300 days of IRS abuse

Well, for one thing, we know that this administration is less than transparent. But investigation and reporting has uncovered some facts, dribbling out over time, that are worth a review.

The event that seems to have kicked off the whole thing was the Citizens United decision, which struck down elements of the campaign finance laws. The decision, while significant, was not earth-shattering.

However, Citizens United did have a large impact on Obama. With most of the Supreme Court Justices in his audience, Obama attacked the Citizens United decision in his State of the Union speech -- prompting a muttered response that got more publicity for its supposed disrespect than for its content.

That, however, was only the beginning.
Obama made his attacks on the Citizen's United decision a regular part of his speeches, and before long was threatening to audit his enemies.

The IRS element of the scandal broke into public view in May 2013, when Lois Lerner planted a question with Celia Roady at a lawyers' conference. At first, it was not obvious why she chose to publicly disclose the issue in that manner when there was no pressure from the press for her to do so.

However, we now know that the IRS inspector general was conducting an internal investigation, and the planted question was an attempt to shape media coverage of the problem before the report was released by implying it was a trivial, internal problem already being corrected. This spin could be used to help deflect questions Congress had been asking since 2012 -- questions that IRS officials had apparently answered falsely.

As for the idea that the issue was trivial and had already been resolved?
Nothing could be farther from the truth.

IRS targeting was not trivial

In addition to delaying conservative tax-exempt organizations' applications for years while liberal organizations were approved in weeks, the type of information demanded during the application process for Tea Party groups was unusual and intimidating. IRS officials demanded donor lists, contents of prayers, copies of web posts, resumes and information on the political activity of board members. One group was asked to swear, under penalty of perjury, that it would not "pray, picket, or protest" outside of abortion clinics.

Lois Lerner, whose planted question at a press conference broke this story publicly, had a history of politically-motivated harassment at the Federal Election Commission. Including, yes, asking about the contents of prayers. A single investigation included over a hundred document requests, almost two thousand requests for admission, 81 depositions, and over a hundred thousand pages of documents. No wrongdoing was found, but the investigation itself cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

IRS continues to target individuals speaking out

In October 2013, long after the Inspector General's report and Lerner's claim that the issue had been resolved, Dr Benjamin Carson gave a speech attacking Obamacare while Obama was sitting just a few feet away; he reported later that he was audited by the IRS shortly after that speech.

On November 7th, Bill Elliot, a cancer patient whose insurance was canceled due to Obamacare, begin speaking out about his experience. By November 27th, less than twenty days later, he had received a certified letter from the IRS announcing that his taxes would be audited, and so was one of the people responsible for publicizing the story.

The Cincinnati cover story

Once exposed publicly, the initial cover story was that the targeting operation was the product of work from "rogue agents" in the Cincinnati office. But that explanation quickly fell apart as testimony from the agents being blamed indicated they were waiting on decisions from the IRS Chief Counsel's office, headed by William Wilkins, a political appointee.

The link to the White House

Also in November, William Wilkins, the IRS chief counsel and one of only two Obama appointees in the IRS, testified before a House investigative committee. He did so only after communications were turned over to that committee between his office and Lois Lerner concerning the IRS' political targeting of conservative groups. Despite those documents, more than 80 times he testified that he "did not recall" the matter on which he was being questioned.

Wilkins did recall that he was involved in drafting "guidance" on processing tea party applications. This supposedly urgent guidance to handle a supposedly new problem was being put in place around an IRS rule in place since 1959. The only urgency about this rule was that organizations governed by it were suddenly an effective political force in opposition to Obama.

According to the White House visitor logs, Wilkins met with Obama two days before offering his guidance on handling the tax-exempt organizations to his subordinates at the IRS.

The White House visitor logs

Wilkins was not the only one facing questions due to his appearance in White House visitor logs. Sarah Hall Ingram appears in the visitor logs 165 times, mostly with White House official Jeanne Lambrew, with whom she had exchanged confidential taxpayer information. Ingram was the commissioner of the tax-exempt organizations office from 2009-2012, and was promoted to director of the IRS's Obamacare office. That's arguably a reward for a job well done, but $103,390 in bonuses during her leadership of that office doesn't hurt.

Facing a storm of criticism by investigators using the visitor logs to infer who was meeting with whom, the White House decided that what we don't know can't hurt them, and took down the visitor logs.

There is another, circumstantial argument for White House involvement deriving from the testimony and experiences of Catherine Engelbrecht:

Engelbrecht was harassed not only by the IRS, but also the FBI, and repeatedly by the ATF and OSHA. She is suing. It is worth noting that her organization, True the Vote, trains Americans to monitor polling places for voter fraud. More importantly, the only entity which could coordinate a campaign of harassment across all those federal agencies is the White House.

Lerner pleads the 5th

Another person closely involved in crafting the new "guidance" was the same Lois Lerner who planted the question at the press conference. She was called to testify before a House investigative committee, and chose to take the 5th Amendment (after an opening statement which arguably cost her the protection she sought).

Lerner refused to resign and was put on administrative leave in May 2013. Lerner was allowed to retire with full benefits in September 2013. Those benefits could amount to over a hundred thousand dollars a year, and $4 million over her lifetime.

It does seem clear that Lerner had reason to plead the 5th. Documents obtained in October 2013 show that she shared confidential tax records from the IRS with other officials at the Federal Elections Commission, where she had previously been employed. Other confidential tax documents on nine conservative organizations were leaked to liberal non-profit ProPublica. The IRS refused to respond to questions about who was disciplined and how.

In an attempt at damage control, Steve Miller, acting IRS Commissioner, was supposedly forced to resign by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in May 2013. But his term in that office was due to expire less than three weeks later, which rather takes the teeth out of the claim of punishment.

The FBI conducts a coverup

While the FBI is supposedly conducting an investigation, the House oversight committee states that the FBI's "investigation" is obstructing its own efforts to investigate, and the victims of the IRS targeting have not been contacted by anyone -- at least, not until the day before they are scheduled to testify that they have not been contacted.

Obama, meanwhile, has appointed one of his own donors to conduct the investigation. And not a small donor; she gave $6,000 to Obama's campaign in 2008 and 2012.

Rather than conduct an honest investigation, the Obama administration has appointed a major donor to lead the investigation, announced the results in advance, and called for an investigation of the IRS Inspector General who conducted the initial investigation.

IRS Audit abuse continues into 2014

And on February 13th, 2014, the scandal expanded: not only were new 501c4 groups seeking tax-exempt status given an interrogation and the slow-walk treatment, existing 501c4 organizations were targeted for audits. Dozens of these groups were targeted for audits and website monitoring. 83% percent of the targeted groups were conservative. 100% of the groups actually formally audited were conservative.

64% say IRS is corrupt

A national poll indicated that 64% of American voters think the IRS targeting suggests corruption. Including 51% of Democrats. And Senate Democrats facing a tough re-election battle in 2014 are calling for the IRS to increase, not decrease, the political targeting. I will name names: Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Charles Schumer (D-New York), Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).

Proposed rules declare open season on the Tea Party

And after 300 days of revelations and scandal, the Obama Administration has proposed rules declaring
open season on Tea Party organizations. Their intent is to legitimatize the political targeting of organizations and force them to publish their donor lists. The American people have responded with calls for a special counsel and over 23,000 comments on the proposed IRS rules as of this writing -- a record. (The total number of comments received was 143,730).

Lerner recalled to Congress to testify

As I write this, Lois Lerner has been recalled to Congress to testify. We may yet find a smoking gun.

President Asterisk

Under Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, the political is personal: if you donate to an organization that takes positions on political issues, you will have to do so publicly and expose yourself to retaliation in the process. That drives the ordinary, non-politicized person out of politics entirely. That is what Obama wants; that is what Obama got; and that is how he was re-elected in 2012: by suppressing his political opposition, and driving them out of politics.

In 2009, Obama threatened to use the IRS to harass his opponents. We thought he was joking.

He was not joking.

This entry was published Wed Mar 05 05:50:05 CST 2014 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2014-05-02 03:11:39.0. [Tweet]

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