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Tags: IRS Scandal

Issa: New Koskinen Testimony Will Turn Up Heat on Lois Lerner



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California Republican representative Darrell Issa indicated on Sunday that upcoming testimony from Internal Revenue Service commissioner John Koskinen could further incriminate embattled former IRS official Lois Lerner.

“Either Lois Lerner’s attorney is outright not telling the truth . . . or the commissioner was inaccurate in his testimony before Congress,” Issa said on Fox News Sunday. “Now the lawyer, Mr. [William] Taylor, is not under oath. The commissioner is.”

Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was referring to statements made by Lerner’s legal team that contradicted claims made by Koskinen during recent House testimony. Lerner, former director of the tax agency’s Exempt Organizations Division, was a leader in an IRS campaign to target conservative and tea-party groups for abuse and suppression. Last year she pled her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before Congress, and she resigned soon afterward. More recently the IRS has claimed that it misplaced a trove of e-mails relating to Lerner’s potentially criminal actions.

Issa noted that Koskinen has asked for a chance to clarify his earlier testimony, adding that the evidence could underscore Lerner’s role in the widening IRS scandal.

“It probably will make us understand that Lois Lerner’s attorney continues to profess her innocence, when we’re long past the question of guilt,” Issa said. “She broke rules, she broke the law, and she continues to hide under the Fifth Amendment, which is her right. But let’s understand: She is in fact a person who’s been referred for criminal prosecution.”

Tags: Darrell Issa , Lois Lerner , IRS Scandal , Sunday Shows July 6 2014

Ted Cruz: Eric Holder Should Appoint IRS Special Prosecutor or Be Impeached



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Attorney General Eric Holder should be impeached if he refuses to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of tea-party groups by the IRS, according to Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas).

With the IRS claiming to have lost two years of former official Lois Lerner’s e-mails, Cruz is headed to the floor to introduce a resolution calling for the special prosecutor.

“He’s going to say, if Attorney General Holder does not appoint a special prosecutor, he should be impeached,” a Cruz aide told National Review Online. “Eric Holder has been at the center of every big scandal in this administration . . . If he doesn’t act on this issue, it’s perfectly appropriate for him to be impeached.”

Cruz believes that Holder’s failure to appoint a special prosecutor would rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional standard for impeachment.

Senate Democrats, of course, are very likely to block the resolution. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) articulated the party line last week when she was asked if she was suspicious of the hard-drive crash that the IRS says eradicated Lerner’s e-mails.

“What it convinces me [of] is that they need a new technology system at the IRS,” Pelosi told reporters. “They need to upgrade their technology, get it right, so that there’s no suspicion about what agenda anyone may have on that.”

Cruz suggested that Holder should be impeached in April, but the news that Lerner suggested that the IRS examine a speaking invitation for Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) gave rise to the latest proposal.

Tags: Eric Holder , Ted Cruz , IRS Scandal

IRS: Don’t Take Free Food While Abusing Americans



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What a Jolt today: The National Security Agency collects every Verizon customer’s phone records; a new poll indicates Obamacare has never been less popular; a look at the new ABC Family series, “The Fosters”; and then these developments in the IRS scandal . . . 

IRS: Okay, We’ll Stop Taking Free Food When Asking About the Content of Your Prayers

Turn the Internal Revenue Service into a partisan cudgel, and nobody blinks. But man, if you take free food, you’re toast. And you can’t even accept that toast, apparently.

Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel is placing two officials — including a top staffer implementing the health care law — on administrative leave for violating government ethics rules at a 2010 conference.

“When I came to IRS, part of my job was to hold people accountable,” Werfel said in a statement Wednesday. “There was clearly inappropriate behavior in this situation and immediate action is needed.”

Werfel didn’t specify which staff members he disciplined but congressional sources tell POLITICO one official is Fred Schindler, the director of implementation oversight at the IRS Affordable Care Act office. The other is Donald Toda, a California-based employee.

The staffers received $1,100 in free food and other items at the conference, the sources said.

$1,100 in free food? Just how much did these two guys eat? What, did they order the surf and turf and say, ‘man, this is so good, let’s get a dozen more for the road?’

Well, at least these two guys are . . . wait a minute. “Suspended employees are often paid during suspension while supervisors decide how to proceed.”

You’re going to take this paid vacation indefinitely, buster!

In other IRS news, courtesy our friends at the Franklin Center:

Recent press reports focused on the 157 visits to the White House by former IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, but there has been little scrutiny of the 165 White House visits by the IRS ‘Obamacare’ official Sarah Hall Ingram.

According to White House visitor data, Shulman never attended any of Ingram’s meetings, and Ingram never attended a White House meeting with Shulman.

All of Ingram’s165 meetings were with White House staff, while only 151 of Shulman’s visits were with staff. Shulman attended six meetings with President Barack Obama.

Ingram attended 62 White House meetings in 2011, 90 in 2012 and 13 this year (though February).

But wait, there’s more on the IRS front today!

Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010.

Transcripts of the interviews, viewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, appear to contradict earlier statements by top IRS officials, who have blamed lower-level workers in Cincinnati.

Elizabeth Hofacre said her office in Cincinnati sought help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she started getting the tea-party cases in April 2010. Ms. Hofacre said Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, closely oversaw her work and suggested some of the questions asked applicants.

Trust us.

Tags: IRS Abuses , IRS Scandal

The New Spin: ‘We’re Idiots! We’re Stupid! Trust Us!’



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Remember the “we’re idiots” excuse from the administration on Benghazi?

“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots,” said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”

It’s getting another rollout this weekend, this time being used to explain the IRS scandal:

“If there was somebody political involved in this, it never would have happened,” Axelrod said, “because it was the stupidest thing you could have imagined.” (An almost identical point was made by fellow Obama spokesman David Plouffe on This Week, “This was not an effort driven by the White House. It would be the dumbest political effort of all time.”)

Gentlemen . . . the “we’re stupid” excuse really isn’t as exculpatory as you think it is.

Tags: IRS Scandal , Benghazi

The IRS Is About to Have Another Tough Week



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The first Morning Jolt of the week features why Eric Holder will stick around for the foreseeable future, despite anonymous quotes to the contrary in the New York Times; why we ought to show some humility when discussing modern marriage, working arrangements, and family life; and then this preview of the week . . . 

The Internal Revenue Service Is About to Have Another Bad, Bad, Bad Week

The IRS is about to have another brutal week. Here’s what Darrell Issa’s got planned:

Committee’s Thursday, June 6 hearing entitled “Collected and Wasted: The IRS Spending Culture and Conference Abuses.” The hearing will focus on the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report on excessive IRS conference spending and abuses of taxpayer dollars. Issa sent a letter about excessive spending to then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman in April, 2012. Between 2010 and 2012, the IRS held at least 220 conferences, which cost approximately $50 million.

In one example, the IRS spent $4 million dollars on a manager’s conference for 2,600 people in Anaheim, Calif. in August, 2010. Contrary to established government contracting practices, the outside event planners did not negotiate lower room rates and instead focused on “perks” for IRS employees. Several IRS employees stayed in presidential suites, which rate at $1,500–$3,500 per night. Moreover, 15 outside speakers were paid $135,000 — including one speaker who lectured on “leadership through art” for $17,000.

Additionally, multiple videos were produced for the conference. A previously unreleased video, referred to as the “cupid shuffle,” featured employees learning the popular dance as part of preparation for the Anaheim management conference.

Watch IRS Employees “Getting Ready for Anaheim”

But wait, there’s more! Take a look at the excerpts from interviews that Issa’s committee is releasing:

Another more senior IRS Cincinnati employee complained about micromanagement from D.C.:
 

Q: But you specifically recall that the BOLO [Be On Look Out] terms included “Tea Party?”

A: Yes, I do.

Q: And it was your understanding — was it your understanding that the purpose of the BOLO was to identify Tea Party groups?

A: That is correct.

Q: Was it your understanding that the purpose of the BOLO was to identify conservative groups?

A: Yes, it was.

Q: Was it your understanding that the purpose of the BOLO was to identify Republican groups?

A: Yes, it was.

 

******

 

Q: Earlier I believe you informed us that the primary reason for applying for another job in July [2010] was because of the micromanagement from [Washington, DC, IRS Attorney], is that correct?

A: Right. It was the whole Tea Party. It was the whole picture. I mean, it was the micromanagement. The fact that the subject area was extremely sensitive and it was something that I didn’t want to be associated with.

Q: Why didn’t you want to be associated with it?

A: For what happened now. I mean, rogue agent? Even though I was taking all my direction from EO Technical [Washington, D.C], I didn’t want my name in the paper for being this rogue agent for a project I had no control over.

Q: Did you think there was something inappropriate about what was happening in 2010?

A: Yes. The inappropriateness was not processing these applications fairly and timely.

Tags: IRS Abuses , IRS Scandal , Darrell Issa

Obama’s Numbers on Job Approval, Honesty Suddenly Tumble



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Another busy Jolt today . . . two sections to preview this morning:

BOOM: Quinnipiac Sees Obama’s Approval Take a Sudden Tumble

For a couple of weeks, Obama fans have been high-fiving each other, looking at polling numbers and concluding the public didn’t really blame the president for any of the scandals engulfing his administration.

Well, looks like they celebrated too early:

American voters say 76 – 17 percent, including 63 – 30 percent among Democrats, that a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate charges the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

President Barack Obama gets a negative 45 – 49 percent job approval rating, compared to 48 – 45 percent positive in a May 1 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, conducted before the IRS allegations surfaced.

The president’s biggest drop is among independent voters, who give him a negative 37 – 57 percent score, compared to a negative 42 – 48 percent May 1. He gets a negative 9 – 86 percent from Republicans and a positive 87 – 8 percent from Democrats, both virtually unchanged. Women approve 49 – 45 percent while men give a negative 40 – 54 percent score.

Americans are divided 49 – 47 percent on whether Obama is honest and trustworthy, down from 58 – 37 percent, the last time Quinnipiac University asked the question September 1, 2011.

Gee, what could cause that drop? Moving along . . . 

News-Junkie Hipster-ism and ‘The Real Scandal’

If you’ll allow me to quote Matt Welch twice, he articulates an irritation buzzing around the back of my head, pundits’ all-too-frequent declaration that whatever scandal is in the headlines is an obviously frivolous and inconsequential distraction, and that they’ve figured out what we really ought to be talking about if we’re serious, thoughtful people. You know . . . “the real scandal,” as they incessantly declare.

But the real party comes when you search on “the real scandal.” So much to choose from!

There’s “child poverty” (Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times), “political gridlock” (Ned Barnett, Charlotte News & Observer), “the Republican party’s devotion to grandstanding over governance and its preference for slime over substance” (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., The Huffington Post), “secret money influencing US elections” (Ari Berman, The Nation), “that 501(c)(4) groups have been engaged in political activity in such a sustained and open way” (Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker), that “they let General Electric not pay any taxes” (Michael Moore, HuffPost Live), sex abuse in the military (Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post), and even “the IRS itself” (John Tamny, Forbes).

This is like news junkie hipster-ism. “Oh, you’re following that news story? Pshaw. I was following that story years ago. The really important story now is [some obscure story they’re fairly certain you haven’t read about yet].”

Now, some of those items are real problems, i.e., child poverty and sex abuse in the military. But only a fool would argue that the existence of one problem automatically de-prioritizes any other problem. Maybe there are a lot of big problems in our government and society that the American people should be concerned about and try to solve or improve. Maybe we really have a lot of scandals going on.

The real scandal is that we have so many real scandals going on.

Tags: Polling , President Obama , IRS Scandal

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