Tag Archive | "Tea Party"

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IRS’ Lois Lerner re-subpoenaed after accidentally waiving her right to plead the Fifth

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IRS hearings are beginning to feel a lot like Watergate

Lois_Lerner

Lois Lerner, IRS official in charge of targeting, will plead 5th amendment at IRS hearings.This is how Watergate began. Explanations begin to crack. Stories change. Those involved start stonewalling.

It’s also important to remember that the IRS Inspector General’s report is what broke the story. The internal investigation by the IRS Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration was not interfered with and was quite thorough. So in one very real sense the system worked and worked well.

My personal opinion is a combination of hugely overworked and under-trained low level employees in Cincinnati and improper targeting of nonprofits created a crisis during the 2012 elections which high level IRS and White House officials successfully dropkicked until after the elections. Then the Inspector General released the report and now some previous explantions of what happened have become, in that memorable Watergate phrase “inoperative.”

 

The IRS official in charge of the division accused of improperly targeting conservative groups will invoke her Fifth Amendment rights against compelled self-incrimination at a committee hearing Wednesday, a sign of concern that the political controversy is heading into the criminal arena.

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Tea Party IRS protests today flopped, were amateur hour

amateur-hour

As I expected, the Tea Party protests today at IRS offices nationwide were a dud. Calling demonstrations on short notice in numerous locations on a work day is a brain dead tactic.

I helped organize multiple Iraq antiwar protests in LA and trust me, we spent months building them, doing outreach, and made sure impact would be focused. Spreading out the impact at hundreds of offices like the Tea Party did was dumb. You want maximum impact and media interest and you won’t get that with a few dozen protesters in each place. The Tea Party “organizers” are clueless.

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White House knew about IRS targeting weeks ago

It is not credible that Obama didn’t know about the IRS targeting before May 10 considering that his chief counsel knew.

President Obama claims not to have been made aware of the IRS indiscretions until May 10th it seems the White House’s chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the IRS likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups.

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Cincinnati IRS office mismanaged but who ordered the targeting

The IRS is woefully underfunded. There is a hiring freeze and employees often buy their own office supplies. Seriously. The Cincinnati IRS office was filled with mainly low-level employees working under a crushing load. However, this does not mean that Cincinnati acted alone or as a rogue office. Quite the opposite. G7s aren’t going to do an end run around orders by top brass on their own, yet this is exactly what happened. They went back to targeting the Tea Party after direct orders to stop. This is akin to corporals disobeying orders from a colonel. So maybe someone else was giving orders and directing things too?

“There’s a buzz in the office about this Tea Party situation,” said Neal Juarez, a case advocate in the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Like several other I.R.S. workers, Mr. Juarez was skeptical that employees in Cincinnati would have acted as they had without some direction from leadership in Washington.

Click to view full-size. Credit: directorblue.blogspot.com

Click to view full-size. Credit: directorblue.blogspot.com

Doug Ross compiled this timeline chart and concludes

1. Steve Miller lied to Congress
2. Lois Lerner lied to Congress
3. Barack Obama lied to the American people

This scandal has the fingerprints of Axelrod, Jarrett and/or the Chicago Machine all over it.

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That dysfunctional IRS nonprofit division and the limited hangout

Was it just a few low-level rogue employees?

Was it just a few low-level rogue employees?

The IRS nonprofit division, over a period of years, became increasingly dysfunctional, isolated, and off on its own, oblivious to orders from DC. That’s the conclusion Propublica reaches in an excellent investigative report. But why was this division allowed to drift so badly and why was it so mismanaged that it disobeyed an order to stop the targeting and no one noticed? I find this quite curious.

Dan Backer, a lawyer in Washington who represented six of the groups held up because of the Tea Party criteria, said he doesn’t buy the notion that low-level employees in Cincinnati were alone responsible.

“It doesn’t just strain credulity,” Backer said. “It broke credulity and left it laying on the road about a mile back. Clearly these guys were all on the same marching orders.”

If higher-ups are doing a limited hangout, then blaming low-level employees is precisely what they’d attempt.

A limited hangout, or partial hangout, is a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details.

Incompetence is one thing, directing disobeying orders is quite a bit more serious.

Officials at IRS headquarters in Washington were unable to manage their subordinates in Cincinnati. When Lois Lerner, the Exempt Organizations division director in Washington, learned in June 2011 about the improper criteria for screening applications, she instructed that they be “immediately revised.”

But just six months later, Cincinnati employees changed the revised criteria to focus on “organizations involved in limiting/expanding government” or “educating on the Constitution.” They did so “without executive approval.”

Really? Where were their bosses? Why did supervisors not insure the orders were being followed?

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Bogus IRS scandal actually a Supreme Court scandal

irs

And Who Is The Poster Boy for Tax Exempt Political Hit Teams? Karl Rove is the real poster boy for the so-called IRS scandal of taking a closer look at applications by political organizations seeking a 501(c)(4) tax status that makes them not only tax exempt but protects their donors with anonymity.

That 501(c )(4) is one sweet deal: not only do these organizations get untraceable, tax-free money laundering for their political activities, they gat a taxpayer subsidy to do it.

And it gets better: some of these activities used to be illegal and people working for the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) – Nixon in 1972 – were convicted of law-breaking, as were some corporate donors. In October 2010 in the New York Times, Jill Abramson noted one illegal Nixon operation was run by “a group of Nixon loyalists, some of whom are leading this year’s non-profit push.”

Early in 2010, Karl Rove, who was with Nixon in 1972, founded American Crossroads, a perfectly legal, openly political, tax-exempt 527 organization, with no limits on the amount or source of their contributions, and no spending limits.  Despite these freedoms, 527s were still prohibited from openly supporting particular candidates, and they had to register with the IRS, disclose donors, and file reports.

The Problem With 527 Organizations Is Some Transparency

527 organizations (a broad category that includes Super PACs) have been an open charade in the democratic process for years, avoiding direct support of candidates while producing material that could only support their chosen candidates. For example the 527 organization Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked presidential candidate John Kerry during the 2004 election, without actually expressing direct support for President Bush.

In June 2010, Karl Rove and American Crossroads founded Crossroads GPS (Grassroots Policy Strategies) that, as a 501(c)(4), had even fewer constraints.  American Crossroads was one of 1,500 applicants for 501(c)(4) status in 2010.

In 2012 there were some 3,400 applications.

According to the Internal Revenue Code passed by Congress, 501(c)(4) status is reserved for “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare” [emphasis added].   In 1959, during the Eisenhower administration, the IRS decided to ignore the letter of the law, and wrote rules for 501(c)(4) organizations requiring only that they be primarily for the promotion of social welfare.

Supreme Court Puts Money-ocracy Over Democracy 

The difference between “exclusively” and “primarily” created a loophole even a non-lawyer could exploit, but it became most useful to $100 million outfits like American Crossroads only after the Supreme Court, with its January 2010, 5-4 decision in Citizens United (558 US 310), opened the American political process to virtually any money from any source, with almost no duty to disclose anything.

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IRS Tea Party scandal. WaPo spins, LA Times suspicious

spin

WaPo implies the IRS Tea Party debacle was due to insubordination and thus not that big a deal. Excuse me? Why did a group of IRS officials deliberately and knowingly disobey orders from the director? That’s the question. Instead we get spin from the Washington Post, the Beltway attempts to protect its own.

In the summer of 2010, in response to a huge surge in 501(c)(4) applications and media stories that some of these groups were illegally acting like political organizations, a group of IRS officials developed inappropriate criteria for identifying overly politicized 501(c)(4)s applicants. Those criteria included looking for the words “tea party” or related terms. In July 2011, the director of the IRS told them to knock it off and use more politically neutral criteria that focused on the activities of the group rather than the name or ideology of the group.

Here’s where things get interesting: In January 2012, that same group of IRS officials goes rogue and changes the test back without getting management approval.

Why did the officials do this? And why did other officials lie about it to Congress? WaPo is decediely uncurious. Sounds like a limited modified hang-out to me.

The LA Times is considerably more damning and suspicious.

A new report by the Internal Revenue Service’s inspector general offered a few new details Tuesday about the scandal revolving around the IRS’ treatment of “tea party” groups seeking tax-exempt status. Those details were in part damning and in part exculpatory. Collectively, though, they shred the argument from the agency’s defenders that the IRS was right to crack down on those groups. Nor does it address why top IRS officials were telling Congress repeatedly in 2012 that there was no targeting of conservative groups.

Bear in mind that the report doesn’t address important aspects of the scandal. Most notably, it says nothing about any communications IRS officials may have had with the White House or President Obama’s political appointees about the reviews.

Indeed.

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TeaPartyGate, Seizing AP phone records – Obama now worse than Nixon

Obama

Between the unprecedented seizure of AP phone records and TeaPartyGate, the Obama Administration will be preoccupied for months. Obama’s agenda is dead. For the foreseeable future instead it’ll be damage control and CYA. Of course, CYA is what brought down Nixon.

IRS officials in DC and at least three other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups. Confidential documents were sent to news organizations, something which is a firing offense at the IRS. What were they doing with the information and who told them to do it? The IRS is tasked with being completely non-partisan and non-political. Not only is this an egregious breaking of IRS rules, if defies logic to think they did this solely on their own.

The IRS cover-up so far has been remarkably inept. This will only make things worse as the lies are uncovered. The mass seizure of journalist phone records is something even Nixon didn’t try doing.

A Facebook friend says “We are starting what used to be called “limited modified hang-out“.

A limited hangout, or partial hangout, is a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details. It takes the form of deception, misdirection, or coverup often associated with intelligence agencies involving a release or “mea culpa” type of confession of only part of a set of previously hidden sensitive information, that establishes credibility for the one releasing the information who by the very act of confession appears to be “coming clean” and acting with integrity; but in actuality, by withholding key facts, is protecting a deeper operation.

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TeaPartyGate. IRS disclosed confidential docs from conservative groups

Teapartygate just keeps getting worse.  The Cincinnati office sent nonprofit applications from conservative groups that had not yet been approved to Propublica. Applications are not public until they are approved. Disclosing confidential docs is an immediate firing offense at the IRS and this is blatant breaking of the rules.

The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.

Update: IRS officials in DC involved in targeting, multiple offices involved.

Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

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