Opinion

Nixon’s IRS commissioner talks about how he defied orders to target enemies

Article Two of the impeachment drawn up against former President Richard Nixon was his attempted misuse of the Internal Revenue Service to target his political enemies.

Approached by the Nixon administration with an “enemies list of about 200 Democrats” to investigate, then-IRS Commissioner Johnine Mac Walters refused “to do what he considered unthinkable.”

And now, with the new IRS scandal brewing in the Obama administration, Walters, 93, spoke exclusively to David Dykes from GreenvilleOnline.com to “resume his personal quest, not for vindication, but to validate his rejection of Nixon’s ordered tactics while Walters was commissioner of Internal Revenue.”

Dykes reported Walters account of being handed the enemies list by Nixon White House counsel John Dean during the 1972 election year.

Walters was stunned by the list, he wrote in his book “Our Journey,” the article said.

The article continued the account:

Walters, in disbelief, walked out with the enemies list, a reaction he said was a mistake. A couple of days later, he showed the list to Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz, his boss, and said that in his opinion the IRS should do “absolutely nothing” with it, Walters wrote in his book and recalled in the interviews.

The secretary glanced at the list, threw it back across his desk and said, “Do it,” meaning lock it up in the commissioner’s safe and do nothing further, Walters wrote.

He personally sealed the list, locked it in the safe and told no one at the IRS he had it, Walters said.

“We did not touch a single person on that list,” he said.

“The story is interesting because the IRS wouldn’t do it,” the former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Tim Naftali said. “It didn’t happen, not because the White House didn’t want it to happen, but because people like Johnnie Walters said ‘no.’”

The Republican Walters told Dykes he is very concerned about the recent scandal involving the IRS targeting of conservative groups. The investigation into what Obama knew and when he knew it continues.

However, the article noted, Walters said, “in an administration largely remembered for its abuse of power, he stood his ground with Nixon’s aides.”

“In my opinion, of all the things I did for IRS while commissioner, the most important one was to deliver that enemies list unsealed to Larry Woodworth [then-executive director of the Joint Tax Committee],” Dykes quoted from Walters’ book. “Because then we could say with absolute certainty that IRS never began any audit or investigation of any name on that list because of the list.”

“It also kept him out of jail, Walters wrote.”

Just for comparison sake to the current IRS abuse, here is the relevant Nixon article of impeachment: 

He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.

Watch Walters’ interview here:

More from GreenvilleOnline.com.

Janeen Capizola

"And though she be but little, she is fierce." And fun! This conservative-minded political junkie, mom of three, dancer and one-time NFL cheerleader holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science. [email protected] Twitter: @JaneenBPR

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