Saturday, December 13, 2014
The Blaze: Did the IRS Share Confidential Taxpayer Data With the White House? It May Take Several More Months to Find Out:
A government watchdog group has been forced to ask a federal court to insist that the government hand over thousands of documents that could show the IRS gave confidential taxpayer information to the White House.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an internal oversight arm of the Treasury Department, indicated last month it was willing to hand over up to 2,500 documents that could show the IRS improperly shared this information with the Obama administration.
TIGTA had collected these documents after Austan Goolsbee, the former chair of the White House’s Counsel of Economic Advisers, implied that Koch Industries doesn’t pay any corporate income tax, which raised questions about how Goolsbee would know that.
But last week, TIGTA told Cause of Action, the group seeking those documents, that it could not hand them over after all. TIGTA said the rules of the tax code would prevent it from making them public. TIGTA said the documents contain confidential taxpayer data that cannot be released.
As a result, Cause of Action filed a new motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that asks the court to dispute TIGTA’s decision. That motion indicates a resolution of the fight could still take several months.
Under Cause of Action’s proposed motion, the group would file a motion for summary judgment in late January, TIGTA would file its own arguments in late February, and all replies would be due by early April.
December 13, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Friday, December 12, 2014
Columbus Dispatch editorial: ‘Lost’ IRS Emails Might Reveal Truth:
It’s unsurprising that the “lost” email messages of former IRS official Lois Lerner, the disappearance of which conveniently coincided with her being investigated for the improper targeting of conservative groups, have been located by the Treasury Department’s inspector general.
Tech experts, as well as common sense, suggested from the outset that it was implausible that the emails just happened to vanish when they did, and were unrecoverable.
But that was the administration’s story, and it was sticking to it — at least until after the midterm elections.
The inspector general reported that 30,000 of Lerner’s emails have been recovered from the period of January 2009 to June 2011, the critical time when she and her colleagues were going after nonprofit groups whose ideology they didn’t like.
The content of the emails is unknown; investigators have said it might take months to sift through them.
For those who have lost track: Politically active conservative groups had their applications for nonprofit status delayed leading up to the 2012 elections and were asked improper questions about their affiliations, beliefs and even the content of their prayers. Some cried foul, but largely were ignored for months.
The Internal Revenue Service denied the targeting until after the election, and only when it became clear the issue wasn’t going away.
In May 2013, Lerner staged a limited confession in response to a planted question at a conference, in apparent attempt to limit the damage.
President Barack Obama at first expressed anger and vowed to get to the bottom of the issue ... until he felt it had blown over enough to dismiss the whole affair as a “phony scandal” without a “ smidgen” of corruption involved.
Meanwhile, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, appointed about a year ago, went before Congress insisting that the agency had bent over backward to recover Lerner’s emails, but “confirmed that backup tapes from 2011 no longer existed because they have been recycled, pursuant to the IRS normal policy.”
Not only would that have violated standard government records policy, according to testimony from the head of the National Archives, it turned out not to be true.
In light of all this, it’s alarming that after extracting the Lerner emails from the recovered files, the IG plans to send them to the IRS for redactions of confidential information. That would be the definition of allowing the fox to guard the henhouse.
It’s good news that the American public might finally get some answers in this investigation.
But it’s another dismaying example of how the administration that promised to be the “most transparent in history” has routinely misled, delayed and obfuscated in an effort to make its actions look better, especially before an election.
December 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Thursday, December 11, 2014
Forbes: Obama Justice Department Was Involved In IRS Targeting, Lerner Emails Reveal, by Robert W. Wood:
Sadly, the 18 month investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups isn’t over, and it may be worse than anyone thought. A federal judge has broken loose more emails that the DOJ had surely hoped would never surface. The picture it reveals isn’t pretty. The documents prove that Lois Lerner met with DOJ’s Election Crimes Division a month before the 2010 elections.
It has to be embarrassing to the DOJ, which may not be the most impartial one to be investigating the IRS. In fact, the DOJ withheld over 800 pages of Lerner documents citing “taxpayer privacy” and “deliberative privilege.” Yet these internal DOJ documents show Ms. Lerner was talking to DOJ officials about prosecuting tax-exempt entities (yes, criminally!) two years before the IRS conceded there was inappropriate targeting. ...
[I]t is getting harder and harder to simply accept President Obama’s ‘no smidgen of corruption’ remark made to Fox News in February, no matter how sincere and forthright his delivery.
December 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Judicial Watch: Judicial Watch Lawsuit Forces Release of DOJ Emails Showing IRS’s Lois Lerner Met with DOJ Officials Just Before 2010 Elections:
Judicial Watch today released internal Department of Justice (DOJ) documents revealing that former IRS official Lois Lerner had been in contact with DOJ officials about the possible criminal prosecution of tax-exempt entities two full years before what the IRS conceded was its “absolutely inappropriate” 2012 targeting of the organizations. According to the newly obtained documents, Lerner met with top Obama DOJ Election Crimes Branch officials as early as October 2010. ...
“These new documents dramatically show how the Justice Department is up to its neck in the IRS scandal and can’t be trusted to investigate crimes associated with the IRS abuses that targeted Obama’s critics. And it is of particular concern that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which would ordinarily investigate the IRS abuses, is now implicated in the IRS crimes. No wonder the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done no serious investigation of the Obama IRS scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is shameful how Establishment Washington has let slide by Obama’s abuse of the IRS and the Justice Department. Only as a result of Judicial Watch’s independent investigations did the American people learn about the IRS-DOJ prosecution discussions of Obama’s political enemies and how the IRS sent, in violation of law, confidential taxpayer information to the FBI and DOJ in 2010. Richard Nixon was impeached for less.”
December 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Forbes: Horrible Bosses, IRS Edition, by Robert W. Wood:
People joked about horrible bosses long before Horrible Bosses, Horrible Bosses 2, and The Office. I’m guessing that at least some employees over at the IRS may not be too impressed with their own leadership. I mean big issues, not relatively harmless but kitschy things like Star Trek, Gilligan’s Island or line dancing videos. Perhaps there may have been some mistakes from regular employees, but the bosses surely have the most explaining to do.
The news that the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were actually not lost or destroyed, for one. Remember, when the IRS brass said they looked really hard, and spent $10 million (of taxpayer money!) trying to find those emails? After a year of investigation, they belatedly said they were lost, hard drives were recycled, etc. Anyhow, now they will be sorted, cataloged and released, which is good.
Some people are upset that money is being spent on a ‘witch hunt’ that reveals not even a smidgen of corruption. Others aren’t so sure. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has confirmed that, on top of the backed-up email horde, there are also nearly 2,500 documents relating to investigations of the improper disclosure of confidential taxpayer information by the IRS to the White House. ...
Lois Lerner–the former IRS official at the heart of Tea Party targeting–supposedly didn’t even direct them, though she remains silent. She was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, but hasn’t been prosecuted. Yet after her long silence, in an exclusive interview with Politico she said did nothing wrong and considers herself the victim.She bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts, or letting her own political views influence her treatment of Tea Party “a__holes.”
In the midst of all this, many Americans could use a little reassurance on key points:
- We Want To Be Dealt With Fairly ...
- We Don’t Want Others To Get Away with Anything ...
- We Want Our Private Information Kept Private ...
- We Want IRS Employees To Be Policed ...
- We Don’t Want More Complex Tax Laws ...
Since the IRS is made up of humans, sometimes the IRS is unreasonable or wrong. Richard Nixon supposedly asked the IRS to audit his political enemies. There has been no proof yet that President Obama tried to influence the IRS in the Tea Party targeting scandal. But it’s not unreasonable to want to get to the bottom of it once and for all. ...
The IRS has a very hard job to do, and in general, does it well and fairly. But that is precisely why this is so important. We need fairness and faith in the tax system restored. We shouldn’t need a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get it.
December 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Monday, December 8, 2014
Roll Call: Fresh Round of Controversies for IRS:
The IRS faces growing pressure from critics on both sides of the aisle to come to grips with the role that tax-exempt “dark money” groups play in elections.
The challenge for the beleaguered IRS, which is bracing for a fresh round of controversies early in 2015, is that Republicans and Democrats regard both the problem and the solution in starkly opposing terms.
To Republicans, the problem is that the IRS has policed tax-exempt groups, particularly those run by conservative activists, too aggressively. Republicans on Capitol Hill are poised to redouble their investigation into the agency’s self-admitted targeting of tea party groups and others seeking tax-exempt status.
The GOP probe has been newly energized by a Treasury inspector general’s recent unearthing of thousands of emails previously declared “lost” from former senior IRS official Lois Lerner’s account. Also fueling the investigation is the GOP’s Senate takeover, and a conservative group’s recent lawsuit alleging the agency improperly shared taxpayer information with the White House.
To Democrats, the problem is that undisclosed political spending, popularly dubbed “dark money,” continues to soar. According to the latest estimate from the Center for Responsive Politics, political spending by outside groups that fail to publicly disclose some or all of their donors jumped to at least $219 million in this election cycle, up from $160.8 million in the 2010 midterms.
December 8, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Sunday, December 7, 2014
Town Hall: IRS Scandals Update:, by Daniel J. Mitchell (Cato Institute):
I generally don’t feel a special degree of animosity for the internal revenue service. After all, it’s the politicians who have created the 74,000-plus page monstrosity of a tax code. Blaming the IRS for enforcing that system is like blaming the police for the drug war.
This isn’t to say the IRS is blameless. Just as cops sometimes take misguided laws and enforce them is bad ways, the IRS periodically will go beyond its legal mandate because of an enforcement-über-alles mentality.
But what gets me most upset is when the IRS allows itself – either with glee or reluctance – to become politicized. ...
For instance, the Washington Times reveals that the IRS may have violated taxpayer privacy by giving confidential taxpayer data to the political operatives in the White House. ...
One possible example deals with the Obama Administration’s attack on the Koch brothers. As the Washington Examiner reported, Obama’s top economist at the time was the subject of an investigation. ...
It’s worth noting, by the way, that this isn’t the first White House to get in trouble for using the IRS as a political weapon.
Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Commission’s criminal code, which Congress enacted following revelations of President Nixon’s abuse of private tax information during the Watergate scandal. The second article of impeachment against Nixon in the House Judiciary Committee was based on those abuses.
So the ghost of Richard Nixon may approve of Obama, as suggested by this cartoon.
But this isn’t the only IRS scandal we need to monitor. Remember Lois Lerner, who became infamous for targeting the President’s opponents and then apparently losing her emails? Well, we have an update. The Wall Street Journal opines on the latest development in the IRS targeting scandal. ... One can’t help but wonder whether the delay in finding the emails and now the delay in turning them over to investigators is simply to allow time for smoking guns to be hidden. ...
Let’s close with a good cartoon about the IRS. By the way, if you enjoy anti-IRS cartoons, click here, here, and here for more examples. ...
P.P.S. I don’t want to end on a sour note, so here’s more examples of IRS humor from my archives, including a new Obama 1040 form, a death tax cartoon, a list of tax day tips from David Letterman, a cartoon of how GPS would work if operated by the IRS, an IRS-designed pencil sharpener, two Obamacare/IRS cartoons (here and here), a sale on 1040-form toilet paper (a real product), a song about the tax agency, the IRS’s version of the quadratic formula, and (my favorite) a joke about a Rabbi and an IRS agent.
December 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Saturday, December 6, 2014
Forbes: Recovered IRS Emails Can't Be Revealed Because Of Privacy...That Was Already Breached, by Robert W. Wood:
For over 18 months, we’ve been wondering about those ‘lost’ IRS emails. Would they surface and if so, what they would show? Targeting? Profanity? Nothing? It was a whole year into the Congressional investigation before the IRS first said they were ‘lost,’ a bizarrely belated “oh by the way….”
Think you could file your tax return a year late next year? Would the IRS show some compassion? Unlikely. Yet it turns out those
lost, destroyed, found, and now warehoused emails still can’t be reviewed by the media or anyone else. Why? Because they contain confidential taxpayer information, that’s why.
So says the IRS watchdog known as TIGTA, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The Inspector General has done great works this year and often pokes at the IRS behemoth to improve it. But the Inspector General is in a tough spot over this privacy issue.
We thought the news that the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were actually not lost or destroyed meant we would get to the bottom of this once and for all. How else could we see if the President’s supporters are right? They say this is a ‘witch hunt’ that reveals not even a smidgen of corruption, a phrase Mr. Obama himself repeated to Fox News in February. But once again, we’re in the dark. Talk about a Catch-22. ...
A judge finally ruled that the IRS must turn over any relevant documents to Cause of Action. But that puts in Inspector General back in the hot seat. TIGTA admits it has thousands of pages of responsive documents. However, TIGTA says it can’t release them because they contain confidential taxpayer information. That sure sounds telling already, even if we can’t see them!
After all, why would communications between the IRS and the White House contain taxpayer information? A key question is whether any officials at the White House ever asked anyone at the IRS to transmit private taxpayer information to the White House in violation of law. Moreover, regardless of whether the White House asked for any taxpayer information, did the IRS ever transmit any?
December 6, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Friday, December 5, 2014
The Hill, Watchdog: IRS Withholding Documents on Taxpayer Data Requests:
A watchdog group says the IRS is withholding documents between the agency and the White House that show inappropriate requests for taxpayer data, according to multiple reports.
The Treasury inspector general for tax administration has told the group that there are more than 2,000 documents potentially related to the request.
A court has said the agency must hand over the documents. But IRS officials have said that they will not release the documents, citing a part of the tax code that protects the confidentiality of individual tax returns.
It is not clear what is contained in the documents, but Cause of Action said they might be evidence of White House misdeeds.
“That indicates scandal,” said Daniel Epstein, a spokesman for the group. "Now, potentially, there's confidential tax information going from the IRS to the White House. Potentially — we don't know, we'd like to see," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has been a critic of the IRS under the Obama administration, said late Wednesday on Fox News.
The White House denied any wrongdoing to Fox News. “I can tell you that, as a rule, that the Obama administration has been very rigorous in following all of the rules and regulations that govern proper communication between Treasury officials and White House officials and the Internal Revenue Service,” press secretary Josh Earnest told the outlet.
December 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Thursday, December 4, 2014
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Forbes: Are Criminals Outsmarting The IRS?, by Robert W. Wood:
With the IRS scandals of the last 18 months, it might seem that we have lost control of our tax system. The IRS is an essential part of our government, which can’t run without taxes. So having it fairly and efficiently run is pretty important. More than 18 months ago, an angry President Obama sacked the IRS Chief, Steven Miller. That was inevitable after the story broke that Tea Party and other conservative groups were targeted for extra scrutiny. The cover-up was worse than the crime, especially for an agency that must rely on taxpayers self-assessing their taxes.
More than 18 months ago, Mr. Obama said (in this transcript) that the IRS needed new leadership while it faced a broad probe of its conduct. The President promised full cooperation with congressional investigations. For new leadership “that can help restore confidence,” President Obama picked John Koskinen as next Commissioner. He came to office having no tax knowledge and no tax experience, but was an avowed turnaround specialist.
Whatever Mr. Koskinen’s skills, the agency hasn’t yet come back to smooth sailing. With alleged targeting, bonus controversies, systemic lien and collection errors and more, the agency looks incompetent to many outsiders. Whatever one’s political views, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The different stories surrounding the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails alone do not leave everyone as certain as the President that there is not a smidgen of corruption.Perhaps the President will be proven right–I hope so.
But it still is no way to run a railroad. Taxpayers deserve better, and so do the thousands of IRS honest and hard working IRS employees. The 18 months of dissembling started when a comparatively unknown Lois Lerner was speaking at a bar association meeting May 10, 2013. She planted a question in the audience so she could get out ahead of the TIGTA report documenting IRS targeting. It may have been well-intentioned but came off as duplicitous. 18 months later, we’re still waiting for the final word, though now we are told that 2,500 previously undisclosed documents may link to the White House.
December 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Monday, December 1, 2014
- Accounting Web: A Whole Lot of Lois Lerner’s Lost Emails Have Been Found
- Accuracy in Media: Lois Lerner’s Missing 30,000 E-mails at the IRS Have Been Found
- American Center for Law and Justice: Surprise: 30,000 “Lost” Lois Lerner IRS Emails Turn Up
- American Spectator: Found: 30,000 Emails That the IRS Overlooked
- Breitbart: Did the IRS Give Taxpayer Information to the White House?
- Catholic Online: Should Obama Be Able to Use the IRS as a Weapon to Target Conservative Opponents?
- CBN News: Lost IRS Emails Found, Belying 'No Backup' Claims
- Charleston Post and Courier editorial: Thank Goodness for IRS Watchdog
- Chronicle of Philanthropy: IRS Watchdog Recovers 30,000 Missing Lois Lerner Emails
- Daily Caller: Thousands of Documents: IRS Gave Taxpayer Information To White House
- Don't Mess With Taxes: Possible Break in Hunt for Lois Lerner's Lost IRS Emails
- Forbes, 'Lost' Lois Lerner Emails Found Despite 'No Backup' Claims. IRS Has No Comment, by Robert W. Wood
- Forbes: Those Not-So-Lost IRS Emails: Up To 30,000 Lerner Emails May Have Been Recovered, by Kelly Phillips Erb
- Fox News: IRS Gave White House Thousands of Taxpayer Documents
- Fox News: 30,000 'Missing' Emails From IRS' Lerner Recovered
- Fox News Radio: Thousands of Lost Lois Lerner Emails Found
- Government Executive: New Lois Lerner Emails May Be Retrieved
- Headlines & Global News: White House, IRS Worked Together to Harrass Conservative Groups? Shocking Documents Revealed
- International Business Times: Department Of Justice To Release 30,000 Emails From IRS Exchange With White House
- Market Watch: IRS Finds Missing Lerner Emails
- McClatchy: Senate Panel Continues Probe of Lerner, IRS
- News OK: 2,500 New Documents ID'd in White House-IRS Taxpayer Harassment Cases
- Politico: Thousands of Lost Lois Lerner IRS Emails Found by IG
- Reason: Inspector General Finds Lois Lerner Emails IRS Claimed Were too Difficult to Recover
- Red State: IRS Scandal: Investigators Uncover Lois Lerner’s E-mails in Data
- Red State: Surprise: 30,000 “Lost” Lois Lerner IRS Emails Turn Up
- Town Hall: IRS Targets Tea Party - Missed $7 Million Tax Fraud in Pennsylvania
- WND: Watchdog: Obama 'Potentially' Hip Deep in IRS Scandal
- World: The IRS Had Lois Lerner’s Emails After All
December 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Sunday, November 30, 2014
Breitbart: Obama: Not Legitimate for Future Presidents to Lower Taxes via Executive Action:
After unilaterally granting temporary amnesty and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants last week, President Barack Obama said it would not be legitimate for a future president to unilaterally lower tax rates.
When asked on ABC's This Week if his successor could unilaterally act to lower taxes if Congress does not, Obama replied, "absolutely not."
Obama, despite the IRS's targeting of conservative and Tea Party organizations, also said that his administration only audits "folks who are most likely to be cheating" and said that even though the IRS does not "audit every single person... we still expect that people are going to go ahead and follow the law."
November 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Saturday, November 29, 2014
Forbes: In 'Lost' Trove Of IRS Emails, 2,500 May Link White House To Confidential Taxpayer Data, by Robert W. Wood:
The recent news that the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were actually not lost or destroyed surprised some people. That they will now be sorted, cataloged and released provokes mixed reactions. It has some Republicans upset that more wasn’t done and more transparently. It has some Democrats upset that more money is being spent on what some see as a witch hunt that reveals not even a smidgen of corruption. Despite the 18 months of dissembling about who did what and when, the latter reaction may be premature.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has confirmed that, on top of the backed-up email horde, there are also nearly 2,500 documents relating to investigations of the improper disclosure of confidential taxpayer information by the IRS to the White House. Yes, the White House.
Why should the White House be getting confidential taxpayer information? That is a good question. If the facts show such data was transmitted, even under the most charitable interpretation, you would think every American would want to know what happened.
The Inspector General for Tax Administration has seemed to be a white knight in the sometimes tawdry (and often inflammatory) email and targeting scandal that has roiled the IRS over 18 months. Yet on this particular issue, the Inspector General is being questioned too. An advocacy group called Cause of Action sued the Inspector General under the Freedom of Information Act for information about communications between the White House and the IRS.
Eventually, the court ordered that office to reveal whether the documents existed. Finally, the Obama administration has agreed to release the documents. A key question is whether any officials at the White House have ever asked anyone over at the IRS to transmit private taxpayer information to the White House in violation of law. Another question, regardless of whether the White House asked for any taxpayer information, is whether the IRS ever transmitted any.
With talk of targeting for more than 18 months, those of fair questions. The Obama administration consistently resisted responding, but has finally had to relent. In an email to Cause of Action, the Department of Justice has proposed deadlines for turning over documents next month. The DOJ states that it anticipates delivering some of the documents December 1st, and the remainder by December 15th.
The data may seem unimportant, and hopefully it will turn out to be. Still, the privacy protections for taxpayer data held by the IRS are among the most sensitive parts of the tax law. That makes any alleged transgressions of these rules serious. It makes this topic arguably the worst part of the IRS scandal so far.
According to the U.S. Supreme Court in a decision reaching back to 1819, the power to tax includes the power to destroy. The current administration’s pooh-poohing, including its ‘no smidgen of corruption’ remark to Fox News in February, does little to help. We have been feted to multiple mixed explanations of what happened, to multiple participants who may or may not have said or done something, to multiple refusals by one of the key players to testify. Such shifting sands leave us wondering.
The defiance and hubris from at least some at the IRS itself has been as disturbing. It has hardly seemed to be the kind of “we’re here to serve” attitude one might reasonably have expected. Some are even wondering about that whole separation of powers thing we learned about in civics or history class. American taxpayers should want to know what happened.
November 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Friday, November 28, 2014
Wall Street Journal: ‘Lost’ IRS Emails Found: An Investigator Locates What the Tax Agency Claimed Had Vanished:
The Democrats’ midterm shellacking was in part a referendum on competence, which leads, naturally, to the all but unreported news that the IRS never “lost” emails after all. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is pulling off the impossible task of destroying what little credibility that bureaucracy has left.
Treasury Department Inspector General Russell George recently informed Congress that his forensic investigation has turned up as many as 30,000 emails from the account of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner—emails the IRS has insisted were destroyed. The emails cover the crucial period from January 2009 through June 2011 when the IRS was ramping up its targeting of conservative nonprofits.
Mr. Koskinen—hired nearly a year ago to clean up the IRS—has been at the center of that delay. In June the IRS buried in a letter to the Senate Finance Committee the bombshell news that nearly two years of Lerner emails were missing because her hard drive had crashed. This malfunction conveniently happened about 10 days after Congress alerted the IRS that it was looking into claims the agency was harassing conservative groups.
It later emerged that Mr. Koskinen had known about these missing emails in April—but hadn’t told Congress. He informed Congress only after a court case revealed the Lerner email record was incomplete.
Mr. Koskinen claimed in June that his agency had done everything humanly possible to recover the pesky documents. ... We can only imagine Mr. Koskinen’s shock in September when the Treasury IG said it had found 760 tapes that might hold Lerner emails. Or his further surprise when it took only a few weeks to identify and extract the specific Lerner documents—out of 250 million backup emails.
And we can only imagine Mr. Koskinen’s apology for his agency’s email failure—since he hasn’t given one. In response to the emails’ miraculous reappearance, the IRS explained: “The IRS welcomes TIGTA’s independent review and expert forensic analysis. Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found.”
This is an extraordinary statement, in that it suggests the only way an agency can be held accountable for producing subpoenaed documents is if an outsider tosses the joint. Either the IRS didn’t bother to investigate these tapes or, more alarming, it did and chose not to produce the results.
The IG is turning over the emails to the IRS, which is supposed to redact sensitive tax information before sending them to Congress. Mr. Koskinen needs to end the IRS stonewalling and turn the records over with dispatch without covering up incriminating evidence.
November 28, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Thursday, November 27, 2014
CP Politics: IRS Scandal a Priority for New House Oversight Committee Chair:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, will focus on the IRS scandal as the House's new head executive watchdog. He was appointed as the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday.
Replacing the term-limited Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the 47-year-old Chaffetz will now chair the committee that has been a leading force behind the House investigation into the scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative and Christian groups. ...
Chaffetz' appointment could spell continued trouble for the IRS. Fox News reported that Chaffetz "vowed" to make the probe into the IRS's practice of stalling 501(c) tax-exempt applications of conservative and religious political action groups the "centerpiece of his chairmanship."
Along with Issa's leadership, Chaffetz has been an influential part of the Committee's IRS investigation. In the Spring, Chaffetz called for an independent special prosecutor when the IRS announced that emails from IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Unit, Lois Lerner, had been lost in a 2011 hard drive and no backup copies were made to turn over for review.
Chaffetz said he sees a pattern in the coincidental loss of evidence when it comes to federal agencies turning over documents when pressed in investigations.
"This is a recurring theme, from Fast and Furious, right down to Benghazi and now this IRS. It's the same basic drumbeat," Chaffetz told Sean Hannity earlier this year. "I think they are trying to play out the clock."
Numerous conservative political groups have accused the IRS of stalling their tax-exempt applications for political reasons. When a political action group does not receive tax-exempt status, potential donors can not be guaranteed that their donations will be eligible for tax write-offs. The IRS' stalling of the applications has cost groups thousands in donations and grants, while other groups have have not been able to survive. A communications director for a Texas-based conservative group told the Christian Post in October that the IRS's stalling cost his group $80,000 in donations and grants.
"The IRS, more than anybody else, cannot be a political organization. But is what it looks like it is has been like lately," Chaffetz told Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo in June. ...
The House Ways and Means Committee, which is also involved in the IRS investigation, will also have a new chair as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was appointed as the committee's chairman on Tuesday. In a statement, Ryan said his committee will work to "hold the IRS accountable."
November 27, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Washington Examiner: 2,500 New Documents ID'd in White House-IRS Taxpayer Harassment Cases:
In a shocking revelation, the Treasury Inspector General has identified some 2,500 documents that “potentially” show taxpayer information held by the Internal Revenue Service being shared with President Obama’s White House.
The discovery was revealed to the group Cause of Action, which has sued for access to any of the documents. It charges that the IRS and White House have harassed taxpayers.
In an email from the Justice Department’s tax office, an official revealed the high number of documents, suggesting that the White House was hip deep in probes of taxpayers, likely including conservatives and Tea Party groups associated with the IRS scandal.
Power Line: The IRS Scandal Rears Its Head:
The Obama Administration’s IRS scandal is multi-faceted. In addition to the persecution of conservative non-profits by Lois Lerner et al., the question has been percolating for some years whether Obama’s IRS has transferred confidential taxpayer information to Obama’s White House in violation of federal criminal laws. The issue first arose when Austin Goolsbee of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers told reporters that he had information about Koch Industries that could only have come, illegally, from confidential IRS files. When questions were asked, the administration immediately clammed up.
Years later, the judicial system may be poised to expose another layer of Obama corruption. A group called Cause of Action began a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of the Treasury, and for several years, your taxpayer dollars have funded the administration’s cover-up.
But nothing lasts forever, and a federal court in Washington, D.C. has finally overruled the Treasury Department’s frivolous objections, and ordered Treasury to respond to Cause of Action’s request for documents. That request relates to the Department’s Inspector General’s investigation–which began a long time ago, and probably has long been concluded–and asks for “[a]ll documents pertaining to any investigation by [TIGTA] into the unauthorized disclosure of [26 U.S.C.] §6103 ‘return information’ to anyone in the Executive Office of the President.”
That is an extraordinarily narrow request for documents which, one would think, could have been responded to in a few hours. But the administration’s evasion has gone on for years. Now that the court has ordered the administration to respond, its lawyers have asked for more time
Cause of Action: Press Release:
Monday the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed Cause of Action that there exist nearly 2,500 potentially responsive documents relating to investigations of improper disclosures of confidential taxpayer information by the IRS to the White House. This disclosure, coming only after Cause of Action sued TIGTA over its refusal to acknowledge whether such investigations took place, and after the Court ordered TIGTA to reveal whether or not documents existed, signals that the White House may have made significant efforts to obtain taxpayers’ personal information. This disclosure, following on the heels of TIGTA’s admission that it recovered 30,000 “lost” Lois Lerner emails, renews Cause of Action’s concerns about the decaying professionalism of, and apparent slip into partisanship by, IRS’s senior leadership.
Cause of Action will continue to pursue the truth and to work for IRS accountability.
November 26, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee), More on Those 'Found' Emails From Lois Lerner:
I’m cynical enough to suspect that they’ve been found for a long time, and the delay was to (1) get past the midterms; and (2) allow someone to vacuum the archives of any truly incriminating material.
American Thinker: The Zelig Presidency:
For those familiar with Woody Allen movies, one of his more unusual ones was Zelig, a movie done in a black & white, semi-documentary form about a man played by Woody Allen who has a rare chameleon-like disorder where he takes on the physical and personality traits of those who he is in close proximity. The movie stands out for its uniqueness but is also a commentary on personality, how a person gets one and how it is defined, and is it even possible to be original anymore, especially when it comes to political, artistic and intellectual greatness.
In the case of Obama, he seems to be the Zelig president. He's been taking on the characteristics and actions of past presidents while displaying no originality. He is Nixon using the IRS to target his political enemies. Here he succeeded where Nixon did not. Nixon's IRS director refused to carry out his orders when instructed to do his bidding but Lois Lerner perfected political targeting to an art. (Her problem was that she got caught.)
November 25, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Monday, November 24, 2014
Daily Caller: How to Ensure The IRS Never Abuses Its Powers Again:
It is not so much whether or when or why the IRS abused its authority by targeting Tea Party and conservative groups. We know by now the answers are: of course, over a period of year, and to aid the re-election of President Obama.
Going forward, the most important question is: How can we prevent it from happening again? The answer may be more complicated than we think. ...
The evidence proves the IRS was used as an abusive political tool to hobble or destroy as many organizations as possible that opposed President Obama’s agenda. The partisan media may continue to suppress this fact, but the denial that it happened at all is growing more absurd by the day. Journalists raised to never trust anyone over the age of 30 now seem to accept any excuse – no matter how implausible – to explain away the scandal.
Once the problem came to light, the director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division claimed to have “lost” her emails. At the same time, the IRS was known to sanction individuals for not maintaining seven years of receipts. Would the New York Times have accepted this excuse from the Koch Brothers? ...
[W]hat the IRS did to Tea Party organizations is tyranny personified and it cannot be ignored or forgiven, because it can happen to anyone who opposes the policies of the powerful. ...
This controversy presents us with an opportunity to remove the Internal Revenue Service from political influence altogether. Anyone who respects the separation of powers, regardless of whether they are conservative, liberal, moderate, libertarian or anything else, ought to see the wisdom in separating IRS enforcement and presidential appointments.
Appointments by the president are, by and large, intended to mirror his political decisions. The IRS, however, is different. Because of its massive power and essentially unlimited authority, it must be more than fair – it must be 100 percent non-political. Even if this is unattainable, every attempt must be made.
November 24, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Sunday, November 23, 2014
New York Post editorial: Silence of the Schumer:
It wasn’t so long ago Chuck Schumer was obsessing over the idea that the tax code was being abused for partisan purposes.
Back in March 2012, he and six fellow Democratic senators wrote the IRS demanding more scrutiny for 501(c)4 groups who claimed they were involved in “social welfare” but were “devoted chiefly to political election activities who operate behind a facade of charity work.”
Later, the IRS started singling out conservative organizations for special treatment and delay.
But times have changed. Now we have a story in The New York Times about an individual deeply involved in politics who has a 501(c)4 that, as the Times puts it, appears to rank “among the most delinquent nonprofit organizations in the nation.”
The individual: the Rev. Al Sharpton. His organization: the National Action Network, which has failed to pay payroll taxes over the years. Sharpton says this wasn’t intentional but stemmed from a dispute on how to classify some independent contractors.
Nonetheless, Sharpton still flies first class and collects a nice salary from NAN as he zips between New York, Ferguson, Mo., and Washington, DC.
As the Times also reports, it’s the “kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general recently characterized as ‘abusive’ or ‘potentially criminal’ if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.”
Considering how eager Sen. Schumer was to ensure 501(c)4’s weren’t gaming the tax system, we felt sure we would hear the senator thumping loudly for the IRS to take a hard look at the National Action Network.
November 23, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Saturday, November 22, 2014
Wall Street Journal: IRS Finds Missing Emails of Former Top Official Lerner in Targeting Probe:
The watchdog agency for the Internal Revenue Service said it has found as many as 30,000 missing emails that could be relevant to a long-running congressional inquiry into alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups.
Investigators for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently recovered the emails from IRS backup tapes, according to a spokeswoman for the watchdog agency. The emails belong to a former top IRS official, Lois Lerner, who has been a focus of congressional inquiries. ...
Top IRS officials had told lawmakers that backup tapes were routinely recycled and therefore weren't useful in the effort to find the missing email records. The agency said it had used other employees’ hard drives to recover thousands of the missing emails.
But TIGTA investigators succeeded in locating thousands of Ms. Lerner’s emails on the backup tapes. ...
The IRS said in a statement: “As Commissioner Koskinen has stated, the IRS welcomes TIGTA’s independent review and expert forensic analysis. Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found.”
The revelations promise to draw new attention to the targeting controversy, just before lawmakers return to Washington for the new Congress next year. TIGTA officials told lawmakers on Friday about the discovery of the missing emails, but congressional aides said it could take some weeks before the emails are sorted and in shape to examine. The emails must be decrypted and in some cases must be redacted to remove taxpayer-identifying information, aides said.
November 22, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Friday, November 21, 2014
Legal Insurrection: IRS Fears Employees Being “Seized With Spontaneous Diarrhea”, by WIlliam Jacobson (Cornell):
Hey, remember the Reader Poll we did about whether it was okay to follow and try to interview Lois Lerner in her neighborhood? ...
Someone noticed the comments to the blog post. The IRS. And it’s not happy.
In a federal FOIA lawsuit by Judicial Watch seeking records of Lerner emails and IRS efforts to retrieve the emails, the IRS used two of the comments to the Legal Insurrection Reader Poll post to justify the IRS no longer disclosing the identities of IRS personnel.
Think about that. The IRS is reading our comments. Don’t they have anything better to do, like hassle conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status? On second thought, keep reading our comments and leave conservative groups alone.It’s all set forth in the IRS’s opposition to Judicial Watch’s Motion to Compel Discovery. You can read the whole thing here.
The Legal Insurrection post is Exhibit D to the IRS affidavit. ...
Does the IRS really fear “public whipping with a buggy whip” and being in such fear its employees are “seized with spontaneous diarrhea”?
November 21, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Thursday, November 20, 2014
American Spectator: The Lois Lerner Curve: How Anti-corruption Laws Cause Even More Corruption:
Corrupt countries, where the rule of law is weak and political pilfering is common, are poor countries. Entrepreneurs and investors cannot safely start or finance businesses in states that don’t respect property rights and honor contracts, or that use the levers of the government to go after political opponents. And it’s not as though America doesn’t have a corruption problem. On Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the U.S. comes in at number 19, behind most of the rest of the First World.
For anyone following the Lois Lerner scandal, that’s not surprising. What should be surprising, perhaps, are her defenders. Lerner tampered with IRS nonprofit applications, and revealed them only when an Inspector General was about to report on them. Then the cover-up began. The IRS put out a story that blamed the shenanigans on low-level Cincinnati employees. We were told that the IRS hadn’t picked on conservative any more than liberal groups. All lies. Then Lerner pled the Fifth, and her emails mysteriously disappeared. ...
[T]here’s another reason why the Lois Lerner scandal was to be expected: we have an excess, not an insufficiency, of laws. Now, we do need laws to police corruption of the obvious sort, such as bribery and extortion. But anti-corruption laws can cause more corruption than they prevent when they rely on complicated five-point standards of the kind loved by Anthony Kennedy and law school professors, with balanced and nuanced rules that seek to apply a scalpel to tasks better suited to an earthmover. We end up giving politicized bureaucrats a weapon to use against their opponents. It’s like handing a match to a giddy pyromaniac.
I call this the Lois Lerner Curve. With few laws policing corruption, there’s a lot of it. Then, as law enforcement increases, corruption declines, down to point zero on the curve. Thereafter, however, additional laws result in more corruption, because citizens and bureaucrats alike become lost in the complexity and enforcement is unevenly applied. ...
I think of this when I read about proposals for campaign finance reform. Sure, there’s room for cleaning up the pay-for-play politics of crony capitalism and the gerrymandering that makes most Congressional seats into fiefdoms for life. And there are well-meaning people, like Harvard’s Larry Lessig, who for honest motives want to limit campaign spending. Whatever their intentions, however, what they would do is take our election laws up the right-hand side of the Lois Lerner Curve, resulting in more corruption. Lurking behind them are Lois Lerner’s duplicitous partisans, the bare-knuckled street fighters who seek to end the scandal of Republican money in politics, and who would give us a country as free of corruption as Russia. They are scoundrels in the cause of honor, whores who clamor for morality, thieves in defense of property rights.
Was that a little rough, just now? Then let me remind you about True the Vote, the conservative vote-monitoring organization led by Catherine Englebrecht. True the Vote trains volunteers to record and report on suspicious voter registrations. We’re not talking about the New Black Panthers with their baseball bats, but nevertheless Rep. Elijah Cummings opened up a congressional investigation into the group. His staffers wrote to Lois Lerner about it, and subsequently the IRS questioned its tax-exempt status. In in short order Engelbrecht’s business was visited by the FBI, ATF, and OSHA. She testified about this in February, and what’s interesting is how Democrats treated her. Cummings questioned her about her possible racist motives, and Gerry Connolly complained of McCarthyism and mocked her “paranoia” for thinking the audits might have been politically motivated.
November 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Town Hall, The IRS Hatchetmen:
[W]hen the Joint Committee on Taxation was started, it was a temporary committee and that was founded because the IRS (then called the BIR) was engaged in the same type of political bullying and illegality that conservatives have used against the Tea Party since 2010.
Senator James Couzens of Michigan, who helped found the JTC, was the Larry Ellison of his day. Like Ellison, who co-founded Oracle, Couzens made his money as the number two guy and management genius behind Henry Ford and Ford Motors. ... As a Republican from Michigan he was considered a progressive and opposed tax cuts, supported the graduated income tax and–like another rich guy, Warren Buffet—acted as the self appointed popular voice against rich corporations, railing against favorable tax treatment for companies.
At the time Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, himself one of the richest men in America was advocating a scientific basis for taxation, “the use of economic theory to identify the tax rates that would maximize revenue yet burden productive capital as little as possible,” according to George K. Yin at the University of Virginia Law School. In short he was proposing an infant Laffer curve.
Mellon noted that tax policy was distorting the distribution of capital with companies less willing to pay dividends to shareholders because of the hostile tax treatment dividends received. He also noted that wealthy people were more inclined to invest in tax-free municipal securities because of the different tax treatment that cities and states had versus corporations.
As a progressive Republican Couzens argued against Mellon, using his own status as a rich man to make his point. His argument—in a preview of Warren Buffet’s own stupidity—was that tax treatment made little difference in what types of investments rich people made. ...
By inviting scrutiny of his tax situation, however, Couzen challenged Mellon publicly and also admitted that the tax treatment of investments changed his behavior. The result eventually was an examination in 1925 of Couzen’s tax liability for the sale of his Ford Motor stock in 1913, according to Yin, which was supposed to amount to 73 percent of the gains from the stock, a tax that Couzen said he supported.
The affair became unseemly with both sides using private tax records as weapons against the other. And when Couzens made the affair public in the Senate, the Senate was outraged that a sitting Senator would be subject to retaliation by an adinistration.
Thus was born the Joint Committee on Taxation whose expressed aim was to "investigate and report upon the operation, effects, and administration of the Federal system of income and other internal revenue taxes and upon any proposals or measures which in the judgment of the Commission may be employed to simplify or improve the operation or administration of such systems of taxes,” according to the JTC’s website.
In reality however it was there to stop internal revenue from being used as a political weapon.
November 18, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Monday, November 17, 2014
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Yahoo! Finance: Politicization of the IRS: Full Disclosure Network Special Video Report:
Watch this 8 minute FDN Video where it is revealed that Obama Administration officials were directing the IRS campaign against political groups critical of the President's policies according to the documents obtained by Paul Orfanedes, Director of Litigation for the public interest law firm Judicial Watch. Orfanedes reveals the tactics used by IRS Director Lois Lerner that deceived the media by where public documents had been withheld from Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA) filed by Judicial Watch. He also explains why Judicial Watch is determined to find all the missing Lois Lerner emails and how the IRS was able to shut down Patriot and Tea Party organizations by denying them Tax Exempt Status.
November 15, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Friday, November 14, 2014
Breitbart, The IRS-Benghazi Congress:
Benghazi and the IRS dominated the news this year thanks to Judicial Watch’s work in exposing smoking gun documents in both scandals – work that left Congress and much of the other media looking feeble. JW’s work can change history. Our intent is to get the truth, and we spared neither party from criticism. But voters were outraged at our findings and the scandals were a major factor in the election.
Almost half, 49 percent, said the results of the 2012 presidential election would have been different if the public knew the facts then that it knows now about the Obama administration’s initial, misleading story about what happened in Benghazi and the targeting of conservative groups through the IRS.
In no small way, this new Congress is the Benghazi-IRS Congress. The expanded House majority, which has a historic number of Republican members, and the massive wave that led to the Republican takeover of the Senate were the result of voter concerns about Obama’s IRS abuse and the Benghazi deaths and cover-up. 48 percent of voters said the IRS scandal influenced their vote, and of those concerned Americans, 71 percent voted for Republicans to take over the Senate. The numbers are similar for Benghazi; 39 percent said the scandal influenced their vote and 64 percent who were concerned about the terrorist attack this president lied about to get reelected say they voted for Republicans in the Senate. ...
The new Congress has a strong mandate to pursue Obama’s abuse of power in the IRS scandal, hold him accountable for the Benghazi lies, protect our borders, close the door on amnesty, end Obamacare, confront government secrecy, and ensure the integrity of our elections. Judicial Watch has been happy to do the job of Congress, the establishment media, and the Justice Department for six years. Again, this election shows that Americans want Congress to follow our lead and get Washington back under the rule of law.
November 14, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Thursday, November 13, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Wall Street Journal: At Last, a Chance to Get to the Bottom of the IRS Mess, by Cleta Mitchell (Foley & Lardner, Washington, D.C.):
The day after Republicans won solid majorities in the House and Senate, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader-to-be Mitch McConnell outlined priorities for the newly elected Congress. High on the list is fundamental tax reform. In addition to overhauling the federal tax code, however, Congress should rein in the Internal Revenue Service.
Much has already been learned about the arrogance of the IRS from the House investigations of the agency’s targeting of conservatives. The revelations emerged despite strenuous efforts by Democrats in Washington and by the IRS itself to block inquiries and deny the existence of political targeting—targeting that the former head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit, Lois Lerner, eventually acknowledged and apologized for in May 2013.
Bringing the IRS to heel can start with re-energizing and expanding congressional investigations and holding accountable those responsible for the targeting and other abuses. To serve notice that the IRS’s thumbing of its nose at Congress by ignoring multiple congressional subpoenas will no longer be tolerated, the House GOP Steering Committee should elect Rep. Jim Jordan as the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (where current chairman Darrell Issa is term-limited). ...
Since 2012, House investigators have been subjected to an IRS rope-a-dope game by the refusal of the agency and various officials to respond to subpoenas or to answer questions fully and forthrightly. The House should now reissue the subpoenas that will expire at the end of this Congress and proceed to federal court to enforce all outstanding subpoenas previously issued to the IRS and its personnel during the course of the investigations.
More important, the House should ask the federal courts to enforce its May 2014 contempt resolution against Ms. Lerner for refusing to answer questions from Congress about her role in the targeting of conservatives. It is clear that the Obama Justice Department has willfully failed to file an enforcement proceeding in federal court. There also are strong separation-of-powers arguments against allowing the executive branch to unilaterally disregard congressional disciplinary actions taken against an executive-branch official like Ms. Lerner for refusing to testify before Congress.
Beyond all this, Republicans now have the opportunity to expand their inquiries into other areas of IRS misconduct. ... As Congress shines a light on these and other unacceptable IRS practices, public support for fundamental tax reform will only increase. The new Republican-controlled Congress will thus have a rare opportunity to overhaul a tax policy and a tax-collecting agency that both desperately need it.
November 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Monday, November 10, 2014
Washington Examiner: Congress' To-do List: Major Unsolved Scandals Top the List for New U.S. Congress:
The pending 114th Congress needs to dig into some serioius issues without delay because they are concerns that the Democratic Senate led by Sen. Harry Reid refused to investigate during the most recent Senate. ...
The IRS scandal that still leaves many stones unturned. While persons in the Obama administration have been investigating to a small degree, there is obvious a need to conduct more of an investigation into this concern. The assertions of lost emails by persons involved, such as Lois Lerner, is still unsettled. ...
Needless to say, the IRS scandal remains and has not settled well with Americans who want to know the truth. After all, targeting conservative groups prior to the 2010 election when the Democrats fared well, wasn’t right. Naturally, the whole truth needs come out, and those who were involved need to be held accountable – and punished as need be.
November 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Sunday, November 9, 2014
Wall Street Journal editorial: Overseeing Obama:
Election Day is over. But if Americans ever hope to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, they’ll be hoping for victory in a more obscure campaign. The House Republican leadership will soon select the next chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In a crowded field, Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) is the candidate best equipped to conduct thorough and credible investigations of federal waste, fraud and abuse. ...
Current Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa is stepping down due to GOP term limits for committee heads. Mr. Jordan has done as much as anyone to shine a light on IRS abuse of the President’s philosophical opponents, both in hearings and behind the scenes.
More than a year before the public learned the name of Lois Lerner, Mr. Jordan was seeking answers from the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations chief on political targeting allegations. He then requested an inspector general’s audit at the Treasury Department. Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer representing various IRS targeting victims, tells us that if not for Mr. Jordan there would have been no Treasury investigation “and no public admission that, indeed, conservative groups were being subjected to unprecedented scrutiny and mistreatment.” ...
Speaker John Boehner and other members of the elected GOP House leadership should elevate Mr. Jordan and send a clear message of reform and accountability.
November 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Saturday, November 8, 2014
Forbes: What If Lois Lerner Was Right About The Tea Party?, by Peter J. Reilly:
The e-mails I have been getting from Jenny Beth Martin, Chairman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, have me thinking about Lois Lerner and Teapartygate. I went back and took another look at a report prepared by the staff of Darrell Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government. The report is titled Lois Lerner’s Involvement in the IRS Targeting of Tax-Exempt Organizations. It is well worth reading the whole report and I recommend it. I still don’t think it adds up to some sort of crusade against conservatives, but that’s just me. You can read it yourself. It seems that Lerner was strongly against money in politics and sensitive to the criticism that IRS was letting 501(c)(4) organizations get away with too much political activity. And along comes the Tea Party, which Lerner sees as “very dangerous”.
One GD thing after another and now we are on Day 542 of the IRS Scandal, by TaxProf count, with no end in sight. Here is the question that is troubling me right now thanks to the e-mails I have been getting from Jenny Beth Martin. If there is a pretty compelling case that Tea Party Patriots Inc was intended from day 1 to be a political organization, rather than a social welfare organization, would that make any difference in how we view Lois Lerner? ...
The IRS has to collect over two trillion dollars, which is a pretty big job, so it would be better if it did not get caught up in side issues. Still Lois Lerner was in charge of exempt organizations and there are rules that the IRS was accused of ignoring. There is a lot of diversity in the grassroots Tea Party groups, but I have a hard time seeing the self proclaimed flagship as anything but a political organization based on how it has been behaving lately. Does that make the scandal any more or less scandalous? What do you think?
November 8, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Friday, November 7, 2014
Legal Insurrection: Judicial Watch: IRS “Did Not Undertake Any Significant Efforts to Obtain” Missing Lerner Emails:
Democrats who had hoped for at least a week to sleep off their election night hangovers are getting no rest after the latest disclosure of court documents by advocacy group Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch has spent a great deal of time and resources seeking information about the IRS targeting of conservative groups.
In September, Judicial Watch asked the court for permission to conduct discovery into how “lost and/or destroyed” records might be recovered; the IRS is fighting transparency efforts, but their latest response to the discovery request contains inconsistencies that could pull the rug out from under IRS officials responsible for the cover up.
Via Judicial Watch:
Judicial Watch lawyers reviewed the IRS court filings and concluded that the agency “did not undertake any significant efforts to obtain the emails.”
IRS attorneys conceded that they had failed to search the agency’s servers for missing emails because they decided that “the servers would not result in the recovery of any information.” They admitted they had failed to search the agency’s disaster recovery tapes because they had “no reason to believe that the tapes are a potential source of recovering” the missing emails. And they conceded that they had not searched the government-wide back-up system because they had “no reason to believe such a system … even exists.”
But what’s this? The inconvenient truth, documented for all time courtesy of court filings? [Emphasis in bold mine:]
The IRS admitted to Judge Sullivan that the agency failed to “submit declarations about any of the foregoing items because it had no reason to believe that they were sources from which to recover information lost as a result of Lerner’s hard drive failure.” [Emphasis added] Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS had previously told Judicial Watch that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. In the October federal court filing, the IRS does not deny that the government-wide back-up system exists, and acknowledges to the court that 760 other email “servers” have been discovered but had not been searched.
The IRS also refuses to disclose the names of the IRS officials who may have information about the IRS scandal, citing unspecified threats. The IRS says it pulled documents about the scandal from various employees into a “Congressional database” and that it has only searched this one “database” for missing records. Incredibly, the IRS has not searched any of the IRS’s regular computer systems for any missing records and admits that it has only searched a “database” that it knows does not contain the missing records being sought by the court, Judicial Watch, and Congress.
After two years of fighting, it has become clear to the attorneys at Judicial Watch and to the public that this administration is not interested in transparency as to the IRS targeting of conservatives.
November 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Thursday, November 6, 2014
Forbes, IRS Memo Claims Forbes Story Influenced Tax Exempt Decision Involving Billionaire, by Janet Novack:
A newly uncovered Internal Revenue Service memo lends support to billionaire investor Peter R. Kellogg’s claim that the IRS tax exempt division may have improperly taken press coverage –and specifically a Forbes cover story–into account before making a decision that cost him a bundle.
Kellogg K +0.22% and IAT Reinsurance Co. Ltd, the Bermuda-based insurance company his family owns, are suing the IRS for refunds of $186 million in taxes and interest they paid after the IRS revoked IAT’s qualification as a tax exempt 501(c)(15) insurance company retroactively. The lead of a March 2001 Forbes cover story on the proliferation of edgy tax shelters exposed Kellogg’s use of IAT to shield hundreds of millions in capital gains from tax. At that time, promoters were pushing the 501(c)(15) ploy to small business owners, particularly car dealers, as a tax shelter. After the Forbes story appeared, the IRS listed the Producer Owned Reinsurance Company (PORC) as a potentially abusive tax shelter and began an enforcement project.
The surprising IRS memo is disclosed in filings in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims where Kellogg and the government are battling over whether internal IRS documents and IRS officials’ thought processes and motivations are subject to discovery and can be used as evidence in his refund suits. The memo, a January 2010 Appeals Case Memorandum (ACM) from three IRS appeals officers, argues the IRS should reconsider the Technical Advice Memoranda (TAMs) that retroactively revoked IAT’s tax exemption and that of another Kellogg owned insurance company.
The ACM asserts that originally the TAMs were favorable to Kellogg and that then Tax Exempt Commissioner Steven Miller was persuaded “to go adverse because of the ramifications” to the PORC project “to no-change the very taxpayer (Kellogg) that started this project because of the Forbes article.” The memo adds: “We believe a `fresh-look’ is needed as to the facts of these cases in applying the laws as is without regard to the outside publicity.’’
Miller went on to become Acting IRS Commissioner and resigned from the agency in May 2013 amid the ongoing controversy over IRS targeting of Tea Party and certain other groups for extra scrutiny in the tax exemption process. Internal IRS documents suggest that Tea Party groups were first flagged because of media attention to political groups’ use of the 501(c)(4) exemption. Lois Lerner, a central figure in the exempt scandal who has been held in contempt of Congress by the Republican controlled House, was particularly sensitive to criticism that the IRS was letting 501(c)(4) organizations get away with too much political activity.
November 6, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Breitbart: Read: Jeanne Shaheen-IRS Memos on Conservative Group Targeting:
The IRS memos to and from incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) indicate she was involved in the actual investigative activities targeting Tea Partiers.
The memos, obtained by Breitbart News and published here, show a series of letters Shaheen and other Democratic Senators exchanged with then IRS commissioner Doug Shulman and then IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement Steven Miller—not just the one memo published by The Daily Caller’s Patrick Howley late Monday evening right before the election.
The memos are responses to two different letters Shaheen and a whole group of Democrats such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Tom Udall (D-NM), among others. The responses are directed specifically to Shaheen, seemingly indicating that she was the point person for the Senate Democrats’ efforts to leverage the IRS into targeting conservative and Tea Party groups. ...
The letters Shaheen and her Democratic colleagues sent to the IRS have long been public, but the detailed responses from the IRS to her are brand new—and came out just before the election. They seem to indicate that Shaheen was kept apprised of, and was involved in, the intricate layers of the IRS targeting of Tea Partiers—which has since been widely panned in the wake of several congressional investigations. Basically, the fact that Democratic senators – especially Shaheen – were deeply involved in the targeting scandal has always been suspected but never confirmed—until now.
November 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Press Release: Wetumpka TEA Party Continues Call for Accountability After Unacceptable IRS Court Ruling:
AL-Becky Gerritson, President of the Wetumpka TEA Party, called Thursday's US District Court’s ruling to dismiss two lawsuits against the IRS by dozens of TEA Parties and other conservative groups , “outrageous” .
The IRS’s targeting of conservatives first came to the public’s attention in May of 2013, when Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS’s Tax Exempt Office, tried to minimize the seriousness of their despicable action when she answered a planted question from the audience while speaking to the American Bar Association. The targeting of conservatives began in 2009 and reached its height during the 2012 election cycle. Some conservative groups have still not received their well-deserved tax exempt status even to this day. In 2013 the Wetumpka TEA Party along with 40 other conservative groups filed a law suit with the American Center for Law and Justice, (ACLJ) against the IRS for its illegal targeting of conservatives.
“When you look at the allegations in our lawsuit along with evidence uncovered by Congressional committees and Judicial Watch, it is undeniable that the IRS is guilty of wrongdoing. However, Judge Walton basically said that since we finally received our tax status (after almost 2 years of waiting) that we now have no case. That’s like a judge telling a burglary victim, that even though she was robbed 2 years ago; since she does not currently have the thieves in her house, she has no case. This ruling is unbelievable! It’s so much more than just a delay of a tax exempt status; it’s about the IRS, a government agency, being used as a weapon against its citizens, i.e. violating our constitutional rights, invading our privacy, bullying and intimidating us, mishandling and leaking our confidential taxpayer information etc., not to mention the ensuing cover-up; and we cannot fight back…we have no recourse.”
Gerritson continued, “The judge did not base his decision on the merits of the case. In fact, he did not deny wrong doing by the IRS but dismissed the case on procedural grounds. He wrote in a footnote: "The court's opinion should not be interpreted as an assessment of the propriety of the alleged conduct by the defendants." It’s unfathomable that the IRS, one of the most feared government agencies in America, was able to engage in a massive, years-long illegal targeting scheme against everyday American’s and get away with it scot-free. This is a huge blow to Americans’ liberty. If the IRS was allowed to target and harass Americans on such a large scale with no repercussions then what will stop them in the future?”
Gerritson concluded by saying, “This isn’t over for us. We will not be silent. We commend and support the ACLJ‘s plan to appeal the ruling. We will continue to do everything we can to stand up for citizens’ rights, expose government’s abuse of power and hold them accountable for their actions.”
November 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Saturday, November 1, 2014
Press Release: ACLJ Files Suit Against IRS For Failing To Release Records Between IRS And U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen Of New Hampshire Who Demanded IRS Probe Conservative Organizations:
The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) today filed a federal lawsuit in New Hampshire against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on behalf of the group, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, claiming the IRS is unlawfully delaying the release of records between the IRS and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) who demanded the IRS investigate conservative organizations for engaging in "political activities."
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demanding the IRS release the correspondence between the tax agency and Sen. Shaheen and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01). The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, in Concord, NH. The lawsuit contends the IRS is unlawfully delaying the release of information until after next week's mid-term elections – a move that the complaint argues "has deprived Strong NH of the opportunity to obtain and effectively convey to the voting public vital information about those seeking re-election."
November 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Friday, October 31, 2014
Legal Times: IRS Official Fights Video Depo, Citing Fear of Harassment:
An Internal Revenue Service employee caught up in the controversy over tax-exempt groups wants a federal judge to block a subpoena for her videotaped testimony. The official, Holly Paz, cites privacy and safety fears.
A group that applied for tax-exempt status in 2012, Citizen Awareness Project Inc., sued the agency in Colorado federal district court, claiming officials wrongfully released its application to the media. Federal officials admitted there was an “unauthorized disclosure,” but they disagreed it was willful or that the group was entitled to damages.
In a 2013 report, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that IRS officials had improperly flagged organizations perceived to have conservative or Tea Party ties for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. The Colorado lawsuit is focused on the disclosure issue, not the broader scandal. However, the plaintiff claimed that because of a media report about its application, the group may have been subjected to additional scrutiny by the IRS—an allegation the government denied.
Paz served as the agency’s director of exempt organizations rulings and agreements. She isn’t a defendant in the Colorado case, but lawyers for Citizen Awareness Project subpoenaed her to provide videotaped deposition testimony on Oct. 28.
In court papers filed on Oct. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Paz’s lawyers at Steptoe & Johnson LLP asked for an order barring the deposition from being videotaped. Alternatively, they've asked for an order that would keep any videotaped deposition confidential.
Steptoe partner Brigida Benitez wrote that after Paz’s name became publicly associated with the larger IRS scandal, she faced “continued harassment, oppression and intimidation, including threats of bodily harm to her and her family, including her young children.”
Paz didn’t object to testifying, Benitez wrote, but she feared that a video of her speaking, if publicly disclosed, could be used “as another means of harassment and intimidation.”
October 31, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Thursday, October 30, 2014
Investor's Business Daily editorial: IRS Is A Unique Troublemaker Among Federal Agencies:
It's also been used as a political weapon. President Obama may owe his 2012 re-election to the IRS, which blocked the formation of groups that opposed him.
The IRS-Tea Party scandal entered Day 536 on Monday by the TaxProf blog's count, and it appears that the scandal will go on much longer without resolution.
Bob Woodward suggests that the media investigate it as it did Watergate. We laud his bravery. He's opened himself up to attacks from two vicious and unaccountable adversaries: the IRS and the mainstream media.
October 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014
National Review: The Tea Party Isn’t Giving Up Against the IRS, by Mark Meckler (Founder, Sue the IRS):
Thursday, Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia dismissed almost all counts in two major lawsuits brought by conservative groups against the IRS.
So why would Judge Walton — a George W. Bush appointee — make this decision?
Believe it or not, he says that claims for injunctive relief are moot because there is “no reasonable expectation” that the IRS would continue to target conservative organizations based on their viewpoint.
But this defies what we know to be true. The IRS has repeatedly insisted its actions were for “tax-administration purposes” and were otherwise legitimate functions to determine the groups’ tax-exempt status. The IRS has concealed evidence, obscured facts, and — evidence shows — still harassed conservative groups after their scheme was revealed
Judge Walton also missed the mark by dismissing the claims against the IRS for its unauthorized inspection and disclosure of taxpayer information. In reaching his decision, Judge Walton embraced a flimsy dichotomy promoted by the IRS that distinguishes between an improper acquisition of taxpayer information and an improper inspection of the information. By focusing on how the information was obtained, Judge Walton failed to consider or appreciate the actual reasons IRS employees inspected the taxpayer information. Although inspecting an application for tax exemption may be lawful for some IRS employees, it certainly was not lawful for those employees whose inspections occurred because of unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination.
October 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal | Permalink
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Biz Pac Review: IRS Scandal Is This Generation’s Watergate, Woodward Says; So Why Knock Fox News?:
As the 40th anniversary year of President Nixon’s resignation draws to an end, one of the newspapermen who helped bring it about said the Obama administration’s IRS scandal — which has faded from the headlines in recent weeks — should be this generation’s answer to Watergate.
In fact, Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward told Fox News’ Howard Kurtz in an interview, it would be just the kind of job a much younger Woodward might tackle himself, along with Watergate investigative partner Carl Bernstein.
“The reality now in my view is that in the Obama administration, there are lots of unanswered questions about the IRS, particularly,” Woodward said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
“If I were young, I would take Carl Bernstein and move to Cincinnati where that IRS office is and set up headquarters and go talk to everyone.”
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Time for the Truth and an End to IRS Targeting Once and For All:
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said: “We have stopped an IRS targeting effort that treated conservatives differently and we have put the brakes on a new Administration effort to target political participation through regulation. But we have not fixed the IRS or finished our investigation of targeting that started under Lois Lerner. This IRS, this Treasury Department, and this White House have not given Congress the cooperation they promised – they have attempted to stonewall us. This new presentation should remind Americans that this is not over: the House of Representatives continues our investigation, our demand for a credible criminal probe, and to protect the rights of all Americans to participate freely and openly in the political process.”
October 28, 2014 in IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Monday, October 27, 2014
The Atlantic: The House GOP's New War on Incompetence: The Republicans Want to Overhaul Scandal-Plagued Federal Agencies in 2015, the Majority Leader Says:
House Republicans haven't officially locked down their majority for next year, but they're already sketching out a legislative agenda for when they do.
In a memo to lawmakers on Wednesday, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the party would target the federal bureaucracy with an eye toward restoring "competence" across a range of scandal-plagued departments and agencies. He cited the well-documented problems at the Veterans Administration, the Secret Service, the IRS, last year's launch of the federal health insurance exchanges, and the more recent response to Ebola, along with several other missteps that haven't garnered as much attention.
Real Time with Bill Maher Blog: Tax the Charities:
Obama’s IRS "scandal” comes down to whether Tea Party groups should pay taxes or not, and the angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin distinction between an organization that raises money for politicians and one that “promotes social welfare.” (… by raising money for politicians.) One has to pay taxes and one doesn’t. ...
The simple solution is to stop asking the IRS to make value judgments about what’s a legitimate charity called “Patriots for the Violent Overthrow of the Negro Usurper” and what’s just a family sex party, like the kind the Palins would crash. Make them all pay taxes.
Washington Post: Obama, The Bewildered Bystander, by Charles Krauthammer:
The president is upset. Very upset. Frustrated and angry. Seething about the government's handling of Ebola, said the front-page headline in The New York Times last Saturday.
There's only one problem with this pose, so obligingly transcribed for him by the Times. It's his government. He's president. Has been for six years. Yet Barack Obama reflexively insists on playing the shocked outsider when something goes wrong within his own administration.
IRS? “It's inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” he thundered in May 2013 when the story broke of the agency targeting conservative groups. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS.”
Except that within nine months, Obama had grown far more tolerant, retroactively declaring this to be a phony scandal without “a smidgen of corruption.”
October 27, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Sunday, October 26, 2014
The Hill: GOP: Majority Would ‘Get to Truth’ on IRS:
Republicans vow to put the clamps on the IRS if they sweep to power in November.
GOP lawmakers and aides believe that House-passed legislation to limit the IRS’s reach would have a better shot at making it to President Obama’s desk if Republicans win control of the Senate on Nov. 4.
Full Republican control of Congress would give the GOP added leverage over the IRS, doubling the panel’s oversight of an agency that drew conservative ire by improperly scrutinizing Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.
October 26, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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Saturday, October 25, 2014
Letter From Dave Camp (Chair, House Ways & Means Committee) to Jacob Lew (Secretary, U.S. Treasury Department) (Oct. 22, 2014):
Some of the key questions remaining in the investigation into the IRS' targeting of conservatives groups are: who at the White House knew what was going on; when did they know it; and, what action did they take upon learning about it? Your office is now refusing to make available until after the election the very person that could unlock that mystery. This is completely unacceptable , especially for an Administration that once pledged to be the most open and transparent ever.
On September 16, 20 14, five weeks ago, I first requested that you make available for an interview Hannah Stott-Bumstead, a Treasury Department counsel, who, based on transcribed interviews ofIRS perso1mel, appears to be the first person at Treasmy to be told by the IRS that it had lost Lois Lerner's emails. Notwithstanding President Obama 's pledge to "work with Congress as it performs its oversight role ...[a]nd...make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed," to date your Department has refused to allow the Committee to directly question Ms. Stott-Bumstead. 1 In addition to reiterating my request to interview Ms. Stott-Bumstead without delay, I am requesting additional information about what Ms. Stott-Bumstead and others at Treasury did with this information, including how the White House was informed, and why the decision was made to not infonn Congress until months later.
October 25, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink
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