Wednesday’s House oversight hearing was supposed to address time-and-attendance troubles at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But one congressman actively seeking the impeachment of the Internal Revenue commissioner used his time to question a good-government nonprofit for having given IRS chief John Koskinen a public service award.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, acted a day after the full House voted 342-72 to refer an impeachment motion favored by the Freedom Caucus to the Judiciary Committee, where observers expect it to die. (House leaders have expressed fears that the resolution would only tie up the Senate.)
At the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subcommittee hearing on the Patent Office, Jordan reiterated his central complaint about Koskinen: that 422 backup tapes under congressional subpoena that may have contained 24,000 emails involving Lois Lerner, who was at the center of the dispute over alleged IRS bias against conservative nonprofits, were destroyed “on his watch.”
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Jordan then zeroed in on David Chu, the president of the Institute for Defense Analyses who, separately, chaired the independent panel for the National Academy of Public Administration that performed a key study of Patent Office teleworking.
“What does NAPA stand for?” Jordan asked. “Do you know who it gave the Elliot Richardson award to?” Chu did not recall. Jordan then stated it was Commissioner Koskinen who won the award last spring. “How was he chosen? Did he give money to NAPA?” Jordan asked Chu to speculate on “who was passed over” so Koskinen could get the award, but he declined.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., responded by congratulating Chu for NAPA’s award, saying, “No amount of innuendo and smear is going to tarnish Koskinen’s reputation—he has been most honorable.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., added that Koskinen “probably won the award because he has been called in by Democrats and Republicans to straighten out troubled agencies.”
Ask for clarification, NAPA spokeswoman Betsy Holahan told Government Executive that “prize winners are selected by the Elliot L. Richardson Prize Fund Nominating Committee, from the nominations submitted by Academy Fellows, members of the nominating committee and other members of the Academy. The Elliot L. Richardson Prize Fund Board of Directors then confirms the selection. The National Academy of Public Administration houses the Richardson Prize Fund,” she said. NAPA also confirmed that “non-retired academy fellows pay annual membership dues to the Academy, and that Mr. Koskinen is an academy fellow.”