Strategy Room: Sarah Badawi and Brian Morgenstern on how President Trump will handle open spot on commission.
Real FEC reform would be the opposite of what Ann Ravel and her Democratic colleagues want.
Jeremy Carl writes: When Ann Ravel, a Democratic member of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), announced her intention to resign Sunday, she received, as she has throughout her tenure at the FEC, a surprising amount of news coverage. While her departure may not immediately change the partisan balance of the commission, because traditionally her seat “belongs” to the Democrats, President Trump could upset that calculation if he broke with that tradition and appointed someone more aligned with the GOP (though he is not allowed to pick a registered Republican for the seat).
Ravel had become a minor political celebrity (even earning a Daily Show appearance) on the left by castigating the “deadlock” on the FEC allegedly caused by the GOP members, who wouldn’t go along with Democratic demands for campaign-finance fines.
Ravel’s resignation letter is filled with the same sort of tired Democratic rhetoric on campaign finance, demanding the overturning of Citizens United, pushing for expanded public (i.e., taxpayer) financing of political campaigns, and decrying the evils of “dark money.”
Yet President Trump showed the complete intellectual bankruptcy of the campaign-finance “reform” movement in his stunning presidential-election victory. According to the FEC’s own data, among large donors ($2,000+), Hillary Clinton out-raised Trump $175 million to $27 million, a ratio of 6.5 to 1. Despite this, and the almost unanimous support she enjoyed from our media and cultural elites, Clinton couldn’t defeat Trump. Furthermore, Bernie Sanders, an eccentric and aging socialist with no establishment backing, came close to beating Hillary in the Democratic primary despite being outspent among those same $2,000+ donors by a ratio of more than 50 to 1.
Meanwhile, in one of the most remarkable yet least reported facts about the 2016 campaign, Jeb Bush, who entered the race to a wave of publicity before going out with a whimper early in the GOP primary, raised essentially as much ($26 million) in his brief campaign from those $2,000+ donors as Trump did from this group during the entire primary and general-election cycle. Read the rest of this entry »
Paul Bedard writes: A key Federal Election Commission Republican warned Wednesday that liberals are moving aggressively to “amend the First Amendment” so that conservatives are silenced and businesses are chased “out of the democracy.”
“The general tenor of the Left in American politics today has certainly spoken out against First Amendment rights. It has been a reversal over the last 50 years.”
In some the toughest criticism leveled at Democrats, Commissioner Lee E. Goodman said that the attack started once the Tea Party changed American politics in the 2010 election and now dominates the politics of the Left.
“The general tenor of the Left in American politics today has certainly spoken out against First Amendment rights. It has been a reversal over the last 50 years,” he added, citing FDR Democrats who defended socialists and communists.
“I have been concerned about bias both in how complaints are brought to the commission just like in the way, the lobbying campaign for Lois Lerner. It was all one sided. But generally I try to make my First Amendment case by pointing out that we have to impact liberal and conservative speech in the same way.”
“But I have been concerned from time to time about every time a conservative group comes up, somehow, some way, exceptions and distinctions are made and this is the problem giving government the power to regulate speech in the first instance because ultimately human beings have to make that decision.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – UPDATED at 8:09: Matt Bevin elected governor of Kentucky, only the 2nd Republican governor in four decades.
The campaign for Kentucky governor concludes Tuesday as voters elect someone to replace a two-term Democrat in a race that has turned on health insurance for 500,000 people, marriage licenses for same-sex couples and public education for preschool children.
Republican Matt Bevin, Democrat Jack Conway and Independent Drew Curtis have contrasted sharply in a race watched closely for its proximity to the 2016 presidential election and for its competitiveness in one of the nation’s last two-party states.
The two major-party candidates and their allies have spent more than $14 million to air more than 41,000 TV ads in Kentucky, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity. That does not include direct mail or ads on radio or local cable systems.
The governor’s race is considered to be one of the top tickets in the country. The race was featured Tuesday in the New York Times. The paper said the victor will largely be determined by who actually goes to the polls. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Kentucky, so Bevin could “eke out” a victory if he persuaded enough Christian conservatives to go to the polls. Read the rest of this entry »
The Countless Crimes of Hillary Clinton: Special Prosecutor Needed Now
Sidney Powell writes: After years of holding herself above the law, telling lie after lie, and months of flat-out obstruction, HIllary Clinton has finally produced to the FBI her server and three thumb drives. Apparently, the server has been professionally wiped clean of any useable information, and the thumb drives contain only what she selectively culled. Myriad criminal offenses apply to this conduct.
Anyone with knowledge of government workings has known from inception that Hillary’s communications necessarily would contain classified and national security related information. Thanks to the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community, it is now beyond dispute that she had ultra-Top Secret information and more that should never have left the State Department.
Equal to Ms. Clinton’s outrageous misconduct is that of the entire federal law enforcement community. It has long chosen to be deliberately blind to these flagrant infractions of laws designed to protect national security—laws for which other people, even reporters, have endured atrocious investigations, prosecutions, and some served years in prison for comparatively minor infractions.
During the same years that Hillary was communicating about national security and world affairs off the grid, the Department of Justice has had no qualms threatening news reporters and prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act.
It’s high time for a special prosecutor to be named to conduct a full investigation into Ms. Clinton’s likely commission of multiple felonies, including a conspiracy with Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and possibly others, to violate multiple laws.
While the FBI and Department of Justice have willfully ignored Hillary Clinton’s outrageous conduct, they didn’t hesitate a minute to investigate and prosecute former CIA Director and national hero, General Petraeus. He was just tarred, feathered and ridden out of the CIA on a rail for sharing some information (his own notebook) with his biographer who was both in the military and had a top secret clearance. Yet, Petraeus did not have a secret server set up to house his classified and top secret information or digital satellite imagery; he destroyed nothing; and, there was no “leak.” But that’s not all.
During the same years that Hillary was communicating about national security and world affairs off the grid, the Department of Justice has had no qualms threatening news reporters and prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act. To hell with the First Amendment and Supreme Court precedent, even the New York Times reported that this administration prosecuted more reporters and whistleblowers for “espionage” than all prior administrations put together.
Remember Fox news reporter James Rosen? The Holder Justice Department not only seized his emails immediately and without his knowledge, they suggested he was a criminal “co-conspirator” in a leak case—under the Espionage Act—which carries a ten-year term of imprisonment. Read the rest of this entry »
Hillary Clinton, the dominant front-runner in the Democratic field, is facing a massive pile of money on the Republican side, with early numbers showing that the GOPers have outraised Clinton more than four times over.
So far, the 15 candidates vying for the Republican nomination have raked in more than $280 million to Clinton’s $69 million, through a mix of campaign fundraising, super PAC donations, and other money groups.
Yes, the field is lopsided, but that doesn’t diminish this fact: Hillary’s squaring off against a lot of Republican cash. Read the rest of this entry »
You won’t read much about it in the Beltway press corps, but a behind-the-scenes effort is under way to lobby the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department to stifle free political speech the way the Internal Revenue Service did in 2012. Don’t be surprised if the subpoenas hit Republican candidates at crucial political moments.
“Justice’s involvement elbows in on the regulatory province of the FEC, an agency explicitly designed with a 3-3 partisan split to prevent it from being co-opted by one party. And that’s the point. Democracy 21 says it is lobbying Justice because the FEC has become ‘dysfunctional.'”
In late May the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 asked the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his Right to Rise Super PAC for violating campaign-finance law. According to the letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, “If Bush is raising and spending money as a candidate, he is a candidate under the law, whether or not he declares himself to be one.”
“We don’t recall any such cry when the FEC dismissed a similar complaint against the Ready for Hillary PAC regarding an email sent by the independent group to a list-serve provided by Friends of Hillary.”
The theory behind this accusation is campaign “coordination,” the new favorite tool of the anti-speech political left. Earlier this year the Justice Department invited such complaints with a public statement that it would “aggressively pursue coordination offenses at every appropriate opportunity.”
Under federal law, illegal coordination occurs if a campaign expenditure (say, a TV ad) mentions a candidate by name in the 120 days before a presidential primary, or if it advocates for a candidate and if the candidate and Super PAC have coordinated the content of the ad.
“The liberal accusers say Mr. Bush is over the line because the law defines political contributions and expenditures as money spent ‘for the purpose of influencing an election.'”
The liberals claim that a Super PAC raising and spending money in favor of a Bush candidacy should be treated as coordinated expenditures, making them de facto contributions to his campaign. Candidate is the operative word here, a designation that has always been applied to those who announce they are running for public office.
“The problem with that argument is that in Buckley v. Valeo the Supreme Court ruled that the ‘purpose of influencing’ language was unconstitutionally vague unless it refers to advertising that calls for the election or defeat of a candidate.”
Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer says Mr. Bush should be considered a candidate who is illegally coordinating because if you asked “100 ordinary Americans” if he is a candidate, they will say yes. What a bracing legal standard. What would the same 100 Americans have said about Hillary Clinton in 2013, or Ted Cruz in high school? Where is the limiting principle?
Under actual law, a politician becomes a candidate for federal office when he declares he is, and when he has raised or spent more than $5,000 on the candidacy. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] SMIDGEN REPORT UPDATE: Politico Sat on Allegations Lois Lerner Had Prior History of Targeting ConservativesPosted: March 12, 2015
Politico is not the only news organization to ignore Salvi’s story
But a former Illinois lawmaker who said Politico contacted him repeatedly that year with questions regarding claims he was targeted by Lerner in the mid-1990s has been left wondering why the news group chose to ignore his documented dealings with the former federal official.
“I spent something like an hour and a half talking to Politico about this,” said Salvi, whose dealings with the FEC are well documented by the federal agency. “And I’m nowhere in the story. They had no intention of using anything I said.”
“I was shocked,” Al Salvi told the Washington Examiner‘s media desk, describing what he characterizes as several “lengthy” interviews with Politico reporter Rachael Bade.
Lerner went after his 1996 Senate campaign with a lawsuit totaling $1.1 million — an enforcement action that was eventually thrown out of court — when she was working at the Federal Election Commission, according to Salvi.
“Every interview I had, the first thing people would say is: Tell us about your investigation. People thought I was going to jail!”
— Al Salvi, whose dealings with the FEC are well documented by the federal agency.
“I spent something like an hour and a half talking to Politico about this,” said Salvi, whose dealings with the FEC are well documented by the federal agency. “And I’m nowhere in the story. They had no intention of using anything I said.”
With its Lerner profile, titled “Exclusive: Lois Lerner breaks silence,” Politico became the first news group to gain access to the embattled former bureaucrat, who resigned from the Internal Revenue Service after bombshell revelations in 2013 that the IRS had singled out Tea Party and other conservative nonprofits for exceptional scrutiny and slow-walking of applications for tax exemptions.
Lerner headed the tax agency’s exempt organizations division at the time.
In 1996, Salvi, a representative in the Illinois state house, ran for an open U.S. Senate seat against then-Rep. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. His campaign attracted powerful scrutiny from the Federal Election Commission’s enforcement division, creating a scandal that Salvi said cost him the race.
The FEC was responding to a complaint lodged by Gary LaPaille, the Democratic Party’s state chairman. And the commission’s enforcement division was headed at the time by none other than Lois Lerner.
On Oct. 22, 1996, Lerner’s FEC division found”reason to believe” Salvi misreported nearly $1.1 million in contributions and loans, the agency said in a court filing. Later, in an letter dated Oct. 29, 1996, addressed to Salvi’s legal representative at the time, Bobby Burchfield, which shows that Salvi did have some form of contact with Lerner, the FEC announced it had closed its file against the Republican candidate.
And although the FEC’s case was eventually dismissed that year on technical grounds, Salvi ended up losing to Durbin, who is now a powerful senator. Salvi continues to blame the FEC scrutiny and the negative press it brought his campaign for souring voters in the Prairie State.
“Every interview I had, the first thing people would say is: Tell us about your investigation,” Salvi told the Examiner. “People thought I was going to jail!”
Later, after losing his Senate bid, Salvi announced he would run for Illinois secretary of state. But the charges of financial wrongdoing continued to dog Salvi, even after he secured the nomination of the state’s Republican Party. Read the rest of this entry »
Justice gears up to prosecute campaign ‘coordination.’
You know the 2016 election is heating up when the Justice Department announces it’s gearing up to prosecute campaign-finance “coordination” between candidates and outside groups. If you thought the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits was troubling, watch what Justice can do to criminalize political speech.
Justice said in a recent statement that it plans to “aggressively pursue coordination offenses at every appropriate opportunity.” That’s a warning for Republican candidates and the SuperPacs that support them. Note to major players: The federal government can subpoena your documents, email, computers and bank records in a political fishing expedition conducted by the FBI.
“A coordination investigation can be started on almost any pretext. All you need is an allegation that someone talked to someone they should not have. Once the investigation makes it over that low evidentiary hurdle, the feds can comb through every shred of personal and group communications to find illegal contact.”
Under federal law, a campaign expenditure is illegally coordinated when it meets certain tests for content and conduct. The content of an ad must either advocate for a candidate or mention the candidate by name in the 60 days before a general election. The conduct amounts to illegal coordination if there is material involvement or substantial discussion between a SuperPac and a candidate regarding that election-related content.
“Ms. Lerner knows all about campaign “coordination,” having led a multiyear FEC coordination investigation into the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. Ms. Lerner was pursuing a theory that the group had illegally coordinated its issue advocacy with candidates. That theory was rejected in federal court.”
A coordination investigation can be started on almost any pretext. All you need is an allegation that someone talked to someone they should not have. Once the investigation makes it over that low evidentiary hurdle, the feds can comb through every shred of personal and group communications to find illegal contact.
“GOP campaigns better lawyer up because Mr. Pilger’s speech police are gunning for you.”
We’ve seen how this wrecking ball works in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker ’s conservative allies had their records seized and homes raided based on mere claims of coordination. Justice is now essentially giving itself sway to probe every Republican presidential campaign based on an accusation from some left-wing activist. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in October, Fred Barnes wrote: Democratic senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina was pounded last winter and spring in TV ads by conservative groups for having voted for Obamacare and echoed President Obama’s false claim that people could keep their current health insurance. “They had her on the ropes,” says Marc Rotterman, a Republican consultant in North Carolina.
Then Senate Majority PAC, Harry Reid’s personal political action committee, intervened. Its television spots defended Hagan and attacked Thom Tillis, her Republican challenger, for supposedly dubious ethics. This was only the beginning. By last week, Reid’s PAC had spent $9 million to boost Hagan’s reelection. And Hagan’s candidacy was saved from an early, and possibly fatal, tailspin.
“Outside spending by groups—mostly super-PACs—that disclose their donors… is dominated by the left.”
Hagan has outraised Tillis, the state house speaker, $19.2 million to $4.8 million. But that’s only one measure of her money advantage. Liberal and Democratic groups have devoted $26.3 million to going after Tillis—a chunk of it on ads while he was still running in the Republican primary—and another $4 million touting her. Conservative and Republican groups were unable to neutralize the anti-Tillis barrage. They’ve spent $17.3 million against Hagan and $10.9 million to promote Tillis. In overall campaign spending, Hagan tops Tillis by $53.7 million to $33 million. This, however, doesn’t count undisclosed millions in “issue ads” criticizing Hagan by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group.
The result: Hagan, a mediocre candidate at best, led Tillis in polls for months. Only in mid-October, with spending for Tillis finally matching that for Hagan, has the race tightened. He was ahead by a percentage point or two in several recent polls. Still, Hagan felt confident enough of winning to skip a scheduled debate with Tillis last week.
The North Carolina campaign is a reflection of what’s happened in many of the competitive Senate races. The political fundamentals favor Republicans. President Obama is so unpopular that Democratic candidates avoid mentioning his name, much less inviting him to appear at their campaign events or in their TV spots. Meanwhile, the economy is stagnant. Foreign policy failures continue to stack up. America’s global influence fades. Two-thirds of Americans are pessimistic about the country’s future. Democrats have few national issues they’re comfortable talking about. Read the rest of this entry »
Paul Bedard reports: Claiming that thousands of public comments condemning “dark money” in politics can’t be ignored, the Democrat-chaired Federal Election Commission on Wednesday appeared ready to open the door to new regulations on donors, bloggers and others who use the Internet to influence policy and campaigns.
During a broad FEC hearing to discuss a recent Supreme Court decision that eliminated some donor limits, proponents encouraged the agency to draw up new funding disclosure rules and require even third-party internet-based groups to reveal donors, a move that would extinguish a 2006 decision to keep the agency’s hands off the Internet.
Noting the 32,000 public comments that came into the FEC in advance of the hearing, Democratic Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub said, “75 percent thought that we need to do more about money in politics, particularly in the area of disclosure. And I think that’s something that we can’t ignore.”
But a former Republican FEC chairman said in his testimony that if the agency moves to regulate the Internet, including news voices like the Drudge Report as GOP commissioners have warned, many thousands more comments will flood in in opposition of regulation. Read the rest of this entry »
In a surprise move late Friday, a key Democrat on the Federal Election Commission called for burdensome new rules on Internet-based campaigning, prompting the Republican chairman to warn that Democrats want to regulate online political sites and even news media like the Drudge Report.
Democratic FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel announced plans to begin the process to win regulations on Internet-based campaigns and videos, currently free from most of the FEC’s rules. “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long over due,” she said.
“Regrettably, the 3-to-3 vote in this matter suggests a desire to retreat from these important protections for online political speech — a shift in course that could threaten the continued development of the Internet’s virtual free marketplace of political ideas and democratic debate.”
The power play followed a deadlocked 3-3 vote on whether an Ohio anti-President Obama Internet campaign featuring two videos violated FEC rules when it did not report its finances or offer a disclosure on the ads. The ads were placed for free on YouTube and were not paid advertising.
Under a 2006 FEC rule, free political videos and advocacy sites have been free of regulation in a bid to boost voter participation in politics. Only Internet videos that are placed for a fee on websites, such as the Washington Examiner, are regulated just like normal TV ads. Read the rest of this entry »
— Elisabeth (@10thAmendment) October 6, 2014
SMIDGEN REPORT: Tweets from FEC Employee who Admitted to Violating Hatch Act Prior to Hard Drive Being RecycledPosted: July 15, 2014
— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) July 15, 2014
The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross reports that the Federal Election Commission recycled the computer hard drive of April Sands — a former co-worker of Lois Lerner’s — hindering an investigation into Sands’ partisan political activities, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Dear every single Republican ever, When will U learn that Barack Hussein Obama is simply smarter than U? Stand down, Signed #Obama2012 #p2”
— April Sands, former co-worker of Lois Lerner
Sands resigned from the Federal Election Commission in April after she admitted to violating the Hatch Act, which bars executive branch employees from engaging in partisan political activities on federal time and at federal facilities.
The twist is that Sands also worked under Lois Lerner when the ex-IRS agent — who is currently embroiled in a scandal over the targeting of conservative political groups — worked at the FEC’s enforcement division.
In a letter to FEC chairman Lee Goodman, Oversight chairman Darrell Issa and committee member Jim Jordan laid out Sands’ partisan activities and asked for records pertaining to the recycling of her hard drive and of the agency’s records retention policies.
“The bias in these messages is striking, especially for an attorney charged with the responsibility to enforce federal election laws fairly and dispassionately.”
— Oversight letter to Goodman
Sands took part in a heavily partisan online webcam discussion from FEC offices and also operated a Twitter account with the handle @ReignOfApril which were sent during Sands’ normal working hours. Read the rest of this entry »
For TownHall.com, Katie Pavlich writes: Last night on The Kelly File Chief Counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice Jay Sekulo revealed that the former chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, Nikole Flax, visited the White House 35 times after talking with former head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner about working to criminally prosecute conservative tea party groups for “lying” about political activity. At the White House, Flax met with a top Obama aid during some of those visits. This entire exchange is worth your time.
The email discussed in the segment above is detailed in this previously reported story, along with Lerner’s contact with Democrat Elijah Cummings and suggestions from former FEC Attorney Larry Noble and Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse that conservative groups should be targeted for criminal prosecution in order to “make an impact and they [conservative groups] wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing the stuff.”
“I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ … He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. Read the rest of this entry »
“The scale of the wrongdoing is staggering.”
Even a small child can connect these dots.
For National Review Online, David French writes: The IRS is announcing the “loss” of mass numbers of e-mails (do they have any computers that don’t crash?) even as the e-mails that do exist are beginning to show the extent of IRS corruption. Let’s take this exchange (previously uncovered by Judicial Watch) between Lois Lerner, the director of exempt organizations at the IRS, and Nikole Flax, then the IRS commissioner’s chief of staff. (To be clear, these are not “low level” employees.)
“Targeting Americans for criminal investigation without evidence, attempting to enlist multiple federal agencies in the effort, selective audits, selective disclosures of confidential documents, selective questioning and delays of nonprofit applicants — all in the service of suppressing dissent.”
First, here’s Lerner on May 8, 2013, literally two days before last year’s fake apology for IRS tea-party targeting:
I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ. I know him from contacts from my days there. He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s could talk to about [Rhode Island Democrat] Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large vis ible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.
I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS. I am out of town all next week, so wanted to reach out and see who you think would be right for such a meeting and also hand this off to Nan as contact person if things need to happen while I am gone –
Translation: The Obama Justice Department was reaching out to the Obama IRS to see if it could “piece together” prosecutions of nonprofits even before any evidence of wrongdoing emerged. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley reports: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claimed Friday that it cannot produce Lois Lerner’s emails to and from the White House and other administration departments due to a supposed computer crash.
The IRS previously agreed to hand over all of the ex-IRS official’s emails from 2009 to 2011 to the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Dave Camp. But the IRS claimed Friday that it has Lerner’s emails to and from other IRS officials but it cannot produce emails to and from the Treasury and Justice Departments, the Federal Election Commission, or Democratic offices.
“Just a short time ago, Commissioner Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents,” Camp continued. “It appears now that was an empty promise.”
— Rep. Dave Camp
Lois G. Lerner, the woman at the center of the Internal Revenue Service scandal over special scrutiny of conservative groups, specifically targeted tea party applications and directed that they be held up in 2011 in order to come up with an agency policy, according to several of Ms. Lerner’s emails released by a House committee Thursday.
BREAKING NEWS: Girl feud! Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus tangle over slip of the tongue
Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus were supposedly girlfriends! — but are they anymore? Comments Perry made on TV while promoting her Prismatic tour Down Under made their way halfway around the world, and Cyrus is not happy.
It all started Monday on Australia’s “Sunrise” program, when one of the hosts riffed off Perry’s hit “I Kissed a Girl” to lead into a discussion of the “Roar” singer’s recent lip-lock with Cyrus during one of the “Wrecking Ball” singer’s shows.
“Scandalous!” Perry joked, before explaining what went down….Read more >>> LATimes
Note: Use Lois Lerner story only if the new photos of Miley Cyrus don’t come in by deadline. Bump this, see if there’s any room for it next week, thanks. –Ed. Move to Page D 17, bottom of page: “Emails Show IRS Lois Lerner Specifically Targeted Tea Party”
Stephen Dinan and Seth McLaughlin report: Lois G. Lerner, the woman at the center of the Internal Revenue Service scandal over special scrutiny of conservative groups, specifically targeted tea party applications and directed that they be held up in 2011 in order to come up with an agency policy, according to several of Ms. Lerner’s emails released by a House committee Thursday.
In one 2011 email, Ms. Lerner specifically calls the tea party applications for tax-exempt status problematic, which seems to counter Democrats’ arguments that tea party groups weren’t targeted.
“Tea Party Matter very dangerous,” Ms. Lerner wrote in the 2011 email, saying that those applications could end up being the “vehicle to go to court” to get more clarity on a 2010 Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance rules.
“…prior to her decision in favor of voluntarily retiring, Lerner was in danger of being removed from her job due to findings from an IRS inquiry board citing “neglect of duties” and mismanagement…”
Executive vice president for the National Taxpayers Union Pete Sepp reports: Even before she retired, scandalized IRS official Lois Lerner’s compensation was already attracting attention. While on administrative leave, federal rules allowed her to keep collecting a salary, one that reportedly totaled $177,000. So it was no surprise when speculation arose over how much Lerner could collect in federal pension benefits.
Unfortunately, that speculation, which initially projected a benefit of over $50,000, might be off by about half … and in the wrong direction.
National Taxpayers Union calculations show that Lerner could qualify for a starting pension at the annual equivalent of as much as $102,600, and up to $3.96 million over her lifetime.
The individual retirement choices of federal employees are not a matter of public record. However, precisely because NTU has been denied this information in the past (specifically pertaining to Members of Congress), we’ve developed the most accurate method available to provide solid estimates of how much federal employees can collect.
Mario Trujillo reports: Hidden camera footage of what appeared to be Supreme Court proceedings from earlier this week surfaced on Thursday, offering one the of the first public recordings of the High Court’s proceedings.
“I rise on behalf of the vast majority of American people who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder…”
A video posted on YouTube and recorded by 99 Rise, a group that supports tougher campaign finance laws, shows proceedings leading up to and during a rare protest that took place in the court Wednesday.
Noah Kai Newkirk, a leader of the group, is seen in the video standing up and calling on the court to overturn the 2010 Citizens United ruling that opened the door to corporate political donations and led to the creation of super-PACs.
Billionaires Alice Walton, George Soros and Marc Benioff are helping to finance a super-political action committee encouraging former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run for president, according to a report filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission.
The super-PAC earlier reported raising about $4 million last year from 30,000 donors, most of them giving small amounts, such as $20.16. Walton, Soros and Benioff were among 33 people or companies that gave $25,000 in the second half of 2013, the FEC report shows. New Yorkers who chipped in to help their former senator include Roger Altman, the chairman and founder of New York-based Evercore Partners Inc...
Paul Bond writes: The filmmakers behind Dinesh D’Souza‘s upcoming doc have vowed to press on while their star defends himself after his indictment on federal charges that he violated campaign finance laws in 2012. On Sunday, they released a trailer for the movie, America, that is set for release on July 4.
“I want to take this progressive, leftist critique head on”
America is the follow-up to the surprise hit 2016: Obama’s America, which earned $33 million in 2012 and became the second most popular political documentary in history, behind Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, which earned $119 million in 2004.
In America, D’Souza — who wrote and produced the film — makes the claim that 1960s radical leftism is more or less indistinguishable from current mainstream liberalism, a doctrine that he says preaches the United States is the product of “stealing and plunder” from Native Americans, Mexicans and African-American slaves.
“I want to take this progressive, leftist critique head on,” D’Souza says in the trailer. The movie will include re-creations of some of the major events in American history.
America is directed by John Sullivan and co-produced by Gray Frederickson, who won an Oscar for producing The Godfather Part II, and Gerald Molen, who won an Oscar for Schindler’s List. D’Souza and Sullivan co-directed 2016: Obama’s America.
Emily Cahn reports: Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., raised about $83,000 in the third quarter, according to his third-quarter fundraising report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Peterson’s fundraising haul is $10,000 less than last quarter’s fundraising total — both considered to be paltry sums for a long-time member of Congress. He reported $227,000 in the bank.
Such a small haul raises questions about Peterson’s plans for 2014 because weak fundraising can signal that a member is looking to retire. On Tuesday, Peterson’s campaign said in a statement that the congressman is still considering his plans for 2014.
“It’s premature to read too much into Congressman Peterson’s report this fundraising quarter given that he does not yet have an opponent, he is still considering whether he will run again, and the amount raised is similar to what he’s raised previously in off-year quarters,” the campaign said in the statement. “At this time, he remains focused on getting the farm bill completed.”
Republicans publicly pushed Peterson to retire earlier this year, knowing that Minnesota’s 7th District would be more competitive if he was not on the ballot.
GOP nominee Mitt Romney carried Peterson’s district with a 10-point margin in 2012.
There are no Republicans currently challenging Peterson this cycle. However businessman Scott Van Binsbergen has been eyeing a bid, and moved closer to making a decision last month, he told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview. Minnesota’s 7th District is rated a Democrat Favored contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call
It may be the most incriminating evidence yet.
Last week, while the world’s eyes were fixed upon the Obama administration’s fumbled response to the Syria crisis, new documents emerged in the allegedly “phony” IRS scandal.
These documents – emails from Lois Lerner, then Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS – were short, but highly damaging to the IRS’s persistent (and pernicious) spin. Read the rest of this entry »
Emails released this week sweep the Federal Election Commission into the conservative-targeting probe.
Congressional investigators this week released emails suggesting that staff at the Federal Election Commission have been engaged in their own conservative targeting, with help from the IRS’s infamous Lois Lerner. This means more than just an expansion of the probe to the FEC. It’s a new link to the Obama team.
In May this column noted that the targeting of conservatives started in 2008, when liberals began a coordinated campaign of siccing the federal government on political opponents. The Obama campaign helped pioneer this tactic.
In late summer of 2008, Obama lawyer Bob Bauer took issue with ads run against his boss by a 501(c)(4) conservative outfit called American Issues Project. Mr. Bauer filed a complaint with the FEC, called on the criminal division of the Justice Department to prosecute AIP, and demanded to see documents the group had filed with the IRS.
Thanks to Congress’s newly released emails, we now know that FEC attorneys went to Ms. Lerner to pry out information about AIP—the organization the Obama campaign wanted targeted. An email from Feb. 3, 2009, shows an FEC attorney asking Ms. Lerner “whether the IRS had issued an exemption letter” to AIP, and requesting that she share “any information” on the group. Nine minutes after Ms. Lerner received this FEC email, she directed IRS attorneys to fulfill the request.
Douglas Shulman, former IRS commissioner (left), Lois Lerner, the then-director of the IRS’s exempt-organizations office, and Neal Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury, at a congressional hearing, May 22.
This matters because FEC staff didn’t have permission from the Commission to conduct this inquiry. It matters because the IRS is prohibited from sharing confidential information, even with the FEC. What the IRS divulged is unclear. Congressional investigators are demanding to see all communications between the IRS and FEC since 2008, and given that Ms. Lerner came out of the FEC’s office of the general counsel, that correspondence could prove illuminating.
It also matters because we now know FEC staff engaged in a multiyear effort to deliver to the Obama campaign its win against AIP. This past week, FEC Vice Chairman Don McGahn, joined by his two fellow Republican commissioners, wrote an extraordinary statement recounting the staff’s behavior in the case.