Patterico's Pontifications

5/15/2013

More Fun IRS Scandal Stories: Low-Level Employees Just Doing Bosses’ Bidding, Plus, The Curious Case of the Conservative Name Change

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:02 pm

STORY ONE: Those low-level employees apparently say they were doing what their bosses asked them to do:

Prior to his resignation, Steven Miller called the two Cincinnati employees ‘rogue’ and ‘off the reservation’, adding that they were ‘overly aggressive’ in handling the requests from those conservative groups over the past two years.

Miller also added that those two employees have already been ‘disciplined’ by the agency.

However, despite the claim of just two employees being involved, FOX19 has exclusively learned from two separate sources that there could be at least four Cincinnati employees involved.

Those four employees — whose names we have chosen to withhold until they have been officially confirmed — [h]ave each worked in the IRS Exempt Organizations Department.

. . . .

One of FOX19’s two sources went on say that these four IRS workers claim “they simply did what their bosses ordered.”

You don’t say.

STORY TWO: This is a fun story that (potentially) illustrates how ridiculous this all is:

In May 2011, Drew Ryun, a conservative activist and former Republican National Committee staffer, began filling out the Internal Revenue Service application to achieve nonprofit status for a new conservative watchdog group.

He submitted the paperwork to the IRS in July 2011 for a research site called Media Trackers, which calls itself a “non-partisan investigative watchdog dedicated to promoting accountability in the media and government.” Although the site has investigated Republicans like Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the site’s organizers are unapologetically conservative.

. . . .

When September 2012 arrived with still no word from the IRS, Ryun determined that Media Trackers would likely never obtain standalone nonprofit status, and he tried a new approach: He applied for permanent nonprofit status for a separate group called Greenhouse Solutions, a pre-existing organization that was reaching the end of its determination period.

The IRS approved Greenhouse Solutions’ request for permanent nonprofit status in three weeks.

The story says there could be another reason besides the name change having to do with Greenhouse Solutions already having papers on file. Let them prove it, I say. I’m not at the point where I am accepting innocent explanations easily.

Eric Holder Doesn’t Know

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:01 pm

He really just doesn’t know.

Popehat is on fire on Twitter:

While I am quoting Twitter folks, how about this one from Jan Crawford:

Odd, as in completely predictable, I think she means. (Really!)

The Transparency Continues: Obama Demands Resignation of IRS Official … Who Was Quitting Anyway

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 pm

Daily Mail:

President Barack Obama has thrown his acting IRS commissioner overboard, making Steven Miller the highest-ranking political casualty thus far in a series of scandals that have swept his administration in recent weeks.

In a hastily called press conference in the East Room of the White House, Obama told reporters that he had asked Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to find out who was responsible for a program that targeted tea party groups and other conservative organizations for a special level of intrusive questioning after they applied for tax-exempt charitable statuses.

‘Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting director of the IRS,’ Obama said.

‘It’s important,’ he added, ‘to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.’

Stirring. Inspirational, even. Oh, my, the accountability!

But in an email to IRS employees, Miller claimed he would only be leaving next month because his assignment would be over.

‘It is with regret that I will be departing from the IRS as my acting assignment ends in early June,’ Miller wrote. ‘This has been an incredibly difficult time for the IRS given the events of the past few days, and there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation’s tax agency.’

D’oh!

If the Daily Mail is right, I am sure our watchdogs in the media will let us know ASAP. They’re not going to roll over for Obama, no sireebob.

Right now the L.A. Times story on this does not have even a hint of a notion that this guy was leaving anyway. But just you wait…

2006 Obama Advises 2013 Obama

Filed under: General — JD @ 5:25 pm

[Guest post by JD]

“I would advise the president to be cautious about beating up on the press for doing their job. … My attitude is, let the press do its job and that, you know, in fact a lot of the problems that have arisen in terms of leaks and so forth have to do with just the extraordinary unwillingness of the president and this administration to commit itself to any kind of oversight, from anybody. I mean, it’s not just that they don’t want the New York Times leaking stories about their activities. They also don’t want to share it with Congress”

—JD

Wait, that is not all. Holder claimed that this leak was one of the top 3 most dangerous and serious leaks he has seen during his time in law enforcement lulz, which compelled him to not tell anyone he was recusing himself and not recuse himself in writing, and so damn serious of a threat that he didn’t get around to informing the freaking White House how freaking serious of a threat it was, one of the most significant threats to American security he had ever seen?! Really?!

Does anybody buy this?

—JD

Benghazi Emails Released

Filed under: General — JD @ 2:58 pm

[guest post by JD]

When even Alexrod is calling for them to be released …

Carney lied. Hillary lied. Obama lied. Rice lied.

—JD

White House Lecture @ 6:00

Filed under: General — JD @ 2:55 pm

[guest post by JD]

Open thread … Predictions?

Isolated incident, rogue employees, Republican/Fox, bipartisan, unacceptable, I was not aware …

—JD

Holder and Carney Recap

Filed under: General — JD @ 1:47 pm

[guest post by JD]

Condensed Holder – I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Your actions are shameful for questioning me. I don’t know. I dont know when I recused myself, or why, and I didn’t bother to put it in writing, and I don’t know.

Of note, this was not the first time his DOJ did this. He could not recall how many times he had signed off on these, how may he denied, nor how many he had pawned off on others. He doesn’t know much.

Condensed Carney – I don’t know. Even if I did know, it is under investigation and I would not be able to comment on it, cough cough Gates Trayvon, but it is clear that if we did anything wrong, it was Fox Rush and Bush’s fault. I appreciate your questions, but let me be clear, I can’t comment on that, but we are not responsible, and the President had no idea that multiple agencies under his control were corrupt cesspools. Thank you, I don’t know.

—JD

L.A. Times’s Michael Hiltzik: Hooray for the IRS’s Targeting of Tea Party Groups!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Scum — Patterico @ 7:35 am

The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups has at least one unabashed fan: Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times. As evidence mounts that the IRS fast-tracked applications by left-leaning organizations while erecting burdensome obstacles for conservatives, Hiltzik cheers from the sidelines, praising the IRS and placing the word “scandal” in scare quotes:

It’s strange how “scandal” gets defined these days in Washington. At the moment, everyone is screaming about the “scandal” of the Internal Revenue Service scrutinizing conservative nonprofits before granting them tax-exempt status.

Here are the genuine scandals in this affair: Political organizations are being allowed to masquerade as charities to avoid taxes and keep their donors secret, and the IRS has allowed them to do this for years.

. . .

It’s about time the IRS subjected all of these outfits to scrutiny. The agency’s inaction has served the purposes of donors and political organizations on both sides of the aisle, and contributed to the explosive infection of the electoral process by big money from individuals and corporations.

The problem, as Hiltzik well knows (but almost entirely ignores), is that the IRS did not treat “both sides of the aisle” equally. A USA Today story describes how, just before the new anti-Tea Party policy went into effect, an Illinois Tea Party organization had its application speedily approved. But, the story goes on to explain:

That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn’t be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.

In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.

As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months.

. . . .

Like the Tea Party groups, the liberal groups sought recognition as social welfare groups under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, based on activities like “citizen participation” or “voter education and registration.”

The Inspector General’s report is now available, and it confirms USA Today‘s conclusion that the IRS’s criteria do not appear to have been impartial:

[T]he criteria developed by the Determinations Unit gives the appearance that the IRS is not impartial in conducting its mission. The criteria focused narrowly on the names and policy positions of organizations instead of tax-exempt laws and Treasury Regulations.

The report has a chart that shows criteria in June 2011 for increased scrutiny:

The harshest criticism Hiltzik can muster for these one-sided criteria is that they provide “too coarse a screen.” He does not seem at all troubled by the fact that the only names singled out for extra scrutiny were names associated with conservative principles such as limited government and lower taxes. In fact, he implies — without a scrap of evidence and in contradiction to the IG report and virtually every extant news article to have examined the subject — that the criteria were even-handed and that we are hearing only about the extra burdens placed on one side.

The bottom line is that we live in an America where 501(c)’s run by, say, convicted bomber and leftist serial partisan harasser Brett Kimberlin are put on the fast track, whereas 501(c)’s that are concerned with the expansion of government are delayed to the point of absurdity. And Michael Hiltzik thinks that is just peachy.

Hiltzik is not a stupid man, just a dishonest one. He knows full well that the problem with the IRS’s actions is the disparate treatment given conservatives and leftists. If you want absolute proof that Hiltzik’s views are partisan hackery as opposed to a genuine concern over dirty money in politics, you need only read this passage:

[O]nce again, now that the agency has tried to regulate, the regulated parties have blown its efforts up into a “scandal.” It’s amusing to reflect that some politicians making hay over this are the same people who contend that we don’t need more regulations, we just need to enforce the ones we have. (Examples: gun control and banking regulation.) Here’s a case where the IRS is trying to enforce regulations that Congress enacted, and it’s still somehow doing the wrong thing.

Keep that in mind when you hear politicians — and they’re not exclusively Republicans — grandstanding about how the IRS actions are “chilling” or “un-American.” It turns out that none of the “targeted” groups actually was denied C4 status.

Oh! Well, if they weren’t denied C4 status, then all is well!

Except that, as the IG report details:

[T]he applications for those organizations that were identified for processing by the team of specialists experienced significant delays and requests for unnecessary information.

And again, these delays and burdensome and unnecessary requests fell primarily (if not exclusively) on one side of the aisle, and caused many conservatives to give up on obtaining tax-exempt status for their group.

Apparently Michael Hiltzik thinks that it would be OK to have a four-hour line for Republicans at the DMV, while “progressives” speed through an express line. Hey, no Republicans were denied licenses, were they?

We probably should apply greater scrutiny to tax-exempt organizations generally. I’d be fine with abolishing such organizations entirely. Indeed, the fact that taxpayers subsidize political activity is what gives government the power to favor one side over another.

But any extra scrutiny needs to be even-handed, and that is the problem that Hiltzik deliberately overlooks.

Memo to Hiltzik: the IRS itself has apologized and said that their targeting of conservatives was inappropriate. How much of a hack do you have to be to defend them after they admitted what they did was wrong?

Boy, it sure would be awful if the Koch brothers bought the L.A. Times and folks like Michael Hiltzik quit in a huff. How could we survive without utter partisan nonsense like this in the pages of our hometown newspaper?


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