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[VIDEO] When Transparency Really Means Tyranny: Protecting Nonprofit Donor Privacy

It’s a big aspect of free speech, and a big obsession of the Left, which is consumed with violating the anonymity of donors so Alinskyite flying monkeys and boycott stooges can attack business owners and corporate mavens who dare to lend financial support to causes that are in line with their consciences but not politically correct … (read more)

Source: Prager UNational Review

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FOIA FAIL: Obama Administration Sets Records for Failures to Find Files When Asked

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People who asked for records under the Freedom of Information Act received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, setting a record.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration set a record for the number of times its federal employees told disappointed citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn’t find a single page requested under the Freedom of Information Act, according to a new Associated Press analysis of government data.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate when someone waits months, or perhaps years, to get a response to their request – only to be told that the agency can’t find anything.”

— Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

In more than one in six cases, or 129,825 times, government searchers said they came up empty-handed last year. Such cases contributed to an alarming measurement: People who asked for records under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, also a record. In the first full year after President Barack Obama’s election, that figure was only 65 percent of cases.

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“It seems like they’re doing the minimal amount of work they need to do. I just don’t believe them. I really question the integrity of their search.”

— Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter at Vice News and a leading expert on the records law

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday he was not familiar with the figures showing how routinely the government said it can’t find any records, although the Justice Department also highlighted them in its own performance report. Earnest said federal employees work diligently on such requests, and renewed his earlier complaint that the U.S. records law has never applied to Congress since it was signed into law 50 years ago by President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat.

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“Congress writes the rules and they write themselves out of being accountable,” Earnest said. He urged reporters “to continue the pressure that you have applied to Congress to encourage them to subject themselves to the same kinds of transparency rules that they insist other government agencies follow.”

The new data represents the final figures on the subject that will be released during Obama’s presidency. Obama has said his administration is the most transparent ever.

The FBI couldn’t find any records in 39 percent of cases, or 5,168 times. The Environmental Protection Agency regional office that oversees New York and New Jersey couldn’t find anything 58 percent of the time. U.S. Customs and Border Protection couldn’t find anything in 34 percent of cases.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate when someone waits months, or perhaps years, to get a response to their request – only to be told that the agency can’t find anything,” said Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The IRS’ computer crash may go down in history next to the eighteen and a half minute gap in the Watergate tapes, which was supposedly caused by a mistake by Richard Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods.

The IRS’ computer crash may go down in history next to the eighteen and a half minute gap in the Watergate tapes, which was supposedly caused by a mistake by Richard Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods.

It was impossible to know whether more requests last year involved non-existent files or whether federal workers were searching less than diligently before giving up to consider a case closed. The administration said it completed a record 769,903 requests, a 19 percent increase over the previous year despite hiring only 283 new full-time workers on the issue, or about 7 percent. The number of times the government said it couldn’t find records increased 35 percent over the same period.

“It seems like they’re doing the minimal amount of work they need to do,” said Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter at Vice News and a leading expert on the records law. “I just don’t believe them. I really question the integrity of their search.”

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during news conference in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington

In some high-profile instances, usually after news organizations filed expensive federal lawsuits, the Obama administration found tens of thousands of pages after it previously said it couldn’t find any. The website Gawker sued the State Department last year after it said it couldn’t find any emails that Philippe Reines, an aide to Hillary Clinton and former deputy assistant secretary of state, had sent to journalists. After the lawsuit, the agency said it found 90,000 documents about correspondence between Reines and reporters. In one email, Reines wrote to a reporter, “I want to avoid FOIA,” although Reines’ lawyer later said he was joking. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Clinton: ‘I’ve Been The Most Transparent Public Official in Modern Times’

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[VIDEO] Benghazi Hearing Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy on Hillary Clinton’s ‘Unusual Email Arrangement’

Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, said Hillary Clinton’s “unusual email arrangement” complicated the investigation into the attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] How to File a Freedom of Information Act Request

Though it has been in place since 1967, some of us don’t fully understand—or take advantage of—the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The act, often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government, requires federal agencies to disclose requested information. While there are nine specific exemptions, the FOIA grants citizens a wide range of information controlled by the U.S. government.

As election season nears, and in light of an outbreak of high profile investigations into government dealings, FOIA requests have gained currency as an indispensable tool to shed light on the inner workings of public affairs.

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen testifies under subpoena before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Especially in the internet age, citizens should have free and unrestricted access to government information. As an essential tool to gain access to the troves of electronic information at the heart of the biggest, most important government disputes, FOIA requests are crucial for a transparent democracy. But to tap into the heaps of information, electronic and otherwise, you need to know how to file a request and identify the nine exemptions. This infographic clearly details the process of filing a request under the act as well as what happens once a request is made.

Source: logikcull.com


Red Tape Rising: Six Years of Escalating Regulation Under Obama

APTOPIX White House Sunrise

The need for regulatory reform has never been greater.

The number and cost of government regulations continued to climb in 2014, intensifying Washington’s control over the economy and Americans’ lives. The addition of 27 new major rules[1] last year pushed the tally for the Obama Administration’s first six years to 184, with scores of other rules in the pipeline. The cost of just these 184 rules is estimated by regulators to be nearly $80 billion annually, although the actual cost of this massive expansion of the administrative state is obscured by the large number of rules for which costs have not been fully quantified. Absent substantial reform, economic growth and individual freedom will continue to suffer….

At The Corner, Veronique de Rugy writes:

In a new paper titled “Red Tape Rising: Six Years of Escalating Regulation Under Obama,” the Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz and James Gattuso write that in 2014, the government issued 2,400 new regulations, including 27 major rules that may cost $80 billion or more annually. These rules range from forcing restaurants to list calorie counts — even though past experiments have revealed that such measures fail to change consumers’ behavior — to reducing consumer choices and increasing energy prices by imposing tighter energy-efficiency mandates on the plugs that we use to charge cell phones, laptops, and even electric toothbrushes.

Washington regulatory bureaucrats’ control over the economy and Americans’ lives is intensifying. According to Katz and Gattuso, during the first six years of the Obama administration, the number of new major rules reached 184, including 13 regulations of the financial system that saw the light of day in 2014. Another 126 are in the pipeline. That’s more than twice the number imposed by President George W. Bush, who himself wasn’t shy about regulating the economy.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Official regulatory costs are vastly underestimated because of the large number of rules for which costs have not been fully quantified. More importantly, official costs never appropriately account for the businesses, innovations, and economic growth that will never exist because of the continued accumulation of regulations. Needless to say, the need for reform of the regulatory system has never been greater….(read more)

National Review Online

…President Barack Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to act by regulatory fiat instead of executing laws as passed by Congress. But regulatory overreach by the executive branch is only part of the problem. A great deal of the excessive regulation in the past six years is the result of Congress granting broad powers to agencies through passage of vast and vaguely worded legislation. The misnamed Affordable Care Act and the Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law top the list.

Many more regulations are on the way, with another 126 economically significant rules on the Administration’s agenda, such as directives to farmers for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables; strict limits on credit access for service members; and, yet another redesign of light bulbs.

In many respects, the need for reform of the regulatory system has never been greater. The White House, Congress, and federal agencies routinely ignore regulatory costs, exaggerate benefits, and breach legislative and constitutional boundaries. They also increasingly dictate lifestyle choices rather than focusing on public health and safety.

Immediate reforms should include requiring legislation to undergo an analysis of regulatory impacts before a floor vote in Congress, and requiring every major regulation to obtain congressional approval before taking effect. Sunset deadlines should be set in law for all major rules, and independent agencies should be subject—as are executive branch agencies—to the White House regulatory review process.[2]

Measuring the Red Tape 

The federal government does not officially track total regulatory costs, as it does with taxation and spending. Estimates of these costs from various independent sources range from hundreds of billions of dollars to over $2 trillion annually.[3] However, the number and cost of new regulations can be tracked, and both have grown relentlessly.

The most comprehensive source of data on new regulations is the Federal Rules Database maintained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to this GAO database, federal regulators issued 2,400 new rules during the 2014 “presidential year” (January 21, 2014, to January 20, 2015). Of these, 77 were classified as “major.”

Forty-eight of the 77 major rules were budgetary or administrative in nature, such as Medicare payment rates and hunting limits on migratory birds. A total of 27 were “prescriptive” regulations, meaning that they increase burdens on individual or private-sector activity. (Two others were “deregulatory,” as explained below.) Altogether, during the six years of the Obama Administration, 184 prescriptive rules have been imposed. That compares to 76 such rules issued during the same period of the George W. Bush Administration.

Regulators reported new annual costs of $7.6 billion for the 2014 prescriptive rules based on the limited number of analyses performed by the agencies.[4] This total cost is 15 percent less than the $8.9 billion in costs imposed during the sixth year of the Bush Administration. However, cost calculations were incomplete for 12 of the 27 Obama rules issued last year.

There was also $1.8 billion in reported one-time implementation costs for the 2014 rules, bringing the Administration’s six-year total for such costs to about $17 billion.

Only two of the 2014 rules decreased regulatory burdens, bringing the Administration’s six-year “deregulatory” total to just 17—despite a widely touted “retrospective review” initiative that President Obama claimed would take outdated rules off the books. This compares to four deregulatory actions during President Bush’s sixth year, and his Administration’s six-year total of 23.

Overall, the cost of new mandates and restrictions imposed by the Obama Administration now totals $78.9 billion annually. This is more than double the $30.7 billion in annual costs imposed at the same point in the George W. Bush Administration.[5]

These figures are consistent with other measures of a growing regulatory burden. For instance, according to economists Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren, spending on federal regulatory agencies has increased from $20.7 billion in 1990, and $50.9 billion in 2009, to more than $53.6 billion in 2014 (in constant 2009 dollars). Similarly, total staffing at regulatory agencies has grown nearly 6.6 percent since 2009.[6]

Dodd–Frank Dominates in 2014 

Regulation of securities and the banking system dominated rulemaking in 2014, accounting for 13 of the 27 major rules issued during the Obama Administration’s sixth year. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposed the largest number of rules (seven), while the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency jointly promulgated five rules, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued one. Read the rest of this entry »


THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Clinton Foundation Blog Confession: ‘We Made Mistakes’

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Alex Griswold reports: In a Sunday blog post, the acting CEO of the Clinton Foundation Maura Pally publicly admitted that “we made mistakes” when it came to filing 990 tax forms disclosing donations from foreign PANTSUIT-REPORTgovernments.

[VIDEO: Clinton Foundation Caught Straight-Up Lying To New York Times Reporter]

The blog post comes three days after Reuters reported that the Foundation was refiling up to five years of annual tax returns after the news organization pointed out several errors in how the Foundation reported donations from foreign governments.

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“So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don’t happen in the future.”

The bulk of the blog post, entitled “A commitment  to Honesty, Transparency, and Accountability,” doubled down on the Clinton Foundation’s defense of its “commitment to transparency.” But the last two paragraphs admitted the error. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND: THE PANTSUIT REPORT: October 2003, When Hillary Clinton Complained About Not Turning Evidence Over

When Hillary Clinton Complained About Not Turning Evidence Over (October 29, 2003)

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Chris Cillizza: The Hillary Clinton Email Story Just Keeps Getting Worse for Her

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Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail address that she used while secretary of state reinforces everything people don’t like about her, argues The Post’s Chris Cillizza, and is very dangerous to her presidential ambitions

Chris Cillizza writes: Hard on the heels of the New York Times scoop Monday night that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private email account to conduct business as Secretary of State comes this report Wednesday morning by the Associated Press:

The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

Uh oh.

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There’s any number of problematic phrases in those two paragraphs but two stand out: 1)”impressive control over limiting access to her message archives” and 2) “secretive email practices as far more hillary-eyessophisticated than some politicians.”

“This wasn’t some garden variety home email system; it was “sophisticated” in ways that went well beyond what candidates like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin — both of whom used private email accounts to do official business — put in place.”

Let’s take them one by one.

The first phrase speaks to the suspicion that has long hung around the Clintons that they are always working the angles, stretching the limits of how business can be conducted for their own benefit.  It seemed clear that Clinton went out of her way to avoid the federal disclosure requirements related to email by never even setting up an official account. That she took it another step and created a “homebrew” email system that would given her “impressive control over limiting access” is stunning — at least to me — given that she (or someone close to her) had to have a sense that this would not look good if it ever came out.

“That level of sophistication speaks to the fact that this was not thrown together at the last minute; instead it was a planned manuever to give the Clintons more control over their electronic correspondence.”

Yes, her allies have maintained that she turned over more than 55,000 pages of emails from her time as Secretary of State. But, the decisions over which emails to turn over were made by Clinton and/or her staff. That’s not exactly the height of transparency for someone who is the de facto Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Hillary Email Story About to Metasticize’: Clinton Ran Own Computer System

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The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives

WASHINGTON (AP) – Jack Gillum and Ted Bridis report: The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Clinton’s emails – on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state – traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

“In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials.”

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

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Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

“The AP has waited more than a year under the open records law for the State Department to turn over some emails covering Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat, although the agency has never suggested that it didn’t possess all her emails.”

In most cases, individuals who operate their own email servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.

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“Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails.”

Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private email account – hdr22@clintonemail.com, which traced back to her own private email server registered under an apparent pseudonym – for official State Department business.

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Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

“It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches.” 

But homemade email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP on Tuesday. Clinton ignored the issue during a speech Tuesday night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010. Read the rest of this entry »


Senator Obama: ‘Irresponsible’ For FCC To Vote On Rules Unreleased To The Public


White House that Promised Transparency Refuses to Cooperate with IRS Probe

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Stephen Dinan reports: The White House told Congress last week it refused to dig into its computers for emails that could shed light on what kinds of private taxpayer information the IRS shares with President Obama’s top aides, assuring Congress that the IRS will address the issue — eventually.O-SMDGE-CONDENSED

The tax agency has already said it doesn’t have the capability to dig out the emails in question, but the White House’s chief counsel, W. Neil Eggleston, insisted in a letter last week to House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan that the IRS would try again once it finishes with the tea party-targeting scandal.

“It is my understanding that in May 2014, Commissioner Koskinen responded to this request by indicating that the IRS would be able to address new topics such as these following its completion of document productions already in progress,” Mr. Eggleston wrote in a Feb. 17 letter. “To the extent that the committee continues to have an oversight interest in this matter, I encourage you to continue working with the IRS to address those questions.”

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“The IRS has been under fire for years over several scandals, including its targeting of tea party groups for politically motivated scrutiny and its illegal release of private taxpayer information…”

But IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s letter last year didn’t say that. Instead Mr. Koskinen said the IRS was logistically incapable of performing the search because it would have required combing through 90,000 email accounts.

The White House’s stiff-arm comes even though it performed a similar kind of email search in the past after the IRS lost thousands of emails of former division chief Lois G. Lerner, a key figure in the tea party targeting.

Mr. Ryan is trying to figure out whether the laws that govern taxpayer information security are working, which is part of his committee’s jurisdiction.SMDG-TV2

“The White House’s stiff-arm comes even though it performed a similar kind of email search in the past after the IRS lost thousands of emails of former division chief Lois G. Lerner, a key figure in the tea party targeting.”

The IRS has been under fire for years over several scandals, including its targeting of tea party groups for politically motivated scrutiny and its illegal release of private taxpayer information concerning the National Organization for Marriage. The IRS insisted the disclosure was accidental and not politically motivated, but it did pay a settlement to the organization.

Some outside pressure groups argue the IRS’s improper behavior goes further, and includes disclosing private taxpayer information to the White House. The groups point to comments by a top White House economic adviser who in 2010 said Koch Industries, the company run by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, paid no corporate income taxes. Read the rest of this entry »