Archive for the ‘Investigations’ Category
It’s interesting that the St. Cloud Times is questioning the SCSU referendum investigation on its opinion page. Further, the Times apparently isn’t curious about things the administration did. First, here’s what they wrote about the investigation:
First, a recap based on news reports. Students voted Dec. 2-4 on a Husky athletics funding referendum, a restoration of Homecoming referendum and the election of 12 senators. Results were to have been released Dec. 5 at a Student Government meeting.
However, at that meeting, it was announced Student Government’s judicial committee would review the results, and a “professional investigation” was planned. Leaders refused to provide more details.
A news release the next day from St. Cloud State noted that “to maintain the integrity of the review, causes for the review will not be released.” It also stated results are expected to be released Thursday.
In other words, the SC Times knew that the administration was, at least tangentially, interested in the results. Why, then, wasn’t the Times interested in this press release:
If the Student Government hasn’t explained why the investigation was launched, how can the administration insist it knows that the athletic department funding pass? After all, we’ve been officially told that this is a Student Government investigation. How would the SCSU PR Department, whether it’s Adam Hammer or Loren Boone or someone else, have even a hint of what’s happened?
When I wrote this post, I questioned the administration’s posting of a different-looking press statement. In that statement, it was reported that the referendum passed “by a margin of XXXX to XX.” The statement is titled “Students approve Husky Athletics funding.” Apparently, the administration is semi-omniscient. They know students passed the Husky Athletics funding without seeing the ballots. They just don’t know what the final count was.
What’s interesting is that the Times’ editorial board didn’t question the administration’s ‘official statement’. In a situation shrouded in unknowns, shouldn’t the Times attempt to find out why the administration issued this mock official statement? I’d want to know who authorized that statement. Further, I’d want to know why the administration is inserting itself into the middle of this investigation.
I don’t doubt that that wasn’t their intent. Imock statement after finding out that an investigation has started can’t help but insert the administration into the story.
There are lots of questions to be answered on this, starting with finding out why the administration inserted itself into this situation.
If you want to read an article that’s filled with political vindictiveness and terrible writing, I’d recommend this article from the AP’s Laurie Kellman. Here’s Ms. Kellman’s opening
A month after emerging from a government shutdown at the top of their game, many Democrats in Congress newly worried about the party’s re-election prospects are for the first time distancing themselves from President Barack Obama after the disastrous rollout of his health care overhaul.
For people keeping score at home, that opening sentence is 45 words long. Run-on sentences of that length don’t help people focus their attention. English instructors frequently recommend that writers keep sentences to 18 words or less. Here’s how that paragraph would’ve looked had I written it:
After winning the government shutdown, congressional Democrats are worried about their re-election prospects. Now Democrats are distancing themselves from President Obama after the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov.
Thank God for ‘professional’ writers. Seriously, what person would be interested in the rest of the article after Ms. Kellman’s opening? It gets worse because Ms. Kellman transitions from unprofessional writer to professional political hack:
Cummings, the White House’s biggest defender in a Republican-controlled committee whose agenda is waging war against the administration over the attack in Benghazi, the IRS scandal, a gun-tracking operation and now health care, said he still thinks Obama is operating with integrity.
Chairman Issa’s agenda thus far has been to highlight this administration’s dishonesty and incompetence. When President Obama and Secretary Clinton ignored Christopher Stevens’ frequent impassioned pleas for more security, they ignored him. As a direct result of their passivity, Ambassador Stevens and 3 other American patriots were executed in Benghazi.
That isn’t “waging war against the administration.” That’s investigating a tragic incident that didn’t need to happen. Investigating the IRS’ targeting of conservative organizations isn’t “waging war against the administration.” It’s investigating the abuse of power that’s happened all too frequently with this imperial administration. It’s a legitimate investigation because abuses of power of this scope can’t be tolerated. Period.
Let’s not be naive. There are political consequences for these foolish decisions. Congress is questioning President Obama’s integrity because he isn’t a man of integrity. The American people have noticed. As a result, President Obama’s approval ratings have dropped dramatically.
Hillary Clinton’s integrity hasn’t dropped…yet. She left Washington, DC before Greg Hicks’ riveting testimony about what happened that night in Benghazi. There will be a political price to be paid for her passivity and terrible decisionmaking. How high of a price she’ll pay isn’t knowable at this time. Suffice it to say it might be a steep price.
Republican members of Chairman Issa’s committee haven’t editorialized. They’ve asked professional, probing questions. That’s what they’re supposed to do. Their job is to investigate, not to be the administration’s stenographers.
If President Obama’s administration hadn’t made this many major mistakes, Chairman Issa’s committee wouldn’t have been justified in investigating this many things. Because they made this many egregious mistakes, Chairman Issa was obligated to investigate.
If that constitutes an attack in Ms. Kellman’s mind, then it’s safe to say she’s a stenographer, not a reporter.
Glenn Reynolds’ latest USA Today column is delightful reading, starting with the opening paragraphs:
There are two Americas, all right. There’s one that works, where new and creative things happen, where mistakes are corrected, and where excellence is rewarded. Then there’s Washington, where everything is pretty much the opposite. That has been particularly evident over the past week or so. One America can launch rockets. The other America can’t even launch a website.
In Washington, it’s been stalemate, impasse, and theater the kind of place where a government shutdown leads park rangers to complain, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.” Well, yes. The politics don’t work, the websites don’t work, even for the people who manage to log on, and the government shutdown informs us that most of government is “non-essential.” Instead of correcting mistakes or rewarding excellence, it’s mostly finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and excuse-making.
Simply put, DC is where incompetence and cruelty (see shutting down the World War II Memorial) aren’t criticized. The heartland is where wealth and jobs are created without a sneering politician criticizing companies for making too much money.
President Obama has taken political nastiness and incompetence to unprecedented levels. His economic policies are a total disaster because they’re contrary to the rules of time-tested rules of capitalism. Three part-time jobs are created for every full-time job that’s created. Still, the administration insists that we’re on the right path.
Americans know better.
Russia laughs at us. Syria blows us off. Al-Qa’ida in Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt attack our embassies and consulates with little fear of reprisal.
In short, we’re the global joke.
Politicians don’t care about that; like two-year-olds in an ice cream parlor, all they want is more. But the rest of us should think long and hard about how many resources we should allow politicians to control, given their track record lately. Because Washington is clearly a world that doesn’t work.
Ronald Reagan spoke to this way back in the 1980s. Here’s what he said:
Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
Lois Lerner violated TEA Party activists’ First Amendment rights. Instead of getting prosecuted, she got a cushy retirement pension. Hillary Clinton ignored Christopher Stevens’ repeated requests for more security forces. As a result, 4 American patriots needlessly died. Now she’s gearing up for another run at the White House.
Where’s the Democrats’ outrage over these disgusting incidents? Lois Lerner didn’t hesitate in using the full force of the US government on people simply wanting to exercise their First Amendment rights. Hillary was nowhere to be found prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2012. Christopher Stevens repeatedly told the State Department hierarchy that terrorists were pouring into Benghazi and that the compound wasn’t safe. Please beef up security, he urged.
Instead of listening to him, Hillary chose to proceed as if Benghazi was as safe as downtown St. Cloud on a Wednesday afternoon. During the 2008 campaign, Hillary ran an ad questioning Barack Obama’s qualifications if a call came in from overseas at 3 am. Clearly, 4 years into his administration, he wasn’t prepared to deal with a crisis. Apparently, Hillary wasn’t prepared for that type of crisis either.
Technorati: President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Lois Lerner, International Crisis, IRS, First Amendment, Government Shutdown, Christopher Stevens, Benghazi, Libya, Terrorist Attack, Accountability, Democrats
Yesterday, I spoke with some well-connected people at Townhall Tuesday who said that the House Higher Education Committee isn’t likely to take up a serious investigation into St. Cloud State’s corruption because “it’s a St. Cloud issue.” This didn’t come from a single person. It came from several people who’ve supplied me with reliable information in the past.
Let’s explode the myth that there’s anything local about MnSCU. That’s a political dodge that’s been used by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Simply put, it’s BS. University presidents report directly, and solely, to the MnSCU chancellor, who then reports to a rubberstamp known as the MnSCU Board of Trustees.
That each of these groups live in their own ivory towers is disturbing enough. University presidents can, and have, told their communities to stuff it. Certainly, Chancellor Rosenstone has washed his hands of anything to do with SCSU’s financial mismanagement. There’s no question that the MnSCU Board of Trustees are disinterested bystanders.
Simply put, it’s a system designed to discourage accountability. If it weren’t for a handful of citizen journalists, there’s no doubt that MnSCU would’ve swept any attempts to hold its universities and presidents accountable aside.
I’d love seeing Chairman Pelowski and Vice-Chair Dorholt prove me wrong by launching a serious investigation into St. Cloud State. Until I see that happen, I’ll take a Missouri point of view. They’ll have to show me that they’re serious. I won’t take their talk seriously until their actions show me that they’re serious.
From another angle, I’d love seeing some legislators put together legislation that would create local accountability. The ideal legislation would put in place an accountability panel that was independent of MnSCU. This accountability panel would have the authority to gather documents from their university without putting a Data Practices Act request together. That would mean there’d potentially be an adversarial system.
That’s better than the crony-filled rubberstamp system we’ve currently got with MnSCU.
This independent investigatory panele would also have the authority to perform audits of the universities’ books to make sure funds aren’t being improperly co-mingled or shifted.
What’s interesting is that every SCSU professor I’ve talked with thinks that MnSCU is a joke. That’s been the opinion from them whether they’re conservative or liberal or somewhere in between.
Former legislators think that, too. St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis once told me that he submitted a bill to kill MnSCU before it became operational when he was a state senator. He knew it wouldn’t deliver on its promises. Mayor Kleis was vindicated on that.
What’s clear is that the current system isn’t working. It isn’t preventing corruption and mismanagement. It isn’t punishing people after it’s been proven that they’re corrupt or that they’ve mismanaged their university’s finances. At this point, there isn’t even proof that MnSCU or the legislature is even interested in oversight.
Elijah Cummings and Sander Levin wrote this op-ed to essentially defend the indefensible corruption of the Obama administration and the IRS.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) led the charge, alleging this was the “targeting of the president’s political enemies.” Other Republicans followed suit, citing “the enemies list out of the White House” and arguing that President Obama “doesn’t have clean hands.” And they invoked the specter of disgraced former president Richard Nixon.
Yet our committees’ review of thousands of documents and interviews with more than a dozen IRS employees have not uncovered a scintilla of evidence to substantiate their claims. Unfortunately, the facts have not stopped our Republican colleagues from lobbing baseless accusations in the cynical hope that people would believe them. The column last week on this page, “Holes in the IRS narrative,” by Issa and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), continued the effort to suggest the existence of a scandal that the established facts do not support.
I won’t tapdance about this. Elijah Cummings and Sander Levin are lying through their teeth. They’re partisan hacks. In May, when this story first broke, President Obama acknowledged that the IRS scandal was disturbing and real. He promised to get to the bottom of this story.
Of course, that’s when the scandal was about “2 rogue agents in Cincinnati.” The minute testimony was given showing that Washington knew about the scandal and actually was involved in halting processing of conservative organizations’ applications for tax exempt status, Democrats switched into ‘Republicans are engaged in a partisan witch hunt’ mode. That’s when President Obama and Jay Carney started talking about phony scandals.
Let us be clear: There was mismanagement at the IRS, and IRS employees screened applications for tax-exempt status for further review based, in part, on the names of the organizations. But there is absolutely no evidence of political motivation or White House involvement.
Let’s be clear about this: There’s irrefutable proof that the IRS was used a weapon against President Obama’s political enemies. Refusing to make a final decision on conservative organizations’ tax-exempt applications isn’t happenstance. It’s deliberate. Furthermore, Carter Hull testified that William Wilkins micromanaged the tax-exempt application process from DC. We know that President Obama appointed Wilkins to his position.
In other words, it’s impossible to conduct a thorough investigation without political ramifications.
It’s insulting (infuriating, too) that Mssrs. Cummings and Levin mention mismanagement. WRONG. Crimes have been committed. Based on the credible testimony given to the House committees with jurisdiction over this disturbing scandal, several people will be convicted of crimes the minute they’re prosecuted. Lois Lerner will be convicted if she’s tried. Douglas Schulman will be convicted of lying to Congress for repeatedly telling Congress that conservative organizations weren’t being targeted. J. Russell George, the IRS Inspector General, audited the IRS’s tax-exempt office. What he found was that 292 conservative organizations were harassed by the IRS and that each of their applications were put on hold.
By not making a final ruling on their applications, the IRS prevented these conservative organizations from appealing the IRS’s ruling. That prevented these activists from raising money to get their message out to people during the presidential election cycle. That means the IRS’s actions had a profound political impact on the presidential campaign. There’s no way that isn’t a political consideration.
Republicans have also recently claimed, as Issa and Camp wrote in their op-ed, that progressive groups received “routine scrutiny” that was somehow fundamentally different from the systematic treatment of the tea party applications.
But Daniel Werfel, the acting commissioner of the IRS, disagrees. He testified that there were progressive groups that were treated similarly to the tea party applicants, with some facing three-year delays. In fact, he said some progressive groups were even denied tax-exempt status — unlike the tea party applicants, who were just delayed.
Werfel isn’t honest. Since the IRS scandal erupted, there hasn’t been a single progressive organization named that was delayed 3 years. On the conservative side, I can rattle off lots of organizations’ names that applied for tax-exempt status that are still pending. True The Vote, Linchpins for Liberty and the National Organization for Marriage are just a few of the dozens of conservative organizations who applied for tax-exempt status and who are still waiting for a final determination.
Mssrs. Cummings and Levin are political hatchetmen doing this administration’s bidding. They aren’t honest people at a time when we need people of integrity in Congress. Instead of getting people of integrity in government and Congress, we’re dealing with weasels like Danny Werfel, Lois Lerner, William Wilkins, Elijah Cummings and Sander Levin.
Tags: IRS Scandal, President Obama, Elijah Cummings, Sander Levin, Politicians, Lois Lerner, Douglas Schulman, Daniel Werfel, William Wilkins, Political Appointees, Democratic Culture of Corruption, Crime, Lying to Congress, Democrats, J. Russell George, IRS Inspector General, Carter Hull, Dave Camp, House Ways & Means Committee, Darrell Issa, House Oversight Committee, Investigation, GOP
One of the reasons why I don’t miss Greta van Susteren’s show is because I always learn things I wouldn’t hear anywhere else on TV. This video is a classic example of what I’m talking about:
During her interview with Greta, Michelle Easton, the president of the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, said that “the first thing that the IRS requested was the names of all of our contributors. Well, you know they can’t get that information. That is private information. But we had to fight and fight and fight to secure the privacy of our supporters.”
That’s when Greta jumped in, saying “I think there’s even case law from the Supreme Court asking for the names of the membership, which prevents it.” Less than a minute later, Greta said that the Supreme Court case was the NAACP vs. Alabama.
President Obama, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney have repeatedly said that the IRS scandal is a “phony scandal.” That’s an outright lie. When the IRS asks an organization for information it’s prohibited from getting, it’s a real scandal.
Later in the first block, Greta played a video of Lew’s interview on Meet the Press:
During the video, Lew said that “after weeks and weeks of investigations, IG investigations, Justice Department investigations, congressional hearings, there’s no evidence of any political involvement in the decisions leading up to that situation.”
That’s technically true but it’s also spin. Saying that Chairman Issa hadn’t uncovered a smoking gun that the White House micromanaged the political attacks on President Obama’s political enemies after 3 months of hearings is akin to saying Woodward and Bernstein were barking up the wrong tree with Watergate because they hadn’t found a smoking gun after 3 months of investigating. It took them 2 years to put the Watergate puzzle together.
I’m not saying this IRS scandal is Watergate’s equivalent. YET. It’s possible that investigators won’t find that smoking gun but it’s equally possible they will.
What we know now is that the IRS was used as a weapon against President Obama’s political opponents. Further, we’ve learned that the office of the IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel is accused of micromanaging the harassment of the TEA Party organizations. Finally, it’s possible that one of President Obama’s political appointees might’ve played a role in putting the harassing questions together. At this point, we can’t prove that William Wilkins helped put the questions together. We just know it’s possible.
At minimum, the investigation shouldn’t stop until we find out, conclusively, that Wilkins wasn’t involved in harassing his boss’s political opponents. If investigators find out that Wilkins was involved, then the investigation must continue. Anything less wouldn’t be acceptable.
Tags: IRS Investigation, Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, IRS Audit, Michelle Easton, Donor List, NAACP vs. Alabama, SCOTUS, Darrell Issa, GOP, Wiliam Wilkins, IRS Chief Counsel, Political Appointees, Jack Lew, President Obama, Culture of Corruption, Democrats
President Potter and his administration have tried ignoring the transcript fiasco because they can’t justify their actions. That’s because the potential ramifications are significant. Let’s look at some of those potential ramifications:
- admission to major; some degree programs like the aviation major require a 2.5 GPA, Social Work requires a 2.6
- transferring to other universities with specific GPA requirements
- getting accepted into law or medical school
- keeping a student on good academic standing (typically a 2.0 “C” average) to qualify for financial aid.
- Getting scholarships, which typically requires higher GPA’s
- Students who get a grade removed might get a refund
- Allowing a student to take the same class a 3rd time without instructor permission because their 2nd F was scrubbed from the transcript (SCSU Chemistry problem)
Before getting into these potential benefits, let’s remember that the transcript fiasco isn’t just about changing Fs to Ws (Ws are the code for Withdrawals). In numerous instances, it’s been verified that a student’s participation in a class just disappeared from the student’s transcript.
This has happened frequently enough to the point that professors have started calling these disappearing grades “poofs”. HINT: When something happens often enough to get a nickname, it’s happening too frequently. But I digress.
President Potter hasn’t talked about whether the poofs have helped students get into majors that require higher GPAs. It isn’t a stretch, though, to think that an administration that’s deleting a student’s participation in a class from their transcripts would think about deleting grades to help a student get into a major.
Another specific question that President Potter hasn’t addressed is whether students have benefited from a poof in getting a scholarship. That’s a big question, especially if a poof student got a scholarship over a student who worked hard and got better grades without getting ‘administrative assistance.’
Does President Potter think it’s ok for students to get poofed, then get accepted into law school or medical school? I’m not saying that’s happening. I’m simply saying that it’s a possibility.
There’s another possibility I didn’t list earlier. How would employers feel if they hired a student straight out of college who had benefited from a poof? Would they be angry that the university had given that employer an inaccurate picture of a student’s academic accomplishments?
Here’s what Adam Hammer, Director of Media Relations and Publications for SCSU, said about the transcript fiasco:
In addressing this concern at a meet and confirm meeting conducted amongst university professors and administration, Hammer said the cause for concern primarily dealt with late drops and withdrawals.
Here’s what Devinder Maholtra said in a memo in January:
Recently, questions about student registration and transcript changes, specifically late withdrawals and drops, at St. Cloud State University have been reported in a few media outlets.
Notice the slight change in wording? Hammer said the cause for concern “primarily dealt with late drops and withdrawals.” Maholtra’s statement said that questions about transcript changes dealt with “specifically late drops and withdrawals.” Maholtra’s statement could’ve swapped out the word specifically and swapped in the word exclusively without changing the meaning of the sentence. If you swapped out the word primarily from Hammer’s statement and replaced it with exclusively, the meaning of the sentence would change significantly.
The specific question I’d direct to Mr. Hammer is simple: What other transcript changes were made besides late withdrawals and drops? Is Mr. Hammer not talking about the poofs? Is that intentional? That’s a distinct possibility, isn’t it?
I don’t expect brilliance from the MSNBC crowd and I’m never disappointed. This post by Steve Benen is instructive, though, on the Democrats’ strategy for the growing IRS scandal. Some of Mr. Benen’s statements are downright boneheaded. Others are just silly. First, he quoted from something from the Huffington Post:
J. Russell George, the IRS inspector general, told the House Oversight Committee that only in the past few weeks has he become aware of documents showing that the IRS screened progressive groups in addition to conservative ones. George said he was “disturbed” by the fact that these documents were not provided to his team of investigators prior to the audit’s release and that he was continuing to investigate the issue.
“I am concerned that there may be additional pieces of information that we don’t have,” he said. “I’m very concerned about that sir.”
Here’s a sample of the Democrats’ spin:
Oh, you mean “additional pieces of information” such as the fact that liberal groups were subjected to the same scrutiny as conservative groups? And there was no targeting of conservative organizations? And that politics had nothing to do with the added scrutiny?
In Mr. Benen’s delusional world, Cathy Engelbrecht didn’t survive this withering ordeal:
In July 2010 she sent applications to the IRS for tax-exempt status. What followed was not the harassment, intrusiveness and delay we’re now used to hearing of. The U.S. government came down on her with full force.
In December 2010 the FBI came to ask about a person who’d attended a King Street Patriots function. In January 2011 the FBI had more questions. The same month the IRS audited her business tax returns. In May 2011 the FBI called again for a general inquiry about King Street Patriots. In June 2011 Engelbrecht’s personal tax returns were audited and the FBI called again. In October 2011 a round of questions on True the Vote. In November 2011 another call from the FBI. The next month, more questions from the FBI. In February 2012 a third round of IRS questions on True the Vote. In February 2012 a first round of questions on King Street Patriots. The same month the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms did an unscheduled audit of her business. (It had a license to make firearms but didn’t make them.) In July 2012 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did an unscheduled audit. In November 2012 more IRS questions on True the Vote. In March 2013, more questions. In April 2013 a second ATF audit.
When Mr. Benen can show me a single time when a progressive organization received this much governmental scrutiny, then I’ll pay attention.
That’s before talking about John Eastman’s testimony to Darrell Issa’s committee:
In March 2012, NOM’s 2008 federal tax return (form 990-Schedule B)—which listed the names and addresses of NOM donors—was uploaded to the websites of the Human Rights Campaign and the Huffington Post. Computer analysts determined that the document’s leak came from within the IRS.
According to Eastman, “the willful unauthorized public disclosure of NOM’s 2008 Schedule B by the IRS or its employees is a violation of federal law. Indeed, it is a serious felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to five years in federal prison, penalties that apply both to IRS and other government employees and third parties.”
It’s worth noting that Benen can’t say that progressive organizations had their confidential IRS donor files leaked to conservative organizations. The IRS did, however, leak this information to a vindictive progressive organization. Then there’s the case of Kevin Kookogey:
Kevin Kookogey, president of Linchpins of Liberty, was the first to testify. In his opening statement, he said he applied for 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit educational organization, but as of today has been waiting 29 months to be granted that status by the IRS. He said the IRS asked him to identify the political affiliations of his mentors and his political position on many issues.
He was also told to inform the federal government “in detail” what he would be teaching students and who he was “training.” Kookogey asked what would have happened if he had turned over the names of students, including minors, to the IRS, saying he could have faced legal action from parents.
Why haven’t any progressive organizations reported suffering through these types of abuses? It isn’t like this issue just popped up. It’s been around a few years.
Democrats are pushing the ‘liberal groups got harassed, too’ storyline. It’s a phony storyline. It’s been verified that 292 TEA Party and like-minded conservative organizations were harassed. All of their applications were held in abeyance so they couldn’t even appeal the IRS’ ruling. By comparison, 19 liberal/progressive organizations were subjected to additional scrutiny. Six were rejected, the rest approved.
The reality is that Mr. Benen is a blowhard who isn’t interested in the truth.
During yesterday’s hearing, Congressman Jason Chaffetz took Elijah Cummings to task for suggesting that this investigation was over. Rep. Cummings said that that isn’t what he was asking for. This video catches yesterday’s exchange:
Here’s what Rep. Cummings said in defending his indefensible statements:
CUMMINGS: Let me be clear because this is just old talking points going on here…
CHAFFETZ: To suggest that these are just talking points. These are not just talking points.
A month ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings was interviewed by CNN’s Candy Crowley about whether the investigation into the IRS scandal was over. Here’s Cummings’ reply:
Here’s the important line from the interview:
CUMMINGS: Based on everything I’ve seen, the case is solved and, if it was up to me, I’d wrap this case up and move on.
In other words, what Chaffetz said about Rep. Cummings wanting to wrap up the hearings into the IRS are 100% accurate. Cummings’ interview with Candy Crowley is verification for Chaffetz’s claims.
Cummings has turned from being outraged with the IRS to defending the administration. That’s borne out by another exchange that Peggy Noonan highlighted in this column:
It was Maryland’s Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel’s ranking Democrat, who, absurdly, asked Ms. Hofacre if the White House called the Cincinnati office to tell them what to do and whether she has knowledge of the president of the United States digging through the tax returns of citizens. Ms. Hofacre looked surprised. No, she replied.
It wasn’t hard to imagine her thought bubble: Do congressmen think presidents call people like me and say, “Don’t forget to harass my enemies”? Are congressmen that stupid?
Cummings’ partisanship is showing and it isn’t a flattering look on Cummings.
Looking at this from a big picture perspective, there’s only one conclusion a thoughtful person can draw: that this investigation is making slow, steady progress and that it’s going to get to the bottom of this administration’s scandals. I’d further add that these investigations are beyond the administration’s control.
The only thing that will stop the investigation is if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker again. The terrible news for the Obama administration is that that won’t happen anytime soon.
If Carl Cameron’s information in this video plays out as he’s been told, the IRS scandal will be back front and center by noon today:
Here’s the minitranscript from Cameron’s interview with Bill O’Reilly:
CAMERON: What he [Chairman Issa] said to me today was make sure to watch tomorrow’s hearing because he’s going to present the evidence to prove it…. That he can get it right up all the way into the White House before it was all revealed.
O’Reilly started off by opining that the IRS scandal was losing altitude and that it would fade from significance. The Democrats, starting with Rep. Elijah Cummings, changed from being outraged when this first came to light to defending the administration when it started getting apparent that White House insiders were involved.
If Chairman Issa genuinely has proof that someone inside the White House worked with Lois Lerner in putting TEA Party organizations through extra rounds of scrutiny, this scandal will explode. It isn’t just that this is new information. It’s that it’d be new information that refutes the White House’s initial stories that this was the work of a couple rogue IRS operatives in the Cincinnati office.
I wrote here that the worst word in the English language, at least in the White House’s interest, is the word Y-E-T. Here’s what I wrote then:
If there’s a word in the English language that the Obama administration has a right to fear, that word is Y-E-T. Democrats who had previously attacked the IRS changed their tune during yesterday’s hearing. Democrats transitioned into defending the Obama administration. That’s because the IRS agents in the Cincinnati office haven’t been rolled. Yet.
Perhaps Democrats think their’s is a good strategy because it’s built on the premise that the IRS agents fear prosecution. That isn’t a smart gamble, even though the IRS agents haven’t been granted immunity. Yet.
Rep. Cummings has tried running interference for the administration by saying the TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) is a Bush administration hiree who can’t be trusted.
If J. Russel George can produce the documentation verifying Chairman Issa’s claims, it’ll be totally irrelevant who hired J. Russell George. Chairman Issa posted this tweet:
#IRS chief counsel’s office involved in targeting controversy http://wapo.st/15GGVE5 via @PostPolitics
This information, if verified, changes everything:
In interviews with congressional investigators, IRS lawyer Carter Hull said his superiors told him that the chief counsel’s office, led by William Wilkins, would need to review some of the first applications the agency screened for additional scrutiny because of potential political activity.
Previous accounts from IRS employees had shown that Washington IRS officials were involved in the controversy, but Hull’s comments represent the closest connection to the White House to date. No evidence so far has definitively linked the White House to the agency’s actions.
According to a partial transcript released by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and House Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chief counsel’s office also discussed using a template letter to ask questions about the groups’ activities, despite Hull’s warning that such a boilerplate approach would be impractical.
“My reviewer and I both said a template makes absolutely no difference because these organizations, all of them are different,” Hull told investigators. “A template would not work.”
I’ll predict that, at some time during the hearing, Elijah Cummings will complain that partial transcripts are despicable. Whatever. I’d love hearing him put these statements in a context that isn’t damnig to the administration. Whichever way you slice it, the reality is that Mr. Wilkins tried orchestrating a strategy to harass TEA Party organizations. There’s no way to spin that.