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.
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.”
“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.
“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 »
Lois Lerner Called Conservatives ‘Assholes,’ Fantasized About Working At Obama Group
“Well, you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP. The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.”
“So we don’t need to worry about teRroists [sic]. It’s our own crazies that will take us down,” Lerner wrote in a Nov. 9, 2012 email exchange with an IRS colleague.
Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp revealed the emails in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Lerner’s disdain for the right is central to an investigation into whether she targeted conservative groups who were seeking tax-exempt status. Republicans have accused the former director of the IRS’s exempt organizations division of possible criminal wrongdoing in targeting the groups.
“Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many assholes.”
— Lois Lerner
“This email shows that Ms. Lerner’s mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility toward conservatives,” Camp wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Weekly Standard, Daniel Halper reports: The IRS comissioner insists his agency did not break the law or relevant statutes. But under questioning by Rep. Trey Gowdy, the IRS commissioner also admitted that he doesn’t know the law or the relevant statutes:
“You have already said, multiple times today, that there was no evidence that you found of any criminal wrongdoing,” Gowdy said. “I want you to tell me: What criminal statutes you have evaluated?”
“Common sense? Instead of the criminal code, you want to rely on common sense?”
“I have not looked at any,” the IRS commissioner admitted.
“Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there is no criminal wrongdoing if you don’t even know what statutes to look at?” Gowdy followed-up. Read the rest of this entry »
UPDATE: For National Review Online, Eliana Johnson writes: It’s not just Lois Lerner’s e-mails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce e-mails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal.
The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.
The revelation about Lerner’s e-mails rekindled the targeting scandal and today’s news has further inflamed Republicans. Read the rest of this entry »
There are two competing models for reforming the Internal Revenue Service’s oversight of the political activities of certain nonprofit organizations: one put forward by the IRS itself, in the form of a regulatory rule change, a second put forward by Representative David Camp (R., Mich.) on behalf of the House Ways and Means Committee. Neither program is sufficient, because neither reflects the reality behind the recent IRS scandal, which was not the result of murky rules or bureaucratic incompetence but rather of what gives every indication of being deliberate misuse of federal investigatory resources for partisan political ends. That there have not been criminal charges in this matter is probably at least as much a reflection of the highly politicized Department of Justice under Eric Holder as it is of the facts of the case. The problem, then, is that both the IRS plan and the Camp plan assume that the IRS ought to be regulating rather than being regulated.
“No rule change from the IRS… is going to change the fact that the agency is full of highly partisan bureaucrats with a political agenda of their own and an inclination to abuse such police powers as are entrusted to them.”
The United States already has a rather good regulation regarding government oversight of political speech, which is that there isn’t to be any. The First Amendment ought to be the last word on the subject. Asking politicians to oversee the activities of persons inclined to criticize them presents a basic fox-henhouse problem — recall that the Citizens United decision came in response to federal attempts to outlaw the showing of a film critical of Hillary Clinton — so our general bias should be against entrusting any federal agency with such powers.
Politics: New emails show that the woman at the center of the IRS scandal over special scrutiny of conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status targeted tea party applications specifically and directed they be held up. Read the rest of this entry »
In a remarkable admission that is likely to rock the Internal Revenue Service again, testimony released Thursday by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp reveals that an agent involved in reviewing tax exempt applications from conservative groups told a committee investigator that the agency is still targeting Tea Party groups, three months after the IRS scandal erupted..
In closed door testimony before the House Ways & Means Committee, the unidentified IRS agent said requests for special tax status from Tea Party groups is being forced into a special “secondary screening” because the agency has yet to come up with new guidance on how to judge the tax status of the groups.
“I’m a born free American woman, wife, mother and citizen. And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being, and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered.”
The Internal Revenue Service is in the process of locking down all computer data across the agency, a sign that investigations into the scandal-plagued agency may be taking a broader sweep than initially anticipated.
Agency employees last Thursday received an e-mail alerting them, “This is a late breaking top priority and things could change in the future,” according to an IRS employee who asked not to be named.
Employees were directed not to “wipe, re-image or otherwise destroy any hard drives” on any machine currently in use or in stock. During this time, the IRS will not discard any laptop and desktop computers that are replaced, and it is “working on securing a location” where they will be kept, according to the e-mail.
National Review Online previously reported that data on computer hard drives in the Tax Exempt and Government Entity division in Cincinnati was being preserved and uploaded to a restriccted server where investigators can access it.
Four government probes are currently investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups; they are being led by the House Oversight Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the IRS itself.
via The Corner
(CNSNews.com) – The Internal Revenue Service has given no indication to the House Ways and Means Committee about whether it will respond to the committee’s demand, delivered in writing last Friday, that the agency hand over copies of all internal communications containing the words “tea party,” “patriot,” or “conservative” and the names and titles of all IRS officials involved in discriminating against tea party and conservative groups when they submitted applications for tax-exempt status.
IRS spokesmen also did not respond to repeated emailed and telephone inquiries that CNSNews.com made between Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning asking if the IRS intended to comply with the committee’s demand–and if not, why not.
I expect that as the firestorm heats up, the IRS will release some relatively harmless stuff, and serve up a couple of low-level human sacrifices. Only time will tell if it works.
A limited hangout, or partial hangout, is a public relations or propaganda techniquethat involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details. It takes the form of deception, misdirection, orcoverup often associated with intelligence agencies involving a release or “mea culpa” type of confession of only part of a set of previously hidden sensitive information, that establishes credibility for the one releasing the information who by the very act of confession appears to be “coming clean” and acting with integrity; but in actuality, by withholding key facts, is protecting a deeper operation and those who could be exposed if the whole truth came out. In effect, if an array of offenses or misdeeds is suspected, this confession admits to a lesser offense while covering up the greater ones.
In case you’re wondering how this game is played.
via Daily Pundit.