Recapping The IRS Scandal

You probably haven’t heard much about this because it’s a genuine scandal that should rock the White House to its crooked core and land numerous highly placed people in prison.  The media is conveniently ignoring it for precisely those reasons, but we all need to understand what’s going on.  To avoid exhaustively rehashing every single gory little detail (which would take a big heap o’ pages), I’ll sum up.

Seeing electoral trouble in early 2012, the White House secretly directed the IRS to begin targeting conservative groups who were trying to organize and get active on the campaign trail.  Such groups were singled out and given extra scrutiny — which, of course, took extra time — if not denied outright, and thus effectively prevented from entering the game as the election drew nearer.  The White House repeatedly declared there was “not a smidgen” of corruption going on.  Except that there was, and the evidence began tumbling out.  At first it was claimed that it was simply some low-level rogue IRS agents doing the targeting.  Then it was lower management.  Then it bubbled up to include Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS.  At each step of the way, the story kept changing as new information was made public (though only barely covered by the Obama-suckup media).  But it couldn’t be denied:

[…they do not] seem to have read the recent testimony of Carter Hull, a 48-year veteran of the IRS, who said that the office of the IRS general counsel, William Wilkins, issued instructions that all applications from Tea Party groups would have to be reviewed by his office, a very unusual occurrence. Wilkins happens to be one of only two political appointees at the IRS, a Democratic donor, and an expert on tax compliance by nonprofit groups. He defended (pro bono) Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, in a 2008 IRS investigation into the tax-exempt status of Wright’s church over his endorsement of Obama.

Then came the attempts to silence those crying foul:

The Thursday hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was even more dramatic, with riveting testimony by Catherine Engelbrecht, the head of True the Vote, on how she, her husband, and their business were targeted by the IRS, the FBI, ATF, and other government agencies on 15 separate occasions after True the Vote applied to the IRS for a tax exemption. True the Vote has repeatedly been harassed and sued by liberal groups because it wants to improve election integrity and stop voter fraud. In fact, Engelbrecht announced that she would be filing ethics charges against the ranking Democrat on the Committee, Elijah Cummings (D-MD), for demanding the same kind of documentation and information the IRS was improperly asking for and for publicly defaming her and her organization.  Becky Gerritson of the Wetumpka Tea Party also testified about the problems she encountered.

There was also striking testimony by Cleta Mitchell and Jay Sekulow, both of whom are representing dozens of conservative organizations. It was clear from their testimony that not only is the targeting continuing to occur, since many of the organizations they represent still haven’t been granted their tax exemption, but that the Justice Department does not seem to be doing a real investigation since it hasn’t spoken to any of their clients about their experiences with the IRS. The testimony of these witnesses contradicted recent assertion by Obama that there was “not even a smidgen” of corruption in the apparent effort by the IRS to silence conservative groups.

Emails from Lerner’s office completely blow up the White House’s straw man defense, and the Department of Justice is now entrenched alongside the IRS as actively discriminating against political opponents of the Obama administration.  The good news is that the targets of said silencing aren’t staying silent.

It should also be noted that Democrats, seeing a viciously difficult election this coming November, are publicly calling for the IRS to do even more to block attempts by conservative groups to campaign against them.

Lerner recently came before a House Oversight Committee hearing to testify in regard to her actions as head of the IRS (she has since stepped down).  In some interesting legal theater, she made a lengthy statement about her innocence before proceeding to take the 5th on every question the panel asked of her:

Wait, you say — doesn’t she have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination that gives her the right not to answer questions from Congress? She sure does, unless she waives that right by effectively testifying on her own behalf. A defendant in a criminal trial can refuse to testify entirely or he can testify on his own behalf and then face cross-examination from the prosecution, but he can’t offer the jury his own story and then decline to answer questions from the other side. That’s exactly what Lerner did last year in her opening statement to the committee, says Gowdy. She made multiple assertions of fact — she’s innocent, has committed no crime, etc — and then, when Issa and company tried to cross-examine her, she clammed up. That’s the basis of the contempt charge. You can’t selectively invoke your privilege against self-incrimination.

This is apparently the crux of the matter, and it will probably take more legal wrangling before it gets sorted out.  Regardless, she’s been held in contempt of Congress, something that can technically land her in prison if Republicans decide to push the issue.  They haven’t yet, but you can bet this sordid chapter isn’t over, because when you boil it all down, the bread crumbs lead to the White House itself.  No head of an agency like the IRS does something like this without at least a wink-wink approval from the President.  The question is whether the House GOP has the stones to follow the trail all the way to the top.

The latest developments tie the IRS and the DOJ even more tightly together:

Judicial Watch today released a new batch of internal IRS documents revealing that former IRS official Lois Lerner communicated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) about whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities. The documents were obtained as a result of an October 2013 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after the agency refused to respond to four FOIA requests dating back to May 2013.

The newly released IRS documents contain an email exchange between Lerner and Nikole C. Flax, then-Chief of Staff to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller discussing plans to work with the DOJ  to prosecute nonprofit groups that “lied” (Lerner’s quotation marks) about political activities.

So, what we have here is the head of the IRS testing the waters of a plan to not just delay and hassle political opponents, but to actively arrest and prosecute them.  And they knew it was illegal, too:

But in an email sent a few minutes earlier, Lerner acknowledged prosecutions would evidently be at odds with the law:

Whether there was a false statement or fraud regarding an [sic] description of an alleged political expenditure that doesn’t say vote for or vote against is not realistic under current law. Everyone is looking for a magic bullet or scapegoat — there isn’t one. The law in this area is just hard.

My, my, my.  Just a little bit of hot water there, hm?  The IRS and the DOJ appear to be irreparably joined on this one, and will sink or swim together.  Ultimately, both are tied to Obama, as well.

But it doesn’t stop there, either.  In yet another blatantly illegal maneuver, the IRS was caught red-handed violating civil law and actively urging taxpayers to re-elect Barack Obama in 2012.  The corruption in the IRS appears to be pretty much top to bottom.

So now you’re caught up on the latest of the many scandals of the Obama administration.  The bottom line is that this sort of corruption and blatant political thuggery simply cannot be allowed.  An immense amount of pressure needs to be brought to bear on the Republicans in the House to pursue this scandal until every last shred of evidence is brought into the light of day.  Let the chips fall where they may, and let those involved be sent to prison if that is what is required.  We simply cannot accept a government — no matter the party — that perpetrates such things, or this nation is doomed to die a vicious and tyrannical death.

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I'm a gun-owning, Bible-thumping, bitter clinger conservative in the heartland. You can disagree with me if you want (you do, after all, have a right to be wrong)...just don't be rude or stupid and we'll get along just fine! :)

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Posted in Judiciary_Legal, Liberal Hypocrisy

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