Special Prosecutor Not Reckless Enough?

Now this is interesting: the Wall Street Journal has editorially come out against the appointment of a special prosecutor to explore the “scandal” of IRS scrutiny of applicants for 501(c)(4) status. Could it be the WSJ has learned something from the Clinton years, and thinks it would be a disservice to the country to launch a fishing expedition for misconduct that’s not confined to the current case?

No such luck. Turns out the complain with a special prosecutor is that he or she would not be guaranteed to launch a sufficiently broad or noisy hunt for administration malefactors:

With a special prosecutor, the probe would immediately move to the shadows, and the Administration and the IRS would use it as an excuse to limit its cooperation with Congress. Special prosecutors aren’t famous for their speed, and a decision on indictments would extend well past the 2014 election. If there were no indictments, whatever the prosecutor has discovered would stay secret. And even if specific criminal charges were filed, the facts of an indictment couldn’t stray far from the four corners of the violated statute.

Better to entrust this urgent political task to congressional committees, the WSJ concludes. They know exactly what they’ll get from giving Darrell Issa the lead, and that he’ll time his “investigations” nicely with the 2014 electoral cycle.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.