Paul L. Caron
Dean



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.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/03/the-irs-scandal-3.html

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Comments

This is fascism, straight-up.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Mar 18, 2015 8:29:08 AM

Ahh funny because when Obama's campaigns ran commercials with the same themes, actors, and production companies as their activist groups, Democrats didn't seem to care.

Heck, the DOJ is working with Democrat activist groups for the Ferguson protests. Is that illegal? Maybe not but the administration has turned a blind eye to these non profit activist groups engaging in politics.

Does anyone believe that what happened at the IRS was the rules being equally enforced?

Posted by: wodun | Mar 18, 2015 4:15:35 PM