Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Federal Bias? Morgan Griffith, Patricia Evans, et Al.

This web site has taken a skeptical view of the claims that the IRS has specifically harassed Tea Parties that filed for 501(c)(3) status, because one of the first things you learn when applying for 501(c)(3) status is that it's for charities not political groups. If you do both, and you can't handle the paperwork of separating the two things, you need to be very very clear and specific about what you do as a charity.

This web site recognizes that when people take our religion seriously, it permeates everything we do, not only praying or teaching but also doing our jobs, voting, and shopping. In the Christian tradition, we're told to consider our flawed mortal selves "dead" and live as if Jesus were living in our bodies--as if we were channelling Jesus constantly, if you like that phrase. Nobody actually succeeds at this all the time, but we have to try. We have no idea how or whether Jesus would have voted, since Jesus was not a U.S. citizen, and cases can be made that He might have voted in different ways for different reasons, but when Christians vote we are in fact supposed to vote the way we believe Jesus would have been most likely to vote.

This web site also recognizes that, even if we are radical Christians who think we know how Jesus would have voted, we are told that Jesus recognized some difference between the things that were Caesar's and the things that were God's. Political action is not charitable work. Even though the case could also be made that if you try to make charity a full-time job by trapping people in a welfare lifestyle, where any attempt to do anything others find useful gets smothered by "They'll only cut that off our food stamps," you are turning young people who grow up seeing that against the Welfare State for life, and so on...

Anyway, our Tea Party does not suffer from the delusion that we are a charity, and does not want to encourage that delusion in other people. However, as investigations continue, evidence is emerging that prejudice has been going beyond the basic hassle the IRS is supposed to provide to so-called charities that don't know what a charity is...

From U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith:

"The Tone is Set at the Top
Some scandals currently engulfing Washington – such as the Administration’s actions surrounding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, the Department of Justice (DOJ) having subpoenaed two months of the Associated Press’ phone records, and investigations into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) improperly handling applications submitted by “Tea Party” or “Patriot” groups – have received quite a bit of media attention.

Another brewing scandal hasn’t yet received similar attention.  Not only has the IRS admitted to improperly handling applications from conservative groups, but the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) recently released a report claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waives the access fees through the Freedom of Information Act for public records for left-leaning environmental groups more than 90 percent of the time, but refuses more than 90 percent of the time to waive those fees for conservative groups.  That means CEI’s data indicates that nine times out of ten, the EPA is giving records to the first group for free, and that nine times out of ten they are charging groups that disagree with their policies.

Testifying recently before the Energy and Commerce Committee, EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe was asked about CEI’s claims.  Mr. Perciasepe indicated that he has asked the independent office of the Inspector General to conduct a “programmatic audit” of these fee decisions.

Attorney General Eric Holder is the head of the DOJ, the agency that secretly obtained two months of logs for phone lines used by more than 100 Associated Press reporters without a court order.  While legal, subpoenas of this nature are supposed to be authorized by the Attorney General, but this action was authorized by his deputy.  On Wednesday, May 15, the Attorney General testified before the House Judiciary Committee, where he was asked about this.  I watched large portions of the hearing, and was shocked as the Attorney General repeatedly replied to questions with statements along the lines of “I don’t know” or “I don’t have a factual basis to answer the questions you have asked because I recused myself.”

On Friday, May 17, ousted Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee.  Mr. Miller stated “I don’t think targeting is wrong.”*  Furthermore, the publication Politico reported that Mr. Miller “spent most of the hearing saying he didn’t remember things – like the details of how he first learned of the targeting – and insisting he didn’t mislead Congress by not telling lawmakers” when asked at a hearing in July 2012 if Tea Party and other conservative groups were being targeted by the IRS.  Mr. Miller seemed to believe that asking the conservative groups questions not asked of other ideological groups did not qualify as harassment.  Really?

I ask again – really?  The attorney in me thinks that maybe Mr. Miller should have asked about the Fifth Amendment, and the right to remain silent.  At least he should have respected the old Abraham Lincoln adage, “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

These scandals have a similar tone – one having to do with abuses of power.  Investigations must continue, because there are lots of unanswered questions.

Who is responsible?

John F. Savarese and Jonathan M. Moses write in the Bank and Corporate Governance Law Reporter, “the voice that carries farthest within any company comes from the top – so consider having your CEO speak periodically about the importance of maintaining an effective compliance culture. …”

American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) executive director Anthony Romero sums up that principle perfectly when he says “The tone is set at the top.”  He also says “the [P]resident bears responsibility for what his government officials can and should do.”

I don’t often quote the ACLU in agreement, but if the shoe fits…

An ineffective compliance culture in federal offices is a product of leadership, of those in management roles.  Ultimately, that is the President.  If the tone at the top is divisive and “it’s us versus them,” it serves as a signal through rhetoric and actions that the sort of behavior that led to these scandals – that led to the IRS asking the Coalition for Life of Iowa to “detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers”** – is acceptable.

Whether you call it the tone at the top or where the buck stops, it is like the motto of Democratic President Harry Truman, who had a placard on his desk that said “the buck stops here.”

Mr. President, you have set the tone.  The buck stops at your desk in the Oval Office.

And from Patricia Evans:


This Is What Tyranny Looks Like

From American Thinker By Bryce Buchanan
Here is a woman we will need to learn much more about in the coming weeks. ( Sarah Hall Ingram was in charge of targeting the Tea Party and other conservatives during the height of the IRS scandal and now she's been promoted to the head of the IRS' Affordable Care Act office and will be in control of our access to healthcare! ) Sarah Hall Ingram is a highly valued employee at the IRS. In the last three years she has received $103,390 in bonuses for her excellent work. She was the Commissioner of the Tax-Exempt and Government Entitles Division. Under her leadership, groups that expressed a fear of large, out-of-control government were systematically crushed by her branch of our large, out-of-control government. They were specifically singled out for harassment for political reasons. Secret information about the conservative applicants was leaked to leftist opposition groups to facilitate further harassment.
This was an organized political operation using State power to silence opposition voices. It is part of every tyrant's playbook. It tells you everything you need to know about the current state of our country to see that those who favor a limited government, the explicit goal of our founding documents, are now considered enemies of the State.
In a 2009 speech, Ms. Ingram explained her approach:
As a practical matter, we cannot subject every application for tax-exempt status to a painstaking, leave-no-rock-unturned review. Nor can we audit every organization's 990 every year. Nor would you want us to do so, right? To govern is to choose, and we must choose appropriately which applications or 990s to focus most attention on.
It is clear now that by "choose appropriately", she meant to harass the limited-government groups endlessly and let liberal and Islamic groups sail right through the approval process.
The good news is that this woman is no longer in charge of that department. The bad news is that she has been promoted and is now the head of the IRS' Affordable Care Act office. She and her comrades could have access to all your medical records. They will "choose appropriately" who has trouble with the state-controlled medical system and who sails right through. They will decide if it is appropriate to share your medical history with others.
But don't worry. I heard the outgoing IRS Commissioner say in Friday's congressional hearings that he has reviewed the situation and found that there was "no partisanship" in the years-long practice of singling out conservative groups for IRS harassment. None at all. There is just no reason to think that specifically targeting one side of the political spectrum had anything to do with politics.
And when Commissioner Steven Miller was asked why conservative groups were targeted for prolonged scrutiny, he said that it just happened because people were trying to be efficient. Sure. Months and months of delays with endless demands for more paperwork is the efficient way to go.
Miller was forced to admit that secret information gathered from certain conservative groups was passed along by the IRS to their leftwing political opposition. So the IRS illegally gathered information and illegally passed it along for political reasons. Mr. Miller said that these actions were "inadvertent".
There is more evidence of direct lies from IRS officials in Kevin Williamson's column, "The Nine Lies of Lois Lerner". One thing we learn from Williamson's article is that the current campaign by some officials to act surprised and disappointed by the news of IRS criminality is just a scam to deflect their own culpability. Everyone knew the Inspector General's report on the IRS was about to be released. The IRS needed to jump ahead of the report and act concerned. They were not concerned for years prior to being caught.
Bryce Buchanan lives in Oregon and blogs at

See the list of lies below: "What we have, then, is this: Under a Democratic administration, the IRS was under pressure from Democratic elected officials to investigate political enemies of the Democratic party. The agency did so. Its commissioner lied to Congress about its doing so. When the inspector general’s report was about to make these abuses public, the agency staged a classic Washington Friday news rollout at a sleepy American Bar Association tax-law conference, hoping to minimize the bad publicity. Lerner lied to the public about the nature, scope, and extent of the IRS intimidation campaign."

  The Nine Lies of Lois Lerner / Notes toward a catalogue

Lois Lerner (Vimeo)
Lie No. 1: Lois Lerner’s apology last Friday was a spontaneous reaction to an unexpected question from an unknown audience member. In fact, the question came from tax lawyer and lobbyist Celia Roady. Ms. Roady has some interesting career highlights: She was part of the 1997 ethics investigation of Newt Gingrich, but, more to the point, she was appointed to the IRS’s Advisory Council on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities by IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman. She is a longtime colleague of Lerner, who is director of tax-exempt organizations. Ms. Roady has declined to comment on whether her question was planted, but it obviously was. The IRS had contacted reporters and encouraged them beforehand to attend the otherwise un-newsworthy event, and it had an entire team of press handlers on hand. So what we have is the staged rollout of what turns out to be — given the rest of this list — a disinformation campaign.
Lie No. 2: Lerner said about 280 organizations were given extra scrutiny, about 75 of them tea-party groups or similar organizations. The actual number of organizations that were targeted is closer to 500.
Lie No. 3: This was the work of low-level grunts in Cincinnati. In truth, very senior people within the IRS, including its top lawyer, were aware of the situation, and had been since at least 2011. The home office in Washington was very much involved in the process.
Lie No. 4: Lerner says that the situation came to her attention through allegations from tea-party groups carried in media reports. In fact, the matter has been under both internal and external investigation for some time.
Lie No. 5: Lerner says she put an end to the practice as soon as she found out about it. In fact, the IRS continued to do precisely the same thing, only monkeying a little bit with the language: Instead of targeting “tea party” groups explicitly, it targeted those groups with an interest in such esoterica as limited government, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.
Lie No. 6: She says that the commissioner of the IRS didn’t know about the targeting project. While the targeting was going on, Ms. Lerner’s boss was being asked some very pointed questions by Congress on the subject of targeting tea-party groups. He enthusiastically denied that any such thing was going on, in direct contravention of the facts. Ms. Lerner says he didn’t know about the situation, because it was confined to those aforementioned plebs in Cincinnati. But given that this was not the case, her explaining away the commissioner’s untrue statements to Congress is a lie based on another lie — a compound lie, if you will. And acting commissioner Steven Miller was briefed on the situation in May of 2012 — and then declined to share his knowledge of it with Congress when asked about it during a hearing in July.
Lie No. 7: Lerner says she came forward with her apology unprompted by any special consideration. In fact, an inspector general’s report was about to be released, making the matter public.
Lie No. 8: When Congress was investigating complaints from conservative groups, Lerner told them that she could not release information about organizations with pending applications. But her group was in fact releasing such information — to the left-leaning news organization ProPublica, rather than to congressional investigators.
Lie No. 9: Lerner says that there was no political pressure to investigate tea-party groups. In fact, Senator Carl Levin (D., Mich.)  ( among others ) repeatedly pressed the agency to investigate conservative groups falling under Lerner’s jurisdiction. What we have, then, is this: Under a Democratic administration, the IRS was under pressure from Democratic elected officials to investigate political enemies of the Democratic party. The agency did so. Its commissioner lied to Congress about its doing so. When the inspector general’s report was about to make these abuses public, the agency staged a classic Washington Friday news rollout at a sleepy American Bar Association tax-law conference, hoping to minimize the bad publicity. Lerner lied to the public about the nature, scope, and extent of the IRS intimidation campaign.
That she has a job today is a scandal in itself. She’ll be receiving an award — for public service! — from the Western New England University School of Law on May 18. An orange jumpsuit would suit her better than academic robes.
Kevin D. Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review. His new book, The End Is Near and It’s Going To Be Awesome, was recently published

Obama Administration Knew of IRS Probe During 2012 Campaign

WASHINGTON  — Senior Treasury officials were made aware in June 2012 that investigators were looking into complaints from tea party groups that they were being harassed by the Internal Revenue Service, a Treasury inspector general said, disclosing that Obama administration officials knew there was a probe during the heat of the presidential campaign.
J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, testifying alongside ousted IRS head Steven Miller on Friday, said he had told the department's general counsel about his investigation on June 4, 2012, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin "shortly thereafter.

Obama and the IRS: The Smoking Gun?

By Jeffrey Lord  American Spectator
President met with anti-Tea Party IRS union chief the day before agency targeted Tea Party.
In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union — the union for IRS employees — met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.” As stated by the IG report.                              

Soros Gave $6.1 Million to Groups Linked to Pressure on IRS to Target Conservative Nonprofits
Several Soros-funded groups including the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, the Center for Public Integrity, Mother Jones and Alternet have worked to pressure the IRS to target conservative nonprofit groups. The subsequent IRS investigation flagged more than 100 tea party-related applications for higher scrutiny, including applications that included the words "Tea Party" and "patriot."
The IRS scandal can be traced back to a series of letters that the liberal groups Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Democracy 21 sent to the IRS back in 2010 and 2011. Both groups were funded by George's Soros's Open Society Foundations. The CLC received $677,000 and Democracy 21 got $365,000 from the Soros-backed foundation, according to the Foundation's 990 tax forms.
On Jan. 15, 2012, the IRS targeted groups focused on limiting government or educating people about the Constitution and Bill of Rights
Alternet and Mother Jones are both members of The Media Consortium, which is designed to do exactly what happened here. The Media Consortium was created to be a progressive "echo chamber," where 63 separate left-wing media outlets can network and share ideas, as well as cross-promote stories. Other members of the Consortium include such liberal outlets as The Nation, Democracy Now! and The American Prospect. The consortium has also received $675,000 in Soros funds since 2000. Alternet ($285,000) and Mother Jones ($485,000) have both also received individual funding from Soros's Open Society Foundations.
This isn't the only time the IRS has targeted conservative groups recently, nor is it the only connection between the IRS and Soros-funded groups.                                                     
Timeline Shows Influence of Soros-Funded Groups
  • March 1-17, 2010: First ten reported cases of targeting by the IRS against groups that had ties to the "tea party or similar organizations."
  • Sept. 16, 2010: TIME article "The New GOP Money Stampede" quotes Wertheimer;
  • Sept. 23, 2010: DISCLOSE act, a campaign finance disclosure act specifically targeting a Tea Party group, in the writing of which the CLC participated, fails in the Senate;
  • Sept. 28, 2010: Democrat Senator Max Baucus writes a letter to the IRS, citing the TIME article;
  • Oct. 5, 2010: Democracy 21 and Campaign Legal Center petition IRS, Wertheimer writes HuffPo article;
  • Oct. 7, 2010: Legal brief from HoltzmanVogel PLLC against the Democracy 21 petition;
  • Oct. 14, 2010: Dick Durbin asks IRS to investigate American Crossroads, HuffPo coverage;
  • June 27, 2011: Second petition to the IRS by CLC and Democracy 21;
  • June 29, 2011: IRS senior agency official Lois Lerner briefed on efforts to target groups which "criticize how the country is being run";
  • Sept. 28, 2011: CLC and Democracy 21 petition IRS again, this time about four conservative groups;
  • Oct. 31, 2011: CPI "investigation";
  • Nov. 18, 2011: Mother Jones article;
  • Nov. 21, 2011: Alternet repost of Mother Jones Article;
  • Dec. 29, 2011: New York Times oped;
  • Jan. 15, 2012: IRS targeted groups focusing on limiting government or educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights;
  • February 2012: First articles promoting this issue appear in New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times
$6.1 Million in Soros Funding Since 2000
Center for Public Integrity: $2,716,328
Campaign Legal Center: $677,000
Media Consortium: $675,000
Mother Jones: $485,000
Democracy 21: $365,000
ProPublica: $300,000
Alternet: $285,000
Human Rights Campaign: $600,000

"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  - Thomas Jefferson  Virginia Tea Party Patriots   Danville Patriots "