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Funny Business
The IRS Scandal Has Arrived

Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch may have just thrown an explosive new fact into the the ongoing scandal over Lois Lerner’s missing emails. According to the organization’s president, Tom Fitton, Justice Department lawyers working on the case informed him on a Friday call that Lerner’s emails may be on the federal government’s own backup system, but that it would be “too onerous” to recover them.

Last time we checked in with the IRS scandal, Republicans were claiming that backup files on Lois Lerner’s hard drive might actually have been recoverable. Now, if Fitton is to be believed, they are still technically recoverable, despite repeated claims by IRS officials that they were gone forever. These claims are of course coming from partisan organizations; we shouldn’t rush to judgment, especially since the contents of Fitton’s Friday call have not yet been confirmed by other parties.

But if Fitton’s claim is true, then the IRS scandal really has arrived, and it is difficult not to conclude that we are dealing with a genuine constitutional crime. This wouldn’t be a matter of bribes or personal blackmail or sexual misconduct or any of the ordinary forms of corruption that are unfortunately far too common. Rather, it’s about the deliberate use of the power of the federal government to go after political opponents, and then a desperate attempt by others to cover it up. We’re still hoping that this story is exposed to a lot more light (and perhaps less heat), but the more we see, the worse and worse it looks.

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  • Corlyss

    The IRS Scandal Has Arrived

    Not until the MSM start reporting on it. So far, up to this second, we wait in vain. We have been dealing with crime from the beginning. The MSM just doesn’t care because 1) the perps are their guys and 2) they detest Republicans. And the fact that it may be a Constitutional crime makes it no more a crime, nor does it stir the somnolent MSM any more. Constitutional crimes are committed only by Republicans. Democrats only do what’s right, regardless, i.e., it’s not a crime if Democrats do it – that’s an oxymoron to the MSM.

    • The MSM isn’t going to do the Republicans’ work for them. Republicans need a better work ethic.

      • Corlyss

        I certainly agree if by that you mean the MSM is not going to do its job, i.e., report the facts regardless of whom the facts “hurt.” There’s nothing wrong with Republicans’ work ethic. They aren’t the bottle-neck. His Royal Doofusness is.

        • The problem is that for Democrats, politics = life, while Republicans have a life outside of politics. Therefore Democrats eat Republicans’ lunch.

          I suppose there isn’t anything that can be done about it.

          • Corlyss

            Oh, gotcha! I agree 100% I’ve said often here that for Dems, politics is war by other means and always existential. It simply never will be that for Republicans.

  • Pete

    The governing class of near-permanent government bureaucrats is a threat to America.

    • Republicans are a threat to America, because they don’t want to cut funding for government abuses.

  • Rick Johnson

    ‘it’s about the deliberate use of the power of the federal government to go after political opponents, and then a desperate attempt by others to cover it up’

    Sounds a bit like Watergate, but this time it would be a black President who is the darling of the media and not Nixon. So I guess the media will have no interest in pursing it and will do its best to discredit any attempts to expose it.

    • FriendlyGoat

      We should only hope. You have described exactly what the media SHOULD do. Whether they will or not is another matter.

      You see, conservatives are SALIVATING at the idea of trashing this president, the Democratic Party, the enforcement powers of the IRS (for anything), and maybe even the entire tax code over this little witch hunt that amounts to nothing.

      Lois Lerner may have been a crazy cowgirl and God only knows what is in her e-mails. But the “tax-exempt” organizations she was trying to slow down are all political in nature and should have been denied on principle—whether on the left or right. We should be giving her a medal for upholding our real constitution and campaigning integrity.

      Yeah, spare me the crap. Lois Lerner is a constitutional crisis only in the dreams of the WORST political actors in our country.

      • Doug

        So it’s OK with you that Move.On is organized under 501(c)(4), but it’s a crime for various conservative groups to form 501(c)(4) groups? Are you aware that donations to 501(c)(4) groups are not tax deductible and must be paid out of after-tax income?

        The truth is this: Facing a tough political climate in 2010, the Democratic Party (primarily through various Democrtic Senators and Congressmen, and probably the White House, too, although we do not yet have hard evidence of the extent of White House involvement) ordered the IRS to kneecap as many conservative organizations as possible. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

        • FriendlyGoat

          If the (c)(4) status was worth nothing, no one would apply for it. We are advantaging “educational” organizations that are now mostly political organs and it is WRONG—left or right.

          • Doug

            Let me explain why the (c)(4) status is valuable. Without it, all of the gifts to the organization would be deemed taxable income, and the organization would not be allowed to deduct any of its expenses because it’s not in the business of making profits. The result would be to subject political expenditures to a 35% tax that they would not be subject to if the members spent the money individually (e.g., by buying newspaper ads or yard signs). Perhaps you can explain the logic of this to me. I don’t get it. I don’t see why you want to subject collective political activities to a tax that individuals engaged in politics don’t have to pay.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Because I don’t believe political-action corporations need to exist at all—–certainly not as an unintended side effect of a code section which exists to permit “social welfare organizations”, and certainly not with ability to hide the names of donors.

            “Dark money” in politics is NOT “social welfare”. It is the opposite.

          • Doug

            First, I appreciate your willingness to engage in reasoned debate.
            Second, it seems to me that you are conflating two things. The first is your desire to ensure that people engaged in politics are publicly identified. If it’s constitutional to require such publicity (which is an open question), then Congress could pass a law to that effect – saying that everyone who engages in any political activity, whether alone or collectively, must be indentified. The second is the tax code. You have not identified any tax abuses involved here. All 501(c)(4) does is allow people to do collectively what they are free to to individually without incurring an extra tax. That seems clearly proper to me and you haven’t explained why it’s not. Social welfare just means that the members are pursuing social objectives not profit. As I said, if what you care about is publicity, then do that somewhere else, not in the tax code. Don’t pervert the tax code for non-tax objectives.

      • creeper

        Evidently you missed the fact that 98% of those “investigations” were aimed at one party.

        • Gene

          Friendly Goat specializes in “missing facts.”

          • FriendlyGoat

            It’s all opinion here. In fact, all of politics is opinion.

        • FriendlyGoat

          So what? The concept is WRONG and the right wingers are nuts.

      • Corlyss

        “this little witch hunt that amounts to nothing.”

        The world according to OFA.

        I’m going to pretend that I don’t know facts are optional with you and give you some. I worked as an attorney for 8 years with IRS. The office I was in is responsible for advising the office responsible for granting tax exempt status. I can tell you flatly that the minimum of what has been disclosed thus far is true, i.e., targeting of political groups and leaking of tax payer information to the sympathetic media and those are definitely crimes under the tax code. While I was there, employees who trolled tax payer information of celebrities and spouses in divorce cases and potential significant others were fired on the spot, without any crap from the usual suspect, i.e., NTEU. How were they caught? Audits of their computer activity. And that was with antique computer technology, not the then-sexy modern stuff they bought as I was leaving the agency. After all, while I was there, Clinton astounded us all by appointing the first IT professional as commissioner, the very first person not an IRS clone born, bred, and bottle-fed to ensure that the constipated, risk-averse, number-crunching, employee-bloated culture remained the same as it has been since 1913.

        If you think this is such a bunch of bogus tripe designed to ensnare your beloved First Black President, it might profit you to look at some of the charges against Nixon concerning his use of the IRS to punish his enemies. At the time he did what he did, tax records were public information, and learn why ordinary people as well as law makers recoiled in horror at what he did. Such an examination would yield the reason the laws were changed in the aftermath of Watergate to result in the draconian, no-quarter-given enforcement posture against unauthorized access to tax payer information and disclosure of same, regardless of to whom the disclosure was made. If you take off your paranoid Obama-Uber-Alles hat and look at Lerner’s background as a Dem operative with the Federal Elections Commission, you may faintly discern the makings of precisely the sort of political operative that never, never, NEVER should have been put in the job she was at IRS. The combination was tailor made for implementing Obama’s animus against outcomes foretold by SCOTUS’ Citizens United decision. What she was charged with doing is known in bureaucratic circles as “slow-rolling” only she took it to an illegal level because almost nothing came out the other end and she built up a potent paper trail of harassment in the process. The administration doesn’t care about anything except that none of the dirt get on the White House while Doofus is still in it. Everyone will be at unimaginable risk of prosecution once he vacates the premises and the stonewalling leaves with him. As George Will remarked not long ago, nobody ever referred to Watergate as the Democrats Watergate Select Committee, although my subsequent readings of the history at some distance from it (Fred Emery’s comprehensive blow-by-blow) has led me to believe that it was indeed the Democrats witch hunt intent on prosecuting Nixon for activities he rightly claimed to have been done by Democrats before him. Regardless of how I feel about it, Watergate is now enshrined in history and popular consciousness as a Great Constitutional Crisis, and some of it was motivated by precisely the kinds of activities that the IRS engaged in, at the direction of someone much higher up than Lois Lerner, to precisely the same purposes for which Nixon was prosecuted. To deny it speaks of either great ignorance or ideological blindness, neither of which is particularly flattering.

  • gabrielsyme

    The failure of the mainstream media to investigate and cover this and other scandals of Democratic is a distinct threat to American democracy. When the institutional actors such as the media create a massively uneven playing field, it becomes increasingly difficult to regard the system as a whole as legitimate.

    • ExRepug

      Just because the mainstream media is more responsible and checks sources doesn’t mean there is an imminent threat to our democracy. The mainstream media doesn’t run stories based on press releases from partisan orgs with dubious claims. Fitton mischaracterized or misunderstood a conversation that he was not a party to. According to the Justice Department,

      From FOX News:

      “An administration official told Fox News Monday night that Judicial Watch misinterpreted the Friday phone call. “There was no new back-up system described last week to Judicial Watch,” he said. “Government lawyers who spoke to Judicial Watch simply referred to the same email retention policy that Commissioner (John) Koskinen had described in his Congressional testimony.”

      From The Hill:

      “[A]n administration official with knowledge of Friday’s conversation said Judicial Watch’s statement, which runs counter to months of statements from a variety of administration and IRS higher-ups, was off-base.

      The administration official said Justice Department lawyers had dropped no bombshells last week, and Judicial Watch was mischaracterizing what the government had said.

      The official said DOJ lawyers were only referring to tapes backing up IRS emails that were routinely recycled twice a year before 2013, when the investigation into the Tea Party controversy began.”

      • creeper

        And, of course, we know they would NEVER lie to us.

        • ExRepug

          They’ve been talking about the backup tapes since June. Maybe it’s time that you learn what they’ve been telling Congress and Judicial Watch all along. Hint: A backup is not an archive of emails.

      • VoteOutIncumbents

        Were the shoe on the other foot…this would be NEWS 24/7 on ABCBSNBCNN. It’s just not a scandal if a Democrat does it.

        • ExRepug

          I presume that ABCBSNBCNN has in-house IT folks that help the reporters understand the difference between backup and archival storage, so, no, it wouldn’t be 24/7.

          Maybe you should learn why a backup tape — particularly one that has been overwritten up to eight times (about the max that a tapes can be overwritten) — not what you and Judicial Watch think it is.

      • gabrielsyme

        Anyone paying attention would see that, regardless of the significance of any particular development, this scandal has received precious little attention or airtime from the MSM.

        • ExRepug

          I attribute that to two reasons: (1) They check sources first, rather than run a story solely on a partisan organization’s press release, such as in this case where the other side of that “bombshell” telephone conversation reveals that the Assistant United States Attorney was referring to the same backup system that the Commissioner has been testifying to for the last two months, and (2) they have better technical advisors who have explained the difference between an email backup system and an email archival system. Judicial Watch clearly doesn’t understand what a backup system is or how it works, and rather than consult with an IT expert, its President prematurely jumped to an erroneous conclusion and is fanning the flames throughout the non-technical RW blogosphere. You’re just the chump who bought the story. I hope you send lots of lots of money to Judicial Watch as a result.

          I suggest you learn what that telephone conversation last Friday was really about, from an IT standpoint.

          • gabrielsyme

            I suggest you learn some basic reading comprehension. I wrote: “regardless of the significance of any particular development… and you responded by denying the significance of this particular development.

            The point is that the entire scandal has been covered in a cursory manner by the MSM, and that they haven’t expended any significant investigative resources on it. If this were a scandal in a Republican administration, one cannot reasonably doubt that the media resources devoted to investigating and covering the scandal would be orders of magnitude larger.

          • ExRepug

            You speculated about why the MSM is giving this no airtime. I offered two reasons, one of which is that the MSM actually understands the technological aspects of what the IRS and DOJ are saying. The technology would be the same regardless of which party was investigator and which party held the White House.

            Are you certain that YOU understand what the email technology is that they have been referring to since June 20?

    • bannedforselfcensorship

      If this story were front page for weeks like Abu Ghraib or the US attorneys under Bush, Obama’s team would have cave. They get air cover from the media, so nothing will happen.

      Lois Lerner also had her blackberry destroyed in 2012.

      How convenient. Most people would want at least 6 months of their emails backed up from that, first.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Lois Lerner went to the White House dozens of times when she was using the IRS to persecute TEA Party political groups. It is likely that these crimes were done on the orders of Obama.

    • ExRepug

      Except that Lerner never visited the White House. You need to check your “facts.”

      • MoreFreedom2

        But Lerner’s boss, Sarah Ingram, sure did visit the White House a lot. One report claims she visited the White House 155 times. http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/10/irs-white-house-officials-that-shared-confidential-taxpayer-info-had-155-white-house-meetings/

        And do you still think this means Lerner wasn’t getting direction from the White House?

        • ExRepug

          And had you watched her testimony in October (it was carried on C-Span) you would know that Ingram was not Lerner’s “boss” at the time. From 2009 to 2013 she was detailed to the newly-created office to handle the IRS’s transition to ACA, specifically, the office that developed the IRS-HHS website “handshake” that allows the exchanges to inform customers what their estimated tax credit will be and thus what their premiums will be. Her visits to the ACA staff in the Old Executive Office Building coincide with her tenure as the Director of the Affordable Care Office at the IRS. She was then permanently assigned to that position, having NEVER gone back to TE/GE, and has recently retired after more than 30 years with the agency.

          In 2009 Joseph Grant stepped into Ingram’s old position to serve as the Acting Commissioner of TE/GE and was Lerner’s manager. So, how many visits to the White House did he chalk up during the 2009-2013 time period?

  • Angel Martin

    it’s not just Lois Lerner, there are lots more IRS employees that “unexpectedly” suffered hard drive crashes, as well as at the EPA

    http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/26/meet-the-seven-irs-employees-whose-computers-crashed/

    http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/210564-epa-says-hard-drive-crashed-emails-lost

    the backup tapes will show what all of these jokers were trying to conceal

  • Boritz

    If true and if the emails are recovered look for this story to receive wall to wall coverage:

    Republicans/Conservatives Attempt to Use emails to Deflect Attention Away from Reichstag Fire Set by Teabaggers

  • ExRepug

    Ah, but “other parties” have confirmed that Tom Fitton is FOS:

    From FOX News:

    “An administration official told Fox News Monday night that Judicial Watch misinterpreted the Friday phone call. “There was no new back-up system described last week to Judicial Watch,” he said. “Government lawyers who spoke to Judicial Watch simply referred to the same email retention policy that Commissioner (John) Koskinen had described in his Congressional testimony.”

    From The Hill:

    “[A]n administration official with knowledge of Friday’s conversation said Judicial Watch’s statement, which runs counter to months of statements from a variety of administration and IRS higher-ups, was off-base.

    The administration official said Justice Department lawyers had dropped no bombshells last week, and Judicial Watch was mischaracterizing what the government had said.

    The official said DOJ lawyers were only referring to tapes backing up IRS emails that were routinely recycled twice a year before 2013, when the investigation into the Tea Party controversy began.”

    • MoreFreedom2

      In other words, the IRS and its sycophants for Obama have repeated that they are following a “email retention policy” but they aren’t saying anything about this other backup system, and aren’t denying the existence of this backup system, and are saying obtaining emails from this system are “onerous.” In other words, they don’t want to acknowledge the existence of backups that contradict their other statements to the judge, which would be criminal and hopefully allow the judge to send them to jail. The IRS continues to show it is they who are “FOS”.

      They claimed it was a bunch of low level rogue agents in Cincinatti, which turned out to be lies.
      Obama claimed there isn’t a smidgen of corruption – which is a lie
      They claimed the White House wasn’t involved, until the evidence pointed back to the White House’s legal office
      They claimed that emails were lost – while they apparently don’t make that claim anymore
      They claimed that Lerner’s hard drive was damaged and emails couldn’t be retreived from it, but they still sent it to be shredded to “protect confidential taxpayer information” because that was apparently necessary to keep someone from retrieving data from the hard drive.

      • VoteOutIncumbents

        In the end all roads will lead to Valarie Jarrett.

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