America Is On The Same Glide Path As The Fatal Germanwings Flight
The pilot was locked out of the cockpit. That phrase finally revealed the full horror of the crash of Germanwings flight 9525.
Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz waited for the pilot to leave the cockpit then locked the door to prevent his re-entry. After which Lubitz, for reasons unknown and perhaps unknowable, deliberately steered the jet into a harrowing 8-minute plunge, ending in an explosive 434 mph impact with a rocky mountainside. One hundred fifty men, women and children met an immediate, unthinkably violent death.
Lubitz, in his single-minded madness, couldn’t be stopped because anyone who could change the jet’s disastrous course was locked out.
It’s hard to imagine the growing feelings of fear and helplessness that the passengers felt as the unforgiving landscape rushed up to meet them. Hard, but not impossible.
America is in very deep trouble and we feel the descent in the pits of our stomachs. We hear the shake and rattle of structures stressed beyond their limits. We don’t know where we’re going anymore, but do know it isn’t good. And above all, we feel helpless because Barack Obama has locked us out.
He locked the American people out of his decision to seize the national healthcare system.
He locked us out when we wanted to know why the IRS was attacking conservatives.
He locked us out of having a say in his decision to tear up our immigration laws and to give over a trillion dollars in benefits to those who broke those laws.
Obama locked out those who advised against premature troop withdrawals. He locked out the intelligence agencies who issued warnings about the growing threat of ISIS.
He locked out anyone who could have interfered with his release of five Taliban terror chiefs in return for one U.S. Military deserter.
And, of course, Barack Obama has now locked out Congress, the American people, and our allies as he strikes a secret deal with Iran to determine the timeline (not prevention) of their acquisition of nuclear weapons.
Was Andreas Lubitz depressed, insane, or abysmally evil when he decided to lock that cockpit door and listen to no voices other than those in his head? Did he somehow believe himself to be doing the right thing? The voice recordings from the doomed aircraft reveal that as the jet began its rapid descent, the passengers were quiet. There was probably some nervous laughter, confusion, a bit of comforting chatter with seat mates, followed by a brief period in which anxiety had not yet metastasized into terror. It was only near the end of the 8-minute plunge that everyone finally understood what was really happening. Only near the end when they began to scream.
Like those passengers, a growing number of Americans feel a helpless dread as they come to the inescapable conclusion that our nation’s decline is an act of choice rather than of chance.
The choice of one man who is in full control of our 8-year plunge. I wonder when America will begin to scream.
The Justice Department will not seek criminal contempt charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, the central figure in a scandal that erupted over whether the tax agency improperly targeted conservative political groups.
Ronald Machen, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a seven-page letter this week that he would not bring a criminal case to a grand jury over Lerner’s refusal to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March 2014. The House approved a criminal contempt resolution against Lerner in May 2014, and Machen’s office has been reviewing the issue since then.
Lerner and other IRS officials, however, are still under investigation by the FBI for the tea party targeting matter — which is a separate probe entirely.
Lerner cited her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself during congressional testimony on March 5, 2014, although then-Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said she had waived that right by giving an opening statement at a hearing 10 months earlier when she asserted her innocence. Issa wanted her charged by the Justice Department with criminal contempt of Congress for failing to answer questions about her role in the scandal.
Machen said the Oversight Committee “followed proper procedures” in telling Lerner that it had “rejected her claim of privilege and gave her an adequate opportunity to answer the committee’s questions.”
However, Machen said DOJ lawyers determined that Lerner “did not waive her Fifth Amendment right by making an opening statement on May 22, 2013, because she made only general claims of innocence.”
Machen added: “Given that assessment, we have further concluded that it is not appropriate for a United States attorney to present the matter to the grand jury for action where, as here, the Constitution prevents the witness from being prosecuted for contempt.”
Lerner, unsurprisingly, was pleased by the announcement. “Anyone who takes a serious and impartial look at this issue would conclude that Ms. Lerner did not waive her Fifth Amendment rights,” said Lerner’s attorney, William Taylor III, in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the majority party in the House put politics before a citizen’s constitutional rights.”
“Ms. Lerner is pleased to have this matter resolved and looks forward to moving on with her life,” Taylor added.
Republicans were disappointed by the decision not to move ahead.
“Once again, the Obama administration has tried to sweep IRS targeting of taxpayers for their political beliefs under the rug,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, urging the White House to “do the right thing and appoint a special counsel to examine the IRS’ actions.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of several House Oversight Committee members who says Justice has failed to take the IRS matter seriously, said the decision “offers little assurance to the American taxpayer that the department is actually investigating this abuse of power.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who led the IRS probe in the House, knocked Machen in a statement for “us[ing] his power as a political weapon to undermine the rule of law.”
“Mr. Machen … unilaterally decided to ignore the will of the House of Representatives,” Jordan said. “He and the Justice Department have given Lois Lerner cover for her failure to account for her actions at the IRS.”
Lerner, who led the IRS unit that subjected conservative nonprofits to additional scrutiny, quickly became the face of the scandal when she revealed the practice during an obscure tax conference on May 9, 2013. At the time, Lerner and the IRS blamed “frontline” employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office for any violations, though later it became clear that IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C., was holding up approval of the nonprofit groups’ tax status for years at time.
When initially summoned to Capitol Hill to answer for the scandal in May 2013, Lerner took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions. Lawmakers would eventually hold her in contempt of Congress when she, again, asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege at the second hearing in March 2014.
GOP investigators on both the House Oversight and the Ways and Means committees have released numerous emails showing Lerner’s liberal political leanings. They’ve accused her of bias in the workplace, including using her position to try to persuade IRS auditors to probe and reject the nonprofit application for Karl Rove’s influential Crossroads GPS.
Republicans also noted Lerner’s private skepticism of political nonprofits, which are governed by complex rules originally designed to limit their direct role in elections. Republicans assert that Lerner tried to use her division to crack down on conservative political groups, something Democrats had been urging the IRS to consider.
Last June, more than a year into the investigation, the IRS announced it lost two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails in a 2011 computer crash. The agency said the emails were not recoverable because it had recycled her hard drive and written over relevant backup tapes.
The IRS inspector general later proved the agency wrong, unearthing backup tapes that investigators believe include the correspondence.
Lerner maintains her innocence and argues she was only doing her job — ensuring nonprofits follow the rules. Though Lerner refused to talk to lawmakers during the probe, her lawyer said Lerner cooperated with the FBI, answering its questions as needed. The results of the fuller FBI investigation are expected soon.
Lerner has given only one interview with the press, an exclusive with POLITICO, in which she talked about how the scandal has changed her life dramatically, including making her the object of public scorn. Even then, Lerner, at the behest of her attorneys, refused to answer specific questions about her role in the whole practice.
The IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois G. Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had told Congress were irretrievably destroyed.
Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Timothy P. Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation.
“There is potential criminal activity,” Mr. Camus said.
He said they have also discovered the hard drives from the IRS’s email servers, but said because the drives are out of synch it’s not clear whether they will be able to recover anything from them.
“To date we have found 32,744 unique emails that were backed up from Lois Lerner’s email box. We are in the process of comparing these emails to what the IRS has already produced to Congress to determine if we did in fact recover any new emails,” Mr. Camus said.
Democrats questioned the independence of Inspector General J. Russell George, who is overseeing the investigation, saying he’s injected politics into his work.
Rep. Gerald Connolly, Virginia Democrat, said Mr. George is refusing to turn documents over to him, prompting a heated reply.
“You’re not entitled to certain documents,” Mr. George said.
“Oh really? We’ll see about that, won’t we,” Mr. Connolly replied, saying that he questioned whether Mr. George could be trusted if he’s refusing to provide documents, yet is in charge of an investigation into whether the IRS stonewalled document requests.
The hearing was the latest chapter in the complex investigation into the IRS’s targeting of tea party groups for special scrutiny.
Several congressional committees are still probing the matter, and both the inspector general and the Justice Department are conducting criminal investigations.
In a 2013 report, the inspector general said the IRS had improperly targeted conservative and tea party groups’ applications for nonprofit status, asking repeated intrusive questions and delaying their applications well beyond a reasonable time. Some of those groups are still waiting, with their applications now pending for years.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and Oversight Committee chairman, said the ongoing investigations undercut President Obama’s assertion last year that there was no evidence of corruption in the IRS’s targeting.
“I have no idea how the president came to such a definitive conclusion without all the facts,” he said.
The IRS belatedly told Congress it may have lost some of Ms. Lerner’s emails after her computer crashed, and asserted that the backup tapes didn’t exist.
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.”
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 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.
The IRS’s inspector general investigated that issue, but has refused to release documents and currently faces a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over the matter.
Both the House and Senate are now investigating IRS and White House communications as well.
The White House didn’t assert any privileges in refusing Mr. Ryan’s request last week, instead insisting the IRS would work on it, so there was no need for the president to get involved. That conflicts with Mr. Koskinen’s 2014 letter making clear he didn’t think such a search was feasible from his end.
The IRS didn’t respond to a message seeking comment on whether it had rethought its stance in light of the White House’s promise, and the White House didn’t respond to a message asking why its chief counsel had misrepresented the IRS’s position as stated in Mr. Koskinen’s letter.
Congress and the White House faced a similar situation last year after the IRS admitted it had lost some of Ms. Lerner’s emails. The Ways and Means Committee then asked the White House if it had any such emails, and Mr. Obama’s aides complied with that request, even providing three emails that Congresshadn’t asked for.
Any official requests for private taxpayer information made by the White House are supposed to be personally signed by the president, and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation is supposed to be notified of the request. The JCT issues an annual report on all requests for IRS information, and those reports don’t show any such requests from the president during Mr. Obama’s time in office.
IRS Seizes Nearly $19K From Widow Who Deposited Late Husband’s Savings In Increments
By: Annabelle Bamforth
Dubuque, IA- The IRS has seized almost $19,000 from an Iowa woman’s bank account because she was depositing her late husband’s savings in increments under $10,000. Janet Malone, 68, is also facing a criminal misdemeanor charge alleging that she knew the deposits were violating federal law.
The Bank Secrecy Act, passed in 1970 to combat money laundering, requires banks to file reports to the federal government when customers make cash deposits over $10,000. Individuals making cash deposits that are close to meeting the threshold in order to bypass this requirement are considered to be committing a crime called “structuring” whether or not that money was legally or illegally obtained.
Ronald Malone, Janet Malone’s husband, had been visited by IRS agent Jeff McGuire in 2011 to investigate possible structuring. At that time, Ronald Malone was dying of cancer. According to the Associated Press, Mr. Malone acknowledged that the small deposits amounting to $35,500 could be considered structuring and signed a form confirming that he’d been warned about the practice. Janet Malone was at the home for part of that meeting between McGuire and Mr. Malone, but had not signed anything.
Mrs. Malone was reportedly told by her husband shortly before his death in October 2011 about a briefcase containing $180,000 in cash from investment income, gambling winnings and income from his career as an publishing executive. Mrs. Malone then made deposits ranging between $5,800 and $9,000. Prosecutors charged Janet Malone last week with a criminal misdemeanor accusing her of knowingly making small cash deposits from her husband’s savings after he died.
According to an IRS affidavit, Mrs. Malone said that she didn’t remember the details of McGuire’s 2011 visit with her husband because “she was in a state of despair over her husband’s health.”
Last October, the IRS had announced that the agency “will no longer pursue the seizure and forfeiture of funds associated solely with ‘legal source’ structuring cases unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying the seizure and forfeiture and the case has been approved at the director of field operations (D.F.O.) level.” It is unclear if there are “exceptional circumstances” regarding Mrs. Malone’s deposits. Institute for Justice attorney Larry Salzman said that the government’s case against Mrs. Malone is “shocking because it demonstrates that prosecutors are not taking seriously the IRS’ alleged policy change not to prosecute legal source structuring.”
Restaurant owner Carole Hinders, also from Iowa, had nearly $33,000 seized in 2013 by the IRS for making frequent small cash deposits. Hinders maintained that she had been making small deposits from her cash-only restaurant at the same bank for decades and had never been warned by the bank that “I was making my deposits wrong.” The IRS later returned her moneyand dropped the case against her, but requested the authority to refile the case. Based on a plea agreement filed Monday, Janet Malone is expected to plead guilty next week and allow the government to keep the seized money. The charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $250,000 fine.
According to a review from the Institute for Justice, the IRS seized $242 million in 2,500 cases between 2005 and 2012. A third of those cases were simply cash transactions under $10,000. Nearly half was returned after challenges from owners disputing the seizures.
The first Republican elected sheriff in Eddy County, New Mexico, became the first sheriff in 25 years to stand up to the IRS. He physically stood at the gate of a troubled citizen’s property while US Marshals threatened his arrest. The landowner filed an appeal with the court and expects his case to receive due process before his land is publicly sold. The sheriff agrees. The judge does not.
WASHINGTON, February 7, 2015—New Mexico’s Eddy County Sheriff Scott London notified the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) via letter that the sale of county resident Kent Carter’s property is canceled until Carter receives due process of law and his appeal is heard. The certified letterdated February 4 received an immediate response from the Undersecretary of the Treasury’s office. According to the Treasury’s website, however, the public auction is still slated for February 19.
“Many officers have stood up over the years for the rights of citizens being victimized by the federal government,” said Sheriff Mack, founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, “But Sheriff London is the first one to stand up to the IRS since the early 1990s.” Mack said, “His actions show courage and humility. London is setting a good example for the rest of our sheriffs.”
Approximately ten days before Christmas, U.S. Marshals broke in the door of Carter’s rental property with their guns drawn. The tenant was a young mother with a new baby—home alone while her husband was at work. Sheriff London was called to the property to intervene. He advised the Marshals that Carter’s case was in appeal and he deserved due process. They threatened to arrest London, but he stood his ground and they backed off.
Carter has battled the IRS for decades over taxes on the earnings of his modest construction business. One court document listed his debt at $145,000, a figure Carter says an assessing agent “pulled out of thin air.” Every time he challenged them, his bill would shoot up a few hundred thousand dollars. His legal complaints state that the IRS failed to adhere to its own tax code, did not use proper accounting methods, and that the collection activity was unlawful because no notices of deficiency were given.
Carter says his private and confidential information, including his social security number, was filed in public records and given to third parties. The IRS countered that it can publish and disperse the private information of Americans if it is trying to collect their money or property. A judge agreed.
Carter says the IRS is currently claiming he owes $890,000, a figure that “doubled with the stroke of a pen.”
The Taxation & Revenue Department ordered Carter to cease “engaging in business in New Mexico” until his arbitrary tax debt was paid. Carter appealed this injunction on the grounds that it was both unconstitutional and vague, as it deprived him of his right to make a living and also prohibited him from, “carrying on or causing to be carried on any activity with the purpose of direct or indirect benefit.”
“The IRS fabricates evidence against citizens by pulling numbers out of a hat and adding fees,” said Mack, “They wear people down emotionally and financially until they can’t take it anymore. No citizen should ever have to fight the IRS for decades in order to keep his land.”
“The IRS is a lie. The income tax is a lie,” said Carter. “Why should they be able to take anything? They’re worse than the mafia.”
The Carter properties have liens placed against them. A locksmith was instructed to change the locks. The IRS authorized the United States Marshal Service to arrest/evict anyone found on the premises. London, however, physically stood in front of Carter’s gate until the Marshals backed down. A public auction on the front steps of the Eddy County Courthouse is scheduled, but the local county sheriff—trained in the Constitution—resisted.
Carter voluntarily vacated his property and relocated his mobile home to an undisclosed location. “I chose to leave to keep it from escalating to something ugly—like Ruby Ridge, Idaho,” he said. Carter said he advised the Marshals and IRS Agents who publicly claimed he had armed friends on his land, “If there is going to be any violence, it is going to be you who starts it.”
Carter says 100% of his Social Security benefits is seized each month by the IRS, in addition to $2,800 the agency drained from his bank account. Legally, he says, the IRS can take no more than 15% of Social Security benefits.
Mack says banking institutions quiver when faced with the IRS’ gestapo tactics and generally hand over customers’ personal banking information, including access to accounts, without requiring a warrant or even any documentation. He encourages county sheriffs to brief every bank in their jurisdiction to refer inquiries from IRS agents to them.
Sheriff Mack is calling for the IRS to start following the law, including no “random” audits without probable cause, as they violate the Fourth Amendment. He asks them to stop committing crimes and rewarding IRS employees with bonuses for cheating on their personal taxes. “I agree with Senator Ted Cruz and others who say the IRS should be abolished,” said Mack. “It’s time they got off the backs of the American people.”
Carter says he prays daily for wisdom, and that he is surviving to be able to look into his grandchildren’s eyes and tell them he fought for their future and for America.
London is the first Republican to ever be elected sheriff in Eddy County. He distributes Bibles on behalf of Gideon International and met his wife in choir practice.
Lerner wanted to stop people from poking around, according to an April 4, 2012 email uncovered by Judicial Watch, which is suing the IRS for information.
“We just go[t] an very extensive information request from Imraan [Khakoo, an IRS official] –sure looks like op review material. I’m especially concerned that information about pipeline is being asked about … Add to that the fact tha cincinnati is smack dab in the middle of the c4 Congressional inqueries and is about to get a request from TIGTA on all of that, this is NOT a good time to be asking them for anything or to be talking to them about issue in their work. Everyone is stressed to the max and at their wits end, so can we put this off please?” Lerner wrote to her IRS supervisor Joseph Grant.
“It is a visit, not an OP review … I am also interested in the questions Imraan sent to them. Some answers should be readily at hand. Others certainly won’t be,” Grant replied. “The questions just serve as a framework for a broader conversation about how things are going and what is on our respective minds.”
Lerner continued to try to stop the visit.
“I get that–but timing would be bad if we have to go to Cincy now. So, I will assume we can go over this here as I get the information I’ve already asked for? Thanks.”
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said Monday that Republicans should take advantage of their control of Congress to abolish the Internal Revenue Service.
“We need to pass fundamental tax reform making our tax code simpler, flatter, fairer,” he said Monday at Heritage Action’s 2015 conservative policy summit. ”And I’ll tell you, the single most important tax reform, we should abolish the IRS.”
“The last two years have fundamentally changed the dynamics of this debate [on the tax code],” he said. “As we have seen the weaponization of the IRS, as we have seen the Obama administration using the IRS in a partisan manner to punish it’s political enemies.”
“In my view there is a powerful populist instinct to take the 110,000 employees at the IRS, to padlock the building, and to put all 110,000 of them down on our southern border.”
Cruz quickly clarified that that remark was somewhat tongue in cheek, but joked that anyone who had traveled thousands of miles to cross the border and saw thousands of IRS agents in their way would definitely turn around and go home.
He acknowledged it’s not really possible to abolish the IRS or adopt a flat tax while Obama is in office, but said Republicans should take steps in that direction by doing whatever they can to simplify the tax code and make its burden lighter and reduce the power of Washington.
Republicans will get “walloped” in 2016 if they return to business as usual while controlling Congress, he said, and urged leadership to take on a bold agenda.
The election was not an embrace of a particular party but a rejection of the path the country is on, he said. “It was the voters saying, ‘the Obama economy, it ain’t working. We want something different. We want real leadership.’”
“If we simply settle into business as usual in this town and keep growing and growing and growing the leviathan and keep shrinking and shrinking and shrinking that sphere of individual liberty, we will demoralize the men and women who came out in November,” he added.
He outlined an agenda that includes repealing and replacing Obamacare, securing the border, passing the Keystone XL pipeline, auditing the Federal Reserve and taking a hard line against ISIS and Iran.
“Let’s lead with a big, bold, positive agenda that says to the American people you had a referendum and you rejected the Obama agenda — there is a better way,” he said. “That’s our opportunity.”
IRS routinely went after Obama’s critics, according to report
IRS employees subverted the agency’s nonpartisan mission to further President Obama’s political goals, according to a new House GOP report that will be released Tuesday.
The report, from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), seeks to undercut the administration’s explanations for the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups, including that the conduct was centered in a Cincinnati office and that confusing regulations played a role.
While the 210-page report finds no evidence that Obama or White House officials ordered the special treatment of Tea Party groups, it says the record points to a “culture of bias against conservative organizations among certain IRS employees.”
That bias, the report says, underscores that the IRS is no longer the neutral tax collector it claims to be, at a time when its employees are tasked with implementing Obama’s signature healthcare law.
“Evidence shows an IRS responsive to the partisan policy objectives of the White House and an IRS leadership that coordinates with political appointees of the Obama administration,” the report says.
Issa says the IRS took cues from Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which gave corporations and unions freer rein to spend on elections.
“The rhetoric led the IRS to hold a deeply skeptical view of the merits of applications filed by new conservative groups,” the GOP report says.
The report also says that as many as eight senior IRS officials could have stopped the improper scrutiny — which lasted for over two years — but the agency was frozen by “bad judgment, inexperience, and bureaucratic rigidity.”
The Oversight panel has yet to conclude its probe into the IRS’s handling of applications from Tea Party groups. But Issa is handing over the Oversight gavel to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in January, and decided to circulate a report laying out where the committee’s investigation stands.
Lois Lerner, a now former IRS official, started the controversy in May 2013 by acknowledging that the agency had singled out conservative organizations. Shortly thereafter, a Treasury inspector general report found that groups with “Tea Party,” “patriot” or “9/12” seeking tax-exempt status received extra scrutiny from the IRS.
Several senior IRS officials — including the acting commissioner, Steven Miller — lost their jobs over the practices, which Obama labeled “inexcusable.” The House eventually held Lerner, who quickly became the central figure in the investigation, in contempt of Congress, and Republicans referred her to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.
The report says that the Oversight Committee’s investigation will continue, noting that Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently said it might have uncovered thousands of Lerner’s emails previously thought to be lost. Issa also charges that both the IRS and the Obama administration haven’t been particularly willing to help the GOP investigation.
Both the Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers receive their fair share of criticism in the report. In addition to knocking Obama for setting a tone that fostered the IRS’s actions, it calls out the president for saying there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” in the case.
It then criticizes Justice Department for failing to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the improper scrutiny, and labels the Treasury Department “the IRS’s absentee parental agency.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, criticized Issa for giving the report to the media before the rest of the panel. A spokeswoman said Cummings couldn’t comment on the substance of the report because he hasn’t seen it.
Democrats have previously said that hundreds of thousands of pages of documents have found no evidence that the IRS’s actions were politically motivated, or that the White House was involved.
“It is revealing that the Republicans — yet again — are leaking cherry-picked excerpts of documents to support their preconceived political narrative without allowing committee members to even see their conclusions or vote on them first,” Cummings said.
The Treasury Department has said that there’s no evidence it was involved in the screening of tax-exempt groups.
“It is a long-standing practice, spanning administrations of both parties, for Treasury not to be involved in the details of tax administration, particularly regarding the applications of individual taxpayers,” a spokeswoman said.
The IRS didn’t offer a comment on the report. But John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, has said in the past that wants Congress to release the results of their investigations to allow the agency to move forward.
The congressional investigations into the IRS lost some steam over the last year, after finding no direct ties to the White House. But Republicans remain furious with the IRS, and lawmakers just slashed the agency’s budget for a fifth consecutive year.
The GOP is also waiting for the administration to release new rules governing tax-exempt groups, after oppositions from conservatives and some liberal groups dashed Treasury’s first effort last year.
Issa’s report raises questions about how Miller and the previous IRS commissioner, Douglas Shulman, handled the controversy. Both senior agency officials weren’t as forthcoming as they could have been with lawmakers in 2012, and the report particularly singles out Shulman for assuring lawmakers that “there is absolutely no targeting.”
Lerner and other top officials dealing with tax-exempt groups, like Holly Paz, suggested they were reluctant to approve the conservative groups applying, according to emails released in the report.
But the issues at the agency, Issa maintains, are also spread out through the rank and file. One revenue agent from Cincinnati, the report says, distinguished between tax-exempt groups that concentrate on the poor and the limited government groups.
“This sounds like a bad org,” another agent wrote about an applicant in an email. “This org gives me an icky feeling.”
Most Tea Party groups who applied to the IRS sought 501(c)(4) status, meant for groups whose primary purpose is promoting social welfare.
“On one level, there is nothing wrong with career federal employees holding strong political beliefs so long as these beliefs play no role in their work at an apolitical federal agency,” Issa’s report says.
“But when political beliefs affect work, and these political beliefs align with those being openly and loudly espoused by the president of the United States and his political allies, there is at minimum a correlation.”