When the FBI finally fires up its criminal investigation of the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, there is one person the special agent in charge better be sure to interview — former White House Counsel Robert Bauer. The FBI may discover the whole IRS mess leads through the land of campaign finance “reform” and an obsession with speech regulation, an obsession shared by Bauer.

Any criminal investigation identifies for further scrutiny those with motive, opportunity, and means, and Bauer deserves no quarter from FBI investigators on those three counts.

Robert Bauer

Robert Bauer

The Crimes

Without any doubt, crimes were committed by IRS employees, not the least of which was the fact that IRS employees disclosed confidential information from IRS forms to the political enemies of the groups seeking tax-exempt status.

For example, Cindy Thomas, the Cincinnati unit manager for exempt organizations at the IRS, illegally released the tax applications of nine separate conservative organizations to the left-wing group ProPublica. The IRS claims that Thomas’ illegal release of private tax information was an “accident,” but the excuse is absurd.

Thomas wasn’t the only IRS employee leaking the tax information of conservative groups to their enemies. Pro-marriage groups found their confidential information in the hands of gay marriage advocacy organizations.

The FBI can start by finding out whether Thomas and her fellow IRS travelers in fact released the private information. If the FBI says Thomas cannot be prosecuted because she claims it was an accident, then Congress needs to step in and impose mandatory minimum prison sentences for any IRS employee that releases private information, accidental or not.

The bigger question the FBI must get to the bottom of is who hatched the policy of targeting Tea Party groups that led to these crimes?  For that they should turn back to Robert Bauer.

The Motive

Robert Bauer had the motive to direct IRS policy against Tea Party groups. He is a longtime opponent of First Amendment freedoms and an advocate of government-speech regulation. He also can’t stand the work the Tea Party is conducting to monitor and eradicate voter fraud, work the Republican Party and national campaigns have utterly failed to perform.

During the 2008 election, while representing the Obama campaign, Bauer sent a threatening letter to the Justice Department demanding criminal investigations of people who had the audacity to speak about voter fraud. Bauer even singled out Sarah Palin in the letter. Anyone who “developed or disseminated” information about voter fraud, to Bauer, deserved the heavy boot of a criminal investigation.  Read the letter; it reveals a nasty, thuggish, and lawless attitude toward political opposition.

To Bauer, those merely speaking about voter fraud were worthy of criminal investigation. Sound familiar?

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

Hindsight reveals why Bauer was so agitated.  Two Obama campaign staffers, Amy Little and Yolanda Hippensteele, later pleaded guilty to voter fraud.  We also know, courtesy of John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky, that a Minnesota election for U.S. Senate was decided by voter fraud in 2008. And who can forget Melowese Richardson, the Obama activist and poll official in Ohio who said on camera that she voted multiple times for President Obama in 2008?  I could go on and on with multiple examples of voter fraud from 2008 where candidate Obama was the beneficiary.

No wonder Bauer was so anxious back in 2008 to shut everyone up.

Fast forward to 2012. Again, Mr. Bauer was up to his old tricks in his second stint as Obama campaign counsel, this time targeting Tea Party groups fighting for election integrity. Bauer and his campaign hench-lawyers called state election officials, seeking to unleash state criminal investigations of Tea Party groups working for election integrity.  I have spoken with state election officials in at least three states which describe Obama campaign efforts to prompt state officials to target Tea Party groups.

I’m happy to share with the FBI special agents the names of those states if Mr. Bauer won’t.

Bauer even published this memo, specifically targeting True the Vote with outright lies so egregious he should be ashamed of himself.

true the vote

After the Obama campaign voter fraud of 2008, in 2012 Bauer was anxious to remove election integrity groups from the polls as observers.  If the IRS couldn’t slow the Tea Party watchdogs down, Bauer threatened them in other ways.

If the FBI special agents interview Mr. Bauer, it won’t be hard to conclude he had the motive to launch the Tea Party shakedown.

The Means

President Obama’s campaign counsel certainly had the motive to target the Tea Party, but did Bauer have the means as campaign counsel?  Remember, Bauer served as White House counsel from November 2009 to June 2011, right during the time this IRS shakedown was hatched.

Anybody who has worked in the White House will tell you that the White House counsel enjoys a position of power like few others.  They can make things happen with a phone call.  One former West Wing staffer told me that “any department’s staff who received directions from Bauer would think they were getting directions from the president. The White House counsel has the power to make policy with a phone call.”

Something important happened two months after Bauer became White House counsel — the Supreme Court decided Citizens United vs. FEC, a decision that caused the left to go batty. They feared the decision might cost them the White House.  President Obama boorishly (and inaccurately) addressed the decision in the 2010 State of the Union.

The FBI special agents should ask Bauer some simple questions: With whom did you speak at the IRS about conservative and Tea Party groups post-Citizens United?  Did you direct anyone on your staff to do the same? Did you hear about anyone speaking with the IRS about Tea Party groups? Who hatched the IRS harassment, which started on your watch? Did you meet with Doug Shulman any of the 157 times he visited the White House, and did you discuss exempt status of conservative groups?

The Opportunity

The FBI agents might ask Bauer why a parade of Citizens United-obsessed speech-regulation zealots visited the West Wing just before the Tea Party shakedown went into effect.

Tova Wang, of the leftist Soros-funded group Demos, visited the White House and met with Bauer’s staff on June 2, 2010.  In fact she hovered around the White House on multiple occasions during the critical time period the IRS policy was being crafted.

Tova Wang

Tova Wang

Perhaps she was there for the Easter Egg roll.  Perhaps not.  Either way, the FBI can ask.

Notorious speech-regulation advocate Richard Hasen also visited the White House and met with White House Counsel Robert Bauer on June 24, 2010.  (See this absurd screed at Slate saying the post-Citizens United world is “worse than Watergate.”  Freedom just rubs some people the wrong way.)

Perhaps Hasen was at the White House with Bauer to watch the longest match in Wimbledon history which occurred that day.

Perhaps not, especially since he previously met with Nicholas Colvin in the White House Counsel’s office on June 21 and 23.  Again, the FBI can find out if they ask.

Bauer or his staff met with a number of other ivory tower academics and activists interested in controlling free political speech through the spring of 2010.  These also include the noisy reformer Meredith McGehee.

We don’t yet know who engineered the illegal, criminal, and disgusting IRS shakedown of Tea Party and conservative groups. But one thing is certain: Robert Bauer had the motive, the opportunity, and the means to do it.  The good folks at the FBI are now busy preparing names of people to interview.  They better not leave Mr. Bauer off the list, or his stream of visitors.

The parties better not coordinate stories ahead of time.  These days, I hear the Justice Department has adopted an aggressive approach to email and phone records, at least for Fox News.