by CJ Ciaramella • Free Beacon
A government watchdog group announced Monday that it is suing a dozen federal agencies for improperly delaying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for White House review.
Cause of Action is suing 10 cabinet agencies, as well as the Internal Revenue Service and White House Office of Management and Budget, for failing to release documents regarding how the White House reviews agency FOIA requests.
Cause of Action uncovered an April 2009 White House memo that instructed federal agencies to consult with White House Office of General Counsel on “all document requests that may involve documents with White House equities.”
Seeking more information, the watchdog group filed FOIA requests with numerous federal agencies for their policies on White House equities. The agencies named in the lawsuit delayed responding to the watchdog by eight months—and some as long as 14 months—according to the lawsuit.
Cause of Action alleges that the White House review amounts to an improper effort to block and delay FOIA requests. Continue reading
by the Editorial Board • Detroit News
President Barack Obama continues to describe the growing evidence that the IRS intentionally targeted conservative groups as a phony scandal, this week urging congressional Republicans to “stop hatin’ ” and get to work on his agenda.
His mocking of the GOP came while a House investigation led by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, was releasing the latest batch of emails from retired IRS official Lois Lerner, who was in charge of nonprofit applications during the time of the controversy. Continue reading
Many people in Washington seem to be talking about the prospect of the president unilaterally legalizing the status of several million people who entered the country illegally as though it were just another political question. But if reports about the nature of the executive action he is contemplating are right, it would be by far the most blatant and explosive provocation in the administration’s assault on the separation of powers, and could well be the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American president in peacetime.
I am more open to some form of amnesty than most people around here, I suspect, though the form I could support (as part of a deal that included more serious border control and visa enforcement) would involve legalization short of full citizenship, for reasons well articulated by Peter Skerry here. But the question of how to address the complicated problem of the status of the more than 10 million people who are in our country without legal authorization is a matter for the political system as a whole to address. Continue reading
Anyone paying attention to the Internal Revenue Service scandal has been waiting for the next smidgen to drop. Well, two more hit pretty hard this week. At the president’s next encounter with the media, I will scream collusion if no one asks him for his exact definition of a “smidgen,” and if he thinks he has seen a smidgen of corruption yet. At this point, only the most gullible or culpable can continue to claim there is no compelling evidence in this case. Given the delays, lies and stonewalling, there is no viable argument against a special prosecutor.
In a stunning revelation this week, it was disclosed that former IRS official Lois Lerner told colleagues, “we need to be cautious about what we say in emails” and then proceeded to ask the IRS IT department, in an e-mail, “if [instant messaging] conversations were also searchable.” When she was told they were not, she e-mailed back, “Perfect.” This is a smoking gun e-mail in that it makes plain she had a cover-up in mind. There is no other plausible explanation. Continue reading
A new Fox News survey asks the following question: “The Internal Revenue Service says that two years of emails from IRS employees about targeting conservative and tea party groups were accidentally destroyed because of a computer crash and cannot be recovered. Do you believe the IRS that the emails were destroyed accidentally or do you think they were destroyed deliberately?”
Before we reveal the results, pause and take a guess: What percentage of respondents do you think believe the IRS? Continue reading
Anyone deemed politically incorrect is now outside the protection of the law.
Like most people, I haven’t been all that interested in the controversy over whether the name of the Washington Redskins is offensive. Personally, I’m more offended that Washington, DC, has become the kind of megalopolis that can support an NFL team. If I had my way, it would go back to being a humid, swampy backwater with impassable mud roads. Pierre L’Enfant has much to answer for.
But I think everyone should be terrified by the new ruling by the US Patent Office cancelling the team’s trademark.
The ruling was based on a dubious argument that “redskins” is a slur against Native Americans. Well, then maybe we’d better rename the state of Oklahoma, which drew its name from Choctaw words that mean “red people.” Or maybe we should petition the US Army to decommission the attack helicopter it named after a people it defeated in 1886. Then again, forget I mentioned it. I don’t want to give anyone ideas. Continue reading
by Ron Fournier
A sloppy mistake, the government calls it, but you couldn’t blame a person for suspecting a cover-up — the loss of an untold number of emails to and from the central figure in the IRS tea party controversy. And, because the public’s trust is a fragile gift that the White House has frittered away in a series of second-term missteps, President Obama needs to act.
If the IRS can’t find the emails, maybe a special prosecutor can. Continue reading
Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) repeatedly pressed the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the tax-exempt status of specific conservative nonprofit organizations in letters to then-IRS commissioner Doug Shulman and director Lois Lerner in 2012.
Levin said he was concerned nonprofit organizations were abusing their tax-exempt status and engaging in partisan politics and requested information from the IRS on 12 organizations.
“Organizations are using Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4) to gain tax exempt status while engaging in partisan political campaigns,” wrote Levin in one letter on July 27, 2012. “Making the problem worse is that the IRS knows there is a problem because of the public nature of the activity but has failed to address it.” Continue reading
Despite assurances to the contrary, the IRS didn’t destroy all of the donor lists scooped up in its tea party targeting — and a check of those lists reveals that the tax agency audited 10 percent of those donors, much higher than the audit rate for average Americans, House Republicans revealed Wednesday.
Republicans argue that the Internal Revenue Service still hasn’t come clean about the full extent of its targeting, which swept up dozens of conservative groups. Continue reading
Remember when Lois Lerner, in answering a planted question at an American Bar Association conference, admitted the IRS had targeted conservative groups but tried to pass it off as the work of rogue agents — “our line people in Cincinnati”?
Today we know there were indeed federal agents involved. But they weren’t rogue, and they weren’t confined to IRS workers in Cincinnati. Thanks to a Freedom of Information request by Judicial Watch, we now have an e-mail Lerner sent to colleagues noting the Department of Justice was looking into criminal prosecutions of these tax-exempt groups.
We know something else, too. These investigations into conservative organizations were frequently instigated by politicians. Continue reading
by Kerri Toloczko
For several years, a large, modern and expensive building stood abandoned on Kato Road in Fremont, California; the quintessential monument to the deleterious effect crony capitalism has on local environments and taxpayers’ wallets.
In March of 2009, the Department of Energy announced it was providing Solyndra, a failing California solar panel firm, with a $536 million “loan” funded through the White House stimulus plan. By September of 2011, Solyndra was bankrupt, its high-tech corporate office abandoned, and a toxic mess left behind in one of its manufacturing facilities for the people of California to clean up.1 Continue reading
The Internal Revenue Service’s tea party targeting program is still withholding approval of 19 organizations’ nonprofit status, nearly a year after the scandal was revealed, the agency’s commissioner testified Wednesday to Congress — where he faced fierce criticism from lawmakers who said he is stonewalling.
John Koskinen, the man President Obama tapped to clean up the embattled agency, also said it will take years to respond to all of the document requests from Congress. He told Congress that even complying with a subpoena for emails from just a handful of key employees couldn’t be done before the end of this year because it takes time to have attorneys delete protected taxpayer information. Continue reading
On Wednesday, the former IRS officer again invoked the Fifth before the House Oversight Committee. That precipitated a heated exchange between the committee’s Republican chairman, Darrell Issa, and Democratic ranking member Elijah Cummings, who called the hearings “un-American.” And that spat has become the story.
No doubt that is exactly what Cummings had in mind. Because it distracts attention from the substance of the hearings — and from the questions raised by e-mails and public remarks Lerner wrote, received or made when she was IRS director of tax exempt organizations. Continue reading
A House chairman probing the IRS scandal on Wednesday said that President Obama has reneged on a promise to have his aides cooperate with the investigation, forcing the Ways and Means Committee to conduct a dragnet for emails and documents needed to smoke out the truth.
Rep. Dave Camp also revealed that federal agents conducting an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s bid to punish Tea Party and conservative critics of the president have yet to talk to a single target of the scandal.
Camp, whose committee is one of several looking into the 2010-2013 scandal, put the blame for the drawn out investigations on Capitol Hill at the president’s feet. Continue reading
by Rebecca Kaplan
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., reconvened a hearing Wednesday that began more than nine months ago to investigate whether the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting conservative groups, a scandal that was exposed in 2013.
The problem was, he didn’t have a witness to answer his questions – again.
Lerner once again asserted her Fifth Amendment right not to testify, as she did last May when she was first called to testify. Before she first spoke at the hearing Wednesday, Issa warned that his committee would consider whether to hold her in contempt if she declined to testify. Continue reading