REPORT: LOIS LERNER EMAILS SHOW OBAMA’S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ASSISTED IRS TO TARGET CONSERVATIVE GROUPS

REPORT: LOIS LERNER EMAILS SHOW OBAMA’S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ASSISTED IRS TO TARGET CONSERVATIVE GROUPS

After a year and a half of investigating, Congress has finally gotten to see a large number of the “missing” emails form IRS administrator Lois Lerner. Some of these emails seem to show that Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) was involved in the IRS targeting of conservative groups, a Forbes report says.

Despite the government’s refusal to release over 800 pages of Lerner communications, some documents that have been released show that she was discussing the targeting of conservative groups with members of the DOJ two years before the IRS even admitted that its actions were improper.

“Ms. Lerner,” Forbes columnist Robert W. Wood wrote, “met with top officials from the DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch in October of 2010. Although Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the DOJ, the DOJ coughed up dirt only on court order. Even then, the DOJ handed over only two pages of heavily redacted emails.”

The documents show that Lerner worked with the DOJ on targeting conservative groups and even show that Lerner sent the DOJ a “1.1 million page database of information from 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations” that contained confidential tax records.

On November 22 it was announced that some 30,000 IRS emails that had previously been deemed “unrecoverable” had been “found” by the IRS Inspector General. The emails extend from 2009 to 2011, when Lerner headed the IRS’s exempt-organizations division.

While investigators have yet to comb through this mountain of information, other key documents were finally revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by government watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that the documents show that Obama’s DOJ was “up to its neck in the IRS scandal” and remarked in outrage that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which is supposed to be investigating such abuse of authority, is “now implicated in the IRS crimes.”

“It is shameful how Establishment Washington has let slide by Obama’s abuse of the IRS and the Justice Department,” Fitton said. “Only as a result of Judicial Watch’s independent investigations did the American people learn about the IRS-DOJ prosecution discussions of Obama’s political enemies and how the IRS sent, in violation of law, confidential taxpayer information to the FBI and DOJ in 2010. Richard Nixon was impeached for less.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com

White House, IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer information.

Lois Lerner copy

White House, IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer information.

1:17 PM 10/09/2013

Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to The Daily Caller.

Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations division, also received an email alongside White House officials that contained confidential information.

Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials — including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew — contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.

The emails provided to Oversight investigators by the IRS had numerous redactions with the signifier “6103.”

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code forbids a federal employee from “disclos[ing] any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee.”

Federal employees who illegally disclose confidential taxpayer information could face five years in prison.

“Thanks, David. Thanks for the information on [6103],” White House official Lambrew wrote to IRS official David Fish in a July 20, 2012 exchange. “I am still hoping to understand whether the 50 percent rule is moot if the organization does not offer goods and services for sale to the general public. Do we assume that organizations like [6103] do offer goods and services for sale?”

Another email from Montz to Ingram and others refers to the “[6103] memo” and the “[6103] letter” while discussing organizations that are not required to file 990′s.

Ingram appeared before Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee Wednesday and claimed she could not recall a document that contained confidential taxpayer information.

“Well one of the areas of interest is there’s a significant redaction that quotes the statute 6103. Do you know who is underneath that blackout?” Issa asked Ingram.

“I don’t recall the document so I can’t help you with what’s underneath that redaction,” Ingram said.

“Her response has not put concerns to rest,” Oversight staffer Frederick Hill said. ”This caught people’s eye.”

Issa has requested unredacted copies of the emails, citing a prohibition from misusing Section 6103 “for the purpose of concealing information from a congressional inquiry.”

Ingram headed the scandal-ridden IRS office responsible for overseeing tax-exempt nonprofit groups before leaving to head the agency’s office in charge of Obamacare implementation.

An IRS voice mail message declined to comment on any media inquiries during the government shutdown, citing law.

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Fear Begets Anger on IRS Scandal

Fear Begets Anger on IRS Scandal

By Chris Stirewalt

Power Play

Published June 03, 2013

FoxNews.com

“…I still hear people saying we were low level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C.  So, take it for what it is.  They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.”— Unnamed IRS employee in the agency’s Cincinnati office talking to House investigators about claims that the targeting of conservative groups was the result of rogue agents in the office.When a senior adviser to the president is attacking a House member over being arrested 40 years ago, you know things are starting to get interesting in Washington.David Plouffe, Democratic sage and architect of President Obama’s successful 2012 community organizing approach to re-election, flipped out on Twitter Sunday after House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa called White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar” in reference to the shifting stories from the administration about the targeting of conservatives by the IRS.Plouffe called Issa “Mr. Grand Theft Auto,” a reference to Issa’s 1972 arrest for car theft. The charges were later dropped and Issa famously went on to make millions with a car alarm business.The very fact that such a senior Obama adviser would be dredging up Issa’s youthful arrest record is a strong indicator of how ugly this will get, and how quickly.

Team Obama would very much like to turn Issa into the Ken Starr of this decade and put an embattled president’s chief prosecutor on trial. And Issa certainly gives them some ammunition as a high-profile inquisitor and by using hot words like “liar.”

But it’s going to take more than stoking media skepticism about Issa to shift the focus away from the still unfolding story of abuses aimed at the president’s political enemies. Fear is the father of rage, and the rage against Issa suggests there is fear aplenty when it comes to the IRS scandal.

Appearing on “This Week,” earlier Sunday, Plouffe fiercely denied any connection between the White House and the harassment of conservative groups ahead of the 2010 and 2012 elections. He said that doing so “would be the dumbest political effort of all time.”

Don’t be so sure, Mr. Plouffe. How about hiring burglars to sneak into the rival political party’s headquarters to steal their election plans? That would be pretty dumb, right?

The reason presidents typically steer clear of the IRS is that they like the political insulation that the agency’s semi-autonomy provides. Bill Clinton made hay in his second term by attacking the IRS right alongside Republicans. It wasn’t his IRS, it was the IRS and he was going after it. Clinton wasn’t blamed for the abuses of 20 years ago, he was credited for reforming the agency.

Political wisdom would suggest that the only time a president wants face time with the IRS boss is in either hiring or firing him or her.

But President Obama, who has shown a policy passion for the mechanics of tax enforcement, brought the IRS into the heart of the Executive Branch. The dozens and dozens of White House campus visits by former Commissioner Douglas Shulman show just how close the relationship has become.

Political wisdom would suggest that the only time a president wants face time with the IRS boss is in either hiring or firing him or her. Obama, though, wanted to bring Shulman into the loop.

There is little that Obama has discussed more frequently than taxes. His great policy obsession has been using the tax code to reduce income inequality to help engineer a society with a broader middle class – to take money from top earners and spend it on projects he believes will push poor people into middle-income stability.

And for the president and his political team, the question of who pays what in taxes has been an animating concern. If there was a centerpiece of Obama’s re-election campaign it was Mitt Romney’s tax returns, used as evidence that Romney was not patriotic or moral because he took advantage of tax shelters to protect his vast fortune.

The tax returns of others were of issue too. Romney’s donors, wealthy conservatives funding political action and others on the right were held up as evidence that Republicans want to rig the system to help rich people abuse the poor. The belief has been that if regular Americans knew about the low rates paid by the super rich, the president could defeat his challenger and achieve the long-frustrated liberal goal of winning a tax-rate increase.

Obama did both of those things, but is now reaping some tragic consequences for his taxation fixation. And Obama, ironically, is now the one who has tax secrets to keep from view.

Preliminary reports from House investigators suggest that the field agents designated to be fall guys and gals for the tax scandal are not buying into the part. They say, according to interviews from Issa’s committee, that the orders to target conservative groups cam from Washington, and that high-level officials asked that case files on conservative groups be passed along for extra scrutiny.

Front-line workers bridled at the idea for fear that they would be left holding the bag. Prescient thinking, it would seem.

The idea that this scandal could be contained in Cincinnati was always a little silly, but the effort to shove this down to the Queen City is about to boomerang on the White House.

Plouffe offers as a defense that no one in Obama’s orbit would be so stupid as to have directed the IRS to harass the president’s enemies. That remains to be seen. Seemingly smart people often do obviously stupid things.

But what about tacitly encouraging the harassment? What about getting wind of it but not stopping it? What about finding a helpful, ideologically aligned IRS official to slip you some sensitive tax information to use against a political enemy? Was no one on team Obama so stupid as to have done any of those things?

Team Obama is making a big bet that either none of those things happened, or if they did the wrongdoing can be kept secret until it would be less politically damaging.

As the folks in Cincinnati start to shove the blame back up the organizational chart, the fears will grow. And so will, as Plouffe’s outburst revealed, the anger.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET  at  http:live.foxnews.com.

IRS may have targeted conservatives more broadly.

IRS may have targeted conservatives more broadly

IRS probe
Susan Martinek, right, and Mary Cherion pray as they walk the block around the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Planned Parenthood, on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Martinek is the president and Cherion serves on the board of Coalition for Life of Iowa, which faced scrutiny from the IRS before being granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 2009. | Liz Martin/MCT
By David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON A group of anti-abortion activists in Iowa had to promise the Internal Revenue Service it wouldn’t picket in front of Planned Parenthood.

Catherine Engelbrecht’s family and business in Texas were audited by the government after her voting-rights group sought tax-exempt status from the IRS.

Retired military veteran Mark Drabik of Nebraska became active in and donated to conservative causes, then found the IRS challenging his church donations.

While the developing scandal over the targeting of conservatives by the tax agency has largely focused to date on its scrutiny of groups with words such as “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, these examples suggest the government was looking at a broader array of conservative groups and perhaps individuals. Their collective experiences at a minimum could spread skepticism about the fairness of a powerful agency that should be above reproach and at worst could point to a secret political vendetta within the government against conservatives.

The emerging stories from real people raise questions about whether the IRS scrutiny extended beyond applicants for tax-exempt status and whether individuals who donated to these tax-exempt organizations or to conservative causes also were targeted.

Businessman with Tape over Mouth

Former IRS leaders have apologized for inappropriate scrutiny of conservative organizations. They haven’t to date, however, divulged who developed the criteria, how they were developed or when and how they extended to groups associated with conservative causes that didn’t have “tea party,” “patriot” or similar catchwords in their names.

Widening congressional investigations and federal lawsuits are likely to reveal more about the scope and intent of the inappropriate treatment of conservative groups by the IRS. The House Ways and Means Committee plans a hearing Tuesday to allow victims to testify for the first time. In earlier hearings, one IRS official pleaded the Fifth to avoid answering questions.

The Treasury Department inspector general who’s probing IRS activities, J. Russell George, recently acknowledged that he’s looking into other watch lists created by IRS employees. He said he was barred by law from disclosing anything more.

Sue Martinek of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, already knows what happened to her and others involved in the Coalition for Life of Iowa.

She first sought tax-exempt status for the group in 2008, maintaining contact by mail and phone with a woman identified only as Ms. Richards in the Cincinnati office of the IRS that’s now at the center of the scandal.

Martinek said the woman never offered a first name. A woman’s voice on a recording at her phone number doesn’t give a name, and messages left by McClatchy brought no response.

Richards told Martinek by phone in early 2009 that the group’s application had been approved, Martinek said. But Richards added a condition, according to Martinek. Board members first needed to sign a letter promising not to picket in front of Planned Parenthood offices, Martinek said.

IRS copy

“We were pretty surprised. But we had never gone through the process before,” Martinek said. “I was sort of, ‘If we have to, we have to, but this doesn’t seem a good thing to do.’ ”

A board member suggested contacting the Thomas More Society, a public-interest group that provides free legal help on conservative hot-button issues. It saw the IRS request to the Iowa group as forcing the group to abandon its First Amendment rights.

“We’re certainly not about protesting and picketing. That happens to be a small part of what we do. When we do go to Planned Parenthood, we’re going there to pray,” said Martinek, who said her group focused on educational forums and wasn’t a conduit for funneling money to political campaigns.

Ironically, Planned Parenthood does enjoy the type of tax-exempt status that Martinek’s group originally sought.

The story is similar for Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County, an anti-abortion group in suburban Houston.

IRS leaks

The IRS asked it, too, about protest plans. The IRS also asked for copies of grants and contracts. “I was quite surprised to see that our application wasn’t just immediately accepted,” said Marie McCoy, the group’s executive director.

In March 2011, an IRS employee in El Monte, Calif., asked in a grammatically challenged letter whether the group protested in front of medical facilities.

“In your educational program, do you education on both sides of the issues in your program?” IRS Exempt Organization Specialist Tyrone Thomas asked in the letter, a copy of which was provided by the Thomas More Society.

Thomas also asked, “do you try to block people to enter a building, e. medical clinic, or any other facility?”

The IRS hasn’t said who originally authored or authorized any of the questions that it now says were part of inappropriate criteria applied to conservative groups.

“My first thought was that this particular agent was incompetent and didn’t know the law,” said McCoy, who described Thomas as polite but resolute. McClatchy tried to reach Thomas via the number on his correspondence, but no one answered the calls.

Engelbrecht, 43, can sympathize.

Concerned about government regulation of her family’s manufacturing business, she became dissatisfied with the political process and particularly the 2008 presidential choices.

She discovered like-minded viewpoints and attended rallies, organizing a group called the King Street Patriots. It holds weekly meetings that include speakers on a range of topics, and it held a countywide candidates’ forum last year.

After witnessing what she called voter irregularities in the Houston area, Engelbrecht formed a group called True the Vote. With a paid staff of five, it aims to educate 1 million poll workers nationwide on spotting election fraud. Liberal groups view it as a conservative effort aimed at restricting minority participation, a claim that True the Vote officials deny.

In summer 2010, the groups sought IRS tax-exempt status. Six months later, Engelbrecht and her husband faced their first-ever audit.

IRS agents “came to a small family farm, counted the cattle, looked at the fence line,” she said.

The IRS continued to pepper True the Vote with questions, Engelbrecht said. In February 2012, the IRS sent the organization a 10-page letter with 39 questions including a request for “all of your activity on Facebook and Twitter.” Last week, still without a decision, True the Vote filed suit in federal district court asking for tax-exempt status.

The experience of retired Army Lt. Col. Mark Drabik suggests a possible new dimension to the IRS story.

After retiring in 2009 from a distinguished military career, he took a civilian job at the Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb. For the first time in his adult life, he could express political beliefs openly. He frequently wrote to elected officials and participated in conservative marches in Washington, attending national tea party events and donating to conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck’s 912 movement.

Then came an audit letter from the IRS.

The agency questioned him about church donations, deductions for family respite care – which provides caregivers with a brief rest – and his daughter’s equine therapy, he said. A doctor prescribed the last two as necessary because of the stress of caring for Drabik’s 19-year-old autistic son. The deductions had been claimed for almost a decade without IRS complaint.

Amid the IRS scandal, Drabik now wonders whether his support of conservative causes is to blame.

Barack Obama

“I did contribute to them. I did participate in the marches. That’s what worries me,” said Drabik, 49, who’s fighting the IRS over a sum in the ballpark of $20,000. After losing an IRS appeal, he was entitled to a second appeal, which to his great surprise went to the same person who handled his first.

The agency is prohibited from commenting on the cases of individuals.

For Drabik, a seed of doubt has been planted.

“I have to feel that that was a potential trigger” for the audit, he said, noting that the sum of his church donations and therapy deductions was pretty constant over almost a decade. “I am just a common citizen, who honorably served his nation for 23 years, who has not had this experience before and now honestly questions the actions and motivation of the IRS and how far they have gone in their actions.”

True the Vote Files Suit Against the IRS after waiting 3 years for tax exemption.

Sarah

True the Vote Files Suit Against the IRS

By  Ian Tuttle
May 21, 2013 2:52 PM

True the Vote, a Houston-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting voter fraud, has filed suit in federal court against the IRS, asking the court to grant its tax-exempt status (three years after applying) and seeking damages for unlawful actions taken by the IRS against the organization.

Catherine Engelbrecht, a member of the Harris County, Texas, tea-party organization King Street Patriots, founded True the Vote after serving as a poll worker during the 2008 elections. Observing how understaffed polling places seemed to encourage voter fraud, she established True the Vote to train poll workers to “true” the vote: “to research the voter rolls in their home districts and to report inaccuracies to their County and State, to identify instances of vote fraud, and to be able to serve as observers at the polls to assure the integrity of the vote.”

“We’ve been waiting for three years to receive a decision from the IRS about our tax exempt status,” says Engelbrecht in a True the Vote press release. “After answering hundreds of questions and producing thousands of documents, we’re done waiting. The IRS does not have the power to pocket veto our application. Federal law empowers groups like True the Vote to force a decision in court — which is precisely what we aim to do.”

After filing with the IRS, Engelbrecht and her family’s small manufacturing business was audited by the IRS — and received unexpected scrutiny from OSHA, the ATF, and the FBI.

True the Vote’s lawsuit consists of three counts:

Count One:  Seeks recognition of True the Vote as a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization pursuant to  26 USC § 7428.

Count Two:  Seeks damages and injunctive relief from the IRS and IRS employees and agents, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for violation of True the Vote’s constitutional rights by virtue of the actions of the government in unlawfully targeting and delaying recognition of True the Vote’s exempt status.

Count Three:   Seeks damages and injunctive relief against the IRS and IRS employees, pursuant to 26 USC § 7431, for their unlawful intrusions into True the Vote’s activities by requiring the filing of voluminous materials with the IRS, then unlawfully inspecting and potentially disseminating the information.

Says Cleta Mitchell, attorney for True the Vote: “We are not going to allow the IRS to claim, as it has been doing in the past week, that the targeting of conservative groups is over and ‘everything has been fixed.’ It is not yet fixed and this litigation is a vital step both to resolve True the Vote’s status and to learn exactly what happened inside the IRS.”