What Did Austan Goolsbee Know, and How Did He Know It?

President Obama‘s burgeoning IRS scandal has developed many strange twists — there were new revelations today about the tax agency’s harassment of targets on the White House’s enemies list — but perhaps no twist is stranger than the shadow of suspicion cast on former presidential economic advisor Austan Goolsbee.

In August 2010, when the Tea Party movement was on the verge of wiping out Nancy Pelosi‘s Democrat congressional majority, Goolsbee told reporters that Koch Industries paid no corporate income tax. Libertarian philanthropists Charles Koch and David Koch were being attacked by the White House at that time for their funding of non-profit groups that supported the Tea Party, such as Americans for Prosperity.

Once it became know that Internal Revenue Service officials had engaged in “inappropriate” targeting of applications by  Tea Party groups for federal non-profit status, Goolsbee’s claim of knowledge about the Kochs’ private business got renewed scrutiny. Two weeks ago, Goolsbee sent out a Twitter explanation, asserting that his information came from a newspaper article. But after Goolsbee’s Tweet was quoted in a Slate.com article by David Weigelpoof! -the Tweet got deleted.

What is Goolsbee trying to hide? Was the Obama administration illegally using the IRS to secretly pry into its enemies’ private finances?  John McCormack of the Weekly Standard intends to get some answers:

On Tuesday, I asked Goolsbee why he is now citing the St. Petersburg Times article when the White House pointed to different sources in 2010. He didn’t reply. Nor did Goolsbee respond when asked if he met with IRS officials at the White House.
As the saying goes, never assume malice when stupidity will suffice. But in light of the recent IRS scandals-involving not just the targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny but also the sharing of confidential tax information-the administration doesn’t exactly deserve the benefit of the doubt. Without the inspector general’s report, we can’t know for sure if the Obama administration was merely guilty of stupidity and demagoguery regarding the Koch brothers — or something worse.

It is . . . paranoid to be so suspicious of the Obama administration? Tell that to the Washington correspondent whose private e-mails and phone records were the subject of a secret federal subpoena.


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