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13 May 2013

Obama's Gestapo: The IRS and 'Punishing Enemies'
'President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.'

—President Obama jokes during his commencement speech at Arizona State University in 2009

By Washington Free Beacon Staff

Under President Obama the Internal Revenue Service has repeatedly been accused of using its enforcement powers to punish the White House’s political opponents. Here are six of the most egregious examples.

1. The IRS Targeted Conservative Political Organizations for Investigation

On Friday, the IRS admitted that career employees had specifically targeted organizations that had “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their name.

The harassment of these conservative groups included intrusive and inappropriate questionnaires and a threat to make all the confidential information public. The targeting included explicitly asking for donor lists from conservative organizations as part of their application process.

“We made some mistakes, some people didn’t use good judgment. For that, we’re apologetic,” acknowledged the director of the IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups, Lois Lerner.

Last year, before a hearing at the House of Representatives, then IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman said, “there’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people.” And still the IRS claims that the targeting of conservative groups was “in no way due to any political or partisan rationale.”

2. ProPublica Published Confidential IRS Filings on Six Conservative Organizations

From December 2012 to January 2013, ProPublica published the confidential pending IRS applications for tax-exempt status of six conservative organizations.

ProPublica acknowledged that the IRS was not supposed to release information on pending claims for tax-exempt status after publishing Crossroad GPS’s application.

“[IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge] cited a law saying that publishing unauthorized returns or return information was a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to five years, or both,” according to ProPublica.

Despite being informed of the illegality, confidential applications from the five other organizations were discussed in January.


3. Austan Goolsbee, Then Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Divulged on a Conference Call Confidential IRS Information on How Koch Industries Was Organized

In a background call with reporters, a “senior administration official” used Koch Industries as an example of how large corporations used corporate structures to avoid taxes.

In the course of attacking Koch Industries, which employs over 50,000 people and is owned by prominent conservative philanthropists Charles and David Koch, the official divulged confidential tax information about the company. The official was later outed as Austan Goolsbee, the former director of the president’s Economic Recovery Board and then chair of the Council Of Economic Advisers.

“Neither the Koch website nor Forbes’ list of private companies has information regarding Koch’s tax filling status. This is confidential information,” according to Koch Industries lawyer Mark Holden.

In 2010 an investigation led by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, Russell George, was opened after Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee requested it. The results of the investigation have not been publicly communicated, and will not be released unless Senate Democrats permit it.

4. Donors to Nonprofit Advocacy Groups Were Told that Past Donations Could Be Taxed as Gifts

After not levying a gift tax for decades, the IRS investigated five donors to political advocacy nonprofits. Among those to receive letters threatening additional levies and taxes was conservative philanthropist Foster Friess, and the move was widely seen as an attempt to intimidate conservative organizations and donors on the eve of the 2010 midterm elections.

“Retroactive enforcement of the gift tax in this highly politicized environment raises legitimate concerns and demands further explanation,” six Republican senators, lead by Sen. Orrin Hatch, said in a letter to the IRS.

The agency was forced to abandon its efforts to enforce the rarely used gift tax on donations, acknowledging that, “This is a difficult area… with respect to which we have little enforcement history.” Again, the agency blamed “career civil servants.”

5. After Being Singled Out by an Obama Campaign Website, a Romney Supporter Was Investigated by The IRS and the Department of Labor

During President Obama’s reelection campaign, Frank VanderSloot, a contributor to pro-Romney campaign organizations, was said by the Obama campaign to have a “less-than-reputable record” and to be a “bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”

A few months later, VanderSloot and his wife were told by the IRS they were being audited for the first time, looking over two years of past fillings.

Two weeks later, the Department of Labor informed VanderSloot that he was being investigated to ensure the three foreign workers he employs on his ranch received “the full scope of protections.”


6. The IRS Claims It Can Read Your Emails without a Warrant

According to documents released last month under the Freedom of Information Act, the IRS “has long taken the position that the IRS can read your emails without a warrant—a practice that one appeals court has said violates the Fourth Amendment.” That news came last month from the ACLU, which which had filed the FOIA request.

IRS lawyers asserted that Americans are entitled to “generally no privacy” in their online communications—including email.

CNET reported that “the IRS continued to take the same position, the documents indicate, even after a federal appeals court ruled in the 2010 case U.S. v. Warshak that Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their e-mail.”

President Obama, Kathleen Sebelius /AP

Bonus: Under Obamacare, the IRS Will Become the Key Enforcer on Health Care

Once Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014, the IRS will enforce 47 new tax provisions along with distributing subsidies to 18 million people and tax credits to small businesses.

The Treasury Department expects the cost of enforcement from 2010 to 2013 to total $881 million. Former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman informed Congress last year the agency would need an additional $13.1 billion in 2014.

A Reminder of How the Obama Government Has Repeatedly Targeted Conservatives

By Katie Pavlich

We learned late last week that the IRS specifically targeted conservative groups for political purposes starting in 2011, but they aren't the only federal agency that has abused its power to do so. As a reminder, here's a compilation of just some of the ways conservatives, "tea party groups," and "patriots" have been targeted.

At his Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, Mr. Obama noted that ASU had refused to grant him an honorary degree, citing his lack of experience, and the controversy this had caused. He then demonstrated ASU's point by remarking, "I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday apologized for targeting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, confirming long-standing accusations by some conservatives that their applications for tax-exempt status were being improperly delayed and scrutinized.

Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general's report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner.

At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.

The documents, obtained by The Washington Post  from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where “statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.”

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

The Romeike family fled their German homeland in 2008 seeking political asylum in the United States – where they hoped to home school their children. Instead, the Obama administration wants the evangelical Christian family deported.

“The Obama administration is basically saying there is no right to home school anywhere,” said Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association. “It’s an utter repudiation of parental liberty and religious liberty.”

A group with the ability to shape news coverage is of incalculable value to the politicians it supports, so it’s no surprise that Media Matters has been in regular contact with political operatives in the Obama administration. According to visitor logs, on June 16, 2010, Brock and then-Media Matters president Eric Burns traveled to the White House for a meeting with Valerie Jarrett, arguably the president’s closest adviser. Recently departed Obama communications director Anita Dunn returned to the White House for the meeting as well.

Internal Department of Justice emails obtained by The Daily Caller show Attorney General Eric Holder’s communications staff has collaborated with the left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America in an attempt to quell news stories about scandals plaguing Holder and America’s top law enforcement agency.

Dozens of pages of emails between DOJ Office of Public Affairs Director Tracy Schmaler and Media Matters staffers show Schmaler, Holder’s top press defender, working with Media Matters to attack reporters covering DOJ scandals.

Emails sent in September and November 2010 show Schmaler working with Media Matters staffer Jeremy Holden on attacking news coverage of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation scandal.

Holden attacked former DOJ Civil Rights Division attorneys J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky on Sept. 20, 2010 for what he called an attempt “to reignite the phony New Black Panther Party scandal.”

Before Holden posted his article at 7:52 p.m., Schmaler sent him several emails with information helping him attack both former DOJ officials.

“Here’s one Wolf letter,” read the subject of one email Schmaler sent Holden that contained no text. The email was likely a reference to Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, a member of Congress who led the Republican charge on the New Black Panther Party scandal involving alleged voter intimidation at a November 2008 polling place in Philadelphia.

These are only a few of the cases we know about. I'd like those on the Left to please tell me again that tyranny doesn't exist.

As a reminder, the same IRS agents who were told by senior officials to flag everything with "tea party" and "patriot" in it are now in charge of enforcing ObamaCare. Soon, Americans will have to report personal health information to these people.

Meanwhile, long time Democrat Doug Schoen warns in the Washington Post that politicizing the IRS was one of the reasons why Richard Nixon was impeached. 

 “Politicizing the IRS was one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon,” noted Doug Schoen, who handles polling for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “That being said, we are still a very long way from that point.” But, Schoen added: “The allegations are very, very serious and it is simply impossible to believe that it was just Lois Lerner and some low-level employees in Cincinnati who came up with this scheme to systematically focus on Tea Party and ‘patriot’ groups.”

Another conservative organization is demanding an explanation from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the wake of last week’s admission that the federal agency targeted Tea Party groups for selective scrutiny. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a non-profit group that has helped lead national opposition to same-sex marriage, said Monday that its confidential tax information was leaked by the IRS last year to a liberal pro-gay group.

“There is little question that one or more employees at the IRS stole our confidential tax return and leaked it to our political enemies, in violation of federal law,” NOM president Brian Brown said in a statement on the group’s Web site. “The only questions are who did it, and whether there was any knowledge or coordination between people in the White House, the Obama reelection campaign and the Human Rights Campaign. We and the American people deserve answers.”

Draft copies of a report by the tax agency’s inspector general revealed last week that Tea Party groups were deliberately selected for extra attention by the IRS between 2010 and 2012, the Associated Press reported. Since those revelations, other conservative groups as well as at least one pro-Israel organization have come forward to say that they were likewise subjected to hassles by the IRS.

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