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G M
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« Reply #100 on: July 16, 2013, 03:21:56 PM »

http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/151966

Grand Theft Treasury

by Richard A. Epstein (Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow and member of the Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity Task Force)

 The U.S. government has unconstitutionally stripped billions of dollars from Fannie and Freddie’s private investors.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Last week’s headline financial story was full of good news for the body politic. The United States Treasury reported a handsome second-quarter profit of $118 billion, which could cut down the deficit and postpone any politically charged negotiations over raising the debt ceiling. Half of that surplus comes from a combination of revenue increases from a slowly improving economy and expenditure cuts introduced in early 2013. The second half consists of a $59 billion “dividend” from Treasury’s “investment” to bail out The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac).
 
   
  Illustration by Barbara Kelley

To call that money a “dividend” relies on a profound public misunderstanding of the complex transactions that generated this ill-begotten Treasury bonanza. These transactions are being challenged in four separate lawsuits, which were recently filed, that attack the propriety of virtually every government action during the turbulent past five years. (Full Disclosure: within the past several months, I been hired by several hedge funds to advise them privately on the legal issues surrounding these events.)
 
The oft-neglected back-story of the “Fannie and Freddie Dividend” casts these transactions in a much darker light. Quite simply, the behavior of the U.S. government over the past five years has been marred by grave legal violations of bedrock principles underlying corporate, administrative, and constitutional law. The Back-Story

Act One: Organizing the Bailout

Prior to August 2008, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were privately owned, publicly traded, and consistently profitable corporations that had issued large amounts of common stock and multiple classes of preferred stock. But both Fannie and Freddie were in obvious distress during the run-up to the September 2008 financial market meltdown, which prompted Congress to pass the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) in July of that year. That behemoth law authorized the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) to place the corporations into a temporary conservatorship to preserve and to manage their assets in ways that would help stabilize the housing market.
 
Pursuant to that authority, the FHFA became conservator of both companies in September 2008. It promptly made a deal with the Department of Treasury under which Treasury would advance $100 billion (extended in May 2009 to $200 billion) in exchange for $1 billion in shares of senior preferred stock, which had an original face value of $1 billion dollars. That preferred stock would be increased dollar-for-dollar by any sums that the Treasury invested into either corporation and it carried a 10 percent dividend. At the same time, the Treasury received warrants to purchase 79.9 percent of the common stock of each entity for a nominal price measured in tiny fractions of a penny.
 
Section 1117 of HERA gave Treasury broad discretion on the terms and conditions that attached to its preferred stock, but it also required Treasury to take into account a number of conditions that related to the soundness of the government’s security for its advances and to the “orderly resumption or private market funding or capital market access,” which would allow Fannie and Freddie to each maintain their status “as a private shareholder-owned company.” Shortly after the 2008 deal went into effect, the value of the common and preferred shares both plummeted.
 
Act Two: The Third Amended Agreement
 
I will pass by the many complications that occurred between September 2008 and August 2012 to focus on The Third Amendment to the original stock purchase agreement of August 17, 2012, signed by both Edward Demarco, Acting Director of FHFA, and then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
 
Its key provision simply ordered what the Treasury trumpeted, in bold type, would be (as of January 1, 2013) “a full income sweep of All Future Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Earnings to Benefit Taxpayers for Their Investment.” Treasury announced the sweep only after it became clear that both Fannie and Freddie were returning to profitability. The stock prices of both sets of shares plummeted. By the terms of the deal, nothing was left for either’s set of shareholders in the absence of political relief or a successful lawsuit.
 
The Flaws of the Government Position
 
The Conservator’s Conflict of Interest

The shareholders’ grievance is quite simple: the disappearance of their wealth. The purpose of a conservatorship is to preserve the assets for the benefit of the individuals whom it represents, which in this instance covers both classes of shareholders. Accordingly, the conservator represents the shareholders in their relationship with the government. Under standard corporate law principles, that conservator is bound, as his name suggests, by a strong fiduciary duty to protect its assets for the benefit of both its common and preferred shareholders.
 
In this case, however, the designation of the FHFA as the conservator created an impossible conflict of interest. The Boards of Directors of Fannie and Freddie were shut out of the deliberations that took place exclusively between branches of the federal government.
 
Given that exclusion, the terms of the financial deal between the corporations and Treasury must be examined to see that in discharging their mandate “to protect the taxpayers,” the two government parties did not run roughshod over the issues of the preferred and common shareholders. Yet, as the plaintiffs allege in Washington Mutual v. United States, there was ample evidence that Treasury exaggerated the financial dangers to Fannie and Freddie in 2008, and thus imposed financial terms that were far too favorable to its own interests, since both Fannie and Freddie had substantial amounts of liquid assets to meet any claims. No wonder share prices plummeted in response to both the 2008 and 2012 deals.
 
By the standards of corporate governance, these transactions are not protected by the ”business judgment” rule, which is intended to give protection to the good faith judgment of corporate fiduciaries when they are acting in the best of interests of the shareholders with outsiders. That rule is needed to protect officers and directors, for no one will take those jobs if he knows that he gets nothing special when he works well, but suffers huge liabilities if an uncertain deal turns sour.
 
In this case, however, we have a manifest case of self-dealing between branches of the United States government, at which point the law protects the shareholders by insisting that the parties to the transaction show that it supplied full value to the shareholders. At the time of the 2008 deal, the Office of the Inspector General inside FHFA concluded that the deal had rendered the common and preferred shares “almost worthless.”
 
It takes no special acumen to realize that the 2012 transaction was completely one-sided; FHFA and Treasury used a fancy set of legal maneuvers to strip both corporations of their assets for the sole benefit of the government. Generally, senior preferred shareholders are entitled to recover their principal and interest in full, after which their shares are cancelled. In this case, the government did precisely the opposite. It treated Fannie and Freddie as gifts that keep on giving, wiping out all shareholder profits.
 
This breach of duty is so blatant that the only serious question is how best to unscramble the omelet. To make a long story short, there are two ways forward. First, and easiest, is simply to annul the August 2012 Amendment so that the government uses its recent receipts to write down the principal and interest owed prior to that date. Second, and trickier, is to reevaluate the terms of the 2008 transaction and write down the size of the government’s senior preferred shares to fairly reflect the financial condition of the company at the same time.
 
The Administrative Procedure Act

The August 2012 actions are also in flat violation of the basic duties of government actors under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which is addressed in one claim filed in Fairholme Funds v. FHFA and a second filed in Perry Capital v. Lew. The gist of these two actions is that Treasury and FHFA are not at liberty to ignore all of the procedural safeguards that were explicitly built into HERA. Any decision of this magnitude must be set aside when no government official has addressed the explicit statutory “considerations” that are supposed to guide their behavior.
 
There is no way that a statutory scheme that was intended to nurse Fannie and Freddie back to health as private corporations can be used unilaterally by the government to devour the interests of the very private shareholders that they were intended to protect. Government actions that don’t comply with the minimum standards of the APA should have no force and effect. Thus, even if the 2008 transaction stands, the 2012 transaction should be nullified, and the private and common shares restored.
 
The Takings Issue
 
The third approach to this problem, taken both in Washington Mutual and Cacciapelle v. United States, hones in on the de facto confiscation of the common and preferred stock of these companies by the unilateral government action. On this view, the government can keep the shares so long as it buys out the shareholders at fair market value. The law of takings, with its just compensation requirement, is intended to make sure that the government does not, in the famous words of the 1960 case of Armstrong v. United States, force “some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole.”

Regrettably, that is exactly what is being done here. The government could never announce that it had decided to seize the shares of Fannie and Freddie, without compensating their owners. Nor can it circumvent that fundamental principle by “amending” a supervisory agreement so that it sucks all the wealth out of those shares. The government’s position is yet more precarious when one considers that the crisis in the housing market was due to the reckless policies that the United States forced on Fannie and Freddie prior to 2008. If Congress makes the mess, it can hardly expect the shareholders whom it targeted to bear the brunt of its misdeeds.
 
Some Ominous Social Implications
 
All three routes therefore lead to the same conclusion. The whole sorry episode represents a form of serious government coercion, with public officials attempting to run roughshod over bedrock principles of corporate, administrative, and property law. It is therefore a sad commentary on the current situation that Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee has introduced the high sounding Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act that is intended to wind down the operations of Fannie and Freddie, which does nothing whatsoever to undo the massive property grab undertaken over the past five years.
 
There is no doubt that this legislation will attract popular support because it demonizes hedge funds and profits taxpayers in the short run. But it is vital to remember the long run. This dispute involves lots more than a simple battle over the proceeds of profitable ventures. All capital markets depend on the strong protection of the rule of law so that firms that invest their capital today can be confident that the government will not steal it away by stealth and artifice tomorrow, which is just what is happening now on a multibillion dollar level.
 
In 2009, I wrote at some length about the dangers of “political bankruptcies” in relation to the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts, which also ran roughshod over the rule of law. At the time, people said it was a one-off situation. After Fannie and Freddie, those words ring hollow. The only way to raise capital at the front end is to stick to the rules of the game throughout the transaction. We now seem to have some bipartisan support for the opposite position, which is one more sober reminder of how far the nation has drifted from the sound and enduring principles of strong property rights and limited government.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Richard A. Epstein, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University Law School, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago. His areas of expertise include constitutional law, intellectual property, and property rights. His most recent books are Design for Liberty: Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law (2011), The Case against the Employee Free Choice Act (Hoover Press, 2009) and Supreme Neglect: How to Revive the Constitutional Protection for Private Property (Oxford Press, 2008).
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #101 on: July 17, 2013, 05:50:15 PM »



http://www.glennbeck.com/2013/07/17/scandal-week-day-3-intimidating-the-press/?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2013-07-17_237099&utm_content=5054942&utm_term=_237099_237107
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DougMacG
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« Reply #102 on: July 18, 2013, 12:02:40 PM »

It wasn't a rogue Cincinnati office.  It leads to Washington.  It leads to political appointees within shouting distance of the President and the campaign.

http://nationalreview.com/article/353729/targeting-top-irs-eliana-johnson

 July 18, 2013
Targeting from the Top of the IRS
High-ranking IRS lawyers, possibly including an Obama appointee, delayed tea-party applications.
By Eliana Johnson

The congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of tea-party groups inched closer to the White House yesterday as testimony from three IRS attorneys indicated lawyers in the agency’s chief counsel’s office were involved in reviewing the applications of tea-party groups for tax exemption. The office is led by William Wilkins, one of two IRS officials appointed by President Obama.

A source tells National Review Online that Judith Kindell, a senior adviser to Lois Lerner, also held up the processing of tea-party cases by demanding to review them herself. Lerner, who has become emblematic of the scandal that continues to roil the tax-collection agency, is the embattled former director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division who remains on paid administrative leave, refusing to testify about the targeting unless lawmakers grant her blanket immunity.

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Wilkins, who, according to the IRS, heads an office of 1,600 attorneys, has been involved in Democratic politics for over three decades. He joined the Democratic staff on the Senate Finance Committee in 1981 and became the committee’s staff director and chief counsel in 1987, before going on to a career in private practice at the white-shoe law firm WilmerHale. There, he defended pro bono Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s United Church of Christ when the IRS investigated potential violations of its 501(c)(3) status after then-senator Barack Obama delivered a speech there. Wilkins has also donated generously to Democratic causes, contributing over $35,000 to Democratic politicians and party affiliates since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has also contributed to Republican politicians, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, but not nearly as generously.

His involvement in the targeting of tea-party groups is a matter of dispute. The IRS has denied it, saying in a statement that he is “not involved in the 501(c)(4) application process” and “did not learn about specific groups being singled out by name until earlier this year.” A senior GOP aide, however, tells National Review Online that witnesses interviewed by congressional investigators claim Wilkins became aware of the targeting at some point in 2012. According to White House press secretary Jay Carney, Wilkins informed neither his boss — the Treasury Department’s chief counsel — nor the White House when he learned of it. Whether he personally helped to develop the guidelines for reviewing tea-party applications remains unknown.

In interviews with congressional investigators, three IRS lawyers involved in the processing of tea-party cases — Carter Hull, Ronald Shoemaker, and Michael Seto — said that lawyers in Wilkins’s office, as well as Lerner’s adviser, Kindell, put the applications of conservative groups through a complex, multi-layered review process that delayed their processing. An IRS source says that Kindell is considered the “political guru” in the Exempt Organizations division as well as “the definitive expert” on “political activities in exempt organizations tax law.” She is the author of Revenue Ruling 2007-41, which provides that tax-exempt organizations “may not participate in, or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office” and provides several examples of impermissible political activities among exempt organizations.

According to Hull, a recently retired lawyer with the Exempt Organizations Technical Unit who was providing guidance to the Cincinnati agent processing tea-party cases, Kindell told him the chief counsel’s office would need to review the applications. That, he said, was unprecedented. It also caused lengthy delays in the processing of tea-party applications during the 2010 election season. The applications elevated to Washington, D.C. were “test” applications whose treatment was to provide guidance for the Cincinnati agents processing the bulk of the tea-party cases; lacking a determination on their status, Cincinnati was unable to process any other tea-party applications while agents there waited for word from Washington.

Though he was instructed to make determinations on the applications, Hull explained, “I couldn’t do it because I had no idea which way we were going.” Elizabeth Hofacre, the Cincinnati agent charged with processing tea-party applications, told investigators, “I never got any feedback from [Hull] at all” during that period. The head of the Determinations Unit in Cincinnati, Cindy Thomas, said that for nearly a year, between October 2010 and September 2011, tea-party applications languished while agents waited for guidance from top lawyers in Washington.

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Hull’s superiors, Michael Seto and Ronald Shoemaker, confirmed his account. Seto, the manager of the Exempt Organizations Technical Unit, told investigators that applications were sent to the chief counsel’s office after Lerner “sent me an e-mail saying that . . . these cases need to go through multi-tier review and they will eventually have to go [through her staff] and the chief counsel’s office.” If Seto’s testimony is to be believed, Lerner appears at best to have withheld information from, and at worst to have misled, Congress about her knowledge of the scrutiny to which tea-party applications were being subjected. When the Oversight Committee in March 2012 expressed concern that the organizations were the subject of “heightened scrutiny,” Lerner said only that some applications required “further development” and, in cases with “no established public precedent,” agents sought guidance from lawyers in the Exempt Organizations Technical Unit. She did not tell the committee that her senior adviser and lawyers in the chief counsel’s office had worked to craft guidelines for reviewing the applications about which the committee had inquired.

Though Hull began processing tea-party applications in April 2010, it was not until August 2011 that the chief counsel’s office held a meeting with Hull and Kindell about them. Because the applications had sat dormant for so long, lawyers from the chief counsel’s office indicated they needed updated information from the tea-party groups before they could make a determination. In particular, they sought information about the groups’ political activity “right before the [2010] election period,” according to Hull’s supervisor, Ronald Shoemaker. Shockingly, Shoemaker told investigators that to his knowledge, in the three years since one of the tea-party applications elevated to Washington, D.C., was filed, Kindell and the chief counsel’s office have yet to make a determination on it. “That’s a very long time period,” he said.

Four Republican congressmen disclosed the explosive testimony on Wednesday in a letter to the IRS’s acting administrator, Danny Werfel, who was appointed by President Obama in the wake of the targeting scandal. The disclosures amount to a counterpunch to a 36-page memo from Democratic committee staff released Monday accusing the GOP of engaging in a “sustained and coordinated campaign” to politicize the investigation. Democrats denounced Republicans for alleging that the targeting was politically motivated, calling the allegations “unsubstantiated” and declaring there was “no political motivation or White House involvement in this process.”

Despite the partisan grudge match taking place beneath the surface, we continue, slowly, to get closer to the truth.

— Eliana Johnson is media editor of National Review Online.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #103 on: July 19, 2013, 12:31:26 PM »

GOP Senate candidate's tax records were breached
More than two years after her upstart Senate campaign rocked the Delaware political world, Christine O'Donnell got an unexpected contact from a U.S. Treasury Department agent warning that her private tax records may have been breached
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #104 on: July 19, 2013, 08:11:55 PM »

second post

William Wilkins: The G. Gordon Liddy Of The IRS Scandal?
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Published on DickMorris.com on July 19, 2013
Printer-Friendly Version
If the IRS/Tea Party scandal is at all reminiscent of the Watergate debacle that brought down a president in 1974, we may have just discovered the latter-day G. Gordon Liddy, the man who oversaw the chain of events that led to Nixon's resignation.

Who would that be?  Well, a good guess would be William Wilkins, Chief Counsel to the Internal Revenue Service.  More and more evidence is sucking his office into the maelstrom of the IRS/Tea Party scandal.

Let's take a look at him.

Wilkins is one of only two political appointees on the entire IRS staff.  All of the other more than one hundred thousand employees in the agency are civil servants.  Only Wilkins and the Director were directly chosen by Obama.

But there's something else that's worth knowing about Wilkins.  He's a long time Obama crony and Democratic donor who earned his spurs by successfully defending, pro bono (free), the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Yes, that Reverend Wright) from charges that his radical politicization of his pulpit should deny his church tax exempt status.  The event that triggered the IRS' interest?  Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's speech to the congregation during the Democratic presidential primary campaign.  Now does that sound like 'political activity'?

Well, Wilkins was able to convince the IRS that it was not!  He knows his stuff.  Tax exempt organizations were one of Wilkins specialties in private practice.  He knows the field, making him a likely key man in the emerging scandal.  He's not just a wealthy donor who was rewarded with a plum position who doesn't know much about taxes.  No, he's an expert on the very area of tax law that is at the heart of the charges of politically motivated harassment of the Tea Party and other conservative groups by the IRS.

So you'd think he might be interested in what was going on.

At yesterday's House Government Oversight hearing, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, there was testimony -- for the first time -- that as early as July, 2011, Wilkins' office was involved in the decisions about the unprecedented targeting and unorthodox treatment of Tea Party organizations seeking tax exempt status.

What was patently clear from the testimony is that this illegal and improper operation wasn't run by "rogue" IRS employees in Cincinnati, as the White House claims.  Instead, it was run by rogue employees at the very top of the IRS and possibly the White House as well.

Carter Hull, recently retired after 48 years of service at the IRS, was the tax analyst in D.C. in charge of the Tea Party applications.  Hull indicated that he was told by the top assistant to Lois Lerner (remember her? In May, she refused to testify and invoked her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent) that Wilkins' office had to review all of the tax exemption applications from Tea Party groups that Hull was overseeing.  Hull noted that the one application that he had actually approved was immediately routed to Wilkins office for review.  When Hull disagreed with the Counsel's office and Lerner about how the Tea Party cases should be handled, the files were taken away from him and transferred to a woman with only several months experience at the IRS.

Hull also described a meeting about the Tea Party applications on August 4, 2011 where the IRS chief counsel's office had three representatives present.

Here's what the Inspector General's Report stated in its timeline:

August 4, 2011

Rulings and Agreements office personnel held a meeting with Chief Counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.

Sounds like the Chief Counsel knew about it, doesn't it?

But Wilkins denies that he knew anything about the handling of the Tea Party cases.  That's hard to believe, because there's uncontested evidence that his office was definitely involved.  And, in addition, Wilkins was one of the top five officials in the IRS.

A close review of the Inspector General's Report on the IRS and the Tea Party applications reveals that, in addition to the Chief Counsel's office, the highest echelons of the IRS were aware of complaints about the treatment of the Tea Party applications in early 2012, and, in some cases, responded to complaints, particularly about disclosing donors.  And the second or third highest official in the IRS, the Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, told the team working on the applications that if there were complaints about "having to provide donor information" they would not have to send them at that time.

The IG Report also states that on March 23-27, 2012, high level officials discussed concerns about media attention to the Tea Party applications.

So the very top brass at the IRS knew about the problem in early 2012.
 
And now, there may be a direct link to the White House.  Hull's testimony revealed that Chief Counsel Wilkins' office reviewed the draft criteria to be used in decided whether to approve the Tea Party applications for tax exemption. 

And J. Russell George, the Inspector General who found inappropriate procedures regarding the Tea Party applications, indicated that on April 25th, 2012, Wilkins' office provided Hull and Lerner "additional comments" on the draft criteria.

What is key about that date is that it comes just two days after Wilkins met with President Obama and the day after his boss, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, saw the president at the White House.
   
On April 23, 2012, according to White House visitor logs, Wilkins had a meeting with President Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.  There is no indication of what was discussed.  On April 24, the day before the criteria for Tea Party groups was developed, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman -- the other of the two political appointees at the IRS -- also visited the White House.

Coincidence?

Well, even a coincidental meeting can result in an exchange of information.

NOTE: Here's something of interest: When Dick worked in the Clinton White House, the Roosevelt Room was the only room where political activity could take place in the West Wing.  We have no way of knowing of that is the case now.

These queries will undoubtedly be central to the next exciting episode of the Darrell Issa Show as the California Congressman seeks to penetrate the veil of deception and misdirection with which the Administration has cloaked the IRS scandal.
   
Before one could get to Nixon, one had to find G. Gordon Liddy and Chuck Colson behind the Watergate burglars.  Before we can get to Obama, we needed to find William Wilkins.  And now we might have the next G. Gordon Liddy.

Stay tuned.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #105 on: July 19, 2013, 09:23:47 PM »

Third post

Noonan: A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal
No, it wasn't confined to a few rogue workers in Cincinnati.
By PEGGY NOONAN

The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel.

That is a bombshell—such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing in which some members seemed to have accidentally woken up in the middle of a committee room, some seemed unaware of the implications of what their investigators had uncovered, one pretended that the investigation should end if IRS workers couldn't say the president had personally called and told them to harass his foes, and one seemed to be holding a filibuster on Pakistan.

Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it. Which is why they are so desperate to make the investigation go away. They know, as Republicans do, that the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency.

To quickly review why the new information, which came most succinctly in a nine-page congressional letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, is big news:

When the scandal broke two months ago, in May, IRS leadership in Washington claimed the harassment of tea-party and other conservative groups requesting tax-exempt status was confined to the Cincinnati office, where a few rogue workers bungled the application process. Lois Lerner, then the head of the exempt organizations unit in Washington, said "line people in Cincinnati" did work that was "not so fine." They asked questions that "weren't really necessary," she claimed, and operated without "the appropriate level of sensitivity." But the targeting was "not intentional." Ousted acting commissioner Steven Miller also put it off on "people in Cincinnati." They provided "horrible customer service."

House investigators soon talked to workers in the Cincinnati office, who said everything they did came from Washington. Elizabeth Hofacre, in charge of processing tea-party applications in Cincinnati, told investigators that her work was overseen and directed by a lawyer in the IRS Washington office named Carter Hull.

Now comes Mr. Hull's testimony. And like Ms. Hofacre, he pointed his finger upward. Mr. Hull—a 48-year IRS veteran and an expert on tax exemption law—told investigators that tea-party applications under his review were sent upstairs within the Washington office, at the direction of Lois Lerner.

In April 2010, Hull was assigned to scrutinize certain tea-party applications. He requested more information from the groups. After he received responses, he felt he knew enough to determine whether the applications should be approved or denied.

But his recommendations were not carried out.

Michael Seto, head of Mr. Hull's unit, also spoke to investigators. He told them Lois Lerner made an unusual decision: Tea-party applications would undergo additional scrutiny—a multilayered review.

Mr. Hull told House investigators that at some point in the winter of 2010-11, Ms. Lerner's senior adviser, whose name is withheld in the publicly released partial interview transcript, told him the applications would require further review:

Q: "Did [the senior adviser to Ms. Lerner] indicate to you whether she agreed with your recommendations?"

A: "She did not say whether she agreed or not. She said it should go to chief counsel."

Q: "The IRS chief counsel?"

A: "The IRS chief counsel."

The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And again, he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS.

What was the chief counsel's office looking for? The letter to Mr. Werfel says Mr. Hull's supervisor, Ronald Shoemaker, provided insight: The counsel's office wanted, in the words of the congressional committees, "information about the applicants' political activities leading up to the 2010 election." Mr. Shoemaker told investigators he didn't find that kind of question unreasonable, but he found the counsel's office to be "not very forthcoming": "We discussed it to some extent and they indicated that they wanted more development of possible political activity or political intervention right before the election period."

It's almost as if—my words—the conservative organizations in question were, during two major election cycles, deliberately held in a holding pattern.

So: What the IRS originally claimed was a rogue operation now reaches up not only to the Washington office, but into the office of the IRS chief counsel himself.

At the generally lacking House Oversight Committee Hearings on Thursday, some big things still got said.

Ms. Hofacre of the Cincinnati office testified that when she was given tea-party applications, she had to kick them upstairs. When she was given non-tea-party applications, they were sent on for normal treatment. Was she told to send liberal or progressive groups for special scrutiny? No, she did not scrutinize the applications of liberal or progressive groups. "I would send those to general inventory." Who got extra scrutiny? "They were all tea-party and patriot cases." She became "very frustrated" by the "micromanagement" from Washington. "It was like working in lost luggage." She applied to be transferred.

For his part, Mr. Hull backed up what he'd told House investigators. He described what was, essentially, a big, lengthy runaround in the Washington office in which no one was clear as to their reasons but everything was delayed. The multitiered scrutiny of the targeted groups was, he said, "unusual."

It was Maryland's Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel's ranking Democrat, who, absurdly, asked Ms. Hofacre if the White House called the Cincinnati office to tell them what to do and whether she has knowledge of the president of the United States digging through the tax returns of citizens. Ms. Hofacre looked surprised. No, she replied.

It wasn't hard to imagine her thought bubble: Do congressmen think presidents call people like me and say, "Don't forget to harass my enemies"? Are congressmen that stupid?

Mr. Cummings is not, and his seeming desperation is telling. Recent congressional information leads to Washington—and now to very high up at the IRS. Meaning this is the point at which a scandal goes nowhere or, maybe, everywhere.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, finally woke the proceedings up with what he called "the evolution of the defense" since the scandal began. First, Ms. Lerner planted a question at a conference. Then she said the Cincinnati office did it—a narrative that was advanced by the president's spokesman, Jay Carney. Then came the suggestion the IRS was too badly managed to pull off a sophisticated conspiracy. Then the charge that liberal groups were targeted too—"we did it against both ends of the political spectrum." When the inspector general of the IRS said no, it was conservative groups that were targeted, he came under attack. Now the defense is that the White House wasn't involved, so case closed.

This is one Republican who is right about evolution.

Those trying to get to the bottom of the scandal have to dig in, pay attention. The administration's defenders, and their friends in the press, have made some progress in confusing the issue through misdirection and misstatement.

This is the moment things go forward or stall. Republicans need to find out how high the scandal went and why, exactly, it went there. To do that they'll have to up their game.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #106 on: July 21, 2013, 02:50:03 PM »

I like that Peggy Noonan is keeping a light on this.  Her credibility reaches a little wider than some of the more conservative voices.

This scandal is Nixonian or worse, more like Soviet power.  Ruled appointees/operatives delayed and prevented the political association, fundraising and free speech group rights of political opponents for the purpose of staying in power and pleasing their bosses.  We now know it reaches to the top political appointees and yet there is no consequence.  Give Peggy Noonan credit for expressing outrage.
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« Reply #107 on: July 24, 2013, 09:11:56 AM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/23/records-of-christine-odonnell-tax-snooping-disappe/
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« Reply #108 on: July 24, 2013, 09:14:46 AM »



Theodore B. Olson: Treasury's Fannie Mae Heist
The government asked investors to shore up the two mortgage giants. Now those investors are being stiffed.
By THEODORE B. OLSON

The federal government currently is seizing the substantial profits of the government-chartered mortgage firms, Fannie Mae FNMA +3.25% and Freddie Mac, FMCC +0.69% taking for itself the property and potential gains of private investors the government induced to help prop up these companies. This conduct is intolerable.

Earlier this month I filed a lawsuit to stop it, now known as Perry Capital v. Lew, and other lawsuits challenging the government's authority to demolish private investment are stacking up. Perhaps it's time for the government to change course.

When the nationwide mortgage crisis first took hold in 2007 and 2008, Fannie and Freddie shored up their balance sheets with some $33 billion in private capital, much of it from community banks, which federal regulators encouraged to invest in the companies. As the crisis deepened, the government determined that Fannie and Freddie also needed substantial assistance from taxpayers. Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, and under that law the government ultimately plowed $187 billion into the companies.

Taxpayers should get their investment back, but once they do, so should the private investors who first came to Fannie and Freddie's aid. The government's scheme to wipe out these investors is bad policy and a plain violation of the law that respects private, investment-backed expectations and our constitutional protection of property rights.

When the government intervened in Fannie and Freddie in 2008, it faced a choice: It could place the companies into a receivership and liquidate them, or it could operate them in a conservatorship and manage them back to financial health. Conservatorship, the government agreed, offered the best chance of stabilizing the mortgage market while repaying the taxpayers for their investment.

Today, Fannie and Freddie are back. Last quarter, Fannie announced a quarterly profit of over $8 billion; Freddie made $7 billion.

Rather than allow private investors to share in these profits, the federal government unilaterally decided to seize every dollar for itself. Last summer the government changed the terms of its investment from a fixed annual dividend of 10%—a healthy return in this market—to a dividend of nearly every dollar of the companies' net worth for as long as they remain in operation.

So, at the end of last month, Fannie and Freddie sent a whopping $66 billion to the Treasury as a dividend. None of this money went to pay down the government's investment. Whatever amount of money the government takes out of Fannie and Freddie, the amount owed to the government is never to be reduced, meaning there can never be any recovery for private investors.

It's a splendid deal for the government: The president's budget estimates, over the next 10 years, that the government will recover $51 billion more than it invested in the companies—and that's on top of tens of billions in dividends the government took out of the companies from 2008-12. But it's a complete destruction of the investments of private shareholders.

That is unlawful for at least three reasons. First, the government's authority to revise its investments in Fannie and Freddie expired more than three years ago. Its change in the payment structure was utterly lawless.

Second, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act expressly requires the government to consider how its actions affect private ownership of the companies. The government has evidently given no attention to that requirement.

Third, that same law requires the government, operating Fannie and Freddie as a conservator, to safeguard their assets, but the government's new dividend scheme conserves nothing. In fact, the government has acknowledged it intends to facilitate the companies' ultimate liquidation. That is the opposite of conservatorship and it violates virtually every limitation that Congress imposed on the government's authority to intervene in Fannie and Freddie.

Some have suggested that this illegal extinction of private investment is justified by the extraordinary levels of support that taxpayers provided to Fannie and Freddie during the financial crisis. Certain recent legislative proposals even purport retroactively to legalize the government's cash-grab in the name of ensuring the taxpayers are repaid. But the companies' return to profitability means that taxpayers likely will be repaid in full, with interest, by the end of next year.

In these circumstances the right thing to do is to permit the companies to pay down what they owe to the government's investment so that private investors also might have the opportunity to earn returns on theirs. Yet, the "right thing" here is not just what the law requires. It may benefit the taxpayers as well. If Fannie and Freddie ever return to private ownership, the government has rights to 80% of the companies' common stock.

The government's recent cash grab squanders that opportunity, but it threatens even more serious harms. The United States has the most liquid securities markets in the world only because of its strong commitment to the rule of law and respect for private property. The government's actions here are an affront to those commitments.

Mr. Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
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« Reply #109 on: July 24, 2013, 11:42:42 AM »

Outright fraud at the U.S. Treasury
 
Exclusive: Lord Monckton has evidence Secretary Lew is cooking debt-limit books
Published: 07/16/2013 at 7:53 PM
Lord Monckton


Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, high priest of climate skepticism, advised Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, wrote leaders for the Yorkshire Post, was editor of the Catholic paper The Universe, managing editor of the Telegraph Sunday Magazine, assistant editor of Today, and consulting editor of the Evening Standard. He invented the million-selling "Eternity Puzzles," "Sudoku X" and a promising treatment for infections. See the Science & Public Policy Institute.


If one accuses the government of fraud, one sounds like a wild-eyed, part-shaven, pointy-headed, scraggly-bearded, woolly-pullied, foaming-at-the-mouth extremist.
 
So be it, then. The U.S. Treasury is currently engaged in a fraud running into the trillions of dollars. There. I’ve said it. Let me wipe the foam from my mouth and explain.
 
The Republicans who currently command the House of Representatives, rightly anticipating that Mr. Obama’s massive vote-buying among those whom his party’s policies have imprisoned in permanent, cringing dependence upon Auntie Sam for everything from food stamps (getting on for 50 million claimants) to Obailoutcare, decided to show who was boss by setting a limit on the amount the U.S. Treasury was allowed to borrow.
 
That limit was – and is – $16.7 trillion. A trillion is a 1 with 12 noughts on the end. It is a million millions. It’s a whole lot. $16.7 trillion is 16.7 whole lots. You could buy most of my art collection with that.
 
But Obust just went on spending. By close of what passes for business May 17, the U.S. debt subject to congressional limit rose to $16,699,396,000,000.00. That is what passes for a smidgen below the limit.
 
But Obankrupt just went on spending. By close of what once passed for business July 12, he had borrowed another $51 billion.
 
Yet by close of casino July 12, according to the Treasury’s accounting, the U.S. debt subject to congressional limit had risen, compared with 56 days previously, by exactly $0,000,000,000,000.00.
 
What about the net $51 billion in extra borrowing over the past couple of months? Secretary Lew has vanished it.
 
If you think I’m foaming at the mouth, here is the Treasury’s own graph:
 


Since May 17, the graph shows the debt subject to limit (in green) coinciding with the limit set by Congress (in orange), a suspiciously straight line.
 
Secretary Lew even went so far as to write to John Boehner, the dozy speaker of the House, saying he was going to fiddle the books. He said in his May 17 letter that he would be implementing what he called the “standard set of extraordinary measures” [if they're extraordinary they're not standard, Jack, baby] so that the Treasury could go on borrowing in defiance of the will of the people’s elected representatives, while declaring that it was not borrowing anything extra at all.
 
What would the Founding Fathers have thought? Look what a stushie there was when King George’s government proposed to put a modest sales tax of half a crown a pound on tea. If His Majesty’s government had tried to hide two-thirds of a trillion dollars, the Founding Fathers would have had a proper excuse for a stramash.
 
In the commercial sector, false accounting is a felony. Armies of overpaid, under-skilled regulators are waiting to pounce upon every cent that goes astray.
 
In the State sector, false accounting is also supposed to be a felony. Yet armies of overpaid, under-skilled Republicans are waiting to draw their next fat check out of the Treasury. As long as their checks keep coming, they will not – will not – ask the right questions and demand honest answers and straight accounting.
 
Corruption was once something that happened only in third-world countries. But then, the current administration’s wanton profligacy with other people’s money has reduced the United States to third-world status. Bankruptcy and corruption tend to go hand in hand.
 
What should the Republicans do? Just for once, they should act honorably, determinedly, decisively. They should demand that the U.S. Treasury publishes honest figures showing how much the debt has continued to rise notwithstanding the strict limit set upon it by the people’s elected representatives in Congress. Then they should impeach the law-breakers.
 
No administration can commit a more serious offense against democracy than to spend money Congress has not only not authorized it to spend but has explicitly forbidden it to spend.
 
In defense of Secretary Lew, counsel has attempted to argue that there was no fraud because our Jack openly wrote and told John Boehner he was going to cook the books. Since there was no deception, there was no fraud.
 
However, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you will not buy that excuse for an instant. For everyone, even Secretary Lew, knows John Boehner is asleep inside his teapot, and the Republicans are asleep at the switch.
 
Even on the generous assumption that the GOP can read, and on the even more generous assumption that they do, and on the lavish assumption that they understand what they read, Secretary Lew correctly calculated that they could be counted upon not to act upon what little they understood. They would say not a lot and do nothing at all while the Treasury fiddled the books and sold their nation into Chinese ownership.
 
Guilty, upon mine honor! And is that the verdict of you all? Take the administration down.

Read more at http://mobile.wnd.com/2013/07/outright-fraud-at-the-u-s-treasury/
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« Reply #110 on: July 25, 2013, 02:49:52 PM »

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/24/darrell-issa-reveals-yet-another-potential-obama-administration-scandal-thats-against-the-law/
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« Reply #111 on: July 25, 2013, 04:13:32 PM »

Second post

William Wilkins: The G. Gordon Liddy Of The IRS Scandal?
By DICK MORRIS & EILEEN MCGANN
Published on DickMorris.com on July 19, 2013
Printer-Friendly Version
If the IRS/Tea Party scandal is at all reminiscent of the Watergate debacle that brought down a president in 1974, we may have just discovered the latter-day G. Gordon Liddy, the man who oversaw the chain of events that led to Nixon's resignation.

Who would that be?  Well, a good guess would be William Wilkins, Chief Counsel to the Internal Revenue Service.  More and more evidence is sucking his office into the maelstrom of the IRS/Tea Party scandal.

Let's take a look at him.

Wilkins is one of only two political appointees on the entire IRS staff.  All of the other more than one hundred thousand employees in the agency are civil servants.  Only Wilkins and the Director were directly chosen by Obama.

But there's something else that's worth knowing about Wilkins.  He's a long time Obama crony and Democratic donor who earned his spurs by successfully defending, pro bono (free), the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Yes, that Reverend Wright) from charges that his radical politicization of his pulpit should deny his church tax exempt status.  The event that triggered the IRS' interest?  Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's speech to the congregation during the Democratic presidential primary campaign.  Now does that sound like 'political activity'?

Well, Wilkins was able to convince the IRS that it was not!  He knows his stuff.  Tax exempt organizations were one of Wilkins specialties in private practice.  He knows the field, making him a likely key man in the emerging scandal.  He's not just a wealthy donor who was rewarded with a plum position who doesn't know much about taxes.  No, he's an expert on the very area of tax law that is at the heart of the charges of politically motivated harassment of the Tea Party and other conservative groups by the IRS.

So you'd think he might be interested in what was going on.

At yesterday's House Government Oversight hearing, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, there was testimony -- for the first time -- that as early as July, 2011, Wilkins' office was involved in the decisions about the unprecedented targeting and unorthodox treatment of Tea Party organizations seeking tax exempt status.

What was patently clear from the testimony is that this illegal and improper operation wasn't run by "rogue" IRS employees in Cincinnati, as the White House claims.  Instead, it was run by rogue employees at the very top of the IRS and possibly the White House as well.

Carter Hull, recently retired after 48 years of service at the IRS, was the tax analyst in D.C. in charge of the Tea Party applications.  Hull indicated that he was told by the top assistant to Lois Lerner (remember her? In May, she refused to testify and invoked her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent) that Wilkins' office had to review all of the tax exemption applications from Tea Party groups that Hull was overseeing.  Hull noted that the one application that he had actually approved was immediately routed to Wilkins office for review.  When Hull disagreed with the Counsel's office and Lerner about how the Tea Party cases should be handled, the files were taken away from him and transferred to a woman with only several months experience at the IRS.

Hull also described a meeting about the Tea Party applications on August 4, 2011 where the IRS chief counsel's office had three representatives present.

Here's what the Inspector General's Report stated in its timeline:

August 4, 2011

Rulings and Agreements office personnel held a meeting with Chief Counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.

Sounds like the Chief Counsel knew about it, doesn't it?

But Wilkins denies that he knew anything about the handling of the Tea Party cases.  That's hard to believe, because there's uncontested evidence that his office was definitely involved.  And, in addition, Wilkins was one of the top five officials in the IRS.

A close review of the Inspector General's Report on the IRS and the Tea Party applications reveals that, in addition to the Chief Counsel's office, the highest echelons of the IRS were aware of complaints about the treatment of the Tea Party applications in early 2012, and, in some cases, responded to complaints, particularly about disclosing donors.  And the second or third highest official in the IRS, the Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, told the team working on the applications that if there were complaints about "having to provide donor information" they would not have to send them at that time.

The IG Report also states that on March 23-27, 2012, high level officials discussed concerns about media attention to the Tea Party applications.

So the very top brass at the IRS knew about the problem in early 2012.
 
And now, there may be a direct link to the White House.  Hull's testimony revealed that Chief Counsel Wilkins' office reviewed the draft criteria to be used in decided whether to approve the Tea Party applications for tax exemption. 

And J. Russell George, the Inspector General who found inappropriate procedures regarding the Tea Party applications, indicated that on April 25th, 2012, Wilkins' office provided Hull and Lerner "additional comments" on the draft criteria.

What is key about that date is that it comes just two days after Wilkins met with President Obama and the day after his boss, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, saw the president at the White House.
   
On April 23, 2012, according to White House visitor logs, Wilkins had a meeting with President Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.  There is no indication of what was discussed.  On April 24, the day before the criteria for Tea Party groups was developed, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman -- the other of the two political appointees at the IRS -- also visited the White House.

Coincidence?

Well, even a coincidental meeting can result in an exchange of information.

NOTE: Here's something of interest: When Dick worked in the Clinton White House, the Roosevelt Room was the only room where political activity could take place in the West Wing.  We have no way of knowing of that is the case now.

These queries will undoubtedly be central to the next exciting episode of the Darrell Issa Show as the California Congressman seeks to penetrate the veil of deception and misdirection with which the Administration has cloaked the IRS scandal.
   
Before one could get to Nixon, one had to find G. Gordon Liddy and Chuck Colson behind the Watergate burglars.  Before we can get to Obama, we needed to find William Wilkins.  And now we might have the next G. Gordon Liddy.

Stay tuned.
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« Reply #112 on: July 26, 2013, 09:15:14 AM »

In all the day-to-day of the IRS scandals I don't think it's been fully noticed that the overall reputation of the agency has suffered a collapse, the kind from which it can take a generation to recover fully. In the long term this will prove damaging to the national morale—what happens to a great nation when its people come to lack even rudimentary confidence in the decisions made by the revenue-gathering arm of its federal government? It will also diminish the hope for faith in government, which whatever your politics is not a good thing. We need government, as we all know. Americans have a right to assume that while theirs may be deeply imperfect, it is not deeply corrupt. What harms trust in governmental institutions now will have reverberations in future administrations.

The scandals that have so damaged the agency took place in just the past few years, since the current administration began. And it is not Republicans on the Hill or conservatives in the press who have revealed the agency as badly managed, political in its actions, and really quite crazily run. That information, or at least the early outlines of it, came from the agency's own inspector general.

But the point is that it was all so recent. It doesn't take long to crater a reputation. The conferences, seminars and boondoggles in which $49 million was spent, including the famous "Star Trek" parody video—all that happened between 2010 and 2012. The targeting of conservative groups, the IRS leadership's public lies about it, the leaking of private tax information to liberal groups or journalists, the abuse of donor information—all that took place since the administration began, in 2009. Just this week, an inspector general report revealed excessive travel spending by a handful of IRS executives in 2011 and 2012.

All of it has produced the biggest IRS scandal since Watergate. Which makes it the second of only two truly huge scandals to be visited on the agency in its entire 100-year history. (The IRS began in its modern incarnation in 1913, the year the 16th Amendment was ratified.) And Watergate didn't kill the IRS's reputation, only Nixon's.

The effect in terms of public approval can be seen in the polls. Fox News, in May, compared its recent IRS polling with its polling 10 years ago. In May 2003, just under a third of all respondents said they had little or no faith in the IRS—a high number, perhaps, but a cantankerously American one. In May 2013, that number had jumped to 57%. Around the time of Fox's 2013 poll, Gallup had 60% of Americans seeing the IRS as an agency that "frequently abuses its powers." And Gallup had 42% of respondents saying the IRS did a "poor" job, more than double the figure from 2009.

One irony here is that the Obama White House, always keen to increase the reach and power of government, also seems profoundly disinterested in good governing. It is strange. The long-term project of liberalism involves encouraging the idea of faith in government as a bringer or guarantor of greater justice. But who needs more government if government works so very badly, and is in its operations unjust?

This White House is careless with the reputation of government. They are a campaigning organization, not a governing one.

You might think at this point the White House might begin to think cleverly and strategically. That they would very showily give the scandal their time and attention—really give it some priority. That they might show daily indignation, and see to it that the IRS is utterly forthcoming with Congress. That would have two effects. First, it would help the IRS recover if the public saw it being responsive, as opposed to speaking in the usual word salad punctuated with "We have no comment." Second, it would help the Obama White House look responsive, responsible and actually interested in good governance.

Instead the president and his spokesman just run around and call the scandal phony. That's their big contribution: It's phony. It was better in the old days, 2½ months ago, when they feigned outrage.

You would think also the leadership of the IRS would, at this point, be a bit head-bowed—eager to deal publicly with the agency's problems, to be responsive with Congress and, most of all, to demonstrate good faith after the lying that marked the early days of the scandal.

But that is not what's happening. House investigators this week said they have in fact received less than 1% of the documents they have been asking for from the agency. The IRS itself at one point identified a whopping and rather intimidating 65 million documents that might be relevant to the tea-party scandal. To date—almost three months into the scandal became public—the House Ways and Means Committee says the IRS has turned over only 13,000 pages. And some of them were duplicates.

It's gone beyond what staff aides were, last month, calling "slow walking." Chairman Dave Camp said in a statement the IRS's actions look "a lot like obstruction." One aide said: "Patience is wearing thin."

Meanwhile, investigations continue, interviews are ongoing. Congressional investigators believe they have picked up an unusual amount of checking in with and requesting approval and guidance from the office of the IRS general counsel. They also believe they are picking up an intense level of decision making between that office and Lois Lerner, former head of the exempt organizations office. The committee is particularly interested in all correspondence and communications between the general counsel's office, the Treasury Department, and the White House.

An observer might fairly say that the IRS appears to be stringing the story out, that they are more preoccupied with damage control than finding out what exactly happened in the tea-party scandal. Perhaps the agency, and the administration, is thinking that if they string the story out it may disappear into the summer. Maybe its momentum will be broken. Maybe people will begin to think, when they see an IRS headline on page B-12, that they've already read that story. Maybe slowing everything down will take the steam out of the entire investigation.

That might seem a politically astute move—not governmentally responsible but politically astute. Letting the story go forward in slow dribs and drabs won't help the IRS recover its reputation and begin to function in a healthy way, but it may limit immediate political damage to the administration.

But a slow walk of documents carries political risk. It may keep the story down, but it will keep it alive by keeping it from being resolved. Republicans on the Hill show no signs of losing interest. They seem anxious to stay on the story, for all the obvious reasons, both public-spirited and self-interested.

But they may begin issuing subpoenas. And if the story goes into the fall, and continues through the winter, perhaps even the spring, it will become an active drama within the 2014 election cycle.

Which would make the administration's recent moves not only governmentally lacking, but politically maladroit.
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« Reply #113 on: July 29, 2013, 03:58:30 PM »

http://washingtonexaminer.com/obama-on-unilateral-action-lawyers-i-dont-need-lawyers./article/2533569

Obama on unilateral action: Lawyers? I don’t need lawyers.

 By BYRON YORK | JULY 28, 2013 AT 6:45 AM

In an interview after his speech Wednesday in Galesburg, Illinois, President Obama was asked if he consulted White House lawyers before unilaterally delaying the employer mandate in Obamacare. Since Congress, in the Affordable Care Act, specified that the mandate is go to into effect at the start of next year, reporters from the New York Times asked if the president investigated whether he had the legal authority to put it off without going through Congress.
 
Obama didn’t exactly answer the question. But judging from what he said, his answer was: No, I didn’t consult White House lawyers because I know a lot more about the Constitution than the Republicans who are complaining about it. And besides, they don’t think I’m legitimately the president, anyway.
 
“People questioned your legal and constitutional authority to do that unilaterally — to delay the employer mandate,” asked the Times’ Jackie Calmes. “Did you consult with your lawyer?”
 

“Jackie, if you heard me on stage today, what I said was that I will seize any opportunity I can find to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security,” Obama began.
 
“No, but specifically — ” Calmes interjected.
 
“But where Congress is unwilling to act,” Obama continued, “I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.”
 
At that point, Obama explained that if Congress doesn’t like what he’s done, then lawmakers can try to do something about it. “I’m not concerned about their opinions,” the president said. “Very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.” And some Republicans “think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency.”
 
This is Obama’s complete answer:
 

And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case. But there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions — very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.
 
I am concerned about the folks who I spoke to today who are working really hard, are trying to figure out how they can send their kids to college, are trying to make sure that they can save for their retirement. And if I can take steps on their behalf, then I’m going to do so. And I would hope that more and more of Congress will say, you know what, since that’s our primary focus, we’re willing to work with you to advance those ideals. But I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days.
 
A moment earlier, Obama likened his move to “the kind of routine modifications or tweaks to a large program that’s starting off.” Criticism of his exercise of executive authority in this matter, he suggested, is more the result of a “frenzy” among Republicans than anything he has done.
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« Reply #114 on: July 29, 2013, 06:43:23 PM »


70 Straight Days: Treasury Says Debt Stuck at Exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00



 July 29, 2013 - 5:21 PM



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



By Terence P. Jeffrey


 
(CNSNews.com) - According to the Daily Treasury Statement for July 26, which the Treasury released this afternoon, the federal debt has been stuck at exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 for 70 straight days.
 
That is approximately $25 million below the legal limit of $16,699,421,095,673.60 that Congress has imposed on the debt.
 
The portion of the federal debt subject to the legal limit set by Congress first hit $16,699,396,000,000.00 at the close of business on May 17. At the close of every business day since then, it has also been $16,699,396,000,000.00, according to the official accounting published by the Treasury Department.
 
If the debt had increased by even $30 million at any time during those 70 days, it would have exceeded the statutory limit. But, according to the Treasury, the debt did not do that. Instead, it remained precisely $16,699,396,000,000.00.
 
Even though the government's official accounting of the debt has not budged for 70 days, the Treasury has continued to sell bills, notes and bonds at a value that exceeds the value of the bills, notes and bonds it was redeeming.
 
In fact, according to the Daily Treasury Statement for May 17, the Treasury had by then already redeemed approximately $4,776,995,000,000.00 since the beginning of the fiscal year (which started on Oct. 1, 2012). As of that same day, the Treasury had already sold $5,354,508,000.000.00 new bills, notes and bonds during the fiscal year. That represented a net increase in publicly circulating U.S. government debt instruments of $577,513,000,000.00 for the fiscal year.
 
As of July 26, according to the latest Treasury statement, the Treasury had already redeemed approximately $6,128,368,000,000.00 in bills, notes and bonds during this fiscal year. But, at the same time, according to the statement, the Treasury had sold an additional $6,759,148,000,000.00 bills, note and bonds--for a net increase of $630,780,000,000.00 for the year.
 
Thus, the value of U.S. Treasury debt instruments circulating in the public has increased $53.267 billion since May 17--even though the Treasury says the debt has remained exactly at $16,699,396,000,000.00 during that time.
 
How could the value of extant U.S. Treasury securities increase by $53.267 billion during a 70-day period when the federal government’s debt subject to the legal limit has remained constant at $16,699,396,000,000.00—just $25 million below the legal limit?
 
On May 17, the day the debt began its long stay at $16,699,396,000,000.00, Treasury Secretary Lew sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. In the letter, Lew said the Treasury would begin implementing what he called “the standard set of extraordinary measures” that allows the Treasury to continue to borrow and spend money even after it has hit the legal debt limit.
.. - See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/70-straight-days-treasury-says-debt-stuck-exactly-1669939600000000
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« Reply #115 on: July 29, 2013, 06:52:43 PM »

http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2013/07/29/obama-i-suspended-the-employer-mandate-because-i-could-what-are-you-gonna-do-about-it/

Obama: I Delayed the Employer Mandate Because I Could. What Are You Gonna Do About it?





by
Bryan Preston

Bio





July 29, 2013 - 4:03 pm

 
Via Hot Air and Byron York, Barack Obama has crossed the constitutional Rubicon. The die is cast. He realizes as much, and is daring Congress to stop him in the pixels of the New York Times.
 

NYT: People questioned your legal and constitutional authority to do that unilaterally — to delay the employer mandate. Did you consult with your lawyer?

 


MR. OBAMA: Jackie, if you heard me on stage today, what I said was that I will seize any opportunity I can find to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security –
 
NYT: No, but specifically –
 
MR. OBAMA: — but where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.
 
And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case…
 
He continues, delivering his usual boilerplate about how he’s the only one who cares about the three-letter word called “jobs” and the Republicans are just saying “no” to everything.
 
Then he hits them on their credentials to criticize.
 

But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions — very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.
 
Nice, coming from a once part-time adjunct professor. One of his fiercest critics, by the way, is Sen. Ted Cruz, who was a state solicitor general and has argued and won cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Can President Jumpshot claim as much?
 
From there, the don of the Juicebox Mafia declares that he will do what he wants, so fuggedabout opposing him.
 

I am concerned about the folks who I spoke to today who are working really hard, are trying to figure out how they can send their kids to college, are trying to make sure that they can save for their retirement. And if I can take steps on their behalf, then I’m going to do so.
 
Obama has built up a lengthy history of bypassing Congress and the Constitution and seizing power not granted to him in law. The kinetic action in Libya, 2012′s unilateral revision of immigration law, and now delaying the employer mandate in Obamacare are but three, and they all escalate the stakes incrementally. Where most in Congress aren’t inclined to try limiting a president’s ability to wage war or whatever Libya was, Congress’ role in passing laws has been cracked badly by the immigration change and the mandate delay. He does not have the authority to delay that part of the law. He knows it, Congress knows it. He doesn’t care.
 
As I’ve written before, Obama has effectively hacked the Constitution. Hackers exploit weaknesses in systems they attack; Obama has found a weakness in the U.S. government system and that weakness’ name is Harry Reid. As long as Reid holds the reins in the Senate, Congress cannot effectively stop Obama because the Senate is in charge of the ultimate penalty, impeachment, and Reid will block every attempt to exercise that option. President Part-Time Professor knows that, and is exploiting it.
 
The question is, what’s his next move? The 2014 mid-terms threaten to close off the backdoor he’s exploiting, if the GOP sweeps the Democrats out of power in the Senate. He is already getting away with delaying the employer mandate. Republicans want Obamacare repealed entirely and have tried strongarming the Democrats into helping them via the mandate delay, but they’re not biting. Harry Reid is standing pat like a good little monkey, just doing whatever Obama commands.
 
Does Obama wait until after the mid-terms next year to declare a sweeping amnesty? Does he announce that the 2nd Amendment is no longer in force? How about the First? Or the 22nd? The Agitating Adjunct may rule that the Because I Said So clause trumps all others.
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« Reply #116 on: July 29, 2013, 07:03:36 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2013/07/29/obama-not-even-pretending-he-has-legal-authority-to-delay-the-obamacare-employer-mandate/

Obama not even pretending he has legal authority to delay the ObamaCare employer mandate


posted at 5:21 pm on July 29, 2013 by Allahpundit






Via Byron York, an amazing bit buried in the NYT’s interview with The One after his economy-speech snooze last week. This is as close as you’ll ever get to seeing a pol answer a reporter’s question with “because I said so”:
 

NYT: People questioned your legal and constitutional authority to do that unilaterally — to delay the employer mandate. Did you consult with your lawyer?
 
MR. OBAMA: Jackie, if you heard me on stage today, what I said was that I will seize any opportunity I can find to work with Congress to strengthen the middle class, improve their prospects, improve their security –
 
NYT: No, but specifically –
 
MR. OBAMA: — but where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.
 
And if Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case. But there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions — very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.
 
I am concerned about the folks who I spoke to today who are working really hard, are trying to figure out how they can send their kids to college, are trying to make sure that they can save for their retirement. And if I can take steps on their behalf, then I’m going to do so. And I would hope that more and more of Congress will say, you know what, since that’s our primary focus, we’re willing to work with you to advance those ideals. But I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days.
 
Evidently if Congress doesn’t do what he wants, he enjoys legal authority under the Doin’ Good For The People Clause of the Constitution to do it himself. That’s not the first time he’s invoked that clause either; remember, he decided to continue his intervention in Libya even though his own lawyers concluded that he had no power to do so under the War Powers Act. There, as here, people on his own side of an issue reached a legal judgment — it was a party-line Democratic vote that passed O-Care into law, of course — and Obama eventually decided that because the law interfered with his policy preferences, he’d quietly ignore it. In the case of the War Powers Act, there was at least a halfhearted attempt to square the Libya intervention with the statute (by insisting that it didn’t quite rise to the level of “hostilities” in the meaning of the law). Here there’s none. He’s telling you to shut up and trust him because suspending the mandate is good policy and because he is, unlike many members of Congress, a lawyer. (More than half the Senate are lawyers, in point of fact.) Let’s hear from another lawyer, former appellate judge Michael McConnell, on why O’s unilateral suspension of the mandate is so novel and dangerous:
 

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the president on legal and constitutional issues, has repeatedly opined that the president may decline to enforce laws he believes are unconstitutional. But these opinions have always insisted that the president has no authority, as one such memo put it in 1990, to “refuse to enforce a statute he opposes for policy reasons.”…
 
The president defended his suspension of the immigration laws as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. He defended his amending of No Child Left Behind as an exercise of authority in the statute to waive certain requirements. The administration has yet to offer a legal justification for last week’s suspension of the employer mandate.
 
Republican opponents of ObamaCare might say that the suspension of the employer mandate is such good policy that there’s no need to worry about constitutionality. But if the president can dispense with laws, and parts of laws, when he disagrees with them, the implications for constitutional government are dire.
 
If Bush pulled the “because I said so” shtick in defending his own decision not to enforce a statute, Senator Obama would have screeched about it endlessly, just like he screeched about executive overreach, signing statements, drone warfare, domestic surveillance, and all the other supposed ills of the Bush age that he’s ended up adopting. As it is, McConnell’s skeptical that any private citizen has standing to sue to enforce the mandate, for the same reason that citizens lacked standing per the Supreme Court’s decision in the Prop 8 case. Maybe Congress could sue, but the GOP doesn’t want to be seen as forcing the employer mandate on business when Obama’s trying to suspend it and Democrats don’t want to cause political headaches for O, let alone side with a stupid health-care measure that’s apt to have adverse economic consequences once it’s in effect. He’s going to get away with this and the precedent will be set — or rather further cemented, per McConnell’s other examples of Obama power grabs — that when a law is inconvenient for the president politically, even when it’s part of his own signature legislation, he can simply ignore it. Because he says so.
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« Reply #117 on: August 01, 2013, 05:01:11 PM »

http://www.glennbeck.com/2013/08/01/cbs-reporter-forces-carney-to-clarify-which-scandals-are-phony/?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2013-08-01_240985&utm_content=5054942&utm_term=_240985_240996
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« Reply #118 on: August 02, 2013, 04:16:56 PM »

New Links Emerge in the IRS Scandal
Emails released this week sweep the Federal Election Commission into the conservative-targeting probe.
By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
WSJ

Congressional investigators this week released emails suggesting that staff at the Federal Election Commission have been engaged in their own conservative targeting, with help from the IRS's infamous Lois Lerner. This means more than just an expansion of the probe to the FEC. It's a new link to the Obama team.

In May this column noted that the targeting of conservatives started in 2008, when liberals began a coordinated campaign of siccing the federal government on political opponents. The Obama campaign helped pioneer this tactic.

In late summer of 2008, Obama lawyer Bob Bauer took issue with ads run against his boss by a 501(c)(4) conservative outfit called American Issues Project. Mr. Bauer filed a complaint with the FEC, called on the criminal division of the Justice Department to prosecute AIP, and demanded to see documents the group had filed with the IRS.

Thanks to Congress's newly released emails, we now know that FEC attorneys went to Ms. Lerner to pry out information about AIP—the organization the Obama campaign wanted targeted. An email from Feb. 3, 2009, shows an FEC attorney asking Ms. Lerner "whether the IRS had issued an exemption letter" to AIP, and requesting that she share "any information" on the group. Nine minutes after Ms. Lerner received this FEC email, she directed IRS attorneys to fulfill the request.

Douglas Shulman, former IRS commissioner (left), Lois Lerner, the then-director of the IRS's exempt-organizations office, and Neal Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury, at a congressional hearing, May 22.

This matters because FEC staff didn't have permission from the Commission to conduct this inquiry. It matters because the IRS is prohibited from sharing confidential information, even with the FEC. What the IRS divulged is unclear. Congressional investigators are demanding to see all communications between the IRS and FEC since 2008, and given that Ms. Lerner came out of the FEC's office of the general counsel, that correspondence could prove illuminating.

It also matters because we now know FEC staff engaged in a multiyear effort to deliver to the Obama campaign its win against AIP. This past week, FEC Vice Chairman Don McGahn, joined by his two fellow Republican commissioners, wrote an extraordinary statement recounting the staff's behavior in the case.

When the FEC receives a complaint, it falls to the general counsel's office to first issue a report on the merits of the alleged campaign violations. The six-person commission then votes on whether there is a "reason to believe" a violation occurred. No formal investigations are to take place before that point.

The Obama team's complaint broadly claimed AIP was masquerading as a nonprofit, when it should have registered as a highly regulated political action committee. It was a ludicrous claim (see below), yet the FEC staff issued a report in April 2009 recommending the commission go after AIP, not long after its attorneys had been in touch with Ms. Lerner.

When the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC made most of the Obama complaint irrelevant, the staff withdrew its first report, then took 18 months to come up with a second rationale for why the commission should pursue AIP. All this time, FEC staff—Mr. McGahn recounts—were conducting an unauthorized investigation into AIP. The staff was also improperly withholding the results of its research from AIP.

When new issues made its second attempt moot, the general counsel's office went after the group with a third report. AIP's defense all along was that it spent the majority of its money from 2007 to 2010 on its "major" organizational "purpose" of educating and informing the public of conservative principles, and only a minority (less than one-third) on direct campaign expenditures. As such, it easily meets the tests for being a 501(c)(4).

And so the FEC staff's third report presented a novel theory. The staff argued that AIP ought to be judged on what it spent per "calendar year." By shortening the timeline, and looking only at AIP's spending in 2008—an election year—the staff argued AIP had violated campaign law.

The Republican commissioners were appalled, noting that FEC staff had always taken a multiyear view of expenditures, including when it came to cases against liberal groups, like the League of Conservation Voters or the Moveon.org Voter Fund. The FEC staff also sought to impose this new standard after the fact, with no notice to election players and no input from the commissioners.

Vice Chairman McGahn's statement is scathing. "Here," he writes, FEC staff "could be seen as manipulating the timeline to reach the conclusion that AIP is a political committee. . . . Such after-the-fact determinations create the appearance of impropriety, whether or not such impropriety exists."

The broader AIP case is, in fact, beyond improper. It's fishy. The Obama campaign takes its vendetta against a political opponent to the FEC. The FEC staff, as part of an extraordinary campaign to bring down AIP and other 501(c)(4) groups, reaches out to Lois Lerner, the woman overseeing IRS targeting. Mr. McGahn has also noted that FEC staff has in recent years had an improperly tight relationship with the Justice Department—to which the Obama campaign also complained about AIP.

Democrats are increasingly desperate to suggest that the IRS scandal was the work of a few rogue agents. With the stink spreading to new parts of the federal government, that's getting harder to do.

Write to kim@wsj.com
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« Reply #119 on: August 03, 2013, 12:47:09 PM »

WSJ:

One big question raised by IRS political targeting is whether Obama officials or their bureaucratic allies unleashed the power of the administrative state for partisan ends. Now evidence is emerging that officials at another agency, the Federal Election Commission, used their enforcement power as an anti-conservative sword.

The House Ways and Means Committee this week released emails showing that, in 2008 and 2009, the FEC's general counsel staff sought tax information about conservative political groups from Lois Lerner of the IRS. Ms. Lerner is the IRS official who took the Fifth before Congress rather than tell her side of the story. She had previously worked at . . . the FEC's general counsel office.

Such a request is a no-no in many ways. The FEC staff was investigating these groups without the approval of its commissioners in clear violation of FEC rules. And the IRS is legally barred from releasing confidential tax information—including to the FEC. The emails show that Ms. Lerner asked her staff to provide information to the FEC, and Ways and Means is seeking more documents.

The suspicion of political motivation is compounded by disclosures this week by Don McGahn, one of three Republican FEC commissioners. He released documents that show a litany of FEC staff abuses—including unauthorized investigations, unsanctioned work with law enforcement, and cases when documents were kept from commissioners. These abuses were largely aimed at investigating conservative political groups.



One case involved the FEC handling of an accusation made in March 2012 by a Democratic operative against Rick Santorum's presidential campaign. Mr. McGahn reports that while the complaint was "scant at best," the FEC staff went to extraordinary lengths to find a violation.

The FEC staff is barred by law from conducting investigations without the approval of its commissioners, who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. This is to ensure political accountability. Yet the general counsel's office "performed extensive research during an extra-statutory investigation that produced various news articles and materials that claimed violations had occurred," says Mr. McGahn.

The FEC's sources included the likes of the liberal Talking Points Memo Muckraker website, which FEC staff sent to the Santorum campaign for a response. The FEC commissioners recently closed the case without taking any action because there was no compelling evidence.

Our Kimberley Strassel reported Friday on a case in which the FEC staff contacted Ms. Lerner as part of its unauthorized inspection of another conservative group, the American Issues Project. Along the way, the staff created a novel, after-the-fact legal theory as a rationale for bringing charges against the group.

That legal theory would judge conservative groups on the basis of their "calendar-year" spending—as opposed to their spending over an entire election cycle, which is the standard that the FEC has used to judge liberal groups. The FEC enforcers happened to dream this up about the time Democrats in Congress and the Obama campaign had begun a public campaign against conservative 501(c)(4) groups that were joining the presidential debate.

Mr. McGahn also released a memo about his efforts to rein in abuses by getting the FEC to adopt a new manual governing staff enforcement conduct. The memo adds to the list of wild behavior—detailing how staff conducts ad-hoc investigations, sits on exculpatory evidence, and discloses sensitive information to the Department of Justice without commissioner approval. Staff even maintained a policy—undisclosed to commissioners—that granted itself at-will authority to interact with Justice.

Far from expressing contrition, the FEC staff has assailed Mr. McGahn's reforms. General Counsel Tony Herman wrote in a memo in June that sensitive FEC decisions were best left in the hands of "non-partisan, career leadership." That nonpartisan riff is a hoot. The White House allies at the Center for American Progress Action Fund have targeted Mr. McGahn for criticism, further highlighting the cynicism of "nonpartisan."

Mr. McGahn has the law on his side. The FEC was created as a bipartisan watchdog in the 1970s, and the law governing its investigations and dealing with other agencies was designed to keep it above partisanship. The staff's flaunting of these strictures suggests that FEC bureaucrats are engaged in the sort of partisan targeting that has sullied the IRS.

Congress is seeking all email communication between FEC staff and Ms. Lerner, and rightly so. Liberals like to expand the government in the name of holding others accountable, but then they never want to hold the government accountable for breaking its own rules, or even the law. We doubt the American people agree.

A version of this article appeared August 3, 2013, on page A12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Another Agency Goes IRS.
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« Reply #120 on: August 05, 2013, 10:59:16 AM »

http://blunttrama.ning.com/profiles/blogs/dea-special-operations-division-covers-up-surveillance-used-to-in


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-dea-sod-20130805,0,2087915,full.story
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 06:25:59 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #121 on: August 06, 2013, 08:17:57 AM »

The scandals will not end until the truth sets us free.

 August 6, 2013 3:00 AM
Obama’s Watergates
Denial, evasion, “Let me be perfectly clear” — is this 2013 or 1973?
By Victor Davis Hanson,  National Review

The truth about Benghazi, the Associated Press/James Rosen monitoring, the IRS corruption, the NSA octopus, and Fast and Furious is still not exactly known. Almost a year after the attacks on our Benghazi facilities, we are only now learning details of CIA gun-running, military stand-down orders, aliases of those involved who are still hard to locate, massaged talking points, and the weird jailing of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

We still do not quite know why Eric Holder’s Justice Department went after the Associated Press or Fox News’s James Rosen — given that members of the administration were themselves illegally leaking classified information about the Stuxnet virus, the Yemeni double agent, the drone program, and the bin Laden document trove, apparently to further the narrative of an underappreciated Pattonesque commander-in-chief up for reelection.

Almost everything the administration has assured us about the IRS scandal has proven false: It was not confined to rogue Cincinnati agents; liberal and conservative groups were not equally targeted; and there were political appointees who were involved in or knew of the misdeeds.

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The NSA debacle can so far best be summed up by citing Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has now confessed that he lied under oath (“clearly erroneous”) to the U.S. Congress. Even his earlier mea culpa of providing the “least untruthful” statement was an untruth.

TIMELINES
Yet the truth does come out. None of these scandals so far has been as ignored as the initial Watergate break-in and associated Nixon-administration misdeeds. If the doctrinaire press is now leading from behind, instead of launching a full-scale attack as it did in the Watergate years, the media as a whole are far more diverse than in 1973, with so many different venues and agendas that it’s difficult to suppress the truth for long.

Remember, between when the Nixon operatives drew up their initial plans to commit illegal acts in early 1972 and when the media furor over cover-ups and lying forced Nixon out of office in late summer 1974, the time elapsed was over 30 months — a period as long as or longer than the gestation of the present scandals. Recall also that no one died in Watergate; that the IRS resisted, not abetted, calls to go after critics of the president; and that Attorney General John Mitchell did not lie under oath to Congress. Scandals wax and wane, but until the truth is told, they never quite end.

THE DENIALS
There is also nothing new in administration denials. Both President Obama and his press secretary, Jay Carney, characterized the Benghazi, IRS, AP, and NSA allegations as “phony.” So too Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, characterized the Watergate break-in as “a third-rate burglary attempt” and insisted that “Certain elements may try to stretch the Watergate burglary beyond what it is.” In August 1972, when news of the break-in first got out, Nixon himself assured the nation, “I can say categorically that . . . no one in the White House staff, no one in this Administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident.” The Obama administration’s variation on outright denial is “What difference, at this point, does it make?” And when Jay Carney declares, “I accept that ‘stylistic’ might not precisely describe a change of one word to another,”  I am reminded of Ron Ziegler’s quip, “This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative.”

THE EXODUSES
By the summer of 1974, Richard Nixon was almost alone. His attorney general, John Mitchell; his closest two advisers, Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman; his White House counsel, John Dean; and a score of others — some of them directly involved, others only tangentially mentioned — had resigned, had been fired, or had been indicted. Those not involved simply wanted out of the administration, lest they suffer from guilt by association.

Less than a year after Benghazi, all the chief participants in reacting to the attack are gone from their positions: Susan Rice left the U.N. ambassadorship and is now a very quiet national-security adviser; Hillary Clinton is no longer secretary of state; we have both a new defense secretary and a new CIA director; the ranking military officer responsible for the area around Benghazi, General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, has retired.

Likewise there have been several resignations and suspensions from the IRS. I don’t think James Clapper will last long as director of national intelligence — such a high-ranking official simply cannot confess to lying under oath to a congressional committee and expect ever again to be taken seriously. Eric Holder may prove to be Obama’s version of a steadfast-to-the-very-last General Haig; yet, like the mostly silent Susan Rice, he has been so tainted with scandal as to have little reputation left other than for being loyal to the president, and is thus irrelevant.

THE ELECTION
I think it is a fair guess that had the public learned the truth about the Benghazi deaths — that a videomaker had no role in the violence and that the administration was paranoid about drawing attention to an ascendant al-Qaeda, U.S. missile-running, and lax diplomatic security — or about the IRS targeting or the NSA surveillance or the AP/Rosen monitoring, Barack Obama would have lost a close election. All these scandals had their geneses before the 2012 election, and all were adroitly hushed up until after Obama’s second inauguration.

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That too is in accord with the Watergate pattern. The Nixon administration covered up in Machiavellian fashion the June 1972 Watergate break-in, almost five months before the president’s landslide win. At least six weeks before the election, the nation knew that there were members of the Nixon administration or the Nixon reelection committee involved in Watergate-related misdeeds — but they found that in comparison to Vietnam, the Chinese initiatives, or the economy, the Watergate news was boring. Again, that the Obama scandals were successfully kept hushed up before the 2012 election is not unusual.

Whereas Nixon suppressed the truth and won big in 1972, by the 1974 midterm elections there had been enough blowback from the Watergate scandals that the Democrats picked up four Senate seats and 49 House seats. In other words, 2014 is still a long time away.

THE TARGETS
The Obama administration’s methods and aims — going after political opponents, monitoring a supposedly leaking press, fingering fall guys, soiling the IRS — are likewise Nixonian to the core.

Nixon tried to use the IRS to punish his enemies, although Lois Lerner and William Wilkins appear to have had far less integrity than did Nixon’s IRS chief, Johnnie Walters, who resisted rather than abetted Nixon’s illegal efforts. As in the case of doctoring CIA talking points and pressuring CIA operatives, so too Nixon tried to cloak misdeeds as “national security” operations. Nixon went after members of the press; Obama had the communications of James Rosen of Fox News — and even those of Rosen’s parents — monitored. Mr. Nakoula was the poor soul the authorities almost immediately jailed for his supposedly right-wing, Islamophobic film. He proved a sort of updated version of the caricatured crazy Cuban burglars and the unhinged Gordon Liddy, whose freelancing zeal allegedly caused the Watergate problem in the first place. The only difference is that the latter really did commit relevant illegal acts, while Nakoula’s videomaking was uncouth, not criminal — and irrelevant to the Benghazi deaths.

THE FIFTH
Lois Lerner’s resort to the Fifth Amendment is not new and will not be successful in covering up her record at the IRS. During the Watergate scandals, almost everyone from Charles Colson to John Dean took the Fifth at one point or another while under oath in front of various committees and grand juries. Such stonewalling delayed but did not stop the investigations. I expect more participants in the Obama-administration misdeeds will invoke the Fifth, and the dodges will ultimately have little effect, other than to remind us that many in the administration have lots to hide.

THE FALLOUT
Nixon left office with historic low poll numbers and the economy a wreck. His successful feat of Vietnamization was undone by Congress’s refusal to make good on American promises of aid. His foreign trips were seen as failed efforts to regain political stature back home.

So too already with the unraveling of Obama. Cap-and-trade, green energy, and the idea of global warming are politically dead. So is a new gun-control initiative. The president, not his critics, is dismantling key elements of Obamacare, his signature achievement. Cabinet posts resemble musical chairs. About all we can expect is a new Nixonesque war on someone — post–Trayvon Martin “bigots,” conservatives supposedly waging a “war on women,” “nativists” who sabotaged “comprehensive immigration reform.” In other words, there will be no positive initiatives, just attacks on Them.

The president’s poll numbers are tanking, and even some of the liberal press feels increasingly betrayed. The Middle East is a mess: Syria a charnel house, Egypt pure chaos, Libya the new Somalia, Iraq abandoned, Afghanistan ignored. Al-Qaeda is on the run — toward Westerners everywhere.

The common denominators are perceived presidential weakness, and inattention. But whereas Richard Nixon was seen as a brilliant foreign-policy realist, Obama prior to his scandals was already struggling to overcome the reputation of being a naïf about foreign policy and cool, distant, and inept at home.

Because something terribly wrong occurred in Benghazi, with the IRS, with the treatment of the Associated Press and James Rosen, and perhaps with Edward Snowden and the NSA, and those involved are seeking to mask their culpability, the scandals grind on. They will not end until the truth sets us all free. So expect a long-drawn-out and sordid saga.

If the administration continues to stonewall and taunt its critics, there will soon appear updated Obama versions of diehard Nixon defenders like Rabbi Korff and Representative Sandman — with plenty of the same old “Let me be perfectly clear” and “Make no mistake about it” presidential denials.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is The Savior Generals, published this spring by Bloomsbury Books.
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« Reply #122 on: August 06, 2013, 12:06:26 PM »

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/06/fec-official-new-emails-show-agency-may-have-colluded-with-irs-in-political-targeting-scandal/
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« Reply #123 on: August 06, 2013, 04:16:33 PM »

NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE          www.nationalreview.com           PRINT

August 5, 2013 12:00 AM

The Front Man

 By  Kevin D. Williamson


Conservatives have for years attempted to put our finger upon precisely why Barack Obama strikes us as queer in precisely the way he does. There is an alienness about him, which in the fever swamps is expressed in all that ridiculous Kenyan-Muslim hokum, but his citizen-of-the-world shtick is strictly sophomore year — the great globalist does not even speak a foreign language. Obama has been called many things — radical, socialist — labels that may have him dead to rights at the phylum level but not down at his genus or species. His social circle includes an alarming number of authentic radicals, but the president’s politics are utterly conventional managerial liberalism. His manner is aloof, but he is too plainly a child of the middle class to succumb to the regal pretensions that the Kennedys suffered from, even if his household entourage does resemble the Ringling Bros. Circus as reimagined by Imelda Marcos when it moves about from Kailua Beach to Blue Heron Farm. Not a dictator under the red flag, not a would-be king, President Obama is nonetheless something new to the American experience, and troubling.

It is not simply the content of his political agenda, which, though wretched, is a good deal less ambitious than was Woodrow Wilson’s or Richard Nixon’s. Barack Obama did not invent managerial liberalism, nor has he contributed any new ideas to it. He is, in fact, a strangely incurious man. Unlike Ronald Reagan, to whom he likes to be compared, President Obama shows no signs of having expended any effort on big thinkers or big ideas. President Reagan’s guiding lights were theorists such as F. A. Hayek and Thomas Paine; Obama’s most important influences have been tacticians such as Abner Mikva, bush-league propagandists like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and his beloved community organizers. Far from being the intellectual hostage of far-left ideologues, President Obama does not appear to have the intellectual energy even to digest their ideas, much less to implement them. This is not to say that he is an unintelligent man. He is a man with a first-class education and a business-class mind, a sort of inverse autodidact whose intellectual pedigree is an order of magnitude more impressive than his intellect.

The result of this is his utterly predictable approach to domestic politics: appoint a panel of credentialed experts. His faith in the powers of pedigreed professionals is apparently absolute. Consider his hallmark achievement, the Affordable Care Act, the centerpiece of which is the appointment of a committee, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the mission of which is to achieve targeted savings in Medicare without reducing the scope or quality of care. How that is to be achieved was contemplated in detail neither by the lawmakers who wrote the health-care bill nor by the president himself. But they did pay a great deal of attention to the processes touching IPAB: For example, if that committee of experts fails to achieve the demanded savings, then the ball is passed to . . . a new committee of experts, this one under the guidance of the secretary of health and human services. IPAB’s powers are nearly plenipotentiary: Its proposals, like a presidential veto, require a supermajority of Congress to be overridden.

IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obama’s approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party. Barack Obama is the first president of the democracy that John Adams warned us about.

Democracy never lasts long,” Adams famously said. “It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” For liberal regimes, a very common starting point on the road to serfdom is the over-delegation of legislative powers to the executive. France very nearly ended up in a permanent dictatorship as a result of that error, and was spared that fate mostly by good luck and Charles de Gaulle’s patriotism. Long before she declared her infamous state of emergency, Indira Gandhi had been centralizing power in the prime minister’s office, and India was spared a permanent dictatorship only by her political miscalculation and her dynasty-minded son’s having gotten himself killed in a plane wreck. Salazar in Portugal, Austria under Dollfuss, similar stories. But the United States is not going to fall for a strongman government. Instead of delegating power to a would-be president-for-life, we delegate it to a bureaucracy-without-death. You do not need to install a dictator when you’ve already had a politically supercharged permanent bureaucracy in place for 40 years or more. As is made clear by everything from campaign donations to the IRS jihad, the bureaucracy is the Left, and the Left is the bureaucracy. Elections will be held, politicians will come and go, but if you expand the power of the bureaucracy, you expand the power of the Left, of the managers and minions who share Barack Obama’s view of the world. Barack Obama isn’t the leader of the free world; he’s the front man for the permanent bureaucracy, the smiley-face mask hiding the pitiless yawning maw of total politics.

#page#In an important sense, the American people have no political say in the health-care law, for example, because Congress did not pass a law reforming the health-care system; instead, Congress passed a law empowering the Obama administration, through its political appointees and unelected time-servers, to create a new national health-care regime. The general outline of the program is there in the law, but the nuts and bolts of the thing will be created on the fly by President Obama and his many panels of experts. There are several problems with that model of business, one of which is that President Obama, and more than a few of his beloved experts, have political interests. The partisans of pragmatism present themselves as disinterested servants of the public weal, simply collecting the best information and the best advice from the top experts and putting that into practice. Their only political interest, they would have us believe, is in helping the public understand what a great job is being done for them. Consider President Obama’s observation that his worst mistake in his first term was “thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. . . . The nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.” (It never seems to have entered into the president’s head that he might have got the policy wrong.) But of course there is a good deal more to politics than that. For example, the president would very much like the unemployment problem to be somewhat abated by the time of the 2014 congressional elections, but he knows that this is unlikely to happen with employers struggling under an expensive health-care mandate that he has not told enough of a story about. And so he has decided — empowered to do so by precisely nothing — that the law will not be enforced until after the elections. Neither does the law empower him arbitrarily to exempt millions of his donors and allies in organized labor from the law, but he has done that too.

This is a remarkable thing. The health-care law gives the executive all sorts of powers to promulgate regulations and make judgments, but it does not give the executive the power to decide which aspects of the law will be enforced and which will not, or to establish a different timeline from the one found in the law itself. For all of the power that Congress legally has given the president in this matter, he feels it necessary to take more — illegally.

The president and his admirers dismiss concern over this as so much chum for the talk-radio ravers, but it is no such thing. The job of the president is to execute the law — that is what the executive branch is there to do. If Barack Obama had wanted to keep pursuing his career as a lawmaker, then the people of Illinois probably would have been content to preserve him in the Senate for half a century or so. As president, he has no more power to decide not to enforce the provisions of a duly enacted federal law than does John Boehner, Anthony Weiner, or Whoopi Goldberg. And unlike them, he has a constitutional duty to enforce the law. Representative Tom Cotton says that the president’s health-care delay makes a deal on immigration less likely — if the president can simply decline to enforce the provisions of a law he fought for, why trust him to enforce provisions of a law he is accepting only as a compromise? Representative Cotton must also of course have in mind the fact that after Congress had unequivocally rejected another piece of immigration reform, the so-called DREAM Act, that the president had supported, he simply instituted it unilaterally, as though he had the authority to declare an amnesty himself. He then did away with criminal-background checks for those to be amnestied, also on his own authority. Strangely, the order to halt background checks came down on November 9, 2012, the same day that John Boehner said Republicans would seek a compromise on immigration reform.

In a similar vein, President Obama has refused to cut off foreign-aid funds to the Egyptian government, though he is required by law to do so in the event of a coup d’état, which is precisely what happened in July in Egypt. It might be embarrassing for the president to punish the Egyptian military and the grand mufti of al-Azhar for their overthrow of the unpopular Mohamed Morsi, but the law does not make exceptions for presidential embarrassment. The president is not legally empowered to assassinate American citizens, but he has done so, after going through the charade of drawing up a legal argument under which he judged himself entitled to do what the Constitution plainly prohibits. The law also prohibits the president and his allies from using the instruments of government to persecute their rivals, but that is precisely what the IRS has been up to for several years, as it turns out. And not just the IRS: Tea-party activist Catherine Engelbrecht was subject to an IRS audit, two FBI visits, an OSHA investigation, and an ATF inspection of her business (which does not deal in A, T, or F). And although the IRS has no statutory power to collect Affordable Care Act–related fines in states that have not voluntarily set up health-care exchanges, Obama’s managers there have announced that they will do so anyway.

#page#The president not only ignores the law but in some cases goes out of his way to subvert it. The U.S. military carried out the killing of Osama bin Laden, but the records of that event have been removed from military custody, where they are subject to inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act, and moved to the CIA, where they can be kept in secrecy. He has attempted to make “recess appointments” when Congress is not in recess and has been stopped from doing so by the federal courts, which rightly identified the maneuver as patently unconstitutional.

There exists a federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which restricts the federal government’s power to force Americans to violate their consciences. The Obama administration is forcing an abortifacient mandate upon practically all U.S. employers, in violation of that law. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, who is responsible for drafting those regulations, received a number of letters from lawmakers arguing that the mandate she was contemplating violated the law; she proceeded anyway — without so much as getting an opinion from her departmental lawyer.

Congress’s supine ceding of its powers, and the Obama administration’s usurpation of both legal and extralegal powers, is worrisome. But what is particularly disturbing is the quiet, polite, workaday manner with which the administration goes about its business — and with which the American public accepts it. As Christopher Hitchens once put it, “The essence of tyranny is not iron law; it is capricious law.” Barack Obama makes a virtue out of that caprice, having articulated for his judicial nominees not a legal standard but a political standard requiring sympathy for politically favored groups: African American, gay, disabled, old, in his words.

We have to some extent been here before. It is a testament to the success of free-market ideas that it is impossible to imagine President Obama making the announcement that President Richard Nixon did on August 15, 1971: “I am today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States.” President Nixon created not one but two IPABs, the Pay Board and the Price Commission, which were to be entrusted with managing the day-to-day operations of the U.S. economy. President Nixon, too, was empowered by a Congress that invested him with that remarkable authority, through the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970, whose provisions were to be invoked during times of economic emergency. There was no economic emergency in 1971, but it is a nearly iron-clad rule of the presidency that powers vested will be powers used. That President Obama has adopted President Nixon’s approach but limited himself to health care might be considered progress if he had not adopted as a general principle one of Nixon’s unfortunate maxims: When the president does it, it isn’t illegal. President Nixon’s lawlessness was sneaky, and he had the decency to be ashamed of it. President Obama’s lawlessness is as bland and bloodless as the man himself, and practiced openly, as though it were a virtue. President Nixon privately kept an enemies list; President Obama publicly promises that “we’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends.”

Barack Obama’s administration is unmoored from the institutions that have long kept the imperial tendencies of the American presidency in check. That is partly the fault of Congress, which has punted too many of its legislative responsibilities to the president’s army of faceless regulators, but it is in no small part the result of an intentional strategy on the part of the administration. He has spent the past five years methodically testing the limits of what he can get away with, like one of those crafty velociraptors testing the electric fence in Jurassic Park. Barack Obama is a Harvard Law graduate, and he knows that he cannot make recess appointments when Congress is not in recess. He knows that his HHS is promulgating regulations that conflict with federal statutes. He knows that he is not constitutionally empowered to pick and choose which laws will be enforced. This is a might-makes-right presidency, and if Barack Obama has been from time to time muddled and contradictory, he has been clear on the point that he has no intention of being limited by something so trivial as the law.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #124 on: August 08, 2013, 08:37:24 AM »

Members Only
How the White House is weaseling Congress out of ObamaCare.

The White House on Wednesday released the legal details behind its ObamaCare bailout for Members of Congress and their staffs, and if anything this rescue is worse than last week's leaks suggested: Illegal dispensations for the ruling class, different rules for the hoi polloi.

Thanks to an amendment from Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley that Democrats enacted in 2010, the Affordable Care Act says that "the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available" to Congress are the ones offered on the ObamaCare insurance exchanges. But Members and many aides have been flipping out because they won't qualify for ObamaCare subsidies and they'll lose employer contributions they now receive under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHBP, which picks up about three-quarters of the average premium.

At President Obama's personal request, the Office of Personnel Management decreed that the Members don't have to get off the gravy train after all. The eat-your-own-cooking provision begins with the phrase "Notwithstanding any other provision of law." The feds now interpret that clause as a loophole to mean that the Affordable Care Act did not change the 1959 law that created the FEHBP.

Since Members and staff still technically meet the definition of federal employees qualified for the FEHBP, the Administration says they're still entitled to enroll in the FEHBP concurrently with the exchanges. The feds then "clarify"—their euphemism—that the regulatory meaning of health benefits in the FEHBP can be ObamaCare plans. Voila, taxpayers will continue to chip in $4,900 for individual and $10,000 for family coverage.

The charitable term for such legal gymnastics is creative. When statutes conflict, the bedrock administrative law obligation is to enforce the most recent statute. "Notwithstanding" clauses are routine catchalls that are supposed to emphasize Congress's intent that a new bill is controlling and pre-empts other laws on the books.

The White House is claiming the clause means the opposite, as if the 2010 law and the 1959 law have nothing to do with each other. That is not how it is supposed to work. When Congress kicked itself out of the traditional FEHBP, it kicked itself out of the FEHBP.

At least the Members will still have to sign up for exchange coverage as the law requires. Given the lawless White House record, it probably considered finding some excuse to exempt Congress entirely and decided that option was too explosive politically. But creating a special financing stream for the political class is almost as much of an abuse.

ObamaCare's complex subsidy system, with varying levels based on income, is not incidental to the exchanges. It's the beating heart of this exercise in wealth redistribution and social and economic central planning. The entitlement's architects never envisioned that well-to-do movers and shakers—Mr. Obama might even call some of them "the rich"—would get (or deserve) taxpayer benefits merely because they happen to run for or work for Congress.

Millionaire Senators and the affluent professionals who are chiefs of staff, legislative directors and the like were supposed to go on the exchange and abide by its rules. There are only three insurers offering public utility-type plans on the Washington, D.C. ObamaCare exchange. The FEHBP sponsors 21 plans in metro D.C. and 24 in Virginia. Perhaps as a new perquisite the White House will entice a plan to the exchange that only Members can choose.

It would have been fairer and less corrosive to the rule of law had Congress simply passed a bill giving their workers a raise to make up for the lost compensation of dropping out of the FEHBP. But that would mean an ugly political fight that voters might notice. It's so much easier to slip through this political fix in August when Congress is out of session and the press corps can't wait to hit the beach.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #125 on: August 13, 2013, 10:50:40 PM »

Eliana Johnson continues to expose this scandal at National Review.

"one tax-law expert told National Review Online that the information she disclosed about one group constitutes a felony"

"[Lerner] is demanding immunity in exchange for her testimony"

  - Doesn't that imply she can deliver someone higher up with her testimony?
-----------------------------
 IRS’s Lerner Used Personal E-mail to Conduct Official Business, Investigators Say
By  Eliana Johnson
August 13, 2013 12:01 PM

Embattled Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner sent official documents from her government e-mail address to a personal account, according to House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa and his colleague, Ohio congressman Jim Jordan.

“This raises some serious questions concerning your use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business,” the GOP lawmakers wrote in a letter to Lerner demanding all documents from her non-official account for the period between January 2008 and the present. “Additional documents related to the Committee’s investigation may exist in these non-official accounts over which you have some control, and the lack of access to this information prevents the Committee from fully assessing your actions,” they explained. Issa and Jordan are requesting that Lerner produce the documents by August 27.

The use of personal e-mail accounts to conduct government work also has the potential to impede federal-records requests by the public because personal accounts are not archived by the government. Controversy erupted, for example, over former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson’s use of a government account under the name Richard Windsor which, like a personal account, would not be captured by records requests relating to Jackson.

Lerner, the former director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations unit, was placed on administrative leave in late May after refusing to resign her post. She invoked her Fifth Amendment rights in testimony before the Oversight Committee and has yet to speak at length about her knowledge of the IRS’s targeting of tea-party groups. E-mail correspondence recently unearthed by the House Ways and Means Committee shows Lerner exchanging messages with an FEC attorney about two conservative groups; one tax-law expert told National Review Online that the information she disclosed about one group constitutes a felony.

Congressional investigators have not yet called Lerner back to testify; she is demanding immunity in exchange for her testimony.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/355667/irss-lerner-used-personal-e-mail-conduct-official-business-investigators-say-eliana
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #126 on: August 15, 2013, 10:44:33 AM »



DOJ, FBI admit they inflated claims about mortgage fraud crackdown last year
By Judson Berger
Published August 14, 2013
FoxNews.com

•   Aug. 12, 2013: Attorney General Eric Holder speaks to the American Bar Association Annual meeting. (AP)

The Justice Department and FBI have quietly acknowledged they grossly overstated the scope of a mortgage fraud crackdown, which the administration heralded with much fanfare a few weeks before last year's presidential election.

According to a memo circulated by the FBI and a correction posted online by the Justice Department, the number of defendants, the number of victims and the size of the losses are, in reality, a fraction of what officials claimed last October.

Attorney General Eric Holder and other law enforcement officials claimed in early October that the initiative charged 530 criminal defendants on behalf of 73,000 victims who suffered over $1 billion in losses. The so-called Distressed Homeowner Initiative, which targeted fraud schemes against distressed homeowners, was highlighted in a press release and press conference at the time.

Holder, talking to the cameras on Oct. 9, called it "a groundbreaking, year-long mortgage fraud enforcement effort."

The real numbers, it turns out, were far smaller. The feds now admit that the number of criminal defendants charged was more like 107, not 530. The number of victims was 17,185 -- still a large number, but roughtly one fourth the size of the original headcount. And the losses totaled $95 million -- not $1 billion, as originally claimed.
The DOJ and FBI had long been dogged by claims that their numbers were inflated. Bloomberg has been reporting since October that the cases cited by Holder included charges filed during the George W. Bush administration.

Bloomberg continued to press for clarification. The administration went dark on the issue until Friday, when the FBI acknowledged in a memo that it had conducted an "extensive review" and found problems. The original figures included defendants who "were the subject of other prosecutive actions," as well as defendants charged in cases that did not fall under the anti-mortgage fraud program in question, according to the memo, obtained by FoxNews.com.

"As a result, the public announcement overstated the number of defendants that should have been included as part of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, as well as the corresponding estimated loss amount and number of victims," the memo said.

The Justice Department also updated its own October release  -- as well as the transcript for remarks delivered by Holder  -- with a correction, saying prior versions "inadvertently contained inaccurate numbers."

The administration is still getting hammered for the revisions, though. Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Weil  called on Holder to apologize, and explain how this happened.
"He used a press conference with the cameras rolling to give out numbers that proved to be false -- and they appear to have been willfully false," Weil wrote. "He should be just as eager to hold another press conference to set the record straight, answer any questions about his apparent sleight of hand when it comes to financial-fraud metrics and apologize to the American people."

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #127 on: August 15, 2013, 12:09:32 PM »

second post of morning

Did the IRS Ever Stop Targeting?
By ANGELA HUNT

The Internal Revenue Service still isn't processing tea party applications for tax-exempt status, according to an IRS agent recently interviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Despite President Obama's promise to "put in place safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior can't happen again," it's unclear whether any new safeguards have been applied at all. The agent, whose job is to screen applications for potential political activity, said he and his coworkers have not been given new guidance on how to process such applications.

During the interview, the agent was asked if he would "treat a tea party group as a political advocacy case even if there was no evidence of political activity on the application." The agent responded: "Based on my current manager's direction, uh-huh."

Yes, Mr. Obama made a show of telling the IRS and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to end the targeting, but the president in recent speeches has also taken to dismissing what he calls Washington's "phony scandals." That's a clear message to IRS staff—both political and professional—about how seriously they should take the work of reform.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #128 on: August 15, 2013, 01:36:36 PM »

“Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”  - Former Pres. Nixon.  Aren't we forgetting a branch or two?

Obama’s unconstitutional steps worse than Nixon’s     by George F. Will

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-will-obamas-unconstitutional-steps-worse-than-nixons/2013/08/14/e0bd6cb2-044a-11e3-9259-e2aafe5a5f84_story.html

President Obama’s increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power are inversely proportional to his shriveling presidency. Desperation fuels arrogance as, barely 200 days into the 1,462 days of his second term, his pantry of excuses for failure is bare, his domestic agenda is nonexistent and his foreign policy of empty rhetorical deadlines and red lines is floundering. And at last week’s news conference he offered inconvenience as a justification for illegality.

Explaining his decision to unilaterally rewrite the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he said: “I didn’t simply choose to” ignore the statutory requirement for beginning in 2014 the employer mandate to provide employees with health care. No, “this was in consultation with businesses.”

He continued: “In a normal political environment, it would have been easier for me to simply call up the speaker and say, you know what, this is a tweak that doesn’t go to the essence of the law. . . . It looks like there may be some better ways to do this, let’s make a technical change to the law. That would be the normal thing that I would prefer to do. But we’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so, and we did so.”

Serving as props in the scripted charade of White House news conferences, journalists did not ask the pertinent question: “Where does the Constitution confer upon presidents the ‘executive authority’ to ignore the separation of powers by revising laws?” The question could have elicited an Obama rarity: brevity. Because there is no such authority.

Obama’s explanation began with an irrelevancy. He consulted with businesses before disregarding his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” That duty does not lapse when a president decides Washington’s “political environment” is not “normal.”

When was it “normal”? The 1850s? The 1950s? Washington has been the nation’s capital for 213 years; Obama has been here less than nine. Even if he understood “normal” political environments here, the Constitution is not suspended when a president decides the “environment” is abnormal.

Neither does the Constitution confer on presidents the power to rewrite laws if they decide the change is a “tweak” not involving the law’s “essence.” Anyway, the employer mandate is essential to the ACA.

Twenty-three days before his news conference, the House voted 264 to 161, with 35 Democrats in the majority, for the rule of law — for, that is, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act. It would have done lawfully what Obama did by ukase. He threatened to veto this use of legislation to alter a law. The White House called it “unnecessary,” presumably because he has an uncircumscribed “executive authority” to alter laws.

In a 1977 interview with Richard Nixon, David Frost asked: “Would you say that there are certain situations . . . where the president can decide that it’s in the best interests of the nation . . . and do something illegal?”

Nixon: “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Frost: “By definition.”

Nixon: “Exactly, exactly.”

Nixon’s claim, although constitutionally grotesque, was less so than the claim implicit in Obama’s actions regarding the ACA. Nixon’s claim was confined to matters of national security or (he said to Frost) “a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude.” Obama’s audacity is more spacious; it encompasses a right to disregard any portion of any law pertaining to any subject at any time when the political “environment” is difficult.

Obama should be embarrassed that, by ignoring the legal requirement concerning the employer mandate, he has validated critics who say the ACA cannot be implemented as written. What does not embarrass him is his complicity in effectively rewriting the ACA for the financial advantage of self-dealing members of Congress and their staffs.

The ACA says members of Congress (annual salaries: $174,000) and their staffs (thousands making more than $100,000) must participate in the law’s insurance exchanges. It does not say that when this change goes into effect, the current federal subsidy for this affluent cohort — up to 75 percent of the premium’s cost, perhaps $10,000 for families — should be unchanged.

When Congress awakened to what it enacted, it panicked: This could cause a flight of talent, making Congress less wonderful. So Obama directed the Office of Personnel Management, which has no power to do this, to authorize for the political class special subsidies unavailable for less privileged and less affluent citizens.

If the president does it, it’s legal? “Exactly, exactly.”
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« Reply #129 on: August 15, 2013, 09:55:48 PM »

http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/nsa-report-on-privacy-violations-in-the-first-quarter-of-2012/395/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #130 on: August 16, 2013, 09:00:23 AM »

http://reason.com/blog/2013/08/15/yes-the-nsa-violated-surveillance-privac


Yes, the NSA Violated Surveillance Privacy Rules – at Least 2,776 Times

Scott Shackford|Aug. 15, 2013 9:50 pm

Now Surveilling AllNSA LogoThe Washington Post has the latest Edward Snowden-provided bombshell:

    The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

    Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

    The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.

We may now also know a little more detail about the one incident where the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court discovered the NSA violating the rules. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued to get this information, which is scheduled to be released next week.

    In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.

So the NSA was not always informing the court of its actions. And yes, they improperly accessed content of communications:

    [T]he more serious lapses include unauthorized access to intercepted communications, the distribution of protected content and the use of automated systems without built-in safeguards to prevent unlawful surveillance.

There's a lot of information in the story and I'm not going to make a mockery of fair use by quoting it all. Please read here. No doubt the fallout is going to be big on this one.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #131 on: August 23, 2013, 08:36:05 AM »

(When does PROSECUTION begin in America?)

What About Lerner's Deputy?

Lois Lerner, the agent at the heart of the Internal Revenue Service scandal, was not the first person in a leadership position to know that conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status were being targeted. Her deputy Holly Paz was.

Ms. Paz testified in May before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that she learned of the targeting accidentally, after noticing an influx of tea party cases and asking Cincinnati agents for the criteria that were used to flag them. But according to interviews with other agents and newly released emails, it appears that how Ms. Paz learned of the criteria was no accident, and Congress wants answers.

GOP Reps. Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan sent Ms. Paz a letter this week asking her to explain certain "inconsistencies." Ms. Paz testified that she asked for the criteria from her employees after noticing the list of cases held for added scrutiny "was being over-inclusive." She said it was in June 2011 that she initially learned agents were using keywords on a "Be On the Lookout" spreadsheet to flag potential political cases. But Cindy Thomas, the manager of the Cincinnati office, had sent Ms. Paz an email making her "aware of a BOLO spreadsheet on March 16, 2011," or three months earlier. If Ms. Paz had the spreadsheet already, why did she need to ask her agents for the criteria?

Moreover, the same spreadsheet directed agents to flag "
  • rganizations involved with the Tea Party movement." So why did Ms. Paz testify that IRS agents saw "Tea Party" as a generic term for all potential political cases, not just applications from conservative groups?

Messrs. Issa and Jordan asked Ms. Paz to renounce her testimony or rectify it by September 3. Let's see if she sticks to her story.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324619504579028841667645598.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLESecond
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #132 on: August 25, 2013, 08:11:29 PM »

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/08/23/nsa-officers-sometimes-spy-on-love-interests/
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« Reply #133 on: September 07, 2013, 10:34:12 PM »

This should not stand.  Whether we are becoming one or not, we aren't supposed to be a banana republic.  Time for some defenestrations pour encourager les autres.

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials-viewpoint/090613-670166-irs-holder-advised-black-nonprofits-tax-law.htm

IRS Gave Black Nonprofits Preferential Treatment

By PAUL SPERRY

At the same time the IRS harassed Republican nonprofit groups during the 2012 political campaign, it selectively advised black churches and other Democrat nonprofits on how far they can go in campaigning for President Obama and other Democrats.

This raw exercise in political favoritism has not been reported in the context of the still-smoldering IRS scandal, in which the agency in 2012 audited big GOP donors and blocked Tea Party groups trying to obtain tax-exempt status as part of what House investigators suspect was an effort to re-elect the president. But that same year, top officials with both the IRS and Justice Department — including the IRS commissioner and attorney general — met in Washington with several dozen prominent black church ministers representing millions of voters to brief them on how to get their flocks out to vote without breaking federal tax laws.

The "summit" on energizing the black vote in houses of worship was hosted by the Democrat-controlled Congressional Black Caucus inside the U.S. Capitol on May 30, 2012.  The day before the special IRS training session, then-Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver predicted Obama would get 95% of the African-American vote — but only if black pastors "encourage" them to get to the polls. (He ended up getting over 93% of the black vote.)

IRS Goes To Church

At the time, many African-Americans were unhappy that Obama came out in support of gay marriage. So Democrats gathered them in Washington for a "pep talk," which included assurances their tax exemption would be safe if they helped deliver the vote.  It's not clear if the White House helped organize the unusual event, but two key Cabinet members — Attorney General Eric Holder and IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman — both spoke at length to the black church leaders.

Joining them was senior IRS official Peter Lorenzetti, who runs the agency's tax-exempt organizations division. He gave a technical briefing in which he advised against endorsing from the pulpit any candidates by name or distributing voter cheat sheets.

Then Lorenzetti hastened to add: "It is important to note, however, that an organization exempt under 501(c)3 — in this case the church or a religious organization — can conduct educational election activities," including holding political debates or even inviting candidates to speak to congregants.

Get-out-the-vote activities also are allowed, including driving church members to polls and knocking on doors to register people to vote.

"There are so many things that you can do and you should do," stressed Black Caucus member Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C. For example, he instructed pastors, "You are permitted to endorse a candidate in your individual capacity as a citizen. You can appear on a (TV or radio) program away from the church and be presented as the pastor. You can do that."

He told ministers not to worry that IRS agents "with binoculars" are spying on their churches from across the street. "The IRS does not have the authority to tell a church how it conducts its affairs," said Butterfield.

In an MSNBC interview prior to the briefing, Cleaver, D-Mo., explained: "We want to let (the pastors) know that there is a theological responsibility to participate in the political process. We're going to encourage them to encourage their people" to get out the vote.

Double Standard

U.S. tax code prohibits churches and other nonprofits from "participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office."

The ban includes donations, endorsements, fundraising or any other activity "that may be beneficial or detrimental to any particular candidate." In the past, black churches have been known to pass out voting guides to members in violation of IRS rules.

Washington constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley at the time blogged that the special campaign training session offered these Obama supporters — with the direct participation of the IRS chief and attorney general — was a "raw" display of political favoritism.

"If (former GOP Attorney General) Alberto Gonzalez went to Congress to brief evangelical religious leaders on campaigning in the presidential election, the hue and cry would be deafening," Turley said.

Non-black clergy were not afforded the same legal training in campaigning tactics by the Obama administration.  At the time, Turley did not know that the IRS had targeted GOP donors and nonprofits opposed to the president or that it had temporarily suspended tax audits of churches, which it publicly announced just prior to the election.

"We are holding any potential church audits in abeyance," Russell Renwicks of the agency's Tax-Exempt and Government Entities division was quoted by Bloomberg BNA as saying in October 2012. The agency made the decision despite being bombarded by complaints about churches getting involved in the election.  The high-level legal briefing for Obama supporters made just passing news during the election. But the double standard it poses now in the wake of the IRS scandal is troubling.

Perhaps more disturbing, Turley remarked, is that the two federal law enforcement officials who would be the ultimate decision-makers in future cases involving IRS tax fraud and exemption violations were front and center in counseling tax-exempt groups that might bump up against those laws.
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« Reply #134 on: September 08, 2013, 10:16:37 AM »

Orly Taitz is a birther, caveat lector:

http://thelastgreatstand.com/lgs/2013/08/30/attorney-doj-asks-for-more-time-to-respond-to-motion-regarding-obamas-fraudulent-use-of-someone-elses-social-security-number/
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« Reply #135 on: September 08, 2013, 10:34:43 AM »

http://blog.heritage.org/2013/09/06/senator-feinstein-to-napolitano-stop-enforcing-immigration-law/
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« Reply #136 on: September 08, 2013, 10:54:28 AM »

First this: "Time for some defenestrations pour encourager les autres."    Sometimes I need help to read the more widely educated posters.   Google pointed me first back to the forum.  smiley Then to these helpful translations I reprint for the benefit of others:

Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. The term was coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the year 1618. (Oxford)

pour encourager les autres: in order to encourage the others —said ironically of an action (as an execution) carried out in order to compel others to obey or submit  (Meriam-Webster)
-----------------

Back to the scandals, I am pleased to note that CNN is still following the IRS scandal (although they disclaim that the views expressed are only of the author).  So often these scandals are covered only by right wing sources to reporting to right wing readers/viewers.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/03/opinion/ken-boehm-irs-scandal-investigation/

IRS scandal: America needs the truth
By Ken Boehm, Special to CNN  (more at link)

(CNN) -- America can handle the truth. Even if that truth could include a coverup at the powerful IRS.  The IRS mission statement pledges to "enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all."  But public scrutiny has revealed details indicating a level of politicization totally at odds with that.

Look at the two eye-opening developments that have happened at the IRS since May: An acting IRS commissioner resigned, and another powerful IRS official refused to answer questions before Congress, pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Whatever is going on, there is only one way to proceed, and that is a professional and thorough investigation.  For people who haven't been following a lot of this, let me quickly get you up to speed:  The IRS inspector general released a report on May 14 describing how the agency had inappropriately targeted tea party and conservative groups that had applied for tax-exempt status.  Then the IRS put these groups through extra reviews, substantial delays and burdensome requests for information.

The reaction was immediate. The next day, President Barack Obama announced that the acting IRS commissioner was resigning.  That doesn't exactly happen every day.  Obama went on to say, "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."

After that shocking disclosure, several things happened:

• Senate and House committees launched investigations into the scandal.

• The FBI began a criminal investigation.

• The IRS inspector general expanded its ongoing investigation.

• IRS official Lois Lerner exercised her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by refusing to answer questions before Congress.

Some interesting developments emerged from all that.  For one, the original claim during IRS testimony -- that the scandal was the result of a couple of "rogue IRS agents" in the agency's Cincinnati field office -- didn't hold water.

It turned out that, according to frontline IRS agents in Cincinnati interviewed by House Oversight committee investigators, the Washington IRS office had played a key role in the handling of the tea party applications.

Retired IRS lawyer Carter Hull disclosed in testimony that IRS Counsel William Wilkins was one of his supervisors in the targeting of conservative groups. (The IRS has denied Wilkins' involvement in the targeting of specific groups.)

The inspector general's report found that Wilkins' office had sent the exempt organizations determination unit on April 24, 2012, "additional comments on the draft guidance" for considering applications of tea party groups for tax-exempt status (PDF).

The connections between Wilkins' office and the inappropriate profiling of conservative groups are especially noteworthy because there are only two appointees of the president at the IRS: the commissioner and the chief counsel.

Cynics may view this controversy as typical when the House is in the hands of a different party than the president, but guess what?

The Democrat-controlled Senate's Finance Committee has also weighed in.  That committee has called for three things: a hearing, an investigation and a request to the IRS for documents.

Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus, the committee chairman, stated bluntly, "Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate, it is intolerable, unacceptable and cannot be allowed."  Baucus promised a bipartisan investigation and has been true to his word. When the first week of August arrived, Baucus and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, said the IRS failed to provide "most of the information requested by the Committee."

New details reshape IRS targeting scandal

As chairman of the ethics watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center, I had filed a complaint with the IRS in May 2011 showing that a purported charity called the Barack H. Obama Foundation -- named for the father of President Obama and run by his half-brother, Malik Obama -- had been raising funds in the U.S. by falsely claiming to be an IRS-approved charitable group.

I submitted proof that the foundation was not tax-deductible and had never even applied for that status despite the fact that it had been fundraising for about three years.  In fact, one of the foundation's directors admitted that an IRS application had never been submitted.  There was compelling evidence suggesting that the foundation was raising money on the Internet by misrepresenting itself as being IRS-approved when it really wasn't.

Suddenly, the foundation rushed an application to the IRS in late May 2011.  In the short span of about a month, Lerner -- the same person who took the Fifth Amendment rather than testify before Congress -- gave the Obama Foundation its tax-deductible status.  And, the IRS made that status retroactive for three years. 

The administration says there's no political basis for the IRS actions. If that's true, then it has nothing to lose.

Even more curious, several of the forms submitted by Malik Obama were stamped as being received by the IRS in July 2011. That's one month after Lerner approved the group's new tax status.
...
The administration says there's no political basis for the IRS actions. If that's true, then it has nothing to lose.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 11:36:49 AM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #137 on: September 16, 2013, 07:51:04 AM »

IRS scandal persists despite media attempts to ignore it
Published by: Herman Cain

Lois Lerner e-mails tell us what journalists refuse to.

It was only a few months ago that political reporters across the country started cheering that the IRS scandal had “fizzled,” a word that was used by so many of them it became obvious it was established as a media talking point.

These Obama apologists argued that a list of IRS watchwords for going after groups seeking tax exemptions included some words that pertained to liberals, and therefore the entire conservative argument of IRS bias against conservatives was “debunked” and there was no more reason to cover the story. When conservatives pointed out that, in practice, the liberal groups were regularly getting quick approvals while conservatives were having to endure long waits if they got approved at all – silence.

The scandal had fizzled and that was that.

Fortunately for the nation, a few people decided to keep digging, and this past week we learned of e-mails from Lois Lerner, the IRS director of exempt groups, which clearly show a bias against conservatives and an attempt to cover it up.

The Washington Times reports:

In one 2011 email, Ms. Lerner specifically calls the tea party applications for tax-exempt status problematic, which seems to counter Democrats’ arguments that tea party groups weren’t targeted.

“Tea Party Matter very dangerous,” Ms. Lerner wrote in the 2011 email, saying that those applications could end up being the “vehicle to go to court” to get more clarity on a 2010 Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance rules.

In another email, from 2012, Ms. Lerner acknowledges that the agency’s handling of the tax-exempt applications had been bungled at the beginning, though she said steps had been taken to correct problems.

“It is what it is,” she wrote in the email, released Thursday by the Ways and Means Committee. “Although the original story isn’t as pretty as we’d like, once we learned [that we were] off track, we have done what we can to change the process, better educate our staff and move the cases. So, we will get dinged, but we took steps before the ‘dinging’ to make things better and we have written procedures.”

That email suggests that agency employees knew they had gone overboard in their scrutiny — despite top IRS officials telling Congress that there was no special scrutiny of conservative groups.

In another 2012 email, Ms. Lerner seemed to take sides in a battle between the Federal Election Commission and conservative tax-exempt groups that were engaging in politics, saying “perhaps the FEC will save the day.”

It’s clear what’s going on here. Lerner, who had a history of hostility toward conservatives going back to her days at the FEC, wanted to find ways to create problems for conservatives without it getting a lot of attention, and certainly without admitting it to Congress, which is why she took the Fifth Amendment when they asked her about it.

Yet the media persists in low-keying the story. President Obama has declared it a “phony scandal,” and that means they have their marching orders. If they cover it at all, it’s buried under the things they really want to talk about – like what happened at George Zimmerman’s house today, or why it’s inevitable that Hillary Clinton will become president in three years.

It’s not so much a cover-up as it is a slow walk until the gullible public forgets about it. That’s because, in large part, the media agree with what the IRS is doing. They think conservative nonprofits are really about nothing but electing Republicans, whereas liberal nonprofits are all about “helping people” or “social justice” or whatever. Basically, they see it the way Lois Lerner sees it. That’s why it doesn’t bother them that the IRS is abusing its power to achieve these ends. They like the ends, and the last thing they want to do is encourage the people to rise up against the government’s actions.

Dave Wiegel, a liberal blogger for Slate, provides the rationale for the media to continue ignoring the story:

Is it scandalous? If you don't think a bureaucrat taking this role in the IRS should hold such views, yes. And if, like the WSJ, you see a discrepancy (sic) here between Lerner saying the cases shouldn't go to Cincinnati and the IRS telling Congress, in April, that "rogue agents" in Cincinnati were behind the aggressive targeting—definitely a scandal. But that's what we're sort of left with, a disagreement over whether the IRS should have been nosy about a surge of political groups asking for tax exemption, and whether that nosiness hit the right disproportionately.

A lot of lefty journalists follow Wiegel’s lead, and what he’s told them is that even though IRS bureaucrats are clearly acting inappropriately, a journalist has license to ignore the story as long as he or she remains unconvinced that conservatives were really the target. There’s a “disagreement” over that, he says, and there’s no need to keep reporting or digging for the truth.

We’ll keep the light on this, because they won’t.

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« Reply #138 on: September 18, 2013, 05:02:04 PM »

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/09/18/new-documents-show-irs-looked-for-groups-with-anti-obama-rhetoric-and-may-have-been-inspired-by-anti-conservative-rhetoric/
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« Reply #139 on: September 19, 2013, 04:52:18 PM »

Wolf Demands FBI Punish Agents For CAIR Contact
IPT News
September 19, 2013
http://www.investigativeproject.org/4165/wolf-demands-fbi-punish-agents-for-cair-contact
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On a day when the Council on American-Relations (CAIR) issued a report accusing its critics of bigotry, a Justice Department investigation reminds the public why CAIR does not merit the public's trust.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz found a series of incidents in which FBI field offices knowingly engaged in outreach activity with CAIR despite a 2008 policy banning non-investigative cooperation with the Islamist group. Only a summary of the report has been released publicly. The rest is considered classified, but has been made available to Congress.

The ban on interactions with CAIR, first reported by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, resulted from an FBI investigation into a Muslim Brotherhood-created Hamas-support network in the United States.

Internal documents seized by the FBI show that CAIR and its founders, Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad, were a part of that network known as the Palestine Committee. Both men appear on a telephone list of Palestine Committee members (Awad is listed under a pseudonym "Omar Yehya), and CAIR is listed on a meeting agenda listing the committee's branches.

" ntil we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS," an FBI official wrote in 2009, "the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner."

But several FBI field office agents-in-charge balked at the policy, the Inspector General's report finds, and the FBI's Office of Public Affairs repeatedly offered field offices conflicting information. Despite a series of electronic communications explaining the CAIR ban – it does not apply to criminal investigations or civil rights complaints – issued from August-December 2008, and despite a mandatory meeting for Special Agents in Charge (SAC) of field offices, the head of the Los Angeles FBI office told his agents to ignore FBI headquarters.

"[W]e will decide how our relationship is operated and maintained with CAIR barring some additional instruction from FBI Headquarters," the Los Angeles SAC wrote. "Please instruct your folks at this time that are not to abide by the … [policy] but that their direction in regards to CAIR will come from the LA Field Office front office."
In a scathing letter to new FBI Director James Comey, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., called the violations "intolerable" and demanded punishment for those responsible, including "separation from the FBI."

Wolf is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee responsible for the FBI's budget. He noted that the investigation only focused on incidents involving three field offices – Chicago, Philadelphia and New Haven, Conn., so the depth of the problem still is not known.

The Los Angeles SAC, Wolf added, exhibited "unacceptable and insubordinate behavior from a senior leader of the FBI."

"Despite repeated efforts to communicate the policy to the field," Wolf wrote, "this was undermined by conflicting guidance being inexplicably offered by the bureau's Office of Public Affairs as well as outright violations from several field offices."

That's what happened in New Haven, the report finds. As the IPT reported in 2011, officials in the field office helped organize a community outreach program knowing that two local CAIR officials were involved. Rather than hold to the FBI policy, they agreed to conceal their role in organizing the event. In addition, the Inspector General found, the Office of Public Affairs advised the field office that the interaction was okay.

In 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder was asked whether there was any "new evidence that exonerates CAIR from the allegations that it provides financial support to designated terrorist organizations."

"No," said a written reply from Holder.

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller publicly reaffirmed the policy in two separate appearances before Congress a year later, saying "We have no formal relationship with CAIR."
"There should have been no confusion about this policy," Wolf wrote, "given the bureau guidance, Congressional direction and media coverage surrounding this directive." Horowitz seemed to agree. He faults the FBI for failing to provide "effective oversight to ensure compliance with the policy."

In addition to avoiding interaction with a bad actor, the ban on CAIR contact is meant to prevent the group from touting its connections with law enforcement as a way to enhance its image. That's exactly what happened in Philadelphia in 2010, the Inspector General's report found. A local CAIR official was invited to an FBI "Citizen's Academy" program despite the FBI policy's specific reference to the program as off-limits to CAIR representatives.

"A few days later," the report said, "CAIR-Philadelphia posted an article on its website describing its participation in the training program, with a link to the FBI's website."
While it boasted about FBI contact in this case, CAIR officials more often disseminate a message of fear to Muslim Americans, portraying FBI agents as ruthless and corrupt – willing to do anything to set up innocent Muslims. One CAIR chapter urged Muslims to "Build a Wall of Resistance" from the FBI and not cooperate in criminal investigations.

The policy did not come out of the blue. Awad, picked up on FBI recordings of Palestine Committee meetings, remains CAIR's executive director. He has never acknowledged his relationship with the Hamas-support network, and therefore, never disavowed it. In a 2003 deposition, he claimed not to remember whether he attended a weekend-long Palestine Committee meeting in Philadelphia called to discuss ways to "derail" American peacemaking efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. The group also talked at length about how to deceive Americans by hiding their Hamas support.

Those are among the things that make the FBI question "whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and HAMAS" and bar interaction between its agents and the group. Perhaps the Inspector General's report will prompt field office officials to stop ignoring their own leaders and the information gathered by their fellow agents.

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« Reply #140 on: September 20, 2013, 12:43:31 AM »

Hat tip to Doug:

Senior Treasury Department Officials Knew of IRS Targeting in Spring 2012, Documents Suggest
By  Eliana Johnson
September 19, 2013 1:05 PM

New documents are raising questions about when senior Treasury Department officials, including deputy treasury secretary Neal Wolin and even former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, learned about the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of tea-party groups. They suggest top brass at the Treasury Department may have been aware of the scandal in spring of 2012, a year before it became public.

An e-mail uncovered in the course of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into the scandal shows that Treasury Department inspector general J. Russell George was briefed by his staff in preparation for a “Secretary’s meeting” that was to take place at the Treasury Department on June 4, 2012. The briefing notes sent to George by a member of his staff read, “We obtained documentation indicating that certain organizations’ applications for tax-exempt status were targeted by the Exempt Organizations Determination office based on the organizations’ name or political beliefs. Additional audit work is needed to determine the extent, if any, of inconsistent treatment of these organizations’ applications for 501(c)(4) status.” Another document indicates that George briefed Treasury Department general counsel Christopher Meade the same day.

It is unclear if either Geithner or Wolin were present at the June 4, 2012, meeting. It does not appear on Geithner’s public schedule for the day (see below). In May, George described the secretary’s meetings to the committee this way: “The secretary holds a monthly meeting with bureau heads and in conjunction with those meetings, I meet monthly with the general counsel of the Department of the Treasury and then on an as-needed basis with the deputy secretary, Mr. Wolin.” George said that he told Wolin about the scandal “shortly” after he briefed Meade, but could not recall the precise day. Wolin has testified that he was made aware of an audit of “the IRS’s review of tax-exempt organizations” in 2012. George’s testimony is consistent with Wolin’s statement: He told Congress he informed the deputy treasury secretary and the department’s general counsel only about “the nature of the audit,” though the notes prepared for him by his staff go into further detail.

The documents also show that former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman knew more about the scandal than he has previously disclosed. On May 30, 2012, according to a timeline from the inspector general’s office, Shulman learned that ”criteria targeting ‘tea party,’ ‘patriots,’ or ‘9/12′” as well as “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” were being used in reviewing applications for tax-exempt status.

Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that no targeting was taking place. Asked why he did not approach lawmakers to correct the record, he said, “What I knew sometime in the spring of 2012 was that there was a list who was being used, knew that the word ‘tea party’ was on the list” but ”didn’t know what other words were on the list” or “the scope and severity” of the problem.

On the basis of the newly discovered documents, Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa and subcommittee chairman Jim Jordan are demanding all Treasury Department documents and communication “referring or relating to the IRS’s misconduct.” In a letter to treasury secretary Jack Lew on Thursday, they wrote, “This information raises serious questions about the awareness of the Treasury Department in the IRS’s mistreatment of tax-exempt applications.” Issa and Jordan are reiterating a previous request to Lew with which the treasury secretary has yet to comply. The department, they said, “has produced only about 350 pages of responsive documents and did not provide any responses to several of our requests.”

UPDATE: A public schedule provided by the Treasury Department shows that former treasury secretary Timothy Geithner did not attend the June 4, 2012 meeting.

http://nationalreview.com/corner/358969/senior-treasury-department-officials-knew-irs-targeting-spring-2012-documents-suggest
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« Reply #141 on: September 24, 2013, 12:05:39 PM »

High-profile cases show a pattern of misuse of prosecutorial powers

By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro — Special to The Washington Times
 


Sunday, September 22, 2013


ANALYSIS:
 
It’s hard to imagine the U.S. as a place where citizens have to fear overzealous prosecution, but last week’s reversals in the cases of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and five New Orleans police officers are part of a troubling pattern reminiscent of the Soviet criminal justice system — a system in which the state is always right, even when it is wrong.
 
In both cases, the judges who overturned the original trial-court verdicts cited instances of prosecutorial overzealousness and abuse of power, making the two cases the latest high-profile trials to run aground on the basis of misconduct by the state’s attorneys.
 
The high-profile cases in recent years run the gamut from the ancient offenses of murder and rape to increasingly esoteric details of campaign finance and contractor law.
 
In 2008, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate, was charged by federal prosecutors with failing to report gifts. During the campaign season, Barack Obama said Stevens needed to resign “to put an end to the corruption and influence-peddling in Washington,” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, moved to have Stevens expelled.
 
Stevens lost the election, but three months later, FBI agents accused prosecutors of withholding exculpatory evidence that could have resulted in the senator’s acquittal. Newly appointed U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asked the court to vacate Stevens‘ conviction, but the damage already had been done.
 
The prosecutors’ misconduct destroyed Stevens‘ reputation and political career and affected the balance of power in the U.S. Senate in favor of Democrats.
 
Circumstances were not entirely different in the prosecution of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was accused by local Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle to influence state elections with corporate money.
 
Mr. DeLay was convicted in 2010, but the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals overturned his conviction last week, saying the charges were based on “insufficient evidence.” Mr. DeLay called the indictment “an outrageous criminalization of politics,” but again, a Republican had been run out of politics. Mr. DeLay said he would “probably not” run for political office again.
 
Washington lobbyist and power broker Jack Abramoff is not as sympathetic a figure as Stevens or Mr. DeLay, but some reports indicate that the Justice Department intimidated Mr. Abramoff into a confession, and his case also revealed how the “honest services fraud” law gives federal prosecutors almost unchallengeable power.
 
Technically, the law lets prosecutors charge people when they “deprive another of honest services,” but it has been used as a catchall charge when the state is looking to secure an indictment from a grand jury but has exhausted all other options.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court eventually had to narrow the statutory meaning of the honest services fraud law, enacted in 1988, to avoid striking it down for unconstitutional vagueness.
 
William L. Anderson, an economics professor at Frostburg State University, once wrote of the law, “Have you ever taken a longer lunch break than what you are supposed to do? Have you made a personal phone call at work or done personal business on your employer’s computer? Have you ever had a contract dispute with an employer or client? All of those things can be criminalized by an enterprising federal prosecutor.”
 
In another case, five police officers were accused of murder in the fatal shootings of two men on a New Orleans bridge amid the chaos after Hurricane Katrina.
 
The officers were white and the victims black, and racial tensions were running high. Federal prosecutors turned to civil rights charges in accusing the officers.
 
Despite the Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy prohibition, federal civil rights statutes enable U.S. prosecutors to pursue felony charges against a defendant in limited instances even if they have been acquitted of underlying state crimes.
 
Evidence in the New Orleans case was compelling, and the officers were convicted, but U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt ordered a new trial last week, saying the government “engaged in a secret public relations campaign” by anonymously making extrajudicial statements against the defendants on a New Orleans news site.
 
“This case started as one featuring allegations of brazen abuse of authority, violation of the law and corruption of the criminal justice system,” he wrote in his order. “Unfortunately the focus has switched from the accused to the accusers. The government’s actions, and initial lack of candor and credibility thereafter, is like scar tissue that will long evidence infidelity to the principles of ethics, professionalism and basic fairness and common sense necessary to every criminal prosecutor, wherever it should occur in this country.”
 
The Duke University lacrosse players’ case is one of the most notorious of selective prosecution designed for political gain. North Carolina prosecutor Michael Nifong made numerous public statements incriminating the team and turning the media against the defendants.
 
Despite the accuser’s history of falsely reporting incidents and lack of evidence, Mr. Nifong pushed the politically popular case in the midst of his re-election campaign. State officials took over the case, dismissing all charges, taking the unusual step of declaring the defendants innocent — not merely “not guilty” — and Mr. Nifong was ultimately disbarred.
 
Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said that “you can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.” The same could be said of how fairly a judicial system prosecutes its accused defendants. Arrogance, not ethics, is emerging as criteria for prosecutorial discretion, and the result is a society based on fear, not freedom.
 
• Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C.


Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/22/high-profile-cases-show-a-pattern-of-misuse-of-pro/
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« Reply #142 on: September 24, 2013, 08:20:44 PM »

http://nationalreview.com/node/359148/print
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« Reply #143 on: September 30, 2013, 07:14:23 PM »

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/09/29/irs-tea-party-column/2892135/

IRS scandal means bad news for Obama: Column

 Glenn Harlan Reynolds 10:23 a.m. EDT September 30, 2013



 Come 2014, the government's damaged brand will reflect poorly on president and his party.





(Photo: Al Behrman, AP)

Story Highlights
Most Americans think the IRS broke the law by targeting Tea Party groups for harassment.
But only 17% think it is even somewhat likely that anyone will be charged.
The lesson for the country is that trust in the government is very low.



So last week, while most of the country was talking about football or fears of a government shutdown, Rasmussen released a poll that should worry everyone -- but especially incumbent Democrats in Congress. According to Rasmussen's survey, most Americans think the IRS broke the law by targeting Tea Party groups for harassment, but few expect it to be punished. Fifty-three percent think the IRS broke the law by targeting the Tea Party and other conservative groups like the voter-integrity outfit True The Vote; only 24% disagreed. But only 17% think it is even somewhat likely that anyone will be charged, while 74% think that criminal charges are unlikely.

COLUMN: Assault by civil forfeiture

So a majority of Americans think that government officials who exercise an important trust broke the law, but only a very small number think anything will be done to punish them.

There are a couple of lessons to draw from this. One is bad for the country in general, but the other is bad for congressional Democrats.

The lesson for the country is that trust in the government is very low. (In another Rasmussen poll, 70% think that government and big business often work together against consumers and investors. According to Gallup, trust in government is lower than during Watergate.) But it's worse than that.

Believing that government officials break the law is one thing; believing that they face no consequences when they're caught and it becomes public is another. Not only is this a sort of "broken windows" signal to other bureaucrats -- hey, you can break the law and get away with it -- but it's particularly damaging where the IRS is concerned.

America's tax system, despite the feared IRS audit, is fundamentally based on voluntary compliance. If everyone starts cheating, there aren't enough IRS agents to make a dent. Beyond taxes, that's true regarding compliance with the law in general. Moral legitimacy is what makes honest people obey the law even when they can get away with breaking it. Undermine that and you get a country like, say, Italy, where tax evasion is a national sport.

Meanwhile, there's another bit of bad news buried in that poll, this time for Democrats. The bad news is that a majority of Americans thinks the IRS broke the law even though the news media have consistently downplayed the scandal. But as the scandal has dragged on for months, word has filtered out anyway. Come 2014, the government's damaged brand will reflect poorly on members of the president's party, regardless of media efforts to protect them.

Beyond that, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto has begun calling President Obama "President Asterisk," saying that IRS efforts to weaken his opposition in the run-up to the 2012 election devalue Obama's victory the way illegal steroid use devalues an athlete's record-book standing. Taranto writes that this puts Obama in a situation that is in some ways worse than Nixon after Watergate: "We now know that government corruption -- namely IRS persecution of dissenters -- was a factor in Obama's re-election.

To be sure, Obama himself has not, at least so far, been implicated in the IRS wrongdoing as Nixon ultimately was in Watergate. On the other hand, Nixon's re-election victory was so overwhelming that no one could plausibly argue Watergate was a necessary condition for it. The idea that Obama could not have won without an abusive IRS is entirely plausible."

Of course, the press hated Nixon, while it is still doing everything it can to protect Obama. But, as we see, word filters out. Stay tuned.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is professor of law at the University of Tennessee and the author ofThe New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself. He blogs at InstaPundit.com.
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« Reply #144 on: October 01, 2013, 07:05:41 PM »

- The Daily Caller - http://dailycaller.com -
 


Ben Carson: ‘I had my first encounter with the IRS’ after challenging Obama

Posted By Jeff Poor On 9:47 AM 10/01/2013 In Politics | No Comments


At an event in Birmingham, Ala. Monday night, former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson revealed that he had received a visit from the Internal Revenue Service following his much-noted remarks at a National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year.
 
“I had my first encounter with the IRS this year, unsurprisingly after the prayer breakfast,” Carson told an audience that at the annual Business Council of Alabama Chairman’s Dinner, according to a report from Cliff Sims of the Montgomery, Ala.-based Yellowhammer News.
 
Carson’s February speech February made him a conservative darling for criticizing President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care reform law, while Obama was sitting just a few feet away.
 
During the event, which also featured former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Carson spoke about the potential presidential candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. relations with Russia and the Environmental Protection Agency.
 
(h/t Cliff Sims, Yellowhammer News)
 
Follow Jeff on Twitter
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com

URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/01/ben-carson-i-had-my-first-encounter-with-the-irs-following-the-national-prayer-breakfast/
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« Reply #145 on: October 01, 2013, 07:44:56 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/09/30/Exclusive-Feds-Cooking-Books-on-Illegal-Immigration-says-Border-Patrol-Union
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« Reply #146 on: October 02, 2013, 11:49:49 PM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwEvysDpNm0&noredirect=1
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« Reply #147 on: October 07, 2013, 10:56:40 AM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/6/atf-tries-block-whistleblowing-agents-fast-and-fur/
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« Reply #148 on: October 09, 2013, 11:26:34 AM »

http://ht.ly/pE1EI

Cover up of how Feinstein got those illegal assault weapons she brandished at the press conference.
=======================

For the Record
Columnist Arnold Ahlert: "On Saturday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act. It prohibits illegal aliens from being turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities for possible deportation unless they have been charged with or convicted of a serious offense. ... The federal government's priorities are tellingly selective. When the state of Arizona passed SB 1070, a law that allowed law enforcement officials to inquire about proof of residence from those detained for other legitimate reasons, Eric Holder's Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the state. The DOJ won a partial victory when the Supreme Court ruled that asking people to produce proof they are in the country legally if they have been stopped for another legitimate reason is constitutional, but Justice Anthony Kennedy determined that immigration law per se -- including the decision not to enforce the law -- remains exclusively under federal jurisdiction. The likelihood that the DOJ will file a similar lawsuit against California for its decision to openly defy federal immigration law? Zero."
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 11:57:16 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #149 on: October 11, 2013, 08:59:05 AM »

http://washingtonexaminer.com/house-investigators-irs-gave-white-house-confidential-data-in-order-to-fight-hhs-mandate-lawsuits/article/2537049
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