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Editor: Paul L. Caron
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Thursday, April 2, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 693

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 692

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg, IRS Chief Says Agency’s High-Profile Mistakes Are Behind It:

The IRS has fixed its errors, such as improper extra scrutiny of Tea Party groups, and they won’t happen again, the tax agency’s commissioner said Tuesday.

“The changes are so significant throughout the agency that you could hang a sign out at the front of the headquarters saying ‘Under New Management,’” Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

The IRS has imposed limits to prevent problems such as overspending on conferences and videos, and inappropriate scrutiny of politically oriented nonprofit groups, he said.

“The problems do come from a prior era. We have addressed them so we think they won’t happen again,” he said. “It really is a new day at the IRS. It’s not the IRS of 2010, 2011 or even 2012.”

To bolster his point, Koskinen said 46 percent of the agency’s executives -- including two-thirds of the senior leadership team -- have left since October 2011. While the IRS is a large agency and will always have some problems, the key is to find and address them quickly, he said.

Congress has been investigating the IRS and restricting its budget since May 2013, when the agency revealed it had given extra scrutiny to the applications of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. Other issues -- including lavish conferences, an embarrassing Star Trek-themed video and bonuses paid to tax-delinquent employees -- emerged after that.

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April 1, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 691

IRS Logo 2Forbes, How Obama's IRS And Justice Department Killed The Targeting Scandal, by Robert W. Wood:

The IRS applied extra scrutiny because Mr. Obama’s IRS and Justice Department didn’t like the Supreme Court’s decision, presumably fearing that organizations could exercise free speech rights the Supreme Court said they had. Five years later, and two years after the planted bar association question, we remain partly in the dark. Ms. Lerner won’t testify, and we are still told, including by the President of the United States, that there was not a smidgen of corruption at the IRS.

We are told that the IRS is fixed, the targeting will never happen again, and this was not audit targeting anyhow. Some say these organizations shouldn’t be exempt in any event. Now, though, a comprehensive and disturbing report from Politico enumerates the results the IRS has actually achieved despite platitudes from the Obama administration that the system is fixed.

Far from fixed and never happening again, Politico has exposed the seemingly well designed IRS action of death by delay. It is just one more nail in the coffin Professor Paul Caron catalogs in the IRS scandal, now in day 689. Politico painstakingly describes the tale of woe by at least a half-dozen conservative applicants who, amazingly, are still waiting for an answer. The extent of their hardship varies, and some may still receive relief.

Yet we have by now so often been told by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that the good works of un-targeting the targeted is done. Maybe, but some people are waiting still five years on.  ... Many conservative groups withdrew their applications and gave up. Others changed their names and focus. Some went belly-up while waiting. Of course, in all this recent history, it is worth recalling that in March 2012, former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman testified there was “absolutely no targeting” by the IRS of conservative and/or Tea Party organizations. On November 9, 2012, Mr. Shulman stepped down as Commissioner, replaced by Steven Miller.

On May 14, 2013, four days after Ms. Lerner’s planted question and feigned lament about it, the Inspector General issued a report confirming targeting. On May 22, 2013, Ms. Lerner professed her innocence, then took the Fifth. Next day, she was placed on administrative leave. On June 20, 2013, the IRS paid $70 million in bonuses. Ms. Lerner received $42,000, and former Commissioner Miller received $100,000.

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March 31, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 30, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 690

Scientology 2Wall Street Journal, Some Things to Fear in ‘Going Clear’:

Watching Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief can be a depressing experience, and not just for the two hours in which the HBO documentary runs. The haunting archival imagery—a powerful element here—fades after a few days, and much of what is said has been said before. Yet whether you come away seeing Scientology as a cult that ensnares vulnerable people or as a faith of self-empowerment, the film leaves a terrible taste of too much information. This must be its point, but take heed just the same.

The documentary is based on the 2013 book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright, who provides on-screen commentary here. It was directed by Alex Gibney, who also made the 2012 HBO documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, about sexual abuse in the Catholic church. ...

As grim and creepy as much of “Going Clear” is, nothing is more disturbing than the account of how Scientology heavies bullied the IRS—using some 2,400 lawsuits and personal investigations of agency officials—into granting Scientology tax-exempt status as a church in 1993. What does it tell you that even back then, some unelected folks in California had more power than members of the U.S. Congress do today as they attempt to investigate the IRS—for using targeting tactics to intimidate people.

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March 30, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 689

IRS Logo 2Politico, From IRS: 'Death by Delay':

Nearly two years after the IRS was exposed for improperly sidetracking requests for tax exemptions from tea party groups, POLITICO has learned that at least a half-dozen conservative applicants are still waiting for an answer.

This challenges repeated assertions by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that his embattled agency has “completed” a set of recommendations to fix the problem and address a backlog of nearly 300 applications, some of which had been pending already for three years.

The groups that are still waiting include Karl Rove’s giant Crossroads GPS, which spent at least $26 million against Democrats in the last election cycle. But most of the half dozen are mom-and-pop outfits from New Mexico to New Jersey, run by volunteers out of their own houses and operating at a fraction of Crossroads’ budget.

The years-long delay has gutted these groups’ membership, choked their ability to raise funds, forced them to reserve pots of money for possible back taxes and driven them into debt to pay legal bills. ...

The agency said it cannot comment on specific cases, but it deflected blame, in part, to the Justice Department. When an applicant is suing the IRS, Justice also has a say in whether to issue a final ruling during litigation. Almost all the groups in limbo have taken the IRS to court.

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March 29, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 688

IRS Logo 2Forbes, House Considers Bill To Stop IRS Targeting, Fire IRS Employees Who Do, by Robert W. Wood:

The House Committee on Ways and Means is busy with a bill that could change the IRS. H.R. 709, the Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act, calls for firing IRS employees who take certain official actions for political purposes. The fact that such a bill has been introduced makes you wonder. Isn’t that the law already? Not really.

Everyone wants to feel secure that they will be dealt with fairly by the IRS. The tax system is full of special rules, and no one can master them all. Thus, one taxpayer may be treated very differently from another who is seemingly in the same position. That probably isn’t fair, but don’t confuse this with fundamental procedural fairness and non-discrimination. That is at the heart of the IRS targeting debate, and why the issue is so terribly important to the tax system as a whole. ...

The proposed law would expand the scope of the violation concerning an IRS employee threatening to audit a taxpayer for the purpose of extracting personal gain or benefit. It would also cover an IRS employee who threatens to audit someone for political purposes.

The proposal requires the IRS to terminate an employee who, for political purposes or personal gain, undertakes official action with respect to a taxpayer or, depending on the circumstances, fails to do so, delays action or threatens to perform, delay or omit such official action. An ‘official action’ here would include an audit or examination.

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March 28, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, March 27, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 687

IRS Logo 2Town Hall, Congress Should Protect the Fair Treatment for All Donations:

Beginning in 2010, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) systematically targeted taxpayers based on their political beliefs. Unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats at the IRS deliberately slowed and denied applications for tax-exempt status because the applicants did not share their politics. Although it’s deeply concerning that unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at the IRS were using the tax code to restrict free speech, what’s more unfathomable is that Congress has done very little to date to protect individuals from future IRS targeting.

Congress should act to protect citizens of all political persuasions from similar politically-motivated targeting in the future. Thankfully the House Ways and Means Committee is currently working on legislation that would help. The bill prohibits the IRS from applying the federal gift tax to contributions to tax-exempt organizations.

The original intent of the federal gift tax was to stop taxpayers from sidestepping the federal death tax—i.e., transferring gifts of money while an aging taxpayer is still alive instead of paying a 40 percent tax on the entire estate after death. Congress did not enact the gift tax to apply to contributions made to tax-exempt organizations.

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March 27, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 686

IRS Logo 2National Journal, There's an IRS Investigation That's Bipartisan and Leak-Free. Really.:

The Senate Finance Committee's investigations team is highly caffeinated.

How else could it have gotten through more than a million pages of documents in the last two years? There is an art to the kind of mind-numbing digging that these sleuths do. They set weekly goals for the number of pages reviewed, but they build in time for breaks. The Republican lead investigator tries to make sure her team spends only half its days in document-review mode and the other half doing something else. Every discovery must be fact-checked; the most important goal is to be as meticulous and thorough as possible, no matter how long it takes.

Welcome to the only bipartisan investigation of the Internal Revenue Service in town. The group consists of roughly half a dozen staffers from both Chairman Orrin Hatch's committee roster and that of ranking member Ron Wyden. They have become chummy over the last few years. Republican and Democratic aides meet regularly to share "hot docs" and observations from their individual perusals. As one aide put it, "There's no 'hide the ball' going on."

The goal of the investigation is to reach a common understanding of the facts, which is no small endeavor when it involves one of the highest-profile scandals of the Obama presidency. If IRS officials did actually subject tea-partiers' tax-exempt applications to questionable scrutiny, that is an intolerable breach of public trust, said Hatch and then-Chairman Max Baucus in a 2013 joint letter to the IRS. Hatch was the committee's ranking member at the time, and that letter launched the investigation. Wyden took over the project when Baucus stepped down last year to become the U.S. ambassador to China.

Democrats and Republicans definitely don't agree about whether there was a political conspiracy at work in the IRS before the 2012 elections. Those kinds of conclusions are matters of interpretation and ideology that have derailed other congressional investigations that attempted to include Democrats.

To keep away from such incendiary questions, investigators on the Finance Committee have pledged to focus solely on what happened. Did the IRS selectively subject certain groups based on their political orientation to additional scrutiny when they requested tax-exempt status? What words or phrases did IRS staff look for when determining which applications would be pulled for additional review? Did that strategy violate internal policy? Was the White House involved?

Since the investigators' primary goal is to keep Republicans and Democrats at the table, they work hard to keep politics out of it. ...

The Finance Committee's report will be a different animal, aides from both parties say. They are examining the same questions that others have probed, but they aim to be seen—if such a thing is even possible on Capitol Hill—as completely objective in their conclusions. Something obviously went awry at the IRS. They want to give the public specifics about what it actually was.

Hatch and Wyden plan to offer their staff's findings of IRS misconduct together and (hopefully) free of political statements. That will happen later this year, barring any unforeseen developments. Staffers say the bulk of the report will consist of the facts on which both sides have agreed and the conclusions they have jointly drawn.

But bipartisanship can only go so far. After the joint conclusions, each side will then release its own views about what those agreed-upon facts mean—separately.

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March 26, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 685

IRS Logo 2American Thinker, Why Does Media Matters Deserve Tax Exempt Status When They're Cheerleaders for Hillary?:

Last week, the Democratic party website Media Matters hired long time Clinton family friend and advisor James Carville to write for the site. This is just the latest in a series of moves made by the Democratic party organ to boost the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

But, as the Washington Examiner points out, Media Matters is a tax exempt organization, prohibited by law from engaging in political activity. The site is run by another Clinton confidante, David Brock, and the website hasn't been shy about defending Mrs. Clinton in this latest scandal over her emails. ...

When it was revealed that the IRS and Lois Lerner were targeting conservative groups because of their alleged political activity, the left defending the IRS because they were "only doing their jobs." No one with half a brain believes that Media Matters is a non-partisan, apolitical outfit not interested in who wins the Democratic primary or the general election. Unlike most Tea Party groups who applied for the 501(c)(3) designation,whose "political advocacy" was limited to demanding the government follow the Constitution, Media Matters blatantly supports Democratic party candidates, goals, issues, and objectives.

Where is Lois Lerner when you need her...

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March 25, 2015 in IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 684

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Report Says Former IRS Employees -- Think Lois Lerner -- Can Still Peruse Your Tax Returns, by Robert W. Wood:

Could Lois Lerner still take a look at your tax returns on IRS computers? It sounds preposterous, but a new watchdog report says former IRS employees still have access to IRS computer systems long after they have no official business with the information. The report is by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. The GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. In the case of IRS security, the report says not well.

This report cites significant deficiencies in the security of IRS financial reporting systems. Millions of Americans who are legally required to file taxes are fearful about fraud. The report says the IRS needs to continue improving controls over financial and taxpayer data. In the case of former IRS workers with continuing access to IRS data systems, they need to be cut off.

One co-author of the report said the IRS horde of taxpayer data can be used by identity thieves. The timing couldn’t be worse for the IRS. The IRS is failing to secure its massive computer systems, leaving private taxpayer data vulnerable to fraudsters and hackers, the new report from the GAO reveals.

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March 24, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 23, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 683

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Should IRS Have Guns? How About Email?, by Robert W. Wood:

How would you like seeing gun-toting IRS Agents at your door? In comparison, a correspondence audit doesn’t sound so bad. Only the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS gets to carry guns, and they say they need them. The IRS has a hard job to do, and being charged with collecting taxes isn’t easy. Yet some people are extra worried about having this already very powerful organization waving weapons around. ...

You might feel especially queasy about the IRS having guns given all the ‘smidgens of corruption’ talk of the last two years. They can’t seem to even hang on to emails. People are more disillusioned about the IRS today than in the past. With all those lost Lois Lerner emails, her hard drive crashed, and there was nothing backed up? Well, not exactly.

In Hearings of the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform on February 26, 2015, J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General, said he is investigating possible criminal activity at the IRS. The hearings also revealed the fact that investigators have recovered another 32,000 emails relating to Lois Lerner. Yet even that wasn’t the most disturbing revelation. ...

House Members were told that the IRS had not even asked for the backup tapes when the ‘hard drive crash’ excuse was first used. That contradicted the prior testimony of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. He had testified to the effect that recovery efforts had been thorough, and that the tapes couldn’t be accessed. The IRS claims to have spent $20 million responding to congressional inquiries, producing documents and providing agency officials to testify at hearings.

It now appears that no one may have asked, which almost sounds like the Keystone Cops. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said, “It looks like we’ve been lied to, or at least misled.” Treasury Deputy Inspector General Timothy Camus said, “We recovered quite a number of emails, but until we compare those to what’s already been produced we don’t know if they’re new emails.”

Mr. Camus said it took investigators only two weeks to locate the computer tapes, and about four months to find Ms. Lerner’s emails on the tapes. Several Oversight Committee Members questioned how diligent the IRS had been, given how quickly the investigators now were able to find them. Yet an IRS statement repeats the tax agency’s full cooperation. It has not been inexpensive.

With all of the controversy facing the IRS and the tax system these days, it can seem doubly scary to contemplate tax collectors being armed.

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March 23, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 682

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Al Sharpton, Hillary Clinton, Lois Lerner Share Recordkeeping Tips, by Robert W. Wood:

We may never get the full story of Hillary Clinton’s emails, or Lois Lerner’s for that matter. Both were savvy enough to be selective. One can add Al Sharpton to the clever trio, although his contribution to the game may be more old-fashioned: fires that destroy tax records. In his own low tech way, Rev. Sharpton has managed to keep tax problems under raps that would be catastrophic for mere mortals. 

As Americans look for receipts and pour over their records, some may be  struck by the odd serendipity. Maybe we all will learn that no one in government knows how to use email except Hillary Clinton. Even before we knew that Mrs. Clinton never used the State Department email system, President Obama was adamant that there was no smidgen of corruption at the IRS. Employees were confused. Cincinnati went rogue. Etc.

Yet in recent hearings of the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, the Treasury Inspector General testified that he is investigating possible criminal activity at the IRS. All this as Mrs. Clinton’s remarkable e-mail drama is acted out–and acted is right. Meanwhile, Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.) introduced a bill to bar IRS employees from using non-official e-mail for government business. Lois Lerner allegedly also used her personal account to discuss IRS matters.

Oh, texts too (listen up Mrs. Clinton). In 2013, when the IRS targeting scandal was already brewing, Ms. Lerner asked an IT specialist if the IRS saved texts? No, not automatically, he said, but the IT person also said saving them was possible, so be careful. “Perfect,” was Ms. Lerner’s response. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified that he was unaware of the instant-messaging system. Of course, he also testified at how hard the IRS looked for Lerner’s emails.

Remember all those many millions of dollars of taxpayer money the IRS spent looking? Yet House Members were recently told by the Inspector General that the IT staff of the IRS said they were never even asked for backup tapes to find Lerner’s emails. Deputy Inspector General Tim Camus said finding the emails was easy. “They were right where you would expect them to be,” he told the Oversight Committee on Feb. 27.

A probe for potential criminal activity related to covering-up Lerner’s emails? The fact that the C word is being used by the Inspector General is remarkable. That isn’t proof, of course, but it is astounding, even if that is as far as it goes. Records reveal that Ms. Lerner received $129,000 in bonuses, averaging $43,000 a year on top of her salary during the time she was presiding over alleged discrimination against conservative nonprofits.

Even before Ms. Lerner became the face of the IRS targeting scandal, there were allegations she had prior history of targeting conservatives. She would become what George Will called the scowling face of the state. She repeatedly refused to testify, yet collects a nice federal pension. Proof is so terribly important.

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March 22, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 681

IRS Logo 2American Center for Law and Justice, IRS Bureaucracy Continues to Target Conservatives’ Constitutional Freedoms:

The new IRS commissioner brought in to clean up the corrupt bureaucracy responsible for targeting grassroots conservative groups and infringing upon ordinary Americans’ constitutional freedoms admits that the targeting has not stopped.

Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before the House Appropriations subcommittee this week, admitted that nearly a dozen grassroots conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status are still awaiting determination.

One thing is clear – the unelected and corrupt IRS bureaucracy continues to infringe upon our basic freedoms.

Commissioner Koskinen claimed that he has offered a path to tax-exempt status if these groups would agree to limit their overtly political activity. But the standard offered in this so-called compromise is arbitrary and continues to infringe upon fundamental freedoms. The offer asked our clients and other groups to agree to spend no more than 40% of their resources on political activity.

The Washington Times reported with more:

Mr. Koskinen's agency offered groups still awaiting approval a deal that they could get immediate approval if they promised to limit political activity to 40 percent of their budgets. Conservative lawyers, however, argue that the law and regulations suggest groups should be able to spend 49.9 percent of their money on political activity, and so agreeing to the 40-percent level would be ceding some of their rights to the government.

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March 21, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, March 20, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 680

IRS Logo 2The Blaze, The IRS Is Quietly Trying to Undo Limits on Political Targeting, Spending on Conferences:

House Republicans on Wednesday accused the Obama administration of pushing to eliminate some of the key reforms Congress has imposed on the IRS, including prohibitions on lavish conferences and a ban on applying extra scrutiny to groups based on their political beliefs.

The proposed IRS budget for 2016 put forward by the Obama administration lays out the government’s vision of how the IRS would operate in the next fiscal year, but it doesn’t include those reforms and others Congress has passed.

That prompted House Republicans to ask why those reforms weren’t picked up by the IRS budget for the coming year. They didn’t get an answer, but stressed that Congress still sees these reforms as important.

“Since the IRS targeting and spending scandals, appropriations bills have included prohibitions against targeting U.S. citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights, targeting groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs, and making videos without advance approval,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). ...

The targeting scandal continues to plague the IRS, and has forced the Republican Congress to enact language each year aimed at stopping the IRS from scrutinizing groups depending on their political beliefs. But the IRS has also been wrapped up in the conference scandal, after shelling out more than $800,000 for a lavish event in Nevada. ...

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), who chairs the subcommittee on financial services, said the proposed elimination of reforms meant to stop these activities adds “insult to injury,” especially since Congress was forced to impose them after several scandals hit the agency. “A provision… that says you cannot target, well, that’s not in the request,” Crenshaw said. 

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March 20, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 679

IRS Logo 2Western Journalism, IG Reports: IRS Now Has All It Needs To Turn Over ‘Lost’ Lerner Emails:

Federal investigators now have the capability to turn over tens of thousands of once-lost Lois Lerner emails.

Last month, Deputy Treasury Inspector General Timothy Camus testified before the House Oversight Committee that it had discovered back-up tapes in a storage facility in West Virginia, which contain over 30,000 Lerner emails. He also stated that at the time, he could not turn over the emails to the committee due to a licensing issue with the company that provides the software needed to match the emails.

The Daily Caller reports that Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s office confirmed Monday that the Treasury IG now has the needed software and will be able to provide all the Lerner emails discovered. Chaffetz serves as chair of the House Oversight Committee.

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March 19, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 678

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal Editorial Report, Post Clinton:

Paul Gigot: Well, just in time for 2016, the Justice Department has announced that it is gearing up to prosecute coordination between candidates and outside groups, a move that senior editorial page writer Collin Levy says should worry Republicans in particular and the super PACs that support them.

So, Collin, why is this important, this announcement, and why did they do it now?

Collin Levy: Well, I think you hit it right on the head. They did it now because the election is heating up. Look, Paul, this is scary because illegal coordination happens when a campaign is directly organizing its message with an outside group, which is then effectively spending money on the campaign’s behalf.

Gigot: And that’s illegal. That’s illegal.

Levy: Yes, that’s illegal. But what’s scary here is all the Justice Department really needs is the allegation that that is happening, and then they can go on a fishing expedition, subpoenaing documents, bank records, all sorts of things, immense numbers of records from campaigns in an effort to find the needle in the haystack.

Gigot: Well, the definition of coordination is pretty slippery. I mean, it’s not—I mean, so people may know each other in an outside group and know somebody on the campaign. They may have worked for them previously. What is illegal is calling them up on the phone and saying: “Hey, now we want you to run a $5 million buy in Iowa to influence this race.” But if it’s just sort of in the ether that, you know, we understand the message, we’ve been paying attention to the newspapers and there’s no active coordination, it’s not illegal. But you’re saying this can become a fishing expedition that can dig into everything inside a campaign and create havoc and with a mere accusation, is that fair?

Levy: Yeah, that’s certainly fair. We saw that happen in Wisconsin with the allies of Scott Walker, who, all of a sudden, had prosecutors literally subpoenaing thousands of pages of documents. The same thing could happen with the Justice Department. The fact that they used the words that they were going to “aggressively pursue” possible coordination offenses here I think with us meant as a scare tactic, too. It was meant to put these campaigns on alert. “Hey, you know, we’re watching you.”

Gigot: And there’s a link here, is there not—and this is really interesting—between the Justice Department figure who’s announced this, Richard Pilger, who runs the campaign crime section, and the IRS figure, Lois Lerner, who ran the tax-exempt section of IRS that had harassed conservative groups. Put that together for us.

Levy: Yeah, that’s right. Back in 2010, Mr. Pilger was emailing with Lois Lerner saying, hey, maybe we should look at the possibility of prosecuting some of these tax-exempt groups for any false statements they make on their applications here. So, you know, you get the real sense that he’s a true believer and I think that’s something we should be very wary of.

Gigot: So, Kim, how should Republican campaigns respond to this?

Kim Strassel: Well, look, you have to step back and put this in context. The IRS and the Justice Department thing, this is all part and parcel. More broadly, too, look at the disclosure laws that the Obama administration has wanted to impose on corporations. This is not necessarily about keeping campaign finance law in good order. This is about shutting people up. It’s about making them not talk. So Republicans—that’s going to be the threat to them. And they’re going to have to, I think, continue operating as they normally do. If the Justice Department comes sniffing, make an issue about this.

Most of the groups, by the way, too, Paul, they have teams of incredibly experienced lawyers who do know all the rules.

Gigot: Right.

Strassel: You know, and are keeping them in check. They have to be doubly careful about that, too.

Dan Henninger: Two words.

Gigot: To lawyer up.

Henninger: Two words. Exactly. This is the Democratic obsession, Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that allowed the Republicans to compete on the basis of money with the Democrats. The Democrats are going to take the Republicans down because of Citizens United. This is the method they’ll use.

Gigot: This could pop up at any time during the election campaign.

Henninger: Just intimidate them.

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March 18, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 677

IRS Logo 2The Daily Caller, No More Excuses: Obama Admin Has What It Needs To Give Up Lerner’s Emails:

Obama administration investigators now have everything they need to provide Congress with Lois Lerner’s emails, The Daily Caller has learned.

Treasury Department deputy inspector general Timothy Camus last testified that his office found more than 30,000 of Lerner’s emails, including emails from 2011 that were on a backup tape at a storage facility in West Virginia that the IRS never went to.

But Camus said that the investigation was on hold because his office was haggling over licensing issues with a company that makes special software that Camus said he needs to “match” the emails on the new tapes with the emails that have already been turned over to the House Oversight Committee. Camus said he just needed to make sure that he wasn’t giving Congress emails that it already had.

The Daily Caller has confirmed that the Treasury inspector general’s office has received the special software and is in the process of using it to match the emails.

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March 17, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 16, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 676

IRS Logo 2WND, Do U.S. Presidents Really Make 'Enemies Lists'?, by Joseph Farah:

Four years ago, I wrote a column called “Obama’s enemies list” predicting Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service would subject his domestic political adversaries to politically motivated audits.

How did I know it was coming?

For one thing, my personal tax return in 2009, Obama’s first year in office, was audited. Every single one of my documented deductions was disallowed. The IRS claimed my receipts for books I had purchased for my work as an author, publisher of books, producer of movies and news executive were not substantive enough. They were all Amazon-generated receipts that included dates, purchase price and the fact that they were books. The IRS insisted the receipts had to include the titles of the books purchased. I didn’t think the IRS had any business knowing what I was reading. I still don’t. Because I read a lot of books, it represented a lot of money – more than $8,000 in what the IRS claimed were overdue taxes, with penalties.

Before having my personal tax returns audited in 2009, I had never before faced one in 40 years of professional life. Since then, I have been audited every year Obama has been in office. That’s either a striking coincidence that defies astronomical odds or a striking indictment of IRS policies under Obama. Think about it: No personal audits for four decades, then five out of five years since Obama took office. I fully expect to be audited again for 2014, 2015 and 2016 – Obama’s last three years in office.

But I also expected it because of what I witnessed in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president. During his first two years in office, Democrats had control of the House and Senate. But in the 1994 midterm election, Republicans took over the House in a stunning repudiation of Clinton’s attempt to nationalize health care. The White House was shocked and embarked on a campaign to identify its political enemies and neutralize them. I was high on the list of those targets and paid a big price for investigating corruption and uncovering scandals in the Clinton administration.

Long forgotten by the press, which writes first draft of history, is the fact that Clinton’s “enemies,” lots of them, were targeted for IRS audits: They included individuals, corporations and nonprofits.

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March 16, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 675

IRS Logo 2National Review, Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys:

[I]t is impossible for any person with a functioning central nervous system to believe that Hillary Clinton is telling the truth about her emails, inasmuch as her statements on the matter are in conflict with established facts and in conflict with each other. They simply are not compatible with reality. ...

It is impossible to believe that the IRS and the White House have been telling the truth about that agency’s campaign of political persecution of conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election. ...

It is also corrosive. At some point, members of the press — including those who work for ideological and partisan outlets such as National Review and the New York Times (one of which is honest about what it is) — have a moral and professional responsibility to acknowledge that lies are lies. ...

Oprah.com recently reminded its readers of one of my favorite phrases: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” (The original expression is Polish: “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.”) I may be a little bit (or more than a little bit) sanctimonious about the fact that I am not a Republican, but it does make the process a little more friction-free when it is time to call Republican BS BS. It would be an excellent thing if the Democrats who dominate the major media would develop and exhibit enough independence of mind that they could publicly acknowledge when they — and therefore the country — are being lied to, when they are being actively deceived by people with political power.

Without that, they are the circus — they are the monkeys.

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March 15, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 674

IRS Logo 2Forbes, As Hillary Faces Emailgate, Ex IRS Chief Runs For President, by Robert W. Wood:

As Republicans and Democrats start vying for spots on the 2016 presidential tickets, the presumed Democratic nominee remains Hillary Clinton. Yet she faces what could emerge as a scandal, and like the IRS and its nemesis Lois Lerner, Mrs. Clinton could be undone by emails. The surprise and belated disclosure that Mrs. Clinton used private email rather than State Department email during her term as Secretary of State is at least awkward. ...

With this email gaffe, it could be worth considering dark horse candidates like the head of the IRS. Not the current email-losing-tax-czar Commissioner John Koskinen mind you, but a prior Commissioner of the IRS, Mark Everson. Mr. Everson was head of the IRS for four years under President Bush. Fox’s Neil Cavuto suggested that it would be an unlikely campaign pitch to say “I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help.” ...

But most people in America may not warm to a tax man as President, even without such issues. Mr. Everson’s term at the IRS was not marred in the way of the current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. For most Americans, the IRS targeting scandal and seeming cover-up of the last two years has damaged greatly the image of an already unattractive agency. Anyone associated with the IRS is likely to be viewed with skepticism.

After the targeting scandal had been underway for over a year, Mr. Koskinen testified that recovery efforts had been thorough, but the tapes and emails just couldn’t be found. As if to goad Republicans, he said that millions in taxpayer money was spent looking. Over 250 IRS employees spent 100,000 hours, costing taxpayers at least $14 million. However, the Treasury Inspector General has revealed that the IT people at the IRS say no one even asked them to recover the emails.

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March 14, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 13, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 673

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Politico Sat on Allegations Lois Lerner Had Prior History of Targeting Conservatives:

Politico scored a journalistic coup with its exclusive 2014 profile on Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the agency's targeting of conservative groups.

But a former Illinois lawmaker who said Politico contacted him repeatedly that year with questions regarding claims he was targeted by Lerner in the mid-1990s has been left wondering why the news group chose to ignore his documented dealings with the former federal official.

"I was shocked," Al Salvi told the Washington Examiner's media desk, describing what he characterizes as several "lengthy" interviews with Politico reporter Rachael Bade.

Lerner went after his 1996 Senate campaign with a lawsuit totaling $1.1 million — an enforcement action that was eventually thrown out of court — when she was working at the Federal Election Commission, according to Salvi.

"I spent something like an hour and a half talking to Politico about this," said Salvi, whose dealings with the FEC are well documented by the federal agency. "And I'm nowhere in the story. They had no intention of using anything I said." ...

And it seems Politico is not the only news organization to ignore Salvi's story, as conservative columnist George Will recently noted. After the IRS hearing and Salvi's Fox News appearance, the Washington Post's George Will in a 2013 column titled "Lois Lerner, the scowling face of the state," repeated the former lawmaker's story.

In another column last week, titled "Rein in the IRS," Will repeated the Salvi story, this time accusing national news organizations of ignoring the serious charge against Lerner. "Roskam's telling of Salvi's story elicited no denial from Lerner," Will wrote. "Neither did the retelling of it in this column. ... No wonder: The story had not been deemed newsworthy by the three broadcast networks' evening news programs, by the New York Times or by the Post."

A Lexis search dated June 4-June 11, 2013, of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for coverage of the Salvi story produced no results. A similar Lexis search dated March 2-6, 2014, also produced no results.

Similarly, a TV Eyes search dated June 4-June 11 2013, revealed that neither NBC News, nor CBS News nor ABC News covered Roskam's claim during the IRS hearing. The same was found for a TV Eyes search dated March 2-6, 2014, for Will's repeating of Roskam's claim.

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March 13, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 672

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, Eric Holder’s Speech Police: Justice Gears Up to Prosecute Campaign ‘Coordination’:

You know the 2016 election is heating up when the Justice Department announces it’s gearing up to prosecute campaign-finance “coordination” between candidates and outside groups. If you thought the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits was troubling, watch what Justice can do to criminalize political speech. ...

A coordination investigation can be started on almost any pretext. All you need is an allegation that someone talked to someone they should not have. Once the investigation makes it over that low evidentiary hurdle, the feds can comb through every shred of personal and group communications to find illegal contact.

We’ve seen how this wrecking ball works in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker’s conservative allies had their records seized and homes raided based on mere claims of coordination. Justice is now essentially giving itself sway to probe every Republican presidential campaign based on an accusation from some left-wing activist. ...

The head of Justice’s Election Crimes Branch, Richard Pilger, is a proponent of criminal coordination investigations at the Justice Department. Two attendees tell us that at a Practicing Law Institute seminar in September 2014 Mr. Pilger said this explicitly.

Mr. Pilger was also a foot on the gas pedal during the IRS’s increased screening of conservative 501(c) groups. In 2010 he reached out to then IRS tax-exempt chief Lois Lerner about prosecuting nonprofits that engaged in political activity for making false statements on their tax returns. In an October 2010 email exchange, Ms. Lerner and Mr. Pilger discussed the transfer of data on 501(c) organizations. The Justice Department ended up with a database of 1.1 million documents, including protected taxpayer information.

Ms. Lerner knows all about campaign “coordination,” having led a multiyear FEC coordination investigation into the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. Ms. Lerner was pursuing a theory that the group had illegally coordinated its issue advocacy with candidates. That theory was rejected in federal court.

The Justice Department may now be trying to pick up where the IRS and Ms. Lerner left off. Justice spokesman Peter Carr emailed us a statement that the universe of potential criminal prosecution is broad: “The opportunity to commit the crime has increased dramatically with changes in the law that have caused a substantial increase in the amount of independent expenditures and the number of independent expenditure entities.” That’s a new business opportunity for activists at the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 who wrote to Justice last week celebrating the news. But coordination investigations touch on the core of First Amendment protected political speech.

The prospect of a Justice Department asking who talked to whom and when during a political campaign should give even liberals the chills.

Meantime, GOP campaigns better lawyer up because Mr. Pilger’s speech police are gunning for you.

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March 12, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 671

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, Clinton’s E-mail Drama Is Acted Out on the World Stage:

Several days before the world found out that Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail account exclusively for all communication as secretary of state, including work-related conversations, a Republican congressman sought to bar Internal Revenue Service employees from using their non-official e-mail for government business.

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.) introduced a bill on Feb. 27 directed at the IRS and intended to address allegations that former IRS official Lois Lerner used her personal account to discuss IRS matters. A House Republican-conducted report released in March 2014 said: “Her willingness to handle this information on a non-official e-mail account highlights her disregard for confidential taxpayer information.”

Marchant’s somewhat prescient legislation highlights a loophole in the Federal Records Act. While employees of the federal government are discouraged from using personal e-mail, it’s not barred. The law was updated in late 2014 to say that if personal e-mail is used for work, it must be turned over to be officially archived within 20 days.

In September 2014, during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Lerner e-mails, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said it’s policy not to use personal e-mail.

“One of the things we’re doing is making sure everybody understands that you cannot use your e-mail for IRS business,” he said. “That’s been a policy; we need to reinforce that.”

But the IRS employee manual says only that “sensitive but unclassified” data can’t be e-mailed outside the IRS network — there’s nothing about an outright prohibition.

In the case of Lerner, House Republicans wanted her e-mails during their investigation into whether the IRS had targeted nonprofits for their political leanings when considering tax-exempt status.

Though the Clinton story shone a light on the federal government’s e-mail policy, Marchant’s office said he doesn’t have any plans to expand the bill to prohibit official business on all feds’ personal e-mail accounts.

Human Events, No One in Government Knows How to Use Email — Except Hillary Clinton:

[R]evelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her private email address, hdr22@clintonemail.com, during her tenure to conduct State Department business, [brought] the topic of email and Internet security back into the national limelight. ... A public probing of Clinton’s email set-up has revealed a staggering ignorance on the part of government officials when it comes to email specifically, and technology more generally. ...

A much bigger technological foul on the part of the government is the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s handling of the emails of Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit.

Faced by the House Committee on Oversight’s investigation into its alleged targeting of tax-exempt conservative nonprofit organizations, the IRS claimed to have lost up to two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails.

How could this be possible?

Because of a “computer crash,” IRS officials claimed. And any back-ups were automatically deleted, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. This, despite the fact that emails are stored on cloud servers and were explicitly required by law to be recorded and backed up in a secure location.

Months later, it’s now been revealed those emails are not only recoverable, but an archive of up to 33,000 emails, up to 10 years’ worth, were easily found by a separate department.

Tim Camus, deputy inspector general of the Treasury Department, said finding the emails was done without issue. “They were right where you would expect them to be,” he told the Oversight Committee on Feb. 27.

Federal officials are now probing for potential criminal activity related to the covering-up of Lerner’s emails.

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March 11, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 670

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, Hillary Clinton Scandal Spreads as Tea Party Group Seeks Private IRS Emails:

One of the tea party groups targeted by the IRS asked Congress Monday to demand the private emails of some agency employees, while a top committee chairman issued a request for instant-chat messages from the EPA, as the Clinton emails scandal begins to envelop other parts of the Obama administration. ...

One of the tea party groups targeted by the IRS asked Congress Monday to demand the private emails of some agency employees, while a top committee chairman issued a request for instant-chat messages from the EPA, as the Clinton emails scandal begins to envelop other parts of the Obama administration.

Ms. Engelbrecht said in light of the revelation that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used her own private email address and server to conduct official department business, the congressional committees investigating the IRS should pry more deeply into whether any agency employees did the same.

“Former Secretary Clinton’s latest news regarding third-party email use is just a continuation of a thriving culture of concealment within the Obama administration, which is growing increasingly apparent to the American public,” Ms. Engelbrecht said.

Emails from former IRS employee Lois G. Lerner, a central figure in the investigation, have already become a flashpoint in Congress‘ probe into the tax agency, with an inspector general last month saying investigators were quickly able to find backup tapes to restore some of Ms. Lerner’s lost emails, despite the IRS insisting the emails were irretrievably gone.

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March 10, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 669

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Lois Lerner Out From Under Freedom Path Lawsuit For Now, by Peter J. Reilly:

Lois Lerner might have had a bit of a breathing spell for a couple of days before the announcements about more e-mails being found.  It was so short that it has largely been missed, but since I am playing catch-up I noticed it.  Lerner’s brief reprieve was the work of Judge Sidney Fitzwater, a Reagan appointee, of the District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  Judge Fitzwater’s decision in Freedom Path Inc v Lois Lerner et al at least gets Lois Lerner out from under one lawsuit. Freedom Path was suing Lois Lerner, unnamed officials of the IRS, the IRS and the United States.  The suit was about targeting FP due to its conservative views as it was applying for exempt status, illegally releasing information about FP and the general use of a “facts and circumstances” test in the IRS evaluation of political activities. Freedom Path complained in its lawsuit about the slow pace of its application and additional intrusive questions.  Also a copy of its application (Form 1024) was released to ProPublica.  On the application FP had indicated that it would not be engaging in political activity.  ProPublica released a story Controversial Dark Money Group Among Five That Told IRS They Would Stay Out of Politics, Then Didn’t that mentioned Freedom Path as one of the five. In April 2013 Freedom Path was asked for further information, which it was hesitant to release because of the disclosure to ProPublica.  The IRS then offered FP the opportunity to enter into a new expedited process, but that did not work for them.

Under this process, Freedom Path could obtain approval of its pending application if it made certain representations regarding the organization’s past, current, and future spending on political activities. Freedom Path alleges that it declined to participate in this optional expedited process because it viewed the required representations as unconstitutionally broad and as an IRS attempt to force Freedom Path to relinquish some of its First Amendment rights.

Lois Lerner Not A Texan The reason that Lois Lerner was dismissed from the suit is one that her supporters, if there are any, might not find very satisfying.  Her detractors, who are legion, will probably find it infuriating.  She was dismissed, because she does not have enough connection with Texas which is where the suit was brought (although in a federal court).

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March 9, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 668

IRS Logo 2Midland Daily News editorial,  IRS Scandal Continues to Grow:

So, why is there so little interest in the IRS scandal?

This story has been gathering steam in terms of facts being revealed, but so far the major news outlets are showing little, if no interest, in covering the details.

Here’s what’s happened just recently:

  • One high-ranking government official said that there is “potential criminal activity” involved in the disappearance and hiding of emails belonging to IRS officials involved in the targeting of conservatives between 2010 and 2012.
  • Despite IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly saying under oath in previous Congressional hearings that Lois Lerner’s emails could not be recovered, investigators have been successful in recovering nearly 33,000 emails relevant to the IRS investigation. ...

Long-time political columnist George Will said on a talk show in February that the IRS scandal is as big as Watergate or the Iran-Contra scandal. He then asked, “so where’s the media?”

We are wondering the same thing. Getting to the truth — and holding our government officials accountable for their words and actions — should be a top priority for the press and for all Americans.

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March 8, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 667

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Finally, Suing IRS Over All Those Emails, by Robert W. Wood:

Whatever your political views, it is worth reading the press release by Judicial Watch about its latest lawsuit against the IRS. You have to be a kind of Energizer Bunny to keep after the dog-ate-my-homework targeting scandal. Like President Obama, some insist there was not a smidgen of corruption at the IRS. Others aren’t so sure.

The latest Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeks “any and all records related to the destruction of damaged hard drives from IRS employee computers from January 1, 2010, to the present.” The suit was filed in federal court, Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service. Interestingly, the lawsuit was filed even before the latest Hearings of the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform. On February 26, 2015, the Treasury Inspector General said he is investigating possible criminal activity at the IRS. The most disturbing revelation was that the IRS had not even asked for the backup tapes when the ‘hard drive crash’ excuse was first used. If true, that sounds like a game-changer.

After all, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified that recovery efforts had been thorough, and the tapes and emails couldn’t be found. Remember all the millions and millions in taxpayer money spent looking? One report said over 250 IRS employees spend 100,000 hours, costing taxpayers at least $14 million. Mr. Koskinen has been characterized as a political fixer who, unlike most IRS Commissioners, has not had a career in the tax industry.

He may want to explain all the multi-million dollar recovery efforts, particularly if somehow they did not include some simple questions! In the meantime, the IRS statements in briefs in the Judicial Watch case showcase what is hard to see as anything but obstruction. The IRS has said repeatedly that “records that pertain to the destruction of damaged hard drives are not maintained in a searchable manner.” The IRS has denied multiple requests, leading to multiple suits. ...

IRS attorneys said the back-up system would be too onerous to search. Yet in recent testimony, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said IRS tech employees told them that IRS management never asked for the tapes.

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March 7, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 6, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 666

IRS Logo 2The Fiscal Times, Hillary Clinton Is the Republicans’ Newer, Bigger Lois Lerner:

Clinton has morphed into a hybrid of everything Republicans deplore about the Clintons, reminiscent of the conduct of IRS official Lois Lerner.

Many in the conservative movement smelled an administration plot to suppress Republican activists during the 2012 presidential election, and when Lerner famously refused to testify before Congress, she only cemented that perception. But the real reason conservatives have never let go of Lerner is her emails. The IRS claimed that Lerner and six other employees’ official IRS computers suffered hard drive crashes that rendered much of the information on it unrecoverable. It was impossible, therefore, for the IRS to credibly claim that it had turned over all relevant emails involving Lerner to Congressional committees investigating the targeting of non-profit groups. In fact, Lerner emails are still being uncovered.

A similar search for Clinton’s emails was launched Wednesday, when Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chairman of the House Select Committee that is investigating the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012, announced that his committee would subpoena Clinton’s emails. ...

Clinton’s situation is arguably worse that Lerner’s because the wound is completely self-inflicted. At the time Lerner’s computer failed, the agency claimed that the back-up system they did have only kept data for 6 months before overwriting the digital tapes. IRS workers, including Lerner, were expected to identify all the emails they sent or received that could be classified as a “federal record” and to print out hard copies.

In fact, the records were backed up, and investigators were able to recover more than 30,000 emails as well as tapes from servers within two weeks dating back to 2001. As a result, the possibility of criminal activity is being probed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Nevertheless, the procedure in place at the IRS left open the possibility that an employee guilty of wrongdoing might simply decline to save incriminating emails in hard copy. Taking things a step further – as many conspiracy-minded commentators did – one can imagine a staged hard drive “crash” that permanently eliminates evidence.

There is no evidence to suggest that Lerner was derelict in observing the rules on record retention, and certainly none to suggest that she engineered a fake hard drive crash. But you can’t prove a negative, and the system in place at IRS, making Lerner the arbiter of what was and was not a federal record, left ample room for doubt that there had been a cover up.

While the conditions that created doubt about Lerner’s emails were largely the fault of the IRS’s internal systems, Hillary Clinton has no such defense. She could have used the official email system, which archives messages. Her successor, John Kerry, does just that. But she didn’t.

Putting aside the apparent risk of placing all of her official communications outside the protection of the secure State Department email system (a major issue according to this Bloomberg report), the decision effectively put Clinton in the same position that IRS rules created for Lerner. It made her the arbiter of what emails were and were not considered public records.

  • The American Spectator, If David Petraeus Were Hillary Clinton:  "Think Lois Lerner with a server in her basement and what would have happened if Lerner and Lerner alone had 100% control on who saw her e-mails and which would or would not be erased as investigators closed in."
  • Town Hall, White House Squirms Over Hillary's Email Scandal, Forgets Embrace of Regular Law Breaking:  "Former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner, who was a key player in targeting conservatives between 2010 and 2012, used a personal email account to conduct official government business. "Through the course of the investigation, we have learned that you sent documents related to your official dendrites from your official IRS e-mail account to an msn.com e-mail account labeled 'Lois Home.' This raises some serious questions concerning your use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business. Accordingly, we write to request documents related to your official duties that are housed in non-official e-mail accounts," former Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa and former Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan sent in a letter to Lerner last year. "The use of non-official e-mail accounts to conduct official business implicates federal records requirements. Use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct government business raises the prospect that records -- as defined by the Federal Records Act -- are not captured by official government e-mail archiving systems. It also creates difficulties in fulfilling the IRS' obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and other litigation requests. You use of non-official e-mail account also frustrates congressional oversight obligations." Are we really surprised she plead the fifth?"

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March 6, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 665

IRS Logo 2Letter From Orrin G. Hatch (Chair, Senate Finance Committee) & Paul Ryan (Chair, House Ways & Means Committee) to John Koskinen (Commissioner, IRS) (Mar. 4, 2015):

As Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means, we have the obligation to conduct oversight of the administration of the Internal Revenue Code. This includes compliance with IRC §6103, which establishes rules governing the use of confidential tax return information and governs the manners in which it may be disclosed. As you know, §6103(g) provides the President of the United States and certain White House officials access to this information in limited circumstances and with certain required procedures. In carrying out our oversight obligations, we are seeking to determine the degree to and manner in which the Internal Revenue Service shares taxpayer information with the Executive Office of the President.

You will recall that former Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp requested that the IRS provide all communication between the IRS and Executive Office of the President on April 30, 2014. You responded that your agency would be unable to provide the requested communication because of limited resources. In light of your response, our committees sought these records from the White House in two separate letters earlier this year. On February 17, White House officials responded to our requests, refusing to provide the documents and redirecting the request to the Internal Revenue Service. In light of the White House Counsel’s refusal to comply with our request, we ask that you provide the documents – originally requested in April of last year – without delay. This production will include all electronic communication in the agency’s possession from or to an “eop.gov” email address, or regarding White House communication, from January 1, 2010 through the date of this letter.

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March 5, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 664

IRS Logo 2George Will, Stopping the IRS:

Rep. Peter Roskam is now chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes oversight of the Internal Revenue Service, and hence of Lois Lerner's legacy. He knows how interesting her career was before she, as head of the IRS exempt-organizations division, directed the suppression of conservative advocacy groups by delaying and denying them the tax exempt status that was swiftly given to comparable liberal groups.

In 2013, Roskam, in a televised committee hearing, told the story of Al Salvi, who in 1996 was the Republican's Senate candidate against then congressman, now senator, Dick Durbin. Democrats filed charges with the Federal Election Commission against Salvi's campaign, charges that threatened to dominate the campaign's final weeks. Salvi telephoned the head of the FEC's Enforcement Division, who he says told him: "Promise me you will never run for office again, and we'll drop this case." So said Lois Lerner. After Salvi lost, FBI agents visited his elderly mother, demanding to know, concerning her $2,000 contribution to her son's campaign, where she got "that kind of money." When a federal court held that the charges against Salvi were spurious, the FEC's losing lawyer was Lois Lerner.

Roskam's telling of Salvi's story elicited no denial from Lerner. Neither did the retelling of it in this column (June 13, 2013). No wonder: The story had not been deemed newsworthy by the three broadcast networks' evening news programs, by The New York Times or The Washington Post. With most of the media uninterested in the use of government institutions to handicap conservatives, stonewalling would work.

It still is working through dilatory and incomplete responses to subpoenas, and unresponsive answers to congressional questions. Lerner's name now has an indelible Nixonian stain, but there probably will be no prosecution. If the administration's stonewalling continues as the statute of limitations' clock ticks, Roskam says, "She will get away with it."

Now in his fifth House term, Roskam, 53, says, "The advantage in this town is always with the entity that doesn't want to do anything." Many thousands of Lerner's emails that supposedly were irretrievably lost have been found, but not released. The Justice Department's investigation, which was entrusted to a political appointee who was a generous contributor to Barack Obama's campaign, is a stone in the stone wall.

Roskam says the task now is "to see that Lois Lerner 2.0 is impossible." One place to begin is with the evidence -- anecdotal but, in the context of proven IRS corruption, convincing -- of other possibly punitive IRS behavior toward Republican contributors and other conservative activists. This justifies examining the IRS' audit selection process. This would produce interesting hearings for most of the media to ignore.

Next, there should be hearings into the illegal disclosure of taxpayer information about conservative individuals and groups to the media and to liberal officials and groups. Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer for some groups abused by the IRS (and for this columnist on different matters), also suggests prohibiting IRS employees from joining a union.

The National Treasury Employees Union,” she says, “provides no protection to IRS employees that federal statutes and the civil service system do not already provide. It already takes an act of God to hold an IRS employee accountable for his or her actions. But it is worse than merely redundant for IRS employees to belong to the NTEU. Because it adds nothing to its members’ protections, it is a purely political organization. In 2014, fully 95 percent of its contributions went to Democrats, including 11 Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. So, the IRS employees’ union dues finance the election of people who are supposed to scrutinize IRS’ behavior.

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March 4, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 663

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, Best of the Web, by James Taranto:

Still Suppressing Speech
The IRS scandal continues: “Nearly two years after the IRS was exposed for improperly sidetracking requests for tax exemptions from tea party groups, Politico has learned that at least a half-dozen conservative applicants are still waiting for an answer.”

One of them is Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which managed to spend tens of millions last year. But most “are mom-and-pop outfits from New Mexico to New Jersey, run by volunteers out of their own houses and operating at a fraction of Crossroads’ budget”:

The years-long delay has gutted these groups’ membership, choked their ability to raise funds, forced them to reserve pots of money for possible back taxes and driven them into debt to pay legal bills.

IRS’ website says it has closed 95 percent of “priority” groups that had been pulled for extra scrutiny.

The agency said it cannot comment on specific cases, but it deflected blame, in part, to the Justice Department. When an applicant is suing the IRS, Justice also has a say in whether to issue a final ruling during litigation. Almost all the groups in limbo have taken the IRS to court.

The IRS reports that in May 2013, when the scandal broke, the IRS “released a list of 176 political nonprofits it said it had approved already, many of them groups it once labeled ‘inflammatory,’ ‘anti-Obama’ and engaging in ‘propaganda.’ ”

Those that were still on hold were offered “immediate approval if they pledged to spend less than 40 percent of their time and resources on political campaigns”—a lower threshold than the usual 51%. “Several of the groups dismissed that option on principle, calling it unfair because it was a stricter standard than other 501(c)(4)s had to abide by.”

So the IRS admittedly denied tax-exempt status improperly to at least 176 groups, tried to apply extralegal restrictions to others, and is still delaying approval for those groups that have gone to court in an effort to vindicate their rights. It’s been over a year since President Obama himself said, in answer to a question from Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption.” Maybe it’s time somebody put the question to him again.

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March 3, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, March 2, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 662

IRS Logo 2Commentary, New Revelations Show IRS Is Judge, Jury, Executioner–And Grave Robber:

The most important piece of information about the IRS’s targeting of conservative and pro-Israel groups is this: it is still going on. Politico reported yesterday that there are two categories of groups still being delayed and silenced by the IRS’s tax-exempt apparatchiks. The first category is Karl Rove (and his Crossroads organization). The second category is financially strapped mom-and-pop shops who have been driven into debt by the IRS’s corrupt practices in which critics of the Obama administration are deprived of some of their constitutional rights.

The story notes that this contradicts new IRS director John Koskinen’s claim that the agency “completed” its set of recommendations to get the corruption under control. As of this week, it’s still taking place. What this means in practice is that these groups, some of which applied several years ago, are still in limbo, unable to proceed. The point is to destroy the groups by bankrupting and suffocating them. Politico quotes a former IRS official using the agency’s term for this: “death by bureaucratic delay.” ...

Some groups, Politico notes, “went belly-up while waiting.” That’s the point of the death-by-delay targeting. In other cases, the IRS demanded back taxes to try to pick the pockets of the activists one more time before the groups faded away. The IRS is both executioner and grave robber. ...

The IRS, by the way, has basically proved that it shouldn’t be the free-speech gatekeeper not only because it’s unconstitutional but also because it’s simply incapable of respecting the rights of ordinary Americans. For example, the IRS, according to Politico, made the groups an offer: “immediate approval if they pledged to spend less than 40 percent of their time and resources on political campaigns. But several of the groups dismissed that option on principle, calling it unfair because it was a stricter standard than other 501(c)(4)s had to abide by.”

Precisely. The IRS told groups they could surrender a portion of their rights to which they are legally entitled and the IRS would allow them to retain the remaining portion of their free-speech rights. This is the behavior of an organized crime syndicate, not a governmental institution of a free country. It is extortionate, deeply immoral, and a permanent stain on the agency and the politicians who enabled it.

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March 2, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 661

IRS Logo 2Press Release, Judicial Watch Sues IRS for Records on Destroyed Hard Drives of Lois Lerner, Other IRS Officials:

Judicial Watch announced today that on February 18, 2015, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seeking “any and all records related to the destruction of damaged hard drives from IRS employee computers from January 1, 2010, to the present.” The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v Internal Revenue Service (No 1:15-cv-00237)). The lawsuit is part of an investigation into the Obama IRS’ claim that the emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials, who are being investigated for abuses of Obama’s political opponents, were contained on hard drives that were subsequently damaged and destroyed.

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March 1, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 660

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, GOP Lawmakers Seek to Jump-Start Long-Running IRS Investigation:

The new Republican-controlled Congress is trying to pump fresh life into a long-running probe of alleged targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service.

Seeking to jump-start the stalled inquiry, GOP lawmakers raised concerns at a House hearing on Thursday night about possible IRS wrongdoing during the course of the probe.

The hearing by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed few new details, however, and Democrats accused Republicans of airing the allegations prematurely, before all the evidence has been gathered.

Still, the hearing signaled more problems for the beleaguered tax agency, which has faced GOP ire for several years over its treatment of politically-active conservative groups, among other issues.

Witnesses appearing before the committee cited the IRS’s possibly incomplete or incorrect responses to officials’ demands for computer backup tapes containing missing IRS emails. The missing emails belonged to Lois Lerner, a now-retired IRS official who has been a focus of Republican concerns.

Forbes, New IRS Scandal Hearings Reveal 32,000 More Emails, Possible Criminal Activity, by Robert W. Wood:

In new Hearings of the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform on February 26, 2015, J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General, said he is investigating possible criminal activity at the IRS. The hearings also revealed the fact that investigators have recovered another 32,000 emails relating to Lois Lerner. However, how many of them are duplicates of those previously recovered is not yet clear.

But in what was the most disturbing revelation, House Member attendees were told that the IRS had not even asked for the backup tapes when the ‘hard drive crash’ excuse was first used. That contradicted the prior testimony of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. He had testified to the effect that recovery efforts had been thorough, and that the tapes couldn’t be accessed.

It now appears that no one may have asked. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said, “It looks like we’ve been lied to, or at least misled.” ... Several Oversight Committee Members questioned how diligent the IRS had been, given how quickly the investigators now were able to find them. Yet an IRS statement repeats the tax agency’s full cooperation. It has not been inexpensive. The IRS claims to have spent $20 million responding to congressional inquiries, producing documents and providing agency officials to testify at hearings.

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February 28, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, February 27, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 659

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 658

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon, Lois Lerner Received $129K in Bonuses:

Former IRS official Lois Lerner received $129,300 in bonuses between 2010 and 2013, records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show.

Over a three-year period, Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt division at the heart of the IRS targeting scandal, received a 25 percent retention bonus—averaging $43,000 a year—on top of her regular salary.

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February 26, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 657

IRS Logo 2Forbes, 12 IRS Embarrassments, 6 Questions Each Taxpayer Should Ask, by Robert W. Wood:

[Y]ou sign your tax return under penalties of perjury. That means your money—and conceivably your freedom—are on the line. It is one reason why the integrity of the IRS is so terribly important, and why the lingering IRS scandal should be resolved. Mr. Meckler in the American Spectator—understandably, but I still hope incorrectly—identifies these as what he calls the real dirty dozen. ...

Mr. Meckler says this dozen adds up to an agency failing to merit taxpayer trust. The fact that there are still unanswered questions does not mean they should not be addressed. Indeed, even if Mr. Meckler is wrong about most of this, to me, it is hardly enough to say there is no smidgen of corruption, or that nothing has been proven. For both sides of the political spectrum, the obstructionism by the administration and at the IRS has been truly disheartening. It suggests a cancer that may be hard to cut out. It reflects problems not in the rank and file of the IRS, but surely higher up. Amid all the noise, Americans should ask simpler questions, especially at this time of year.

  1. Why is the tax law so horribly complex? It isn’t the IRS’s fault. Congress passes tax laws so fundamental reform–long overdue–must start there. Even if it isn’t fair, a flat tax would be much fairer than what we have.
  2. Can I feel secure that I will be dealt with fairly by the IRS? Mostly. The tax system is full of special rules, and no one can master them all. Thus, one taxpayer may be treated very differently from another who is seemingly in the same position. That isn’t fair. Don’t confuse this with fundamental procedural fairness and non-discrimination. On the whole, the IRS does an incredible job administering our horribly unwieldy tax laws. If you are not being dealt with fairly and respectfully, complain, ask for a manager or go to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate’s Office. Speaking of the latter, wouldn’t it be incredible if Nina Olson were IRS Commissioner?
  3. Doesn’t the IRS police its employees? Yes, and it does a better job than recent stories suggest. Some are even fired, one reason much at the top is so hard to comprehend. Unreasonable or abusive requests may happen, and you need to speak up.
  4. Why does it seem that there’s always someone getting away with something in the tax world? Because there is. Wealthy people may manipulate the rules and pay less than you think they should. At the other end of the spectrum, scams may hand out earned income tax credits and bogus refunds. The fact that someone is playing the game better than you are can grate but it doesn’t mean the whole system is rigged. Reform is needed.
  5. Can I feel secure that my private taxpayer information will remain private? This may be the biggest challenge today not only for the IRS but for many in government and non-government alike. With technology and e-filing, it is a huge danger. Leaks should be dealt with severely.
  6. Why is staying off the IRS radar so important? Because much can go wrong in our terribly complex system. Avoid IRS audit triggers, and pay (don’t dispute) small bills. Even a joking suggestion of “we’ll audit you” is so sensitive. Be careful out there.

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February 25, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 656

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, White House That Promised Transparency Refuses to Cooperate With IRS Probe:

The White House told Congress last week it refused to dig into its computers for emails that could shed light on what kinds of private taxpayer information the IRS shares with President Obama’s top aides, assuring Congress that the IRS will address the issue — eventually. The tax agency has already said it doesn’t have the capability to dig out the emails in question, but the White House’s chief counsel, W. Neil Eggleston, insisted in a letter last week to House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan that the IRS would try again once it finishes with the tea party-targeting scandal.

“It is my understanding that in May 2014, Commissioner Koskinen responded to this request by indicating that the IRS would be able to address new topics such as these following its completion of document productions already in progress,” Mr. Eggleston wrote in a Feb. 17 letter. “To the extent that the committee continues to have an oversight interest in this matter, I encourage you to continue working with the IRS to address those questions.”

But IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s letter last year didn’t say that. Instead Mr. Koskinen said the IRS was logistically incapable of performing the search because it would have required combing through 90,000 email accounts. ...

The White House didn’t assert any privileges in refusing Mr. Ryan’s request last week, instead insisting the IRS would work on it, so there was no need for the president to get involved. That conflicts with Mr. Koskinen’s 2014 letter making clear he didn’t think such a search was feasible from his end. ...

Any official requests for private taxpayer information made by the White House are supposed to be personally signed by the president, and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation is supposed to be notified of the request. The JCT issues an annual report on all requests for IRS information, and those reports don’t show any such requests from the president during Mr. Obama’s time in office.

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February 24, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, February 23, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 655

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Remember IRS Stonewalling When Filing Your Taxes, by Robert W. Wood:

You have to file a tax return, and you have to be careful. You have to sign it under penalties of perjury. And you have to maintain receipts, logs and proof. And doubts are usually going to be resolved against you. It is understandable that some taxpayers are going to think about these things when they trudge through their returns and get ready to file. And they may think about the IRS stonewalling too. Is the playing field level?

Much ink has been spilled over the dog at my homework excuses emanating from many in our government. When the IRS targeting scandal was uncovered 2 years ago, many Democrats said there was never a smidgen of corruption. Many continue to say that the IRS did its best, no one hid anything, crashes happen, etc. Besides, they will note, these conservative organizations have too much power anyhow. So if the IRS had rogue agents, or if someone did get a little confused about the law down at the IRS in Cincinnati, where’s the harm?

They say it was a ‘witch hunt’ that went on way too long. If so, it is no one’s fault but the government’s, including IRS Chief John Koskinen. Rather than transparency, we had obstructionism at every turn. Commissioner Koskinen recently had a chance to apologize for gaffes and untimely notification of Congress that the tax agency had lost thousands of emails sought by investigators.

At a hearing Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, noted a letter that Mr. Koskinen sent the Senate Finance Committee saying the IRS had handed over everything. Curiously, the letter didn’t even mention that the former Exempt Organizations chief Lois Lerner’s emails had been lost. Mr. Koskinen defended his actions: “Absolutely not. We waited six weeks to tell while trying to find as many of the emails as we could. We gave you all of Ms. Lerner’s emails we had. We couldn’t make up Lois Lerner emails we didn’t have.” ...

David Axelrod, formerly an Obama Administration senior adviser, said that he is proud of the fact that President Obama has never been involved in a major scandal through six years in office. Yes, you heard right. Of course, other observers might say that the IRS scandal certainly seems to qualify as a scandal. Heck, perhaps Benghazi and Fast & Furious were too?

Indeed, in the case of the IRS, as long as Mr. Axelrod was going to give the party line, perhaps Mr. Axelrod might have better used a well-worn phrase: ‘not a smidgen’ of scandal corruption. 

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February 23, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 654

IRS Logo 2The American Spectator, The Real ‘Dirty Dozen’ at the IRS: For Some Reason, It Fails to Include Itself on its List of Abusers, Scammers, and Cheats:

The IRS just released its “dirty dozen” list of tax scams and schemes for the American people to avoid. In addition to normal phishing and identity theft, a slew of new phone scams around the nation has caught many taxpayers off guard. Plus, unscrupulous return preparers take advantage of confused Americans, especially given that 60 percent of taxpayers need assistance figuring out all those documents, tables, and exemptions. The list also warns the less honest among us to avoid hiding money offshore, in abusive tax shelters, or with false documents. Additionally, it urges people not to falsify income or claim too much in fuel tax credits, either.

But there is an even more concerning “dirty dozen” list that the IRS wants the public to forget.

It’s been almost two years since the news broke that the IRS had been targeting Tea Party, pro-Israel, and other conservative groups — and a scandal erupted. Here are just a select few ways the IRS has mismanaged its problems and shown itself to be incompetent and untrustworthy:

1. Internal emails show these groups were targeted because IRS employees thought them “icky.”

2. Other emails showed that Lois Lerner was conspiring with the Department of Justice to prosecute conservative groups on trumped-up charges.

3. Lerner herself refused to testify to investigating committees and was held in contempt.

4. That didn’t stop her from defending herself to Politico magazine and complaining about being “harassed” for her role.

5. Then, the IRS claimed it had lost the most crucial batch of Lerner’s emails.

6. Oh yeah, and her Blackberry was destroyed too.

7. Six months later, the Tax Inspector General may have found those lost emails. (Still no word yet on what was in them.)

Scandal events aside, the IRS showed its general incompetence in many other ways.

8. IRS workers campaigned for political candidates while on the job.

9. The agency awarded bonuses to its own employees who owed taxes.

10. Guess who was audited ten times more often than the average taxpayer? Supporters of the Tea Party.

11. The IRS illegally shared confidential, protected information with the FBI, the White House, and more.

12. And it has the nerve to constantly ask for a raise.

It all adds up to an agency that doesn’t merit the trust of taxpayers.

For at least three years, the IRS has egregiously wronged this nation — including at least one person on a director level. Yet, it still hasn’t apologized or come clean.

But despite all the excuses and diversions offered by the IRS, the American people are still saying what Senator Ron Johnson expressed: “I smell a rat. I smell a number of rats, and that’s what we are going to get to the bottom of.”

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February 22, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 653

IRS Logo 2The Maddow Blog, GOP’s Gowdy Eyes New Conspiracy Theory Panel:

[T]he notion that the Obama presidency has featured “six years of scandal” seems bizarre. David Axelrod boasted this week, accurately, “I’m proud of the fact that basically you have had an administration in this place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal. And I think that says a lot about the ethical strictures of this administration.”

This seemed like a fair thing to brag about, though some congressional Republicans appear to have a very different perspective.

At a Republican Party fundraising breakfast in his district on Wednesday, Representative Trey Gowdy suggested that the congressional GOP needed to investigate the IRS’s scrutiny of political groups with the same intensity that it was investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi.

>“I’m glad that the speaker of the House convened a select committee on Benghazi,” said Gowdy, a former prosecutor who chairs that panel. “I think it makes every bit as much sense to convene a select committee on the IRS. Now that we have the Senate, the Senate has tools the House doesn’t have in terms of getting e-mails and cooperation. It has nothing to do with politics. Do you really want an IRS targeting you based on your political beliefs?”

Gowdy, the head of the eighth Benghazi committee, went on to tell Dave Weigel that “the same reasons for a select committee exist” in the IRS story as Benghazi, “or maybe even greater.” He also complained about “Fast and Furious” and Solyndra because, well, he was apparently on a roll. ...

At a certain level, there’s a kernel of truth to the far-right congressman’s argument: select committees to investigate the IRS and Benghazi are equally sound. Which is to say, both ideas are equally ridiculous.

The IRS “scandal” turned out not to be a scandal at all, and after a year and a half of investigation from congressional Republicans, literally none of the GOP’s allegations turned out to be true. Even by Congress’ standards, the very idea of creating another select committee to investigate another discredited controversy is absurd.

Part of the underlying trouble here is a falsification problem. Republicans are certain the president is up to no good, and when there’s no evidence to support their assumptions, they convince themselves that this proves how corrupt Obama is – the rascally president must be hiding the proof of his misdeeds.

So they keep looking, which leads them to find nothing, which leads them to believe they better keep looking.

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February 21, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 20, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 652

IRS Logo 2The Daily Mail, Longtime Presidential Adviser David Axelrod Claims 'There Hasn't Been a Major Scandal' in the Obama White House – And Draws a Mix of Applause and Laughter:

Longtime Obama administration political insider David Axelrod claimed on Monday that the Obama administration hasn't been tainted by a smidgen of scandal.

The surprising boast came during a Q&A at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, an organization he founded and leads.

'I'm proud of the fact that basically you have had an administration in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal,' Axelrod said. 'And I think that says a lot about the ethical strictures of this administration.'

Audio and video of Axelrod's remarks indicate the audience's first reaction to his insistence that Obama has presided over a scandal-free government was a chorus of laughs – before friendly attendees quickly drowned them out with applause.

Conservatives have made a parlor game out of cataloging the Obama White House's scandals, with tallies running into the dozens and some organized alphabetically.

The Internal Revenue Service, Americans' most feared and loathed government agency, has had a bumper crop of scandals since Obama took office.

In May 2013 an inspector general report found that the agency spent more than $4.1 million on a single conference in California that included six-figure fees for speakers and expensive video production for a corny Star-Trek themed humor video.

The General Services Administration was caught in a similar conference scandal later that year over an $823,000 in Las Vegas training conference held in 2010. It featured mind-readers, a clown and lavish hotel suites with jacuzzis. The GSA administration resigned over the flap.

Also in May 2013, the IRS was plunged into scandal over news that its Tax-Exempt Organizations section was subjecting Tea Party groups and conservative-oriented charities to intrusive screening and years-long delays before granting them tax-exempt status – while liberal groups were often given a pass.

The IRS later claimed to Congress that years worth of emails belonging to retired official Lois Lerner, who is thought to be responsible, were destroyed in a hard drive crash.

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February 20, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 651

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg, Trey Gowdy: Time for a Select Committee to Investigate the IRS Scandal:

At a Republican Party fundraising breakfast in his district on Wednesday, Representative Trey Gowdy suggested that the congressional GOP needed to investigate the IRS's scrutiny of political groups with the same intensity that it was investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi. 

"I'm glad that the speaker of the House convened a select committee on Benghazi," said Gowdy, a former prosecutor who chairs that panel. "I think it makes every bit as much sense to convene a select committee on the IRS. Now that we have the Senate, the Senate has tools the House doesn't have in terms of getting e-mails and cooperation. It has nothing to do with politics. Do you really want an IRS targeting you based on your political beliefs?" ...

In an interview after the breakfast, Gowdy said that he'd mentioned the idea of a select committee on the IRS to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and that Ohio Representative Jim Jordan would be an ideal candidate to run it. The investigations of 2013 and 2014, often chaired by then-Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (now retired), had gotten out some of the truth. But the newly empowered GOP could force the executive branch to release documents that it insisted on concealing.

The same reasons for a select committee exist there, or maybe even greater," he said. "There's this tendency to over-claim executive privilege. Look, Eric Holder is a smart lawyer. He knows the e-mails that he sends to his wife are not protected by executive privilege. But he didn't want to give us one of them because in it, he referred to us as 'asses.' Look—we know we're asses. You don't have to worry about hurting our feelings. That's not the first time any of us have heard that. So why not give us the documents?"

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February 19, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 650

IRS Logo 2Bayou Buzz, Attorney General: Final Report On IRS Probe To Come Out Soon:

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he expects the Justice Department to soon release a list of final recommendations stemming from its probe into whether the Internal Revenue Service wrongfully targeted conservative groups.

"I am satisfied with the progress that the criminal division has done; the civil rights division as well," Holder told reporters at a press conference. "I expect that we will have some final recommendations coming up relatively soon.

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February 18, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 649

IRS Logo 2Breitbart,  House Republicans To Pressure Senate Judiciary Members To Oppose Loretta Lynch Nomination:

More than 20 House Republicans have already signed on to a letter that Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is circulating—and planning to send to the Senate Judiciary Committee later this week—calling on Senate Republicans to block the nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States in committee, Breitbart News has learned exclusively. ...

“We appreciate Ms. Lynch for her many years of outstanding service to our nation,” the House Republicans write. “Nonetheless, having observed her nomination hearing testimony, we can only conclude that she has no intention of departing in any meaningful way from the policies of Attorney General Eric Holder, who has politicized the Department of Justice and done considerable harm to the administration of justice.” ...

They cite specific concerns with Lynch’s ... unwillingness to support the appointment of a truly independent special prosecutor to oversee the investigation of the IRS scandal. “When given chances to differentiate herself from Attorney General Holder, she chose not to,” the House Republicans write. ...

[W]hen asked whether, unlike Attorney General Holder, she would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, she deflected the question, saying “[m]y understanding is that that matter has been considered and that the matter has been resolved to continue with the investigation as currently set forth.

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February 17, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, February 16, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 648

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, Let’s See Her E-mails:

It’s been nearly two years since Lois Lerner planted a question at an American Bar Association gathering to slip in the fact that the IRS had singled out Tea Party groups for special scrutiny. ...

Contrary to earlier assertions by the IRS, the Lois Lerner ­e-mails Congress sought were not lost forever. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, says authorities have now managed to recover roughly 16,000 Lerner e-mails. ...

We prefer the way the senator put it on Fox News: “I smell a rat. I smell a number of rats, and that’s what we are going to get to the bottom of.”

We’re as curious as anyone about why the IRS told us the Lerner e-mails were gone forever. But what we really want to know is this: What the heck is in them?

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February 16, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 647

IRS Logo 2Government Executive, IRS Chief Refuses to Apologize to Lawmakers on Missing Emails:

Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen late Wednesday turned aside a demand that he apologize for untimely notification of Congress that the tax agency had lost thousands of emails sought by investigators probing political targeting allegations.

At a hearing on agencies perpetually on the Government Accountability Office’s high risk-list, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, confronted Koskinen on a letter he sent to the Senate Finance Committee last March in which he said the Internal Revenue Service had completed its submission of all requested emails on handling of nonprofits’ applications -- without mentioning that some from former Exempt Organizations chief Lois Lerner had been lost.

“Will you admit that, like Lois Lerner and [former Commissioner] Doug Shulman, you misled this committee, this Congress and, more importantly, the American people,” Jordan asked. “Have you withdrawn the letter to Senate Finance?”

Koskinen replied, “Absolutely not. We waited six weeks to tell while trying to find as many of the emails as we could. We gave you all of Ms. Lerner’s emails we had.  We couldn’t make up Lois Lerner emails we didn’t have.”

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February 15, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 646

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Lois Lerner's Old IRS Team Looking Anti-tech, by Peter J. Reilly:

Pretty much everybody is mad at Lois Lerner, but it may be time to ease up on the people who used to work for her issuing rulings on whether organizations should be tax exempt.  I have a hunch that the budget cuts must have hurt them a lot in the technology area.  Maybe that’s not it, but I have noted a kind of anti-tech trend in their rulings.  Just a trace of paranoia too as they worry about open source software aiding our enemies.

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February 14, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 13, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 645

IRS Logo 2U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Press Release, Chairman Asks IRS Commissioner Questions Raised by New Lerner E-mail Information:

Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Tuesday  with questions raised by new information that has emerged about missing e-mails from former IRS official Lois Lerner. 

Senator Johnson’s staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) learned last week that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), an independent investigative agency, has recovered as many as 80,000 missing IRS e-mails, more than double the number that TIGTA investigators were estimating in November. The recovered files represent about 16,000 unique e-mails, TIGTA investigators told the senator’s staff. TIGTA is now finished identifying missing emails and must compare them to e-mails already turned over by the IRS, but “it is possible that a large number of these e-mails have not yet been produced to Congress,” Johnson’s letter said.

The IRS became embroiled in controversy after Lerner, who oversaw the agency’s office in charge of administering nonprofit status to groups, admitted that the IRS gave heightened scrutiny to conservative groups. Members of Congress, investigating whether a powerful federal agency discriminated among citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, were told by the IRS in 2014 that it had lost e-mails sent or received by Lerner over a period of more than two years and that it had failed to tell Congress about the loss in a timely way. The IRS said it went to “great lengths” to recover the emails but could not do so.

The revelation from TIGTA means that the e-mails the IRS could not originally recover off backup tapes may now be found. “Accordingly,” reads Senator Johnson’s letter, “I respectfully request your assistance in better understanding the IRS’s document retention and production process.”

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February 13, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 644