John Andrew Koskinen (born June 30, 1939) is an American businessman and public official of Finnish descent. He served as the non-executive chairman of Freddie Mac from September 2008 to December 2011, retiring from the board in February 2012. On December 20, 2013, Koskinen was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to head the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as commissioner of Internal Revenue. On December 23, 2013, Koskinen was sworn in as the 48th IRS commissioner after being nominated by President Obama. His term ended on November 12, 2017, with David Kautter becoming his interim replacement.
Koskinen was born on June 30, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated magna cum laude with a BA in physics from Duke University in 1961, where he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated with an LLB, cum laude from Yale Law School in 1964, and did postgraduate work in Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, from 1964-65.
Koskinen served as president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation from 2004-08. He previously served as the deputy mayor of the District of Columbia, the deputy director for management of the Office of Management and Budget, and then later President Clinton's chairman of the President's Council on Y2K, 2000 Conversion, the Year 2000 problem.
He served on the board of AES from 2004-13 and American Capital, Ltd from 2007-13. On March 11, 2009, he was announced as the interim CEO at Freddie Mac. On April 23, 2009, he became the principal financial officer after the death of Freddie Mac's acting CFO, David Kellermann. In August 2009, with the hiring of a new CEO, he returned to his position as non-executive chairman of the board of Freddie Mac.
Prior to entering government service, Koskinen worked for 21 years for The Palmieri Company as vice president, president, CEO, and chairman, working on the turnaround of large, failed enterprises such as the Penn Central Transportation Company, Levitt and Sons, the Teamsters Pension Fund, Mutual Benefit, and Equity Programs Investment Corporation. Earlier in his career, Koskinen served as administrative assistant to Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.) from 1969 to 1973, was legislative assistant to Mayor John Lindsay of New York City from 1968-69, served as assistant to the deputy executive director of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the "Kerner Commission") from 1967-68, practiced law with the firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher from 1966-67, and clerked for Judge David Bazelon, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, from 1965 to 1966.
On December 20, 2013, Senate Democrats voted 56–39 for cloture on the nomination, cutting off a Republican-led filibuster. Senators then confirmed Koskinen in a 59-36 vote, along party lines. On December 23, 2013, he was sworn in as the 48th IRS Commissioner.
Koskinen took office following the IRS scandal in which conservative political groups were targeted for extensive scrutiny by the IRS. The Washington Post awarded Koskinen "Three Pinocchios" for stating during congressional testimony on March 26, 2014, that "the inspector general found inappropriate criteria were used to select organizations for further review—he did not refer to it as targeting."
In June 2014, Koskinen informed Congress that 30,000 emails from the account of a central figure in the scandal, Lois Lerner, had been lost. It later came to light that Koskinen had known about the lost emails in April and had waited until the information was disclosed in a court case to notify Congress. Koskinen stated: "We confirmed that backup tapes from 2011 no longer existed because they have been recycled, pursuant to the IRS normal policy." In September 2014, the Treasury Department inspector general reported that it had found 760 tapes from which it later recovered Lerner's emails.
After the Justice Department notified Congress in October 2015 that there would be no charges against Lois Lerner or anyone else in the IRS, 19 Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee led by the committee's chairman, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), filed a resolution to impeach Koskinen.
Those sponsoring the impeachment resolution to remove Koskinen from office accused him of failing to prevent the destruction of evidence in allowing the erasure of backup tapes containing thousands of e-mails written by Lerner, and of making false statements under oath to Congress. In a statement released by the committee, Chaffetz said Koskinen "failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled. Impeachment is the appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and to protect the institutional interests of Congress."
The IRS said on October 27 that it did not have an immediate comment on the impeachment resolution. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), the committee's top Democrat, said in a statement: "This ridiculous resolution will demonstrate nothing but the Republican obsession with diving into investigative rabbit holes that waste tens of millions of taxpayer dollars while having absolutely no positive impact on a single American. Calling this resolution a 'stunt' or a 'joke' would be insulting to stunts and jokes."
The House leadership decided not to proceed further which led to threats to offer a privileged resolution for impeachment. On December 6, 2016, such a privileged resolution was offered, but the House voted to send the question back to the Judiciary Committee.
Koskinen is married to Patricia Salz and has a daughter, Cheryl, and a son, Jeffery Koskinen. He is a 1957 Graduate of Ashland High School in Ashland, Kentucky.
Koskinen contributed almost US$100,000 to Democratic candidates and groups as of June 25, 2014.
|Commissioner of Internal Revenue