Tags: Scandals

One Last Scandal for 2014


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

One Last Scandal for 2014

Who’s having the worse week, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh or House majority whip Steve Scalise?


House majority whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) spoke to an event hosted by a white-nationalist group when he was a state legislator in 2002, according to multiple reports.

Scalise’s office has confirmed that he took part in the event organized by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana politician David Duke, and says his limited staff at the time had not properly vetted the event. He attended the event while campaigning against a state budget measure.

“Throughout his career in public service, Mr. Scalise has spoken to hundreds of different groups with a broad range of viewpoints,” Scalise spokeswoman Moira Bagley told the Washington Post. She explained that he attended the event while campaigning against a state ballot initiative.

“He has never been affiliated with the abhorrent group in question,” Bagley continued. “The hate-fueled ignorance and intolerance that group projects is in stark contradiction to what Mr. Scalise believes and practices as a father, a husband, and a devoted Catholic.”

Congressman, the group is called the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. What, did you mistake them for NATO? Were they strangely unresponsive to remarks about trade policy and currency exchanges?

Moronic as Scalise’s decision might have been, he did make it twelve years ago. If there was any indication the guy had any white supremacist instincts, one would think they would have surfaced in the following decade. Maybe Scalise really did have no idea of the group’s agenda or hateful perspectives.

The Washington Post quotes a bunch of Democrats making typically opportunistic comments about the revelation. You can’t really blame them; if we learned a high-ranking Democratic official had addressed a hate group, Republicans and voices on the Right would be calling attention to that.

But the Democrats shouldn’t be too loud in their denunciation, in light of other figures they’ve forgiven . . . 

In the early 1940s, a politically ambitious butcher from West Virginia named Bob Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to form a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. After Byrd had collected the $10 joining fee and $3 charge for a robe and hood from every applicant, the “Grand Dragon” for the mid-Atlantic states came down to tiny Crab Orchard, W.Va., to officially organize the chapter . . . 

Byrd wrote that he continued as a “Kleagle” recruiting for the Klan until early 1943, when he and his family left Crab Orchard for a welding job in a Baltimore shipyard. Returning to West Virginia after World War II ended in 1945, he launched his political career, but not before writing another letter, to one of the Senate’s most notorious segregationists, Theodore Bilbo (D-Miss.), complaining about the Truman administration’s efforts to integrate the military.

Byrd said in the Dec. 11, 1945, letter — which would not become public for 42 more years with the publication of a book on blacks in the military during World War II by author Graham Smith — that he would never fight in the armed forces “with a Negro by my side.” Byrd added that, “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels.”

If you can forgive all that — as just about everyone in Congress did — then you have to give Scalise the benefit of the doubt.

Tags: Steve Scalise , Robert Byrd , Scandals

Wife of Kissing Congressman Helps Bail Out Leaking Campaign


Congressman Vance McAllister, the Republican from Louisiana’s Fifth District who was caught soul-kissing a staffer on a leaked surveillance video in April, is getting support from his wife in a new video. But polling in the district suggests that marital support may not be enough for a campaign that was severely damaged by the scandal.

McAllister praises his spouse as a “Christian wife” in the new spot, for which the campaign has made a $75,000 media purchase. “I’m blessed to have a husband that owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana,” Kelly McAllister tells viewers in a video punctuated by meaningful gazes. Although the McAllisters appear compatible in the clip, the congressman — who announced that he would not seek reelection after the scandal, only to change his mind a few weeks later — is no longer the frontrunner in the race, according to the most recent poll of Fifth District voters by the Glascock Group.

McAllister won 60 percent of the vote in a 2013 special election, but his 2014 campaign is floundering. He’s facing six Republican challengers — including a member of the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame — a Libertarian, a Green and Democratic mayor of Monroe Jamie Mayo. McAllister took 20 percent in Glascock’s poll early last week, behind Alto-based family physician Ralph Abraham with 22 percent. Although Zach Dasher — the nephew of Phil Robertson — took only 7 percent, McAllister is still hurting from his public rupture with the Robertsons, who had previously endorsed McAllister but turned sharply against him in the wake of the kissing scandal.

Despite these troubles, Glascock Group founder and managing partner Darrell Glascock tells National Review Online that the most important recent damage to McAllister was the entrance into the race of Clyde Holloway of Forest Hill. Although Holloway, Louisiana’s public service commissioner, is polling only 9 percent, most of that seems to have been peeled off from McAllister. 

“Vance had been running in at least the 30s every poll I’ve done,” Glascock tells NRO. “He wasn’t doing real well, but he had enough hard support to be in the runoff. After Clyde got in he dropped to 20. When we looked at Clyde’s voters, at their first and second choices, it looked like 90 percent of it was coming from Vance. So with Vance at 20, that meant Dr. Abraham at 22 took over the lead. Dr. Abraham’s support, rather than coming just from the Monroe region in the north or from the Alexandria region in the south, seems to be pretty widespread throughout the district. Prior to Clyde’s coming into the race it looked like anybody who got over 20 might get in a runoff with McAllister. But now McAllister may be in that pocket himself.”

McAllister’s campaign also appears to be less well funded than some of his competitors’ efforts, with Abraham and Dasher both enjoying substantial self-funding capacity. The slide in McAllisters’s finances is a “direct result of his little escapade,” Glascock says. “At that point the Republican Party in Washington dropped him and said they weren’t going to raise any money for him. The Republican Party in Louisiana said they weren’t going to raise any money for him. And the Duck boys said they weren’t going to raise any money for him.”

Baton Rouge consultant Roy Fletcher tells the New Orleans Times-Picayune the new ad could be effective if it persuades voters that McAllister’s wife has forgiven him, but he adds, “Getting forgiveness and getting re-elected are two different things.”

Tags: Louisiana , Scandals , House of Representatives

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink, Drive, and Remain Prosecutors


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink, Drive, and Remain in a Prosecutor’s Office

From Right Now Strategies:

Here’s the gist:

A day after a grand jury indicted him on two felony charges, a defiant Rick Perry on Saturday called the prosecution of his conduct a “farce” and “abuse of power.”

The governor promised to fight the charges and concluded brief remarks by bluntly saying, “I intend to win.”

During a news conference at the Capitol broadcast live on national TV, Perry blamed partisan politics for the indictment and focused, in part, on the behavior of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose drunken driving arrest last year prompted him to seek her resignation.

“We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry said.

Perry faces charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, which together carry maximum sentences of 109 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. He has not yet turned himself in at the Travis County Jail but is expected to do so in the next several days, when he will be fingerprinted and photographed.

Travis County grand jurors delivered the indictment 14 months after Perry said he would withhold a $7.5 million, two-year state allotment to Lehmberg’s office unless she stepped down.

Lehmberg did not resign, and Perry carried out that threat, saying he would not grant the appropriation because Lehmberg had lost the public’s confidence with her DWI arrest. Her blood alcohol level was 0.239, and while in jail, the district attorney was belligerent.

Perry’s argument: “I very clearly, I very publicly said that as long as that individual was going to be running that agency — I had lost confidence in her, the public had lost confidence in her,” Perry said. “I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision about whether it was a proper use of state money to go to that agency. And I vetoed it. That’s what the rule of law is really about, Shannon. And I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas. And if I had to do it again I would make exactly the same decision.”

Quite a few folks on the Left don’t think there’s a legitimate criminal case here, and that we’re witnessing a reckless attempt to paint routine acts of politics – i.e., vetoing a budget as leverage – represents corruption.

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait:

The conventions of reporting —  which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question —  make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is…

The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won’t tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word “veto,” the next word that springs to mind is “threat.” That’s how vetoes work.

The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves.

Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod: “Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”

Alan Dershowitz: “ ‘This is another example of the criminalization of party differences, said Dershowitz, a prominent scholar on United States constitutional law and criminal law who writes the “Legally Speaking” column for Newsmax. ‘This idea of an indictment is an extremely dangerous trend in America, whether directed at [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay or [former President] Bill Clinton.’”

Remember Tom DeLay? Another prominent Republican who was charged with iffy crimes by an outspoken prosecutor. DeLay was indicted in 2005. Then there were literally years of delays and legal efforts to get the charges dismissed. The jury reached its verdict in 2010. DeLay was convicted of one charge of money laundering and one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering… and then in 2013, the convictions were overturned by the Texas Court of Appeals. So we may be watching the first shots of a legal battle that will go on for years, maybe a nearly a decade.

There’s been a lot of buzz that this could actually rebound to Perry’s benefit, if he intends to run for president in 2016. He’ll be able to point to this as an example of the politicization of law enforcement and, in related controversies, the U.S. Department of Justice.

Or… in light of the lengthy but fruitless “John Doe investigation” of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, this appears to be the progressives’ newest form of “lawfare”: take routine activities of governors and insist, before a grand jury, that they are crimes. Sometimes, like in the case of Chris Christie, a GOP governor or his staff will give his opponents a scandalous opportunity. But even if the charges are baseless, the headlines of “GOVERNOR INDICTED” inflicts the political damage the progressives seek.

Tags: Rick Perry , Scandals , Democrats , Laws

Can We Trust the Census Bureau’s Data?


This morning, Twitter is abuzz about a shocking report in today’s New York Post:

Two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy. And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.

The Post article says that the false data was discovered, and four of 14 instances were investigated, but superiors at the Department of Labor and the public were never notified.

One Campaign Spot reader is a veteran of the Census Bureau, who finds some elements of the story believable, but is skeptical that this sort of dishonesty could be widespread within the organization:

I worked at the Census Bureau for 23 years and knew the people who ran the CPS Branch. It is true that the vast majority of Census employees support Obama but I have a hard time believing that they would risk their careers by deliberately manipulating the employment data. It is true that interviewers sometimes submit fake completed interviews (curbstoning) but this is usually due to pressures to meet a target of completed interviews or laziness or both. Even if there was a coordinated conspiracy to fake the unemployment numbers, doing it by having a lot of interviewers fake interviews seems to be an inefficient and risky way to do it.

Unless there is a lot more information out there that hasn’t been reported I would not believe this story. I say this as one of the few people I knew at Census who did not support Obama. I also admit that a lot of things I didn’t think possible have happened in this administration.

However, if any economic data was falsified, we can rest assured that the Obama administration will seek out the perpetrators, most likely rogue low-level employees acting on their own initiative in the Cincinnati office, just like in the IRS scandal.

Tags: Census Bureau , Barack Obama , Scandals

Why Rote Denials Won’t Cut It on the State Department Scandals


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Why Generic Denials Just Won’t Cut It for the Latest State Department Scandals

Let’s take a close look at what we know about that State Department Inspector General memo, shall we?

An internal State Department Inspector General’s memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” — a problem the report says was “endemic.”

After the Secret Service scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, government security officials’ having sex with prostitutes simply cannot be dismissed as unthinkable. And there are some who suspect, or fear, that this sort of thing is a lot more widespread and even quasi-accepted than we would ever believe. As a detailed Washingtonian article on the Secret Service scandal concluded, “To believe that the Cartagena affair was unique, you’d also have to believe that this group of 13 men — not all of whom knew one another — broke into separate groups and independently got the idea, for the first time ever, to go out looking for prostitutes.”

Now the really shocking scandal that IG memo referenced:

In one specific and striking cover-up, State Department agents told the Inspector General they were told to stop investigating the case of a U.S. Ambassador who held a sensitive diplomatic post and was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park.

The State Department Inspector General’s memo refers to the 2011 investigation into an ambassador who “routinely ditched . . . his protective security detail” and inspectors suspect this was in order to “solicit sexual favors from prostitutes.”

Sources told CBS News that after the allegations surfaced, the ambassador was called to Washington, D.C. to meet with Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, but was permitted to return to his post.

Notice the plural, “agents.” So it’s not just one agent of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service suddenly going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and attempting to smear the name of an ambassador over a vendetta or something. While it’s possible you could get two agents to make up a bombshell allegation like this . . . it seems a little less likely, and they must have been plausible enough to get the IG’s office to take them seriously. Note that CBS News spoke to two diplomatic security agents who spoke, on camera, about higher-ups quashing their investigation: Aurelia Fedenisn and Mike Poehlitz.

Anyway, the ambassador named came out and denied the charges:

In a fast-developing story, U.S. ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman has been named as the diplomat accused of soliciting “sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” according to State Department documents obtained by NBC News. Gutman denied the allegations, in a statement to The Cable and other outlets.

“I am angered and saddened by the baseless allegations that have appeared in the press and to watch the four years I have proudly served in Belgium smeared is devastating,” he said. “At no point have I ever engaged in any improper activity.”

For someone accused of a horrific crime, it’s a Catch-22. Past experience makes us skeptical of weaselly, carefully worded, over specific denials; but blanket denials and an effort to dismiss the whole thing, without answering questions from a skeptics on the record, don’t provide much reassurance, either.

The score so far: two detailed accounts from two professional diplomatic security personnel, found credible by the Department’s Inspector General, against two generic sweeping denials.

If the allegation is true, there will be a lot of witnesses — particularly the ambassador’s security detail. Beyond that, we can verify or refute other parts of the story. Was Gutman called to Washington to meet with Kennedy? If so, what did they discuss?

Oh, and here’s the note you’ve been waiting for:

On Tuesday, Nicholas Merrill, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, said Clinton was completely unaware of any of the investigations mentioned in the Office of the Inspector General’s reports and memos, including the case involving her personal security detail allegedly soliciting prostitutes.

“We learned of it from the media and don’t know anything beyond what’s been reported,” Merrill told CNN in a written statement.

Of course. Of course! Why would she know about investigations of crimes by State Department employees, right?

Here’s Hillary, unveiling a new report on human trafficking and sex trafficking, back in June 2012:

“This report gives a clear and honest assessment of where all of us stand,” Clinton said Tuesday. “It takes a hard look at every government in our world including our own . . . It is important that we hold ourselves to the same standard as everyone else.”

Thank goodness there’s a new sheriff in town at Foggy Bottom, running a much tighter ship.

Above: The new sheriff.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , State Department , Scandals

Gibbs, Matthews — Who Will Criticize Obama Next, Joe Biden?


The midweek edition of the Morning Jolt features a big roundup of the coming storm of Obamacare, further evidence that the IRS isn’t good at math, and this point about what happens when a very comfortable administration suddenly finds that its old spin and excuses don’t work anymore:

BOOM: The Implosion of the Obama Excuses for the Scandal Parade

Just how bad has it gotten for the Obama administration?

Not even his old spokesman Robert Gibbs can say his boss is handling this stuff well.

Former Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs — now an MSNBC contributor — explained to Andrea Mitchell this afternoon that President Obama made White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s job more difficult due to his passive response to the scandals surrounding his administration

Carney would have had an easier time defending the president, suggested Gibbs, if the President had spoken out on the IRS scandal over the weekend.

“The problem is this — the tenor of this briefing would be different if the president had spoken about this on Saturday or Sunday and not on Monday,” Gibbs explained shortly after Carney struggled to answer reporters questions in the White House Press Briefing.

Gibbs added that President Obama sounded like he was “losing patience” with the issue “which is what I do with my 9-year-old.”

Gibbs explained that Obama should have used “more vivid” language and proposed a tough commission to look at the issue while waiting for the Inspector General to release his report on the scandal.

Well, at least Obama still has Mr. Leg-Tingle himself, Chris Matthews, who — wait, what?

Matthews: President Obama has got to stop taking advice from sycophants who keep telling him he’s right and only they can be trusted. He needs to act. He needs to fire people. He needs to grab control of his presidency. He needs to surround himself with people who are ready to fight on every front, because the three problems he faces now, Benghazi, the IRS and the FBI are less likely to be two problems by this time next week than there are to be four and counting. Why? Because, as I said, it’s not just that he’s under attack. It’s that he’s vulnerable. And that is obvious to everyone this side of the White House gates.

Who’s going to denounce the president next, Joe Biden?

What we saw in Tuesday’s White House press briefing, where the press corps appeared ready to break out the pitchforks and torches and go French Revolution on Jay Carney’s dishonest tush, is what happens when a very comfortable, very confident administration suddenly finds that none of the traditional scandal defenses work.

Dennis Miller: “Carney blows more smoke than a Rastafarian’s death rattle.”

Tuesday afternoon, Ace of Spades came up with the idea of a scandal-excuse prediction game in the form of an NFL-style draft, and Twitchy collected some of the best.

Ace began with, “low level employees”, took “Obama gives a historic speech” in the second round (overrated, I would argue that player peaked a few years ago and has really seen less playing time in recent years) and concluded the third round with a very versatile selection who gets a lot of playing time, “Some procedures may need review/Procedures have let us down again.” My first-round selection was the offspring of the Hall of Famer that everyone remembers from the breakout 1998 season, “The real story here is the shadowy network behind our critics making these baseless accusations.” In the second round I went with a player who has been on the field almost constantly since the start of the 2009 season, “If you look back to the Bush administration . . .”

It’s easy to predict these because anyone who has followed the news during more than one scandal has seen them before. There is a playbook in these sorts of matters: It wasn’t me, it was that other figure/local office over there. I was out of the loop. I was in the loop, but the concerns were never adequately communicated, in violation of established procedures. I knew about it, but I didn’t approve of it. There’s an ongoing review, I can’t comment. All of this happened a long time ago, you’re obsessed with ancient history. This is a distraction from the real business of the country. Finally, don’t you understand that my political enemies are behind this?

All of the above lines are meant to get you to focus on something besides what happened, who’s responsible, and who should be held accountable. All of this is mean to persuade us that their decisions and actions aren’t the problem; the problem is with us, for asking questions about it.

To hell with that.

“In my defense, you guys always swallowed these lines before.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Robert Gibbs , Chris Matthews , Scandals , Jay Carney

The Mask Is Ripped Off of ‘Hope and Change’


Today’s Morning Jolt is jam-packed, as it is a special ALL-SCANDAL edition!

SCANDAL ONE: Dear Media: Obama’s Indignant Benghazi Response Revealed a Lot Yesterday!

Dear friends in the media.

Come on.

I mean, come on.

You and I know what’s going with the Benghazi thing. Let me share something that I first put into play during the “was Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account hacked” debate, but that comes from watching the Lewinsky scandal, the where-did –Mark-Sanford-go scandal, the why-is-David-Wu-dressed-in-a-tiger-suit scandal, and a wide variety of wrongdoing committed by politicians:

When there is evidence of scandalous or bizarre behavior on the part of a political figure, and no reasonable explanation is revealed within 24 to 48 hours, then the truth is probably as bad as everyone suspects.

Nobody withholds exculpatory information. Nobody who’s been accused of something wrong waits for “just the right moment” to unveil information that proves the charge baseless. Political figures never choose to deliberately let themselves twist in the wind. It’s not the instinctive psychological reaction to being falsely accused, it’s not what any public communications professional would recommend, and to use one of our president’s favorite justifications, it’s just common sense.

So . . .

You and I both know, in our guts, and based upon everything we’ve seen in Washington since we started our careers, that there’s no innocent explanation for the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the Benghazi attacks.

If there were good reasons for why the requests for additional security from staff in Libya didn’t generate any serious response in the halls of the State Department, we would have heard it by now. If there were evidence that everyone within the State Department, military, and White House were doing everything they could to rescue our guys on that awful night, we would have heard about it long ago. If there was a good reason for the “talking points” to get edited down from a false premise (a demonstration) but at least serious information (previous CIA warnings about terrorist activity) to false pabulum, we would have heard it by now; the latest lame excuse is that the fourteen edits merely reflect “bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and State.” And if there was a good reason for State Department lawyers to call up Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks and tell him not to allow the RSO, the acting Deputy Chief of Mission, and himself to be interviewed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, we would have heard that by now, too.

Come on, guys. What do we think is going on when Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff calls up the acting ambassador, and harangues him about the lack of a State Department lawyer for his conversation with Congress? Does anybody really believe it’s just her checking up to make sure protocol was followed?

You can see what’s going on here. You may not want to see it, or believe it, but you can see it. The federal government made awful, unforgivable wrong decisions about the security for its people in Benghazi. They compounded the error by failing to put together even the beginning of a rescue mission during the seven-hour assault. Perhaps those responsible for making the call had a fear of  a “Black Hawk Down” scenario, in which the rescuers find themselves needing rescue, but whatever the reasoning, the net effect was the same: our people were under fire, fighting for their lives, and nobody was coming to help. The decisions made that night make a mockery of the unofficial, but widespread motto of our armed forces: “Nobody gets left behind.”

The decisions made up until this point may or may not have involved the president or then-Secretary of State Clinton, but they sure as hell were involved in the decisions that came afterwards.  The morning after the attack, the administration tried to offer the excuse that it was a completely unforeseeable event, randomly triggered by some YouTube video. And they sought to intimidate and punish anyone who would contradict their storyline.

My friends in media, you know what is going on when you see President Obama say this:

The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow.  What we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were.

You know what this is: Stop looking at what I did, and start looking at the people accusing me of wrongdoing. We’ve seen this tactic before: “The vast right-wing conspiracy.”

We know the president’s claim that there was confusion is false, because everyone on the ground was clearly telling their bosses that this was a terror attack from the beginning. No one in Benghazi or Libya was saying this was a protest as a result of a YouTube video. Where did that idea come from? Who within the administration decided to take accurate information and start inserting inaccurate information?

The president continues:

 It happened at the same time as we had seen attacks on U.S. embassies in Cairo as a consequence of this film.  And nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days. 

No, the folks on the ground understood what was taking place. They just said so before Congress and a lot of television cameras. Why is the president confused about this?

Obama continues:

And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.  We’ve had folks who have challenged Hillary Clinton’s integrity, Susan Rice’s integrity, Mike Mullen and Tom Pickering’s integrity.  It’s a given that mine gets challenged by these same folks.  They’ve used it for fundraising. 

The motivations and/fundraising of those who disagree with you are irrelevant to whether or not you’re telling the truth, Mr. President.

SCANDAL TWO: Hey, Why Does the IRS Have to Tell the Truth to Congress, Anyway?

NBC News points out that the IRS appears to have directly lied to Congress when asked about the targeting of conservative groups:

Lois Lerner, head of the IRS division on tax-exempt organizations, learned in June 2011 that agents had targeted groups with names including “Tea Party” and “Patriots,” according to the draft obtained by NBC News.

She “instructed that the criteria immediately be revised,” according to the draft. Ten months later, in March 2012, the IRS commissioner at the time, Douglas Shulman, testified to Congress that the IRS was not targeting tax-exempt groups based on their politics.

The IRS said over the weekend that senior executives were not aware of the targeting, but it remains unclear who knew what and when. [Then IRS Commissioner] Shulman, who left the agency last fall, has not spoken publicly about the scandal and did not answer a request for comment Monday from NBC News.

Members of Congress had sent letters to Shulman as early as June 2011 asking specifically about targeting of conservative groups, according to a House Ways and Means Committee summary obtained by NBC News.

The IRS responded at least six times but made no mention of targeting conservatives, according to the committee’s summary.

“Oh, you mean that effort to conservative groups, we thought you meant a different one.”

Remember the explanation that this was just some runaway low-level employees in one office? Yeah, that was bull: “Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.”

SCANDAL THREE: Of Course Eric Holder Is Allowed to Secretly Eavesdrop on Journalists!

You know a scandal is bad when I can point you to the Huffington Post’s summary, because it can’t collect any more outrage than I can:

Journalists reacted with shock and outrage at the news that the Justice Department had secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.

The AP broke the news on Monday about what it called an “unprecedented intrusion” into its operation. It said that the DOJ had obtained detailed phone records from over 20 different lines, potentially monitoring hundreds of different journalists without notifying the organization. The wire service’s president, Gary Pruitt, wrote a blistering letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing the DOJ of violating the AP’s constitutional rights.

Reporters and commentators outside the AP professed themselves to be equally angered. “The Nixon comparisons write themselves,” BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith tweeted. Margaret Sullivan, the public editor for the New York Times, called the story “disturbing.” Washington Post editor Martin Baron called it “shocking.” CNN’s John King described it as “very chilling.”

Speaking to the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, a lawyer for the AP called the DOJ’s actions “outrageous,” saying they were “a dagger to the heart of AP’s newsgathering activity.”

BuzzFeed’s Kate Nocera was perhaps more pithy, writing simply, “what in the f–k.”

You “Hope and Change” true believers were a bunch of chumps.

As this illustration over at Ace of Spades reveals . . .

Tags: Barack Obama , Eric Holder , Benghazi , IRS , Scandals

The Two-Step Response to Candidate Accusations


I’m in Colorado for a few days, speaking to local Republicans at the invitation of my friend Chris Robbins with the Jefferson County Republican Committee.

This morning I spoke to a group of Republicans, and there was a palpable intensity to the audience’s appetite to see Barack Obama beaten, and beaten soundly, in 2012. One woman asked how Republicans can push back when the eventual GOP nominee is inevitably hit with every allegation under the sun.

There are a couple of points to remember when we look at the political scene and see Democrats circling the wagons over everyone from Eric Holder at the Justice Department to Charlie Rangel and Barney Frank in the House to Tim Geithner at Treasury to no-bid contracts under Kathleen Sebelius at HHS to members of the District of Columbia government. Perhaps Jon Corzine is going to find himself without many friends on Capitol Hill soon, but all he did was lose $1.2 billion of his clients’ money.

One, we’re not them. A party and movement based on individualism is going to naturally be less unified and cohesive than one based on collectivism and group identity. I would rather be in the party that holds its members accountable when they fail to live up to standards than be in the one that always defends members of the party, no matter the circumstances. Sometimes Republican officeholders deserve to have their political allies turn on them, and I’m sure we can think of folks who earned their criticism: Duke Cunningham, John Ensign, Mark Foley. I’m not so sure that we should look at the opposition party and conclude that their lockstep loyalty to everyone within it, and willingness to overlook corruption, scandal, and bad judgment, is what drives them to victory.

Secondly, when a seemingly credible allegation is made against a candidate, I think John McCain offered the right playbook. Don’t hide from the press. Go out, offer the facts, and answer every question about it for one day and one day only. Turn it into a one-day story. (All of this presumes the allegation of wrongdoing is false, of course.) Herman Cain seemed to be trying this approach with his press conference in Arizona . . . but it became more complicated with the claim of the consensual long-term affair, with text messages, cash payments, etc.

Then the Republican can counterpunch, and point out how Obama pledged to keep lobbyists out of his White House and then wrote waivers whenever needed, or how no one at the Justice Department has been held accountable for Fast and Furious (a scandal that involves a murdered American law-enforcement officer!), or how no one has been held accountable for Solyndra and how the president essentially shrugged his shoulders at $550 million in taxpayer money covering the unpaid debts of a company part-owned by one of his campaign donors, or any other comparable scandal from this president.

Clear the air, then counterpunch. If you go straight to the counterpunch, people think you’re hiding something. If you clear the air but don’t point out the other guy’s scandals, a guy like Obama will skate through the election season with people like Alan Lichtman and Jonathan Alter writing, with a straight face, that the president is “scandal-free.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Scandals

The State Senator? You Could Say He’s All Tied Up Today.


Boy, this will ruin any inauguration day:

State Sen. Thomas Gaffey, a longtime Meriden Democrat, has submitted his letter of resignation from the Senate. Gaffey will not be sworn in today on the Senate floor because he is pleading guilty to misdemeanors in a double-billing scandal. According to the charges by the chief state’s attorney’s office, Gaffey double-billed for six trips around the country, including the swearing-in of U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy in Washington, D.C. Murphy was a freshman lawmaker in 2007 from the 5th Congressional District, which includes Gaffey’s hometown of Meriden.

Lesson to every lawmaker attending the swearing-in of new House members: Don’t double bill!

Tags: Scandals

Subscribe to National Review