskinen, who used to head the U.S. Soccer Federation, must know how ridiculous he and his agency look. He has misled Congress.
There are plenty of targets to boot. That the IRS might use its immense powers to go after groups for ideological reasons should concern all Americans, whether they are Republicans or Democrats. Imagine if a Republican president was accused of using the tax man to target left-leaning organizations. Democrats would howl. And rightly so.
This convenient "loss" is suspicious. It should prompt the Obama administration to appoint a special counsel to conduct an investigation that's genuinely independent — and one that might actually restore some of the faith in government that many Americans have lost.
The Augusta Chronicle, Georgia, on purely partisan 'reform':
How pathetic is it that one of Senate Democrats' biggest priorities this summer - campaign-finance reform - is merely a ploy to raise campaign cash before November?
Their proposed constitutional amendment to give state and federal governments more power to regulate political fund-raising - a blatant attempt to silence conservative candidates - has zero bipartisan support.
Not even Democrats' most reliably liberal ally - the American Civil Liberties Union - will get behind it, calling it a danger to civil liberties.
Democrats know there's no chance of securing the 67 Senate votes needed to advance the joint resolution. So what, then, is the point?
We'll let The Atlantic spell it out for you: "These amendments are catnip to the Democratic base," the magazine said. "The Senate debate this August ... is certain to raise a ton of campaign cash for Democrats - just in time for the 2014 elections."
That's something to keep in mind this summer when Republicans are sure to be denounced for rejecting a plan to restore "sanity" to campaign laws.
The only thing the Democrats are trying to restore is a decades-old system dominated by their Big Labor allies, which is why U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico introduced S.J. Res. 19 last year.
Democrats want Congressional oversight of federal political campaign finances, including independent political-action committees.
The ACLU insightfully recognized the danger in allowing the government - regardless of who's running it - control over how Americans choose to endorse political candidates.
The ACLU said S.J. Res. 19 would "lead directly to government censorship of political speech and result in a host of unintended consequences that would undermine the goals the amendment has been introduced to advance" and that doing so would "fundamentally break the constitution and endanger civil rights and civil liberties for generations."
Free speech, one. Politburo-style thuggery, zero.