Archive for May, 2013

People have been outraged at the IRS’s actions because the initial charges were exceptionally disgusting. That outrage is about to grow exponentially:

In March of 2012 the Human Rights Campaign published a confidential tax return of the National Organization for Marriage, which was immediately republished by The Huffington Post and other liberal news media outlets. The HRC and NOM are the leading national groups on opposing sides of the fight over gay marriage. HRC wants to redefine marriage to make it genderless, while NOM wishes to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

My organization was not the only conservative-linked political group or business that appears to have faced shady actions from IRS employees. ProPublica reported this week that the IRS handed over to them confidential documents of nine conservative organizations whose applications for non-profit status were still pending. Among them: Crossroads GPS, a key group backing Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

This is disgusting. Tax filings are confidential by law. The thought that the IRS is handing over confidential IRS information to third parties is frightening. These organizations filed their paperwork with the understanding that it would remain confidential. The IRS didn’t just violate that trust. The IRS made these organizations vulnerable to leftist organizations’ intimidation tactics.

It gets worse:

In 1996 Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the harassment of Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status, was head of the enforcement division of the Federal Elections Commission(FEC). That year Al Salvi was the Republican nominee for the US Senate from Illinois, his Democrat opponent was then congressman Dick Durbin.

During the final weeks of the campaign Salvi loaned himself over a million dollars to buy ads in the Chicago media market. This in turn prompted the Democrat party’s campaign arms to file complaints with the FEC and in kind the FEC, specifically Lois Lerner, filed charges against Al Salvi.

That is when Mr. Salvi contends Lois Lerner made him the following offer, “Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.”

Al Salvi refused that offer and would fight the FEC complaint against him for several more years before a Judge tossed out the complaint.

It’s apparent that Lois Lerner is government-employed Democratic political hack. It’s apparent, too, that her decisions are based on doing hatchet jobs on Republicans in the furtherance of her political agenda.

That’s the definition of evil.

CNN, the AP, the NY Times and other media outlets have notified the Justice Department that they won’t participate in an off-the-record meeting about the Justice Department’s recent actions:

The Associated Press issued a statement Wednesday objecting to plans for the meetings to be off the record. “If it is not on the record, AP will not attend and instead will offer our views on how the regulations should be updated in an open letter,” said Erin Madigan White, the AP’s media relations manager.

The New York Times is taking the same position. “It isn’t appropriate for us to attend an off-the-record meeting with the attorney general,” executive editor Jill Abramson said in a statement.

Like the New York Times and the Associated Press, CNN will decline the invitation for an off-the-record meeting. A CNN spokesperson says if the meeting with the attorney general is on the record, CNN would plan to participate.

The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim, also said he will not attend unless the meeting is on the record. “A conversation specifically about the freedom of the press should be an open one. We have a responsibility not to betray that,” Grim told CNN.

These media organizations made the right decision. Holder shouldn’t be given any breathing room on this. He willfully ignored DOJ protocols about leak investigations. He violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection of people’s right to due process. When he was caught lying to the House Judiciary Committee, he suddenly felt faux remorse about his despicable actions. Now he supposedly wants a private, off-the-record conversation about how to proceed in the future.

There’s a simple solution to this off-the-point crisis. Holder should obey the 40-year-old protocols on leak investigations. This isn’t complicated. These Watergate-inspired guidelines are sensible. They don’t trample reporters’ First or Fifth Amendment rights. They’d worked for 35+ years without a hitch. They still work when faithfully applied.

The only way they don’t work is when they aren’t applied.

A review of DOJ policies is shiny object spin designed to distract people from the fact that AG Holder willfully trampled on James Rosen’s constitutional rights. Now that he’s fighting for his political life, Holder is suddenly attempting to fake remorse for his lawlessness.

The AP, CNN and the NY Times shouldn’t get suckered into these meetings. They should simply insist that President Obama replace his lawless attorney general with someone who respects the Constitution. They should insist on an AG who doesn’t just pay lip service to the Bill of Rights.

During the last 24 hours, the Democrats’ spin has changed. No longer are they beating up on Holder. Instead, a new response has started popping up. The first I heard of it was on Megyn Kelly’s show when Richard Socarides repeatedly said that “mistakes were made” with regard to the Rosen scandal.

That isn’t what happened. That’s smooth-sounding spin but it isn’t the truth. When Eric Holder signed the warrant application that said James Rosen might be a flight risk and that Rosen might be a criminal co-conspirator, Holder willfully told some whoppers. Holder also ignored long-standing DOJ guidelines on warrant applications for journalists.

Let’s remember that Holder isn’t a wet-behind-the-ears underling working in the DOJ. He’s been the AG for almost 5 years. He was Janet Reno’s top assistant for most of the Clinton administration. Let’s also remember that the journalist warrant guidelines were put together during the Nixon administration almost 40 years ago.

Here’s what we know. We know that Holder ignored those DOJ guidelines. We know that he understood that reading James Rosen’s private emails was a fishing expedition. Holder knew that this fishing expedition would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers. We’ve known that this administration loves the thought of whistleblowers not talking to reporters.

Thanks to the reporting of the IRS scandal, especially through Catherine Engelbrecht’s story, we know that this administration won’t hesitate in using the federal government as a weapon against their political opponents. We know that thanks to Peggy Noonan’s article about Catherine Engelbrecht’s nightmare. Here’s what Catherine Engelbrecht suffered through:

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.

That’s how other parts of the government tormented Engelbrecht. Why shouldn’t we think that Holder’s DOJ would use its power to intimidate whistleblowers?

Socarides’ repeated statements that “mistakes were made” were intended to make it sound like Eric Holder made an innocent mistake. It was also Socarides’ goal to paint the picture that this is Holder’s first brush with controversy. Considering Holder’s instigating Marc Rich’s pardon on tax evasion charges and Holder’s dropping the voter intimidation case against the National Black Panther Party, Holder isn’t exactly a stranger to being on the wrong side of controversy.

Talk show hosts should reject this latest spin on Holder’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and for whistleblowers to come forward to tell of this administration’s wrongdoing. Holder is a bad guy who’s done some nasty things throughout his career.

Tom Steward’s article contains some spot-on analysis of the impact Michele Bachmann’s announcement will have on the DFL and the DCCC:

Strategists say it’s not a good day, however, for Graves’ chances to wrestle the seat out of the Republican column.

“Graves doesn’t have Bachmann to run against and partly I think he was benefiting by her being a lightning rod,” said political analyst David Schultz of Hamline University. “So now he’s got to worry about perhaps now there may be another Republican running who’s less of a lightning rod and doesn’t come with all the baggage Bachmann has.”

“Jim Graves’ candidacy is based on the fact he’s not Michelle Bachmann,” said Ben Golnik, a Republican consultant. “Graves went from a slight shot to virtually little chance of winning against a Republican candidate with a fresh slate.”

Jim Graves shouldn’t be underestimated. He’s got tons of money he can spend on his campaign. The media will take every opportunity to pretend that he’s a “new Democrat.” The DCCC will dump tons of money into the race.

That said, Graves’ only shot at winning in 2014 hinged on his ability to remind voters that he isn’t Michele Bachmann. That strategy disappeared this morning about 3:00 am. Whether it was Pelosi vilifying her or Bill Clinton vilifying Newt Gingrich, the reality is that Democrats need to a) run as something they’re not and b) run against a boogeyman.

When Michele’s video got noticed, the DFL’s and the DCCC’s biggest boogeywoman disappeared.

The loss of Bachmann also complicates Democratic messaging and fundraising well beyond the borders of her district. “Bachmann has been a great boon for Democratic fundraising and MSNBC has loved her,” Schultz said. “She’s become basically the person they get to rail against for ratings and to fund raise against and in the state of Minnesota she has been part of the face of the Republican party in Minnesota for the last eight to ten years. Her leaving just makes it harder for people to identify a boogeyman to run against.”

John Hinderaker’s post highlights just how foolish Democrats sound in their messaging with this commentary:

This morning the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out an email commenting on Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she will not run again in 2014. The email employed the breezy, low-rent tone that the Democrats have perfected. You wonder who writes these things; is it a 22-year-old slacker, or is there some middle-aged guy who gets paid millions to impersonate one?

In their email fundraising appeal, they talked themselves into a circle. They started with this:

THIS IS HUGE! Now that the Tea Party’s ringleader has called it quits, Boehner has to be wondering who’s next to go. If we can sweep up 17 Republican seats, we can take Boehner’s Speaker’s gavel and win a Democratic House for President Obama!

Then they say this:

Bachmann’s announcement is a huge blow to vulnerable House Republicans, so we need to put the pressure on them while they’re still reeling.

The DCCC essentially said that she’s a crazy nutjob who is the key to the Republicans keeping their House majority. That’s as credible as saying that Jim Graves is a policy heavyweight. Now Graves is a man without a boogeyman to run against.

Lisa Myers’ article on the IRS scandal means that the scope of the scandal is expanding:

Jay Sekulow, an attorney representing 27 conservative political advocacy organizations that applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status, provided some of the letters to NBC News. He said the groups’ contacts with the IRS prove that the practices went beyond a few “front line” employees in the Cincinnati office, as the IRS has maintained.

“We’ve dealt with 15 agents, including tax law specialists — that’s lawyers — from four different offices, including (the) Treasury (Department) in Washington, D.C.,” Sekulow said. “So the idea that this is a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati is not correct.”

Among the letters were several that bore return IRS addresses other than Cincinnati, including “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.,” and the signatures of IRS officials higher up the chain. Two letters with “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.” letterhead were signed by “Tax Law Specialist(s)” from Exempt Organizations Technical Group 1 and Technical Group 2. Lerner’s signature, which appeared to be a stamp rather than an actual signature, appeared on a letter requesting additional information from the Ohio Liberty Council Corp.

If the IRS scandal reaches into the Treasury Department, then that’s another blast of oxygen to an already raging fire. This information will help stoke the fire, too:

Cleta Mitchell, another attorney representing conservative groups that allege they were targeted, said an IRS agent in Cincinnati told her a “task force” IRS office in Washington, D.C., was making the decisions about the processing of applications, and that she subsequently dealt with IRS representatives there.

“(The IRS agent in Cincinnati) told me that in fact the case would be transferred to a special task force out of Washington, and that he was told, he was the originally assigned agent, that he wasn’t allowed to make decisions, the decisions were all going to be made in Washington,” Mitchell said. “I know that this process was going on in Washington because I’ve dealt with those people.”

If documentation or direct testimony is provided verifying this information, then Congress will have a major scandal to investigate. Congress will certainly want to know who created the special task force. They’ll want to know if it was formed via executive directive. They’ll want to know the extent pro-Obama unions were involved. They’ll want to know if Bob Bauer, President Obama’s first White House Counsel, was involved.

The regime tried minimizing, then compartmentalizing, this scandal. They’ve tried to keep it away from DC. Thanks to NBC’s reporting, it appears those attempts will fail.

In an exclusive interview with LFR, Matt Dean has confirmed that he’s thinking about running for the seat left open by Michele Bachmann’s retirement.

While Jim Graves, the DFL and the DCCC are undoubtedly happy that Minnesota’s Sixth District is now an open seat, they shouldn’t think that this will be an easy seat to win. Matt Dean is a formidable candidate. First, he’s got a good understanding of the Sixth District. He’s participated in townhall meetings throughout the District, including in St. Cloud. Second, his message is a great fit for the Sixth District. Third, Matt’s got the ability to work across the aisle without sacrificing his principles:

A commendable thing happened last week after the Minnesota House failed to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of the bill preserving General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) for the very poor: The two House members leading their respective parties’ efforts on the matter, DFL Rep. Erin Murphy and GOP Rep. Matt Dean, just kept working.

Constructively, too. On Friday, a deal was struck that has the blessing of the Legislature’s top leaders in both parties. It’s expected to go to the full House and Senate this week.

That praise was written by Lori Sturdevant, one of the most openly liberal writers at the Strib. It’s important to note that the compromise was built on conservative principles.

Third, he’s got a great understanding of two issues that are important to the Sixth District: health care and education. Fourth, he’s got a track record of being the taxpayers’ watchdog:

House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) is doing his own inquiry into how the Minneapolis Public Schools spends it money after reading this Star Tribune report. The story revealed Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson’s decision to award $270,000 in retroactive raises to central office administrators at the same time the district cut more than 100 jobs including 52 teaching positions.

Rep. Dean started this investigation right after a long, tough legislative session. He saw money being spent foolishly so he started an investigation into the mismanagement.

The Sixth District needs a congressman a) whose principles are solidly conservative and b) who pays attention to the details on whether government is doing its job or if it’s failing the people.

If Rep. Dean decides to jump in, I suspect that announcement will come sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Welcome Powerline readers. Follow this link for more information on the early shape of the race.

In their efforts to villainize the precious metals mining industry, environmental organizations have crippled tourism in Minnesota’s Arrowhead. This article highlights the environmentalists’ impact on tourism:

This week Cherie Sonsalla started her new job as the executive director of the Ely Chamber of Commerce. Her first headache? Educating visitors that the Boundary Waters is not being polluted by copper mining.

The headlines this week, other than Sonsalla replacing Linda Fryer, came from environmental groups Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness, Friends of the Boundary Waters and partner group American Rivers.

“Copper and nickel mining putting recreation, drinking water, and wilderness at risk” and “If mining is permitted, the Boundary Waters and its clean water will be irreparably harmed by acid mine drainage containing sulfates and heavy metals” said American Rivers, naming the South Kawishiwi to its list of ten most endangered rivers.

The onslaught of misinformation is disturbing. Unfortunately, it isn’t surprising. These paragraphs show how willing these militant environmentalist organizations are:

In January, Betsy Daub of the Friends of the Boundary Waters wrote that state agency staff shouldn’t make statements in relation to proposed mine projects before they are vetted through the permitting process. “Our state agencies should objectively analyze mine proposals and review all the facts before making determinations,” Daub wrote.

But last week she and others pushed for Congress to stop all proposed mining projects now, before they get to the environmental review process.

Organizations like Friends of the Boundary Waters aren’t friends of Boundary Waters businesses. This is proof that they won’t hesitate in hiding their agenda until they reveals their true agenda, which is an anti-business, anti-mining, anti-middle class agenda.

Nearly all of their Board of Directors are Twin Cities progressives. Twin Cities progressives have a lengthy history of militant environmental activism. Their history is short, though, on accurately talking about environmental facts.

Simply put, Friends of the Boundary Waters are enemies of blue collar mining workers.

This op-ed is written by one of the victims of the IRS’s misconduct. It’s both compelling and infuriating. This part is especially infuriating:

In order to raise money, I filed an application with the IRS in January 2011, seeking to obtain 501(c)(3) status as an educational organization. The IRS processes more than 60,000 non-profit applications annually and it typically takes two or three months for an organization such as mine to be granted status as a public charity.

I have been waiting for 27 months.

In the interim, I lost a $30,000 grant, multiple thousands of my own money and had to cease any further activity for fear the IRS would target me for harassment.

I wrote here that the IRS attacks have high-ranking political operative written all over them. Kim Strassel wrote eloquently and expansively about the Obama campaign’s targeting of their political opponents in this article:

On Aug. 21, 2008, the conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad—a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.

What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”

While this isn’t proof that the administration is behind the targeting, it’s ample proof that the Obama campaign didn’t hesitate to attack its political opponents through powerful government agencies.

This is outrageous:

While seemingly reluctant to grant my non-profit status, the IRS has been quick to wield all the intimidating power of a federal agency, demanding answers to an invasive, 95-point inquisition, including, for example, that I provide a list of my members and donors and that I state for the IRS my political position on virtually every issue of importance to me. Where does one begin? For good measure, I was asked to identify those whom I train and that I inform the federal government, in detail, about what I am teaching my students.

What does this information have to do with the tax code? This is what an all-powerful and unchecked federal government can do. The old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely certainly is fitting in this instance. Mr. Kookogey shouldn’t have been subjected to this type of uneven-handed scrutiny.

The good news is that their attempt to cover up their disgusting, capricious and criminal behavior will land people like Lois Lerner, Douglas Schulman and Stephen Miller in prison. The bad news is that patriots like Mr. Kookogey and Catherine Engelbrecht have been subjected to disgusting, possibly illegal acts of threats and intimidation.

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This article shows that congressional Democrats aren’t interested in getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi. They’re more interested in protecting their political flanks than finding out why this administration was caught flat-footed with Benghazi:

Retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering has agreed to be deposed by Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) Oversight panel on June 3 after being threatened with a subpoena. Democrats say they’re wary of a trap, and want to be able to counter what they say is Issa’s habit of leaking “cherry-picked” portions of witnesses’ testimonies to the press.

“If it’s true to form, if it’s a closed deposition, his staff [will] cherry pick content and leak it once again to the press that’s only too willing to print it,” panel member Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told The Hill. “It might be grossly inaccurate. In fact, it may be the opposite of what’s being asserted. But by the time somebody gets around to reporting that, if they ever do, the damage is done.”

That’s rich. The Democrats are complaining that the press isn’t giving them a fair shake. That isn’t the full extent of the Democrats’ PR tactics:

Democrats say Pickering and his co-author, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, should be able to defend their report in a public hearing. Pickering could not be reached for comment.

“House Republicans have politicized this investigation from the beginning, and they have recklessly accused Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen of being complicit in a cover-up,” said the panel’s ranking member, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). “It is time for the Chairman to honor his commitment to hold a hearing to allow these officials to respond to these reckless accusations, instead of imposing new conditions to keep them from testifying. Members of Congress and the American people should hear directly from these officials, in public, and the Chairman’s efforts to keep them behind closed doors undermines the Committee’s credibility and does a disservice to the truth.”

Trey Gowdy explains why the committee is deposing witnesses:

The goal of a deposition, oversight panel member Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told The Hill, is to get “the full facts.”

“It’s hard to unlock the mysteries in five-minute increments in a committee hearing,” Gowdy said. “So if you want to find out what happened and who he interviewed, what questions he asked, why he didn’t interview certain people, you need to do it in a deposition.”

These investigations aren’t a witch hunt. They’re part of a real investigation, complete with initial questions that establish a base of facts, followed by the rarest of things in Washington, DC: thoughtful followup questions. That’s what happened during a bygone era when investigations went where the facts took them. That’s what happened when investigations found the truth and let the political chips fall where they may.

Speaking of political chips falling where they may, this speaks directly to that:

Democrats say Issa’s real target is Clinton, the presumptive Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential election.

It’s possible Hillary will suffer political consequences as a result of her mismanagement. Had she made the right decisions, she wouldn’t be getting criticized for making a string of stunningly foolish decisions about the security forces in Benghazi.

It’s time to detonate the ‘Republicans are politicizing Benghazi’ storyline. Foolish decisions were made. American patriots died as a direct result of Hillary Clinton’s shoddy decisionmaking. Hillary lied when she told the diplomats’ families that a video caused the terrorist attack was done to protect a president during a political campaign.

If Hillary gets tarnished because Republicans ask intelligent questions about what happened in Benghazi, then it’ll be because Hillary made foolish decisions. It isn’t because Republicans politicized the Benghazi terrorist attack.

Finally, there’s this:

Democrats say they should have been given a chance to interview Mark Thompson, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism, ahead of the May 8 hearing. They say his Republican attorney, Joseph diGenova, shielded him from Democrats.

Issa strongly denied interfering during the hearing.

“Mr. Thompson, is it your decision who you talk to?” he asked. “And did any of my people ever tell you not to talk to the Democratic minority?”

“No,” Thompson answered.

The Democrats’ accusations are essentially empty. They’ve had the right to access witnesses and ask questions. It isn’t Chairman Issa’s fault that these whistleblowers’ testimony is making the administration look bad.

Poll junkies have wondered why President Obama’s poll ratings haven’t tanked in the wake of the scandals. Scott Rasmussen’s op-ed offers a fine explanation of that phenomena:

So, why hasn’t it hurt the president’s overall job approval? Some believe it has. The theory is that with a recovering economy, his ratings should be higher. Another possibility is that the president’s base may have doubts, but they are still sticking by their man.

It also may be that the doubts are popping up in other ways. For example, at Rasmussen Reports we regularly ask voters which party they trust to deal with a range of issues including government ethics and corruption. Before the scandals broke, Democrats had an 8-point advantage on this particular issue. But there has been a 10-point swing, and the GOP now has a 2-point edge.

Among unaffiliated voters, Republicans enjoy a 23-point advantage on the ethics front. Before the controversies, it was a toss-up.

Republicans shouldn’t rejoice over this polling. This polling gives them an advantage on these issues. They don’t say that they’re popular. To become popular, not to mention trusted, Republicans need to build off of this and tell people that their actions are guided by doing the right thing for the right reasons. Anything short of that will cause people to still have doubts about Republicans.

That said, Scott Rasmussen’s polling contains some troubling news for Democrats:

White House press secretary Jay Carney, speaking on CNN, dismissed “the premise, the idea that these were scandals.” However, voters see it differently. Just over half believe each of the three qualifies as a scandal. Only one out of eight sees them as no big deal.

Voters also reject the notion that the IRS targeting was the work of some low-level rogue employees. Just 20 percent believe that to be the case. A slightly larger number (26 percent) thinks the decision came from IRS headquarters. But 39 percent believe the decision to target conservative groups was made by someone who works at the White House.

This isn’t just a case of people believing politicians always behave this way. Only 19 percent think the IRS usually targets political opponents of the president.

Yesterday, the St. Cloud Times published an LTE that I wrote about here. The LTE essentially accused all administrations of using the IRS to punish that administration’s political opponents. Clearly, people aren’t buying that storyline. Apparently, though, Randy Krebs is buying that spin because he chose to publish the accusation-filled LTE. But I digress.

Simply put, Jay Carney’s credibility is almost nonexistent at this point. Carney’s daily changing explanations of the IRS scandal are painful to watch. His White House press briefings are almost as painful to watch as were the daily beatings Scott McLellan took while he was the Bush administration’s pinata.

These scandals aren’t going away anytime soon. They’re destroying the Democrats’ credibility, starting with this administration’s credibility. The worst news for this administration is that its worst days are still ahead.