Court rules against IRS in targeting case

June 27, 2015

Remember the IRS scandal? It faded from the headlines, but it never ended, as the IRS never actually changed its behavior.

One of the organizations that the IRS has been discriminating against is Z Street, a pro-Israel group. Z Street sued the IRS, demanding that its tax exempt application be considered in a fair process. The IRS argued in court that Z Street had no right to a fair process.

No kidding, that’s exactly what they argued. The IRS argued that, since Z Street could appeal the rejection of its application after nine months, they had no need for legal action:

The agency argued that Z Street was seeking non-profit status, and that this could be remedied outside of court if the group waited for the government-prescribed 270-day period process where it was not subject to discriminatory delays because of its positions on Israel.and then petitioned the for an IRS ruling.

However, Z Street argued that it was not seeking non-profit status, but rather a fair application process where it was not subject to discriminatory delays because of its positions on Israel.

During the hearing, Chief Judge Merrick Garland was highly critical of the IRS’s defense.

“You don’t really mean that, right?” said Judge Garland to the IRS attorney. “Because the next couple words would be the IRS is free to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, religion, race [for 270 days]. You don’t actually think that?” . . .

While the panel of judges was more subdued in the Friday ruling, it still dismissed the government’s argument against Z Street.

What possible reason is there to suppose that that isn’t exactly what the IRS thinks? We’ll have the opportunity to find out now, as Z Street finally has the right of discovery.

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Privacy protects anti-privacy

December 4, 2014

Last week, the IRS admitted that it shared taxpayers’ private information with the White House. The degree to which it did so isn’t known (by us), but it was to the tune of thousands of documents, so it must have been substantial.

But, if the Obama administration has its way, we never will know, because they have reversed themselves and announced they will not comply with the very FOIA request that forced them to admit the documents exist.

In an impressive feat of chutzpah, they say that releasing the documents would be a privacy violation! They were perfectly happy to violate privacy when they shared the documents, but know that their malfeasance might become known, privacy is suddenly sacrosanct.

If they actually cared about privacy — setting aside that they wouldn’t have violated taxpayers’ privacy in the first place — they would release the documents in redacted form. This is done all the time. But the administration instead is trying to withhold them in their entirety. The only reason to do that is to hide their misdeeds.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


A new IRS scandal

November 25, 2014

The Obama administration has admitted in court filings that the IRS shared taxpayers’ information with the White House, to the tune of 2500 documents. A court earlier shot down the administration’s effort to withhold the documents, and their very existence.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Subpoena, schmubpoena

November 7, 2014

The IRS hasn’t even tried to recover Lois Lerner’s emails from backup:

Judicial Watch announced today that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) admitted to the court that it failed to search any of the IRS standard computer systems for the “missing” emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials. The admission appears in an IRS legal brief opposing the Judicial Watch request that a federal court judge allow discovery into how “lost and/or destroyed” IRS records relating to the targeting of conservative groups may be retrieved. The IRS is fighting Judicial Watch’s efforts to force testimony and document production about the IRS’ loss of records in Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation about the IRS targeting of Tea Party and other opponents of President Obama(Judicial Watch v. IRS (No. 1:13-cv-1559)). The lawsuit is before U.S. District Court Judge Emmett G. Sullivan.

It’s almost like the IRS doesn’t want to find those emails.

(Previous post.)


IRS bombshell

September 10, 2014

If you had any doubt that the Justice Department’s “investigation” of the IRS scandal was being run politically, doubt no longer. The Justice Department is coordinating its actions with the Democrats:

Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Brian Fallon called the House Oversight Committee Friday evening and mistakenly spoke to Republican staff thinking he was speaking to Democrats, according to a spokesman for Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

In that call, Fallon said his agency was about to turn over some IRS documents. He stated that he was not being allowed to release the material directly to the media, but that he wanted to get it into the hands of certain reporters “before the [Republican] Majority” had the chance to share it. That’s according to a letter Issa sent yesterday to Attorney General Eric Holder. . .

As the telephone conversation continued, Issa’s staff says Fallon realized he was speaking to committee Republicans instead of Democrats and “walked back” the conversation.

This is plainly improper. Elijah Cummings (the lead IRS-defender among House Democrats) dismissed the incident, of course.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


OMG

September 6, 2014

AP reports:

The IRS says it has lost emails from five more workers who are part of congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status. . . The agency blamed computer crashes for the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said it found no evidence that anyone deliberately destroyed evidence.

What we’re seeing here is confidence on the part of the IRS. They believe that they can do anything, and there will never be any consequences. Sadly, they’re probably right.

(Previous post.)


How Watergate proves the moral superiority of Republicans

June 27, 2014

Yesterday’s passing of two key Watergate figures — Sen. Howard Baker (R-TN), who famously asked “what did the president know and when did he know it”, and IRS commissioner Johnnie Walters, who refused to target Richard Nixon’s political enemies — highlights a key difference between our two political parties: The Republican party is filled with honorable people who stand up for the rule of law, even against their own party’s interests. The Democratic party has few such people, if any at all.

On October 19, 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus (Republican political appointees each) both resigned in protest when Nixon ordered them to fire Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who headed up the Watergate investigation. Richardson had appointed Cox to the position earlier that year. Alas, today’s Attorney General is no Elliot Richardson. He has no special prosecutor to fire — not for the IRS, not for Gunwalker, not for the HHS, etc. — because he refused to appoint one in the first place. Far from countenancing any kind of investigation into the Obama administration’s wrongdoing, Eric Holder sees his role as “scandal goalie”, protecting the Obama administration from any investigation.

Nixon ultimately was forced from office because he was abandoned by his own party. Republicans had more than enough votes to acquit Nixon in a Senate trial on impeachment articles, but Nixon resigned when informed that he could rely on no more than 15 votes.

Contrast that with today, with Democrats placing their party over everything. Far from holding the Obama administration to account — as Republicans did — they are on the team, doing what they can to obstruct the investigation. As the most pungent example, here’s Elijah Cummings’s (D-MD) abject apology to IRS Commission John Koskinen (no Johnnie Walters is he!) for the appalling nerve of GOP representatives asking tough questions about the IRS’s highly suspicious loss of years of subpoenaed emails:

Elijah Cummings’s role in the IRS investigation has been to blunt any impact it might have by portraying it as a partisan effort. He’s right, in a way. The House investigation of the IRS (etc.) has been partisan. Democrats won’t take part in it, and they have blocked any non-partisan investigation.

In Watergate, Republicans showed that they have principles higher than party loyalty. During the Obama administration, Democrats have shown they do not.


Politics drove IRS scandal

March 1, 2014

The Democrats want us to believe that the IRS scandal had nothing to do with politics. This was never very plausible, but now is categorically contradicted by the record:

Mr. Obama wants Americans to believe that the targeting resulted from the confusing tax law governing nonprofits, which he says was “difficult” to interpret and resulted in mere “bureaucratic” mistakes. . .

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp blew up this fairy tale at Wednesday’s hearing with new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Mr. Camp unveiled a June 14, 2012 email from Treasury career attorney Ruth Madrigal to key IRS officials in the tax-exempt department, including former director Lois Lerner.

The email cites a blog post about the political activity of tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups and reads: “Don’t know who in your organizations [sic] is keeping tabs on c4s, but since we mentioned potentially addressing them (off-plan) in 2013, I’ve got my radar up and this seemed interesting.” . . . The IRS typically puts out a public schedule of coming regulations, and Mr. Camp noted that in this case “off-plan” appears to mean “hidden from the public.” . . .

The IRS hyper-scrutiny of conservative groups only began in 2010 amid the Obama Administration’s larger political attack on political donors like the Koch brothers, and emails show that IRS officials were acutely aware of this political environment. In February 2010, for example, an IRS screener in Cincinnati flagged an application to his superiors noting: “Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a ‘high profile’ case.”

What the Obama administration is trying to get away with here is a truly breathtaking exercise in political chutzpah. They are trying to use their own misconduct as an excuse to change the rules to codify their own misconduct.

What’s sad is they always do this, and usually get away with this. I remember how in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the Democrats, caught red-handed violating campaign finance laws, used their own crimes to justify “reforming” campaign finance to give themselves greater advantages.

(Previous post.)


Not a smidgen of corruption

February 14, 2014

Every single 501(c)(4) group that the IRS selected for audit was conservative. Imagine that.

And the Democrats want more:

Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races.

(Previous post.)


Fox investigating chicken coop

January 9, 2014

So, they’re not even going to pretend to have a non-partisan investigation of the IRS scandal:

The Justice Department selected an avowed political supporter of President Obama to lead the criminal probe into the IRS targeting of tea party groups, according to top Republicans who said Wednesday that the move has ruined the entire investigation.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, and regulatory affairs subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said they have discovered that the head of the investigation is Barbara Kay Bosserman, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department who donated more than $6,000 to Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, as well as several hundred dollars to the national Democratic Party.

The Justice Department says it wasn’t allowed to prefer someone else who wanted a big Democratic supporter:

But the Justice Department said it isn’t allowed to consider a career lawyer’s political leanings when doling out assignments and that it would violate an employee’s constitutional rights if he were penalized on the job for making legal political contributions.

“It is contrary to department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law to consider the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions,” said spokeswoman Dena Iverson.

Frankly, even if that is the rule (I’ll take their word for it), I imagine that the Justice Department has some latitude in picking appropriate people for assignments. (For example, you don’t infiltrate Middle Eastern terrorist cells with Europeans, even if the rules prohibit considering race in assignment.)

But never mind all that, because it’s nonsense. The Obama/Holder Justice Department considers political affiliation in personnel decisions all the time. Indeed, it appears to be their primary consideration. For example, every single one of the people hired by the Civil Rights division was a leftist. No conservatives, no moderates. 113-0-0.

Now they’re going to pretend that they are so punctilious about ignoring politics that they couldn’t possibly choose an appropriate investigator? That doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Potemkin investigation

December 21, 2013

Remember the how the FBI was going to investigate the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups?

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that he had ordered an FBI investigation to determine whether the Internal Revenue Service broke any laws when it targeted conservative groups for closer scrutiny of their tax-exempt status.

It turns out, the investigation never happened:

The Justice Department acknowledged the impropriety of what the IRS had done and promised a thorough FBI investigation.

It never happened. Last month, an attorney working for 41 of the targeted nonprofit groups said no one at any of the groups had ever been interviewed by federal investigators.

Last week, the Justice Department and the FBI refused requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to provide information on its investigation. FBI officials also canceled a previously scheduled meeting with committee members.

(Previous post.)