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Republicans Step Up Probe into IRS Targeting Scandal

Contrary to what Obama said, the scandal “is not just a boneheaded bunch of bureaucrats in some remote office,” witness tells committee.

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

Bio

February 7, 2014 - 3:54 pm

WASHINGTON – House committees continued their probe this week into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting scandal in which conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status were subjected to extra scrutiny.

Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents the Texas-based group True the Vote, told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee Thursday that the IRS targeting is very “real” and “not pretend.”

“The IRS, at the direction of some political elites in Washington – not in Cincinnati, but Washington – took what had been for decades a process of reviewing applications for exempt status that for a 501(c)(4) organization could be expected to take three to four weeks,” Mitchell said. “And they converted that process into one that took three to four years and, in some cases, is still not over.”

True the Vote filed its application for tax-exempt status in 2010 and did not receive it until after the group sued the IRS.

Mitchell said the first time she became aware of the targeting was in October 2009 when she filed an application for another group, and did not hear from the IRS until June 2010. She said when the IRS got back to them it was not Cincinnati, but the Washington office.

“That group did one thing. It lobbied against Obamacare in the fall of 2009, in the spring of 2010, something that a 501(c)(4) organization is permitted to spend 100 percent of its program expenditures doing. We did not get the tax-exempt status for that organization until July of 2013,” Mitchell said.

In a Sunday interview with Fox News, President Obama said the IRS targeting controversy was a result of “bone-headed decisions” in the agency’s Cincinnati office and did not involve “a smidgen of corruption.”

Contrary to what Obama said, the scandal “is not just a boneheaded bunch of bureaucrats in some remote office,” Mitchell said.

She also said the IRS is still singling out such conservative organizations. Mitchell represents another tea party group, Tea Party Patriots, which applied in December 2010 and has yet to receive its tax-exempt status.

“The scandal is not over. It is continuing to this day, and the Department of Justice investigation is a sham. It is a non-existent investigation,” Mitchell said.

Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote and founder of King Street Patriots, complained that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the committee, had sent letters to her organization “demanding materials, demanding information, demanding that [she] and representatives of True the Vote make themselves available in Washington.”

Cummings defended his actions by saying he was just conducting appropriate oversight of the organization, as the ranking member of the committee.

“I don’t want it put out there that I was trying to act on behalf of the committee or anything unusual. We were basically looking into voting situations and whether voters were in any way, in any way being impeded from voting,” Cummings said.

In 2012, the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights reported that True the Vote’s poll monitoring efforts in North Carolina focused on counties with high percentages of African Americans and other minorities.

Cummings cited the report as the basis for his scrutiny of the organization.

Engelbrecht said True the Vote only provides training and the organization had no poll watchers in any of these counties.

The focus of the hearing was on an Obama donor, Barbara Bosserman, a career Justice government employee, who is working on the FBI probe of the targeting scandal.

Bosserman was invited to the hearing, but the Justice Department declined to send the official, citing the ongoing investigation.

Instead, the panel heard testimony from representatives of Tea Party groups and their frustration with what they see as harassment by the U.S. government.

“Ms. Bosserman won’t come, the FBI won’t answer any questions, the president said it’s over, the Wall Street Journal reports that it’s over,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the subcommittee’s chairman.

On Wednesday, however, new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a House Ways and Means subcommittee that six of the formal investigations into the handling of tax-exempt groups are ongoing: two in the Senate, two in the House, and two others by the FBI and the inspector general.

At the Wednesday hearing, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) accused the IRS of secretly working on proposed regulations to clarify what the government considers political activity for 501(c)(4) groups.

The Michigan Republican pointed to a 2011 email from an official in the Treasury Department’s tax policy office to a group of IRS officials, including Lois Lerner, a former head of the division that reviewed applications for tax-exempt status. In the email, the Treasury official said regulations were on her “radar” and “we mentioned potentially addressing them (off-plan) in 2013.”

When asked if he knew the meaning of “off plan,” Koskinen said he did not know what it meant in 2012.

“I’m pretty sure that means hidden from the public,” Camp said.

Camp argued that the email indicates that the agency was aware early on that its practice of targeting conservative groups did not comply with existing regulations. He said these government agencies planned the new rules in 2011, while the targeting of conservative groups was in full swing, and not after the scandal broke in order to clarify regulations as the administration has suggested.

“The truth is that our investigation has revealed that the regulations weren’t drafted as a remedy to targeting. In fact, they were being worked on…during the time of the targeting as another line of attack against these groups,” Camp said.

Republicans say these new rules, proposed in late November, are intended to silence the speech of interest groups.

While the Obama administration has tried to blame the IRS targeting scandal on low-level workers who were confused about how to process their applications, it seems that they were working under orders from Washington, Camp said.

Camp pointed to another 2010 email from an IRS employee in the Cincinnati field office who flagged an application to his superiors, noting: “Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a high-profile case.”

From then on applications were routed through the offices of Lerner and IRS chief counsel William Wilkins.

Koskinen, who was appearing for the first since taking the helm at the IRS, said he is eager to move beyond the entire business and focus on taxpayer services.

“Nobody wants this investigation to be completed sooner than I do,” Koskinen said.

“I want everyone in the United States who’s a taxpayer to understand and be confident that when they deal with the IRS, we will deal with them in a straightforward way,” he added.

Rodrigo is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.
Top Rated Comments   
You're right, yoop...I have said it more than once.

Tyranny can not survive an honest media. And freedom can not survive a conspiratorial one.

But a nation can not survive countrymen of honor, who will not act on it...for what good is having honor if you are only willing to exhibit when it costs nothing. In Benghazi we saw a couple of men who risked everything. In Lone Survivor we saw the same.

In this administration...we see not a speck. That sound you are hearing is a death knell, Yoop.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where are the men and women of honor in these agencies? Where are our countrymen who will stand up and deliver us from evil, who KNOW the truth and are willing to come forward?

The Ministry of Stern Notes can't get anyone to testify, can't get anyone to turn over documents, can't get anyone to investigate....naked citizen abuse and tyranny. It is open season on open treason.

People should hang for this. And Congress continues to tickle totalitarianism with a feather. The Democrats are all aiders and abettors or accessories after the fact. They WILL NOT stand up against tyranny when the arrow is pointed toward their possession of the ball. That is not mere cowardice. It's a conspiracy against the public.

The Republicans are all style points and fancy dribbling. In the end, they are shooting blanks.

If you can't command the evidence and you get stonewalled while the citizenry gets raped...time and time again, you are helpless, useless, feckless and uninspiring.

Where is the rage? Where is the table pounding? Where is clarion call for people of honor in the FBI, DOJ, IRS?

It is wayyyyyyyy past the time for decorous "suggestions". The American people are under attack from this administration. Who stands as a sentry against tyranny? Certainly nobody who is still holding a tickling feather.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
They're "stepping up their probe"? Does this mean Darrell Issa writes an even more strongly worded letter?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (38)
All Comments   (38)
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The GOP will probe...will hold endless (useless) congressional hearings where everyone will plead the 5th....and to what end does this take us? What will they accomplish? What will they finally do to stop this abuse of power? NOTHING!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's right...NOTHING is what they will do because nothing is what they found. Just like Benghazi, the GOP is spending millions to keep their base bamboozled with phoney scandals the same way they had thirteen fake investigations of Bill Clinton and found nothing but a dress they could exploit on national TV while spending SEVENTY MILLION dollars of taxpayers money.

The GOP does one job...to serve it's campaign funders. And that means keeping wages as low as possible and unemployment as high as possible. There is no other way to keep their masters happy than to keep a constant flow of quasi-slave like labor with no power coming in so their friends can maintain their yachts and mansions.

This current GOP who each collects a paycheck of $174,000 salary each year just won the prestigious distinction of most unproductive House in history as well as having the lowest approval rating...in history. Cockroaches and syphilis are now more popular....so, of course they need to invent "scandals" they can only "investigate" and never prosecute.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let's see what happens when the coconspirators no longer control the Senate. Only a few months away.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I watched the testimony this morning of both of the ladies targeted by the IRS and their attorneys. Any ratonal person would have understood after about 10 minutes that the IRS is corrupt to the core and is acting directly as a political enforcement and intemidation arm of teh Barack Obama. The liar in chief. I have never and I mean ever seen such clear cut abuse of a citizen. Literally a full court press of the governments tangled laws and agencies acting in full coordination to to after these people because of their politiical beliefs. You know if it happens even once it is a matter of how this administration has conducted itself from day one. The FBI has no time to interview victims like these two ladies, and no time to conduct an investigation and then is shown to visit this poor lady in Texas to conduct criminal investigations into her business. The IRS, the FBI, the EBA and ATF and OSHA all went after her. Coincidence or Corruption. IT is high time to prove this president is a closet tyrant and pathological liar and he and his adminstiration should be subjected to criminal charges and impeachment for criminal activity. So help me God this video is on Cspan and Youtube. If you have not watched it--you will be comiing out of your chair in RAGE when you do. I am sickened by it and disgusted with teh media who will allow thisi outrage to continue.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Did anyone in the IRS scandal break any state laws? Several government officials used non-government email addresses for communication and they seem to have coordinated with non-government groups. Could a state prosecute Obama appointees for something they did while they were actively trying to avoid leaving an official paper trail?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course, the GOP and their propaganda outlet, Fox Noise never mention all the other IRS targets of liberal and progressive groups. Gee, targeting groups who are organized and chartered to propound not paying taxes is too confounding to the GOP. A government agency actually doing its job is too hard to fathom for a Congress that collects a check for doing NOTHING. The constant whining and crying from the right-wing of victim-hood looks oh so appealing to voters.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
When there are 6 leftist targets, and over 100 conservative ones, I can understand why the rare leftist targets would not get covered a lot. And acting as a campaign dirty tricks arm for Obama is not doing their job. And good lord, a leftist protesting people talking about being victims, victimhood is all you guys have.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am sure the Left is trembling in its boots...soon those Republican fingers will get extra waggy...

Impeachment. Conviction. Removal.

...unfortunately we did that in a case we were destined to lose with Bill Clinton, so we can never dot it again. It is discouraging to know we lost the country in the 90's, because we were too free with our only weapon and got it taken away.

Obama knows we can never bring an impeachment case at the Cabinet level again, so Congress has no teeth. He could shoot Mike Lee in the head on national television and the most he would have to deal with is John Boehner's tears, except he'd probably get a thank you card, Lee being a Tea Partier and all...
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The lesson from the 90's is that impeachment requires either a very large senate majority, or must be bipartisan. The best way to get both is to punish Obama by punishing his defenders in the senate. If senate dems ever become more fearful of not voting for impeachment, that voting for it, then it can happen.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
THe IRS knew what it was doing was wrong, the President knew there was a lot more than a smidgeon illegality in what they were doing, and everyone knows this investigation is not over with. THe point is, there was an election to win and they saw what the tea party accomplished in 2010 and they were bound and determined it wouldn't happen again in 2012. There was a lot in the balance. Obamacare would be a problem if Romney and the Republicans won in 2012 so what to do? Whatever it takes, which is usually the Democrats M.O.

The fact that it's on-going should be some indication the Democrats are just trying to run out the clock until after the 2014 election, with the same ability in place they had in 2012. Justice is still going after voter i.d. laws, the IRS is still stalling on applications, and the Democrats are trying to gum up the investigations, where they can. You have Chuck Schumer trying to get the IRS to do more so, if nothing else, you can be sure the Senate won't be doing any meaningful investigation of its own.

It's really time for our illustrious free press, to get into gear and start doing their job.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not to put too fine a point on it but the verb construction I am thinking of to describe my hostility toward Obama in particular along with his admin and the entire federal bureaucracy in general is a common word; it starts with an eff and it ends with a kay and contains a yew and a cee in between. The word I describe is followed by the pronoun "them" and the adjective "all".
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama's regime is in (successful) assymetrical warfare mode against its political opponents. The judicial branch is apparently stacked so deep with like-minded zealots that any notion of checks and balances is not possible.

The next best recourse is relentless scrutiny by the press - but they too are committed to The Liberal Vision. And of the crimes we are witnessing against Americans - this last one seems the most frightening and disappointing because an objective press has the most potential for waking up a passive and uninformed citizenry.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The scandal is no longer the democrats and Obama's lawlessness. The real scandal is the total capitulation of the House GOP to it. Never have so many hearings been held where so much is said and so little accomplished.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only real power the House has is to investigate and expose. The problem is that Democrats have basically captured the institutions that would normally run with this information. The news media shows no interest in investigating these scandals. Individuals all up and down the federal bureaucracy have picked sides with the Democrats and will not investigate and fire people who broke the law. The Justice Department is thoroughly politicized, showing more interest in state voter ID laws than actual federal lawbreaking. Without enough public outrage to scare both Democrat and Republican politicians into actively trying to clean this up, there will be no progress in the investigations.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is going to bet BIRTHERED sometime in the next two months just as Kerry was "swiftboated" during his campaign. Arpaio and his lead investigator have opened up a SECOND criminal investigation into the criminal and fraudulent activity of Barry Soetoro. That is where the Republicans need to take this investigation.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Because it's important that we be seen as more crazy...
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
The IRS is just a corrupt bunch of goons or the US version of the Nazi SS. Of course, o ordered 'em to do this. What did you think went on w/ all of those meetings in DC?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
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