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27 June 2014

Lanny Davis, Long-Time Clinton Adviser: It's Waaaaay Past Time For An Independent Counsel/Special Prosecutor To Investigate The Internal Revenge Service

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

So, add Lanny Davis to Ron Fournier, Prof Jonathan Turley, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Kirsten Powers, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Times, The Arizona Republic, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Washington Examiner, Congressman John Barrow (D-GA), Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Congressman Richard Tisei (D-MA), Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Congressman Ron Barber (D-AZ), Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA), Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Congressman Joe Garcia (D-FL), Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Congressman Dan Maffei (D-NY), Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT), Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Congressman Patrick E. Murphy (D-FL), Congressman Bill Owens (D-NY), Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA), Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV), Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL), Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN), (See: Final Vote Results For Roll Call 204), among a growing list of others.

A former White House counsel during the Clinton administration said Thursday that it’s time for an independent counsel to look into the growing IRS email scandal.

Lanny Davis, a close adviser to Hillary Clinton and a frequent defender of the Obama Administration, appeared on my morning talk show in Washington, D.C., on WMAL. I asked him to comment on the latest hearings on the lost IRS emails conducted earlier this week in Congress:

If this were a Republican administration I’d be saying when hard drives have been obliterated and this recent Lois Lerner—I think very inappropriate, maybe innocent but completely inappropriate—’maybe we should look at Mr. Grassley’ uh … there’s no Democrat that I know of that wouldn’t be asking a Republican administration to conduct an independent investigation.

I asked Davis if he meant a special prosecutor should be appointed and he argued that a special counsel reporting to the attorney general would be sufficient. “Yes, there ought to be another look at this by somebody that President Obama chooses to appoint who’s independent,” Davis explained, “or at least the Republicans would see as independent.”

The consensus is: it’s no accident. More than three-quarters of voters -- 76 percent -- think the emails missing from the account of Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the center of the scandal over targeting of conservative groups, were deliberately destroyed. ... That suspicion is shared across party lines, albeit to varying degrees. An overwhelming 90 percent of Republicans think the emails were intentionally destroyed, as do 74 percent of independents and 63 percent of Democrats. Overall, just 12 percent of voters believe the emails were destroyed accidentally. Another 12 percent are unsure.

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While most discussing the IRS scandal point to Richard Nixon and Article II of his Articles of Impeachment, there are two very important facts to remember (apart from the fact that he resigned before they could impeach, convict, and remove him):

  • Despite rumours and assertions to the contrary, Nixon never actually succeeded in weaponising the IRS.  He was rebuffed by men of character within the White House, Department of Justice, and the Internal Revenue Service.

  • Most importantly, the powerful Republican Nixon had wanted to abuse the powerful Democrat Edward Bennett Williams.  Don't get me wrong, it would have been an abuse of power on an epic scale and worthy of Milhaus being run out of town on a rail.  But, then, we were talking about The Republican Powerful v The Democratic Powerful.  What sets the current IRS scandal legions apart and could make it the most explosive, dangerous, and cancerous scandal in American history is that the paradigm has changed.  Now, it is The Democratic Powerful persecuting The American Little People.  While many Democrats continue to scream, 'But, but, but, Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers!!!!'  The fact of the matter is that Lois Lerner & Co went after people for their political and religious beliefs. 

People like Becky Gerritson, President and Founder of the Wetumpka TEA Party of Alabama:

'I am a born-free, American woman – wife, mother and citizen – and I’m telling MY government that you have forgotten your place.'

People like Sue Martinek, Coalition for Life of Iowa (IRS demanded the content of their prayers among other things):

 From The Blaze:

Sue Martinek, President of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, made some pretty shocking allegations regarding the IRS’ handling of her group.

“In June of 2009, [IRS Agent] Richards told me verbally that we needed to send in a letter with the entire board’s signatures stating that under penalty of perjury we would not picket/protest or organize groups to picket/protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” Martinek said. “Upon receiving such a letter, she indicated that the IRS would allow our application to go through.”

“[T]he IRS continued questioning us,” she continued. “On June 22, 2009, IRS Agent Richards sent us additional written requests, as follows: ‘Please explain how all of your activities, including the prayer meetings held outside of Planned Parenthood are considered educational as defined under 501(c)(3).”

She added, quoting Richards:

Organizations exempt under 501(c)(3) may present opinions with scientific or medical facts. Please explain in detail the activities at the prayer meetings. Also, please provide the percentage of time your organization spends on prayer groups as compared with the other activities of the organization.

Please explain in detail the signs that are being held up outside of Planned Parenthood and explain how they are considered educational.

So, the IRS allegedly asked her group to promise to leave Planned Parenthood alone and requested that they provide details of “prayer meetings”???

I guess the IRS is in the Planned Parenthood Protection business.

And, people like John Eastman, chairman of the National Organisation for Marriage:

Now, some of you might vociferously disagree with Mr Eastman and his organisation, National Organisation for Marriage, but they, just like you or any other group, is entitled to Equal Protection under the law.  If you truly care about tolerance, equality, diversity, and fairness, then you positively MUST condemn what the IRS did to NOM.  It is a Federal felony to release confidential tax information to even other agencies within the government without a subpoena.  The IRS went even further: It turned the confidential tax returns and donor lists over to gay rights activist organisation, Human Rights Campaign, who quickly dispensed the information online.  These were felonies and the intent of the IRS was to harm (Romney), shame (business leaders), and chill the speech of others.

The last of these - chilling the speech of others, including the right to donate to a non-profit organisation - is long-settled law and, for those that fashion themselves as fighters for civil rights, you might be surprised to learn that the case wherein this precedent was set was one: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama ex rel, Patterson,Attorney General, 357 U.S. 449 (1958), which was argued by none other than future United States Federal Judge Robert L Carter, a World War II veteran, worked as assistant special counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, became a legal assistant to Thurgood Marshall. He was lead counsel in In 1945, he became an assistant special counsel at the LDF. Carter was the lead attorney in  Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629 (1950), which successfully challenged the doctrine set forth in Plessy v Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) that 'separate but equal' in the case of racial segregation was constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause and, along with Thurgood Marshall, presented the oral argument to the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

NAACP v. Alabama Holding: 

'Immunity from state scrutiny of petitioner's membership lists is here so related to the right of petitioner's members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in doing so as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment and, further, that freedom to associate with organizations dedicated to the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable part of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.' 

And, if you think NOM deserved it and no one was really harmed…except for the ‘homophobic, bigoted Xians,’ I’ve got some news for you:  YOU, through your Federal tax dollars, have just forked over to NOM the sum of FIFTY THOUSAND andNO/100 DOLLARS ($50,000).  The National Organisation for Marriage had sued the Internal Revenue Service for ‘illegally disclosing its donor list to the Human Rights Campaign, a top advocate for gay rights and gay marriage’ in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.  The radical gay rights activist, Matthew Meisel, acquired the secret donor list from an IRS employee, who has remained nameless due to the once ‘out, loud, and proud’ Mr Meisel suddenly becoming introverted, quiet, and proud…to invoke his 5th Amendment rights.

Hmmm, Mr Meisel took the 5th.  Lois Lerner, who illegally turned over millions of pages of confidential taxpayer information to the Department of Justice, along with the Federal Elections Commission, the FBI, etc, likewise took the 5th.

Could it be that Mr Meisel's so-called 'conduit within the IRS' was none other than Lois Lerner?  They certainly have a few things in common.

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

And, now, we have Lois Lerner going after Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) with a vengeance based upon an invitation addressed to him, which she opened (felony) and he never received nor accepted...

Congressional investigators say they uncovered emails Wednesday showing that a former Internal Revenue Service official sought an audit involving U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa in 2012.

Republicans quickly viewed former IRS official Lois Lerner's actions as an attempt to initiate a baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican senator. Grassley called the situation "very troubling" and said it's the kind of thing that fuels deep concerns about political targeting by the IRS.

The emails show Lerner mistakenly received an invitation to an event that was meant to go to Grassley, a Republican.

The event organizer apparently offered to pay for Grassley's wife to attend the event.

Instead of forwarding the invitation to Grassley's office, Lerner emailed another IRS official to suggest referring the matter for an audit, saying it might be inappropriate for the group to pay for his wife.

"Perhaps we should refer to exam?" Lerner wrote.

It was unclear from the emails whether Lerner was suggesting that Grassley or the group be audited — or both.

The other IRS official, Matthew Giuliano, waived her off, saying an audit would be premature because Grassley hadn't even accepted the invitation. "It would be Grassley who would need to report the income," Giuliano said in one of the emails.

The name of the event organizer was blacked out on copies of the emails released by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee because they were considered confidential taxpayer information. Grassley and his wife signed waivers allowing their names to be released.

Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS has acknowledged that agents improperly scrutinized applications by tea party and other conservative groups before the 2010 and 2012 elections. Documents show that some liberal groups were singled out, too.

In a written statement about today's disclosure, Grassley said: "This kind of thing fuels the deep concerns many people have about political targeting by the IRS and by officials at the highest levels. It's very troubling that a simple clerical mix-up could get a taxpayer immediately referred for an IRS exam without any due diligence from agency officials."

Grassley learned of the emails from the Ways and Means Committee, aides said. He didn't accept the invitation referred to in the emails, and he didn't receive Lerner's invitation, they said.

The IRS said in a statement that it could not comment on the specifics of the case "due to taxpayer confidentiality provisions."

"As a general matter, the IRS has checks and balances in place to ensure the fairness and integrity of the audit process," the IRS statement said. "Audits cannot be initiated solely by personal requests or suggestions by any one individual inside the IRS."

The IRS says it has lost an untold numbers of Lerner's emails because her computer crashed in 2011, sparking outrage among Republican lawmakers who have accused the tax agency of a cover-up. The emails released Wednesday were among the thousands that have been turned over to congressional investigators.

"We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States senator is shocking," Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said. "At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights."

Iowa Republican Joni Ernst sought to use the news to focus blame on her Democratic opponent in the U.S. Senate race, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley. Ernst noted that Braley was one of the members of Congress who wrote a letter in 2012 to encourage the IRS to investigate whether any social welfare organizations were improperly engaged in political campaign activity.

Ernst campaign spokesman Gretchen Hamel said in a statement: "Braley needs to repudiate the IRS and apologize to Senator Chuck Grassley once again and turn over all correspondence he and his office have shared with the IRS. While Lois Lerner's email may have been 'lost,' surely the congressman's have not."

Braley in May 2013 called on Lerner to be fired and requested an independent investigation into what happened at the IRS.

One Iowa Democrat cautioned against overreactions.

"Everybody needs to take a deep breath and get the facts and let the people involved do their jobs," Democratic state Sen. Rob Hogg, a Cedar Rapids lawyer, said in an interview with the Register this evening.

Grassley had been an outspoken critic of the way the IRS policed tax-exempt groups even before the tea party controversy erupted last year.

In one email, Lerner indicates that she won't attend the event. "Don't think I want to be on the stage with Grassley on this issue," she wrote.

Ways and Means is one of three congressional committees investigating the way the IRS processed applications for tax-exempt status. The Justice Department is also investigating.

Also Wednesday, a group of Republican senators — including Grassley — said they want to expand a Senate investigation to look more closely at how the agency lost the emails.

Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee said they want know why the Treasury Department and the White House were told about the lost emails more than a month before Congress was told. They have asked committee chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to schedule a hearing with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Wyden's office was noncommittal Wednesday, saying he hadn't seen the request.

The Republicans, led by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, are also asking the Treasury and Justice departments, and the Federal Election Commission, to turn over any emails they might have from Lerner.

"The IRS' failure to inform the committee months or even weeks ago about the missing emails raises serious questions about its commitment to cooperate with this investigation," the letter said.

In testimony before a House panel this week, Koskinen said the IRS waited to tell Congress until officials knew the full extent of the email loss.

Koskinen said the Treasury Department has agreed to turn over emails it has from Lerner. The White House said last week it has found no emails between anyone in the executive office of the president and Lerner.

At the time of Lerner's computer crash in June 2011 the IRS had a policy of backing up emails on computer tapes, but the tapes were recycled every six months, Koskinen said. He said Lerner's hard drive was recycled and presumably destroyed.

The IRS was able to generate 24,000 Lerner emails from the 2009 to 2011 period because she had copied in other IRS employees. Overall, the IRS said it was producing a total of 67,000 emails to and from Lerner, covering the period from 2009 to 2013.

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