American Elephants

Cleta Mitchell is A Dangerous Woman: She’s Taking On the IRS. by The Elephant's Child

Cleta Mitchell is a prominent Washington attorney who represents several clients victimized by the criminal misconduct of the IRS over the past four years. The president of the United States has claimed that the IRS scandal over agents targeting conservative groups is merely the result of “bone-headed decisions” by a few confused employees.  He assured Bill O’Reilly, there is not a “smidgen” of corruption involved in a once-trusted federal agency intimidating the president’s political opponents. But then the rules seem to be somewhat different in Chicago.

There are currently six separate investigations of this scandal underway. Two of them by the Obama administration are classic Chicago scams. Obama cronies tasked with investigating Obama cronies. to show that “there’s nothing to see here, just move along.”

This is the 275th day of the IRS scandal, as documented daily by Tax Law professor Paul Caron. He documents the threat to free speech, the rule changes devised to shut down opposition to Democrats and their policies.

Catherine Engelbrecht and her family run a small oil-field machinery business in Texas. In 2009, after seeing several instances of clear voter fraud as a poll-watcher, Mrs. Engelbrecht founded a couple of conservative political groups:”The King Street Patriots,” and “True The Vote”. In mid 2010, she applied to the IRS for nonprofit status.

Here’s the way that seems to work; At Thursday’s hearing, Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked if their business was ever visited by OSHA in their first 20 years of business? Never, was the response.

Once she filed for nonprofit status, they were visited twice by OSHA. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms came twice. The IRS audited several times. The FBI visited 6 times.  All just coincidental, of course, though none had visited in the previous 20 years. In Chicago those kinds of intimidating coincidences regularly happen to opponents of the Democrat political machine.

A process of reviewing applications for exempt status had been for decades expected to take three to four weeks was converted to one that took three to four years, and in some cases still is not over.

In spite of, or because, of the six ongoing investigations that mostly seem devised to reach a passive conclusion, Democrats are at greater pains to ensure that the same conservative groups are silenced during the 2014 midterms.

Treasury and the IRS introduced a new rule during the Thanksgiving recess to “improve” the law governing nonprofits. What the rule does is recategorize as “political” all manner of educational activities that 501(c)(4) groups now engage in. This is IRS targeting, by administration design, with the straightforward political goal of putting” tea party groups out of business,” according to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). Note that the rule changes target only Tea Party groups, not unions or those who might support the Democrats.

Kim Strassel of the WSJ says that “with one little IRS rule it can shut up hundreds of groups that pose a direct threat”to Democrat prospects “by restricting  their ability to speak freely in an election season about spending or ObamaCare or jobs. And it gets away with it by positioning this new targeting as a fix for the first round.”

“The IRS has combed through the list of previously targeted tea party groups, compiling a list of their main activities and then restricting those functions.”

Newly sworn-in IRS Commissioner John Koskinen vowed during his confirmation hearing to restore public trust in the agency, and must now decide whether to aid in a new and blatantly political abuse of IRS powers. The White House is using the agency to win an election this fall.

Don’t like ObamaCare? Unhappy with the president’s policy on Iran? Want growth in the economy? Think there should be more attention to increasing employment opportunities? Information about those policies may be hard to get as Tea Party groups are targeted for intimidation.

Governmental Ethics and The Public Trust by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times is still willing to plump for the story of a couple of rogue agents in the Cincinnati office for the unlawful targeting of conservative groups. They are simply wrong, deliberately so, in still trying to blame it all on the couple of rogue agents in the Cincinnati office. Elijah Cummings (D-My), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has now stated that” the case is solved”—and it’s time for the nation to”move on.” The about face by Mr. Cummings is a disturbing indication of the administration’s desire to get this mess swept under the rug as quickly as possible.

Only days earlier, he was calling for a “thorough investigation” to restore “truth and trust”, and wanted to get to the bottom of whatever transpired at the IRS.

We now know that Washington was deeply involved. We have letters from Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations and IRS attorney Carter Hull. Cincinnati officials have claimed that they were “micromanaged” by officials in D.C. Now a top official in Washington — Holly Paz— has told congressional investigators that she was involved in 20 to 20 of the cases. Her signature is also on letters to clients.

Holly Paz, a senior IRS supervisor in Washington DC admitted to targeting Tea Party applications for tax-exempt status. She was personally involved in scrutinizing up to 30 Tea Party applications., including some requests that sat around for more than a year without department action.

She has been placed on “administrative leave” which seems to mean staying at home with full pay.  Paz described an agency in which IRS Supervisors in Washington worked closely with agents in the field, but didn’t fully understand what those agents were doing. She said agents in Cincinnati talked about handling “tea party ” cases, but she thought the term was merely shorthand for all applications from groups that were politically active, conservative and liberal.

She was only among the first to be interviewed. More to come. Mr. Cummings said “The witch hunt needs to end.”

It is clearly not a witch hunt. There has been a serious erosion of the public trust. A new poll reveals that tow-thirds of American voters believe that the IRS specifically targeted conservative groups as part of an effort to punish political opponents.

Perhaps the thinking is that if President Obama is just out of the country for most of the next month, and concern with the Syrian revolution, maybe people will lose interest and forget all about it, and move on to the next item of interest. Is it possible that the administration does not understand what a serious breach of trust and ethics this whole thing is? The president has been quite casual about going around Congress, ignoring the law, and doing what he chose. This one is too big, and too disturbing.

The Hearings Really Get Interesting by The Elephant's Child

Sheesh! No wonder the President held an impromptu press conference to attempt to distract media attention from the Ways and Means Committee Hearings. This is devastating for the administration.

I had appointments this morning, so couldn’t watch the hearings. When I got home, I got the mail and, believe it or not, I had a letter from the IRS! They wanted more money. Fortunately, it was due to a careless error on my part, easily corrected. ( I hope) The IRS told me it would be about a 15 minute wait on hold, but I think it was closer to an hour or more. We’ll see. I have to call back tomorrow. But there I sat, typing with one hand, on these posts while holding the phone to my ear with the other. And I can’t tell you what pleasure it gave me to be posting these testimonies while sitting endlessly on hold with the IRS.

Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been taking depositions from those “low-level employees” that everybody  has been trying to blame for the targeting of conservative groups.  He has released passages from their testimony — complaining about the micromanagement from DC,  — believing that the policy came from IRS headquarters. Some of the cases were sent to Washington DC. The “low-level employees” were told to send specific names of applicants and particular parts of applications.

David Axlerod keeps chiming in, saying that the whole thing is so stupid that it couldn’t be on purpose, that Darrell Issa is taking the GOP “over the cliff” on these scandals. “Overreaching” is the new word in the talking points.

Obama’s very own Organizing for Action is also seeking 501(c)(4) status. They are not only a specific tool for Obama in pushing his policy platform, they make no bones about it.

Statement of Purpose

Organizing for Action is a nonprofit organization established to support President Obama in achieving enactment of the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012. OFA will advocate for these policies throughout the country and will mobilize citizens of all parties and diverse points to speak out for speedy passage and effective implementation of this program, including gun violence prevention, sensible environmental policies to address climate change and immigration reform. In addition, OFA will encourage the formation of chapters that will be dedicated at the grassroots level to this program, but also committed to identifying and working progressive change on a range of issues at the state and local level. In carrying its work, OFA will operate as a “social welfare” organization within the meaning of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

What’s sauce for the goose clearly isn’t sauce for the gander. Time to whine about fairness?
Representative Aaron Schock speaks at the Ways and Means Scandal Hearing.

“At All Times Elections Are Too Important to Be Left to Chance” by The Elephant's Child

Here’s Dr. Karen Kenney, another in what will become a long list of victims of the intimidation tactics used by the IRS, aimed at conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. In October, 2010, the San Fernando Valley Patriots, a not-for-profit corporation in California, applied to the IRS for 501(c)(4) status as a tax-exempt social welfare organization.

We heard nothing until February 2012 when I received a packet from the IRS Exempt Organizations Office in Cincinnati, OH which included a questionnaire with 35 items divided into 80 subpoints of inquiry.

A cover letter indicated we had 20 days to comply without penalty including “penalties of perjury” for failure to answer all questions with facts that are “true, correct, and complete.”

Karen Kenney said:

My personal favorite was question No. 33, which in relation to protests asked for a listing of our “committed violations or local ordinances, breaches of public order or arrests” then requested details on how we “conduct or promote” illegal activities.

I think the IRS needs to fix its labeling machine: We’re the San Fernando Valley Patriots, not Occupy Oakland.

It took the IRS sixteen months to reply to their application for tax-exempt status. Karen Kenney withdrew her application for tax exempt status in 2012, out of concern the IRS would target individuals involved in the group. Which was an election season. Can’t have any of these groups getting tax-exempt donations when there is an election at stake. After all, as the “Chicago Way” states — “at all times elections are too important to be left to chance.”

Democrats, in a bit of difficulty, are attempting to discredit the conservative groups testifying by claiming that 501(c)(4) status requires the group to be involved in “social welfare,” not politics. I can’t think of any greater social welfare issue for Americans than preserving the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Social welfare doesn’t have to be giving benefits to the poor with other people’s money.

President Obama, just happened to have a little press conference to give a statement on judicial nominees, and it just happened when the press was covering a hearing on the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. Purely a coincidence, of course.

“Give Us Their Names” by The Elephant's Child

Representative Tom McClintock (R-/CA) Takes On The IRS

May 21, 2013 12:24 PM

Mr. Speaker:

One of the most disturbing aspects of the unfolding scandal involving the misuse of the IRS is what can only be described as an insatiable appetite for names, names, and more names.

Conservative groups – and only conservative groups – seeking to organize under Section 501 were subjected to pages of intrusive and irrelevant questions – but with a common theme: Give us the names.

Give us the names of your volunteers.  Give us the names of your donors and your family members and your business associates.  Give us the names of the speakers and audience participants at your meetings.

One man applying to form a group to educate teenagers in Constitutional principles was told to turn over the names of his students.  As he told a reporter, “Can you imagine my responsibility to parents if I disclosed the names of their children to the IRS?”

Nor was this tactic limited to new applications.  The venerable Leadership Institute – which has been schooling young people in Constitutional principles for 40 years – was put through a year-long audit.  The IRS wasn’t only interested in financial information.  They wanted the names of their students and college interns and the names of anyone who had subsequently hired them.

And when the IRS wasn’t demanding the names of ordinary Americans – or what they were reading or thinking or saying – in some cases, applicants were given names and told to reveal what they knew about these people.

Mr. Speaker, these are facts that are undisputed by the administration and its apologists.  For a period of more than two years, these questions were put to Americans whose political opinions had been singled out by one of the most powerful and feared agencies of the federal government.

What I would like to know is, WHY?

Why did the IRS demand lists of the names of thousands of Americans whose only common characteristic is that they disagreed with this administration?

Where are these lists now?  With whom were they shared?  Who wanted to know these names?   What possible use would the IRS have to track the names of high school students who simply wanted to learn about their Constitution?

But most importantly, what were these names used for and what are they being used for?

I don’t have an answer to these questions, but I find their implications deeply disturbing.  And they must be answered during the course of the investigations now underway and they must be answered in full and with certainty.

I cannot conceive of the reasons why the federal government would be so interested in compiling such lists – but we know for a fact that they were and that fact is undisputed.  What we don’t know is why, and knowing the answer to that question – and the other questions raised by this undisputed fact – is absolutely essential to a society that values its freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of press and freedom of conscience.

We know the ancillary effect of these illegal demands.  They dried up donations to these conservative groups.  They heavily suppressed volunteer activities.  We know some lists were leaked to liberal publications like the Huffington Post and Pro-publica.  What we don’t know is what was the direct purpose of gathering these names.

The administration’s spokesman this weekend said “the law is irrelevant” and called this matter a distraction.  On the contrary, it strikes at the very foundation of a free society: the rule of law and the right of the people to question the policies of their government without fear of retribution or intimidation.

Seventy five years ago, Winston Churchill warned of a “state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions.”

If it is possible that we have taken even a single step down the road that leads to such places, then that matter should occupy our full and undistracted attention until it is fully and completely rectified, new safeguards are erected against its recurrence, and those responsible are held fully accountable.

The Liberal Faith In the Perfectibility of Politics by The Elephant's Child

Perhaps it all starts with a childish whine “It isn’t fair.” Some mothers respond that life isn’t fair, and set their offspring on the path of conservatism, and others ignore the whiny brat or give the kid a hug and a cookie (rewarding the child for the whine) and tell him yes, that’s really too bad and raise a little liberal.  That may be a bit fanciful, but what is clear is that a goodly portion of young people have grown up with the idea that America is not fair, and needs fixing.

Irving Kristol once wrote “In every society the overwhelming majority of people live lives of considerable frustration and if society is to endure, it needs to rely on a goodly measure of stoical resignation.”

Liberals have never been ones for stoical resignation. They want to fix things. Republicans are inclined to oppose Big Government, and ascribe most of our country’s problems to  Liberals’ fondness for Big Government. I think this is incorrect. Liberals want desperately to be in charge. They want to win. They want to defeat Conservatives utterly and so completely that they will never again be strong enough to annoy or compete. But Big Government or burgeoning bureaucracy is a result of their policies, not their initial aim.

I saved this quote from a 1999 Wall Street Journal editorial.

The error behind all these failures is the liberal faith in the perfectibility of politics. Liberals believe that the next law, or next federal agency, will somehow make up for imperfect human nature. But America’s founders understood that politics could never be perfected precisely because men weren’t perfect. So they designed a system with a minimum of bureaucratic and legal control in which disputes could be settled by political debate. They did not want to rely on lawyers or experts who could maneuver around or through a maze of campaign and ethics laws. It’s taken us twenty years of picking through the ruins of liberal reform to relearn how right they were.

The next law will make up for imperfect human nature. One of liberals’ most persistent desires is to eliminate poverty. They worry a lot about the gap between the rich and the poor. They have earnestly tried to fix that ever since Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” and his War on Poverty. We have spent $15 trillion of other people’s money and currently have more people on food stamps than ever before in the nation’s history. The EBT card is a combination of food stamps and cash benefits. The Tsarnave brothers apparently bought their bomb supplies with their EBT cards. We could give each person in poverty a yearly check for $69,000 and save money.

We need fixes for fat people, fixes for standard lightbulbs, fixes for cars not getting high enough mpg, or just using gasoline, fixes for home appliances, fixes for fat kids, fixes for unaffordable college, fixes (again) for infrastructure, fixes for bullies, fixes for transgendered people’s bathroom needs, fixes for women who don’t want to pay for their own contraceptives, fixes for people who try to capture rainwater, fixes for farm dust. So many, many annoyances.

The most evident case is, of course, the best health care system in the world. It must be fixed because government regulation is driving up the cost. (Never mind that the cost was declining). The British have  National Health Service, which is socialized medicine. Horrible system, but it’s “free” at the point of service, and people are afraid to lose it and apt to continually vote for Labour to keep it. Note the important phrase. So they kill off a lot of their older people with neglect and denied care, but it’s “free at the point of service.”

Lots of new regulations, so providers have to expand their bureaucracies. And on top of the expanded health care system, comes a vast federal bureaucracy to control, deny, regulate, manage and expand. Liberals look at this diagram of the needed new bureaucracy with thousands of  highly paid, unionized employees, and are absolutely convinced that President Obama’s promises about keeping your own doctor if you like him and keeping your own insurance and it will all cost less— “bend the cost curve down” was the phrase— are absolutely true and will come to fruition just as he says. It is and was an enormous lie.

So Democrats don’t go into a political campaign saying they want bigger government. Republicans accuse them of it, but it is obviously not true. We will get Big Government because that is the inevitable result of liberal faith in the perfectibility of politics. You have the perfect example before you this week in the machinations of the Internal Revenue Service. Mark Steyn recounts the travails of Frank VanderSloot, whose offense was that he decided to donate money to the Romney campaign. After audits of his return, his business return, and  a Department of Labor investigation of his cattle ranch , the government could find nothing on Mr. VanderSloot, but it has cost him $80,000 in legal fees to fend off the bureaucrats. A big bureaucracy thinks it’s fine to demand that an evangelical group report in writing what they pray about. Anybody have relatives running for office?

It has often been said that every Liberal has a tyrant inside, struggling to get out. They don’t like studies. They’re uninterested in consequences and baffled by the idea of incentives. They need to be in charge so they can fix the things that aren’t fair.

Beware the Radical Right-Wing Extremist Tea Party! by The Elephant's Child


The IRS wanted every bit of information that the “suspicious” organizations had on their members. What does the membership consist of? Are they mostly individuals? Provide the member application/registration form/ Provide the membership agreement and rules that govern members. Provide a membership fee schedule. Provide copies of your website that only your members can access.

Tell us about your board members, officers, key employees and members of their families who have served on the board of another organization, was or plans to be a candidate for public office. Indicate the nature of any candidacy. And it didn’t end there, in the quest for more information. One group claimed that “500 pages of stuff” went back and forth between them and the IRS.

These groups say they didn’t hear from the IRS until after their 2010 victories. Then, before they could recreate that success against Obama in 2012, all of a sudden they are intimidated, restricted from certain political activities, and bogged down in a bureaucratic nightmare — all at the hands of the IRS.

I still haven’t figured out quite what it is that frightens the Left so much about the Tea Party. The media has gone to extraordinary lengths to proclaim them racist, radical, dangerous right-wing extremists. Is it so frightening when people on the right start carrying homemade signs? How odd, when they celebrate the violent Occupy people and the Anarchists who take great pleasure in breaking business windows and doing major damage, but some old ladies carrying patriotic signs gets on the “extremist list.”

This theme that such groups are dangerous has been spread throughout Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano has listed them as groups to be watched. Some official West Point organization noted their radicalism, and that they were on the list of dangerous groups. It is increasingly clear that the IRS targeted Obama’s political enemies for political purposes.

One Tea Party Group that applied for Tax Exempt status was largely interested in being a study group, learning more about government and how it worked. The IRS deluged them with demands for more information, more lists, and finally demanded to know what their reading materials were. The head of the group sent them a copy of the Constitution. Way to Go!

The IRS Inspector General’s report has not yet been released. That promises to be interesting. Aside from some problems of leaking information, targeting an enemies list, it was only last month that I posted a story about dozens of IRS employees who have claimed to be unemployed in order to receive welfare, housing allowances and food stamps. That suggests that there are all sorts of interesting things to be discovered in the final report.

Another Small Case in the Annals of Big Government by The Elephant's Child

From Director Blue:

Dozens of IRS employees claim to be unemployed in order to receive welfare, housing allowances and food stamps.

These are the civil servants, the experts that help to run the government for the benefit of us poor citizens, working for the public good, and paid for with our hard-earned dollars.

Twenty-four current and former Internal Revenue Service employees have been charged with stealing government benefits, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The IRS employees were indicted on charges that they illegally received more than $250,000 in benefits including unemployment insurance payments, food stamps, welfare, and housing vouchers, the U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis said in a news release.

Prosecutors say 13 of the IRS employees face federal charges of lying about being unemployed while applying for or recertifying their government benefits…

They each face up to five years in prison if convicted of making false statements to receive the benefits.

Eleven others face state charges of theft of property over $1,000, a felony that can carry a sentence of probation up to 12 years in prison if they are convicted.

Doug Ross (Director Blue) adds: “Now take this fraud, multiply it by a million dollars or so, and you get your typical Senator.” But he’s even more cynical than I am.

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