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Posts tagged ‘American Center for Law & Justice’

Cleta Mitchell: IRS Targeting of Conservatives Continues.


Image: Cleta Mitchell: IRS Targeting of Conservatives ContinuesCleta Mitchell testifies on Capitol Hill on Feb. 6. On the panel with Mitchell are, from left, Catherine Engelbrecht, Founder of King Street Patriots, Becky Gerritson, Founder and President Wetumpka Tea Party, Inc., and Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel American Center for Law and Justice.

By David A. Patten

Explosive testimony lit up a House hearing on the IRS targeting scandal Thursday, as GOP super lawyer Cleta Mitchell told representatives that the systematic effort to delay the processing of grass-roots groups applications for nonprofit status continues to occur.

Mitchell represents several grass-roots conservative organizations whose applications under sections 501C3 and 501C4 of the internal revenue code were delayed for years in the run-up to the 2012 election. She said that targeting had not stopped.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Fox News on Thursday that the effort to suppress conservative voices was “almost Nixonian,” noting President Obama said in a recent interview that there was “not even a smidgeon” of corruption involved in the apparent IRS effort to chill conservative groups after the tea party movement emerged in February 2009.

“How could you possibly say that when Lois Lerner in charge of tax-exempt groups pled the fifth?” Graham asked.

Also testifying Monday was Jay Sekulow, head of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). ACLJ officials also contend the IRS targeting continues to this day.

There were 41 grassroots groups named as plaintiffs in the ACLJ lawsuit alleging widespread abuses of the First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech by the Obama administration and the IRS. Of those, 13 still have not yet received adjudication of their request for non-profit status.

The oldest of those 13 pending applications for nonprofit status dates back to December 2009, French says. That would mean at least one group has been sidelined through two election cycles, with a third rapidly approaching.

Of the 13 groups in limbo, two sought 501c3 non-profit status and the other 11 sought 501c4 status as “social welfare” organizations, French said.

According to the ACLJ, five other groups joined the lawsuit after withdrawing their nonprofit applications due to frustration over the IRS approval process. Also, two of the plaintiffs refused to answer IRS questions that they considered unconstitutional, which led to the IRS closing their nonprofit applications without further consideration.

The proposed new IRS regulations seek to limit 501c4 groups’ activities. Conservative activists say the rules have exacerbated their sense of uncertainty and intimidation.

“Of course that has a chilling effect,” says French. “And until it is decisively and emphatically stopped through public, legal accountability, that chilling effect is likely to linger.”

Mitchell, who represents grass-roots conservative activists not included in the ACLJ lawsuit, recently echoed the view that conservative groups continue to be singled out in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

“The IRS is still, very deliberately targeting conservative organizations and subjecting them to additional intense and burdensome scrutiny — and this has not stopped,” she said. “This is still ongoing.”

According to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, the new proposed IRS regulations, which were first unveiled in November, appear to single out as political activity the precise sorts of programs tea party organizations typically run: Candidate forums, voter registration drives, and distributions of voter guides.

In a column published in the February edition of Newsmax Magazine, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel contends that conservative groups are much more likely to become ensnared in the new proposed limitations.

She notes that neither unions, which conduct most of their activities as 501c5 groups, nor 501c3 organizations such as the liberal League of Women Voters Education Fund, are affected. That’s because the rules were not written to apply to those types of nonprofits.

The reaction of conservative activists has grown increasingly strident. Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the grass-roots National Liberty Federation organization, tells Newsmax:

“Never before have we seen such attitudes and actions taken in America by an administration or government body.

“They are intentionally trying to silence the voices of millions of Americans, who all they want is to be heard.”

Wilkinson said his organization is closely following nine critical Senate races that could flip either way. But the fear of some that they could become targets of the IRS is having an impact, he says.

“Through this intimidation a lot of people have said, ‘I don’t know if I want to risk the IRS or the Treasury Department or whoever they’re going to send after me,’” he says.

Recent remarks by Democrats appear to have exacerbated conservatives’ concern that the IRS has been politicized.

In January, New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer urged the IRS to “redouble [its] efforts immediately” to constrain the tea parties.

Urgent: Is Obama Telling the Truth on IRS, Benghazi Scandals? 

During his Super Bowl interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Obama said there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” involved. This despite the fact that the FBI has yet to release the findings of its investigation.

Such remarks appear aimed at energizing a Democratic base that has seen tea party nonprofits as fair game ever since the Citizens United ruling made it easier for corporations to get involved in politics.

Curiously, the IRS targeting has had relatively little impact on the major activist groups that raise millions of dollars each year.

A recent New York Times story reported that four major conservative organizations — FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, the Club for Growth Action Fund, and the Senate Conservatives Fund — are actually outraising their more establishment GOP counterparts such as Crossroads GPS.

But unlike the big groups that can afford to “lawyer up,” it is the smaller activist organizations all over the country — with names like Linchpins of Liberty, Colorado 9/12 Project, First State Patriots, Mid-South Tea Party, and American Patriots Against Government Excess — who have been ensnared by the long arm of the IRS.

Those smaller organizations are believed to play a key role in getting out the vote in local neighborhoods.

Wilkinson praises the myriad local tea parties as “the most effective system out there, compared to the Republican consulting groups that get millions of dollars in TV ads and radio ads.

“They put every dollar they have in, and their heart and soul. They’re getting people to the polls for maybe pennies on the dollar.”

How those groups will fare as the tax laws they must comply with grow increasingly complex and demanding is open to question.

French says the proposed IRS rules will mean “an enormous amount of activity undertaken on the basis of issues, is now re-characterized as political, and now subject to limits.

“That essentially takes a group’s ability to engage in issue advocacy and then completely neuters it in the days and the weeks leading up to an election, by defining political activity so very broadly,” he adds.

When the targeting controversy first broke last May, President Obama said the IRS targeting was “inexcusable,” and added: “I’m angry about it.”

The “social welfare” and issue-advocacy 501c4 organizations have received special attention in part because their donors’ names generally do not have to be disclosed.

The controversy over IRS targeting dates back to May 2013. That’s when former IRS executive Lois Lerner revealed that IRS personnel had acted in what she called an “absolutely inappropriate” way by holding up the non-profit applications of groups with the terms “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” in their names.

The IRS asked the targeted groups to answer intrusive questionnaires regarding their activities — ranging from information on their members’ employers, donors lists, and even in one case how much time a particular organization spent “on prayer groups.”

At the time, GOP Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, received several complaints. He wrote a letter of inquiry to then-acting IRS Commissioner Stephen T. Miller.

Miller wrote back with assurances that no conservative groups were being targeted. But not long after Lerner’s disclosure, Miller was asked to resign.

The Obama administration has portrayed the IRS affair as a limited imbroglio involving a few rogue agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office.

But Mitchell says several of her clients were told a final decision on their applications would be handed down from IRS offices in Washington, D.C.

Not every grass-roots leader is concerned that conservative activists’ IRS problems will work to Democrats’ advantage, however. Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer is among those predicting it will backfire.

“When all this came out about the IRS targeting, it made people mad,” she tells Newsmax. “It made them mad as hell.

“…You get these individuals, under whatever local group, they don’t care: They’re going to go out there, and work their hearts and souls out for the cause.”

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Proposed IRS Regs Threaten GOP’s 2014 Senate Push.


Proposed new IRS regulations, combined with the intense ongoing scrutiny of grass-roots conservative groups, could suppress their get-out-the-vote activity enough to hand Democrats the one or two races they need to keep control of the Senate, conservative leaders warn.

“Once caught red-handed,” American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) Senior Counsel David French said, “the administration didn’t change its goal [of] suppressing the free speech of these conservative groups.

”It’s just shifted methods. The ends are the same, only the means have changed,” he says.

Of the 41 grassroots groups named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) — a case alleging widespread abuses of the First Amendment rights of assembly and free speech by the Obama administration and the IRS — 13 still have not yet received an adjudication on their request for non-profit status.

The oldest of those 13 pending applications to the IRS for nonprofit status dates back to December 2009, French says. That would mean at least one group has been sidelined through two election cycles, with a third rapidly approaching.

Of the 13 groups in limbo, two sought 501c3 non-profit status and the other 11 sought 501c4 status as “social welfare” organizations, French said.

According to the ACLJ, five other groups joined the lawsuit after withdrawing their nonprofit applications due to frustration over the IRS approval process. Also, two of the plaintiffs refused to answer IRS questions that they considered unconstitutional, which led to the IRS closing their nonprofit applications without further consideration.

The proposed new IRS regulations seek to limit 501c4 groups’ activities. Conservative activists say the rules have exacerbated their sense of uncertainty and intimidation.

“Of course that has a chilling effect,” says French. “And until it is decisively and emphatically stopped through public, legal accountability, that chilling effect is likely to linger.”

Washington GOP super lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who represents grass-roots conservative activists not included in the ACLJ lawsuit, recently echoed the view that conservative groups continue to be singled out in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

“The IRS is still, very deliberately targeting conservative organizations and subjecting them to additional intense and burdensome scrutiny — and this has not stopped,” she said. “This is still ongoing.”

According to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, the new proposed IRS regulations, which were first unveiled in November, appear to single out as political activity the precise sorts of programs tea party organizations typically run: Candidate forums, voter registration drives, and distributions of voter guides.

In a column published in the February edition of Newsmax Magazine, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel contends that conservative groups are much more likely to become ensnared in the new proposed limitations.

She notes that neither unions, which conduct most of their activities as 501c5 groups, nor 501c3 organizations such as the liberal League of Women Voters Education Fund, are affected. That’s because the rules were not written to apply to those types of nonprofits.

The reaction of conservative activists has grown increasingly strident. Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the grass-roots National Liberty Federation organization, tells Newsmax: “Never before have we seen such attitudes and actions taken in America by an administration or government body.

“They are intentionally trying to silence the voices of millions of Americans, who all they want is to be heard.”

Wilkinson said his organization is closely following nine critical Senate races that could flip either way. But the fear of some that they could become targets of the IRS is having an impact, he says.

“Through this intimidation a lot of people have said, ‘I don’t know if I want to risk the IRS or the Treasury Department or whoever they’re going to send after me,’” he says.

Recent remarks by Democrats appear to have exacerbated conservatives’ concern that the IRS has been politicized.

In January, New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer urged the IRS to “redouble [its] efforts immediately” to constrain the tea parties.

During his Super Bowl interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Obama said there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” involved. This despite the fact that the FBI has yet to release the findings of its investigation.

Such remarks appear aimed at energizing a Democratic base that has seen tea party nonprofits as fair game ever since the Citizens United ruling made it easier for corporations to get involved in politics.

Curiously, the IRS targeting has had relatively little impact on the major activist groups that raise millions of dollars each year.

A recent New York Times story reported that four major conservative organizations — FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, the Club for Growth Action Fund, and the Senate Conservatives Fund — are actually outraising their more establishment GOP counterparts such as Crossroads GPS.

But unlike the big groups that can afford to “lawyer up,” it is the smaller activist organizations all over the country — with names like Linchpins of Liberty, Colorado 9/12 Project, First State Patriots, Mid-South Tea Party, and American Patriots Against Government Excess — who have been ensnared by the long arm of the IRS. Those smaller organizations are believed to play a key role in getting out the vote in local neighborhoods.

Wilkinson praises the myriad local tea parties as “the most effective system out there, compared to the Republican consulting groups that get millions of dollars in TV ads and radio ads.

“They put every dollar they have in, and their heart and soul. They’re getting people to the polls for maybe pennies on the dollar.”

How those groups will fare as the tax laws they must comply with grow increasingly complex and demanding is open to question.

French says the proposed IRS rules will mean “an enormous amount of activity undertaken on the basis of issues, is now re-characterized as political, and now subject to limits.

“That essentially takes a group’s ability to engage in issue advocacy and then completely neuters it in the days and the weeks leading up to an election, by defining political activity so very broadly,” he adds.

When the targeting controversy first broke last May, President Obama said the IRS targeting was “inexcusable,” and added: “I’m angry about it.”

The “social welfare” and issue-advocacy 501c4 organizations have received special attention in part because their donors’ names generally do not have to be disclosed.

The controversy over IRS targeting dates back to May 2013. That’s when former IRS executive Lois Lerner revealed that IRS personnel had acted in what she called an “absolutely inappropriate” way by holding up the non-profit applications of groups with the terms “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” in their names.

The IRS asked the targeted groups to answer intrusive questionnaires regarding their activities — ranging from information on their members’ employers, donors lists, and even in one case how much time a particular organization spent “on prayer groups.”

At the time, GOP Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, received several complaints. He wrote a letter of inquiry to then-acting IRS Commissioner Stephen T. Miller.

Miller wrote back with assurances that no conservative groups were being targeted. But not long after Lerner’s disclosure, Miller was asked to resign.

The Obama administration has portrayed the IRS affair as a limited imbroglio involving a few rogue agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office.

But Mitchell says several of her clients were told a final decision on their applications would be handed down from IRS offices in Washington, D.C.

Not every grass-roots leader is concerned that conservative activists’ IRS problems will work to Democrats’ advantage, however. Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer is among those predicting it will backfire.

“When all this came out about the IRS targeting, it made people mad,” she tells Newsmax. “It made them mad as hell.

“…You get these individuals, under whatever local group, they don’t care: They’re going to go out there, and work their hearts and souls out for the cause.”

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By David A. Patten

Judge Orders Removal of San Diego War Memorial Cross.


 

Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial
A Califronia judge ordered the removal of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego. (Liberty Institute)

A federal district court judge in California ordered the removal of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego late Thursday.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) said the decision is “deeply flawed” and promised to file an amicus brief in support of an expected appeal to keep the memorial—which includes a commemorative cross—in place.

“This latest decision in the long and winding legal road concerning the constitutionality of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial is deeply flawed,” says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, which has been active for years in defending the constitutionality of the memorial and its cross.

“The federal court decision declaring the memorial unconstitutional and ordering its removal does not square with the facts. This memorial is part of the historic landscape of San Diego and is consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

This new legal decision is the result of action that occurred in 2012 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take the case, leaving in place a decision by the Ninth Circuit declaring the memorial unconstitutional and sending the case back to the trial court in San Diego. The ACLJ urged theSupreme Court to take the case at the time, filing an amicus brief representing 34 members of Congress.

In an amicus brief filed in August with the U.S. District Court representing 18 members of Congress, the ACLJ urged the court to permit a private organization to obtain and operate the war memorial—a remedy that would remove any constitutional questions and keep the monument and cross in place.

Thursday, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled that the memorial must be removed because it violates a constitutional ban on government endorsement of religion.

“Deliberate language in the opinion makes it clear that removal of the large, historic cross is the only remedy that the Ninth Circuit conceives will cure the constitutional violation,” Burns wrote in his ruling. Burns ordered the memorial be removed within 90 days but put that order on hold, pending an expected appeal.

“We will continue to aggressively argue in support of this memorial and commemorative cross,” Sekulow says. “We believe the law and precedent are clear: The Supreme Court has concluded in the past that ‘a Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this nation and its people.’ This memorial should not create a constitutional crisis. It is part of the history and heritage of the San Diego area.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Pastor Robbed, Threatened at Knifepoint as Health Deteriorates in Iranian Prison.


 

Pastor Saeed Abedini
Pastor Saeed Abedini with his family.

American pastor Saeed Abedini not only faces deadly conditions in Iran’s Rajai Shahr Prison, but we can now confirm that he faces direct threats on his life from other prisoners.

Abedini’s Iranian family was able to visit him yesterday—the second visitation allowed since he was transferred to the deadly new prison last month.

Abedini is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison. There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives. Abedini’s “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, allowing dangerous prisoners—murderers and rapists—unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.

He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene.

As a result of the robberies, the utterly deplorable conditions of the prison and the lack of doctor-prescribed medication being withheld by prison authorities, Abedini’s health has quickly deteriorated.

The pain in his stomach has returned, and he is now experiencing increased pain in what he described to his family as his kidneys. As a result of repeated beatings in Evin Prison, he suffered from internal bleeding. After months of being refused medical care, he was allowed to see a doctor and was prescribed medication earlier this year. As a result of that medication, his physical condition had improved and his pain had subsided. However, since being moved from Evin to Rajai Shahr last month, Iranian officials have refused to allow him this critical medication, and his condition is worsening.

Abedini is being refused medication prescribed by Iranian doctors for injuries he sustained from prison beatings. This is one of the most deplorable human rights violations imaginable.

To make matters worse, the prison conditions and lack of basic hygiene have led to his body being covered head to toe in lice. Because of the lice and increased pain, Abedini has been having trouble sleeping. He is also experiencing symptoms of recurring urinary tract infections. There is no medication to stop the infections. He is now also experiencing significant joint pain.

Abedini’s family reports that he has also noticeably lost weight in the new prison from lack of proper nutrition.

The conditions he faces are unfathomable. He faces direct threats to his life on an almost daily basis.

Iran has sent him to disappear. The Obama administration abandoned this U.S. citizen when given the opportunity to negotiate his release, even reportedly releasing an Iranian scientist for nothing in return. Abedini has been left for dead.

We must not forget him. We must take action now.

I, along with the American Center for Law and Justice‘s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, am in Berlin this week meeting with foreign dignitaries and world leaders across Europe, urging them to use international pressure to free Abedini.

The time is now to pressure Iran for his release. Each day could be his last.

Join tens of thousands in standing with Abedini by signing our petition demanding international sanctions until he is freed.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

JORDAN SEKULOW

Iran Captive’s Wife: ‘Heartbreaking’ That Deal Omitted Him.


The wife of Iranian-American Pastor Saaed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran since the summer of 2012, says she is heartbroken the United States did not make her husband’s release part of the recent nuclear disarmament deal it cut with Iran.

“We have continually asked them, and felt that they were seriously considering bringing Saaed up as precondition to further negotiations,” Naghmen Abedini told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“I felt that our government was going to do that, and I watched as President [Barack] Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made their speech and there was no mention of Saaed,” she said Wednesday.

Story continues below video.

“I got many tweets and messages saying why was Saaed not mentioned from many, many Americans. And then … the actual report came out that Saaed was not part of the discussion, and it was heartbreaking.”

Abedini is serving eight years behind bars in Iran’s Evin Prison, reportedly on charges of undermining national security through his Christian evangelical activities.

“To know that my government was shaking hands with my husband’s captors who are torturing him without demanding his release and keeping Iran accountable on its continuous violations of human rights was horrific,” Naghmen Abedini said.

“They did not keep Iran accountable for their continuous violations of human rights,” she said.

Saaed Abedini was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010 and had been living with his wife in Boise, Idaho, before the trip to Iran during which he was seized.

See the “Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Administration Betrays Imprisoned Pastor With Iranian Deal.


Pastor Saeed Abedini
Pastor Saeed Abedini

The Obama administration betrayed American pastorSaeed Abedini by reaching a deal with Iran that includes easing sanctions and providing humanitarian relief—a deal that leaves a U.S. citizen behind, imprisoned because of his faith, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is working to secure his release.

President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry turned their backs on a U.S. citizen by refusing to secure his freedom before reaching an agreement with Iran,” says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “It is outrageous and a betrayal of American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has spent more than a year in an Iranian prison simply because of his Christian faith. The Obama administration has leftPastor Saeed behind. And by failing to secure his release as a precondition to any negotiations, the Obama administration sends a troubling message to the Iranian government that Americans are expendable.”

The ACLJ sent a letter to Secretary Kerry, urging him to act and noting that “the failure to secure the release and return of Mr. Abedini and the other Americans would be reprehensible.”

Imprisoned for more than a year simply because of his Christian faith, Abedini faces life-threatening conditions in one of Iran’s most dangerous prisons.

Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution calling for the release of this U.S. citizen, and key members of the European parliament wrote a letter raising Pastor Saeed’s case.

And just days ago, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved H. Res. 147, calling for the release of Abedini, allowing it to proceed on to a full vote of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The ACLJ has launched a significant online social media campaign on behalf of Pastor Saeed at BeHeardProject.com.

Abedini is serving an eight-year prison sentence simply because of his Christian beliefs. He has been imprisoned now for more than one year. The ACLJ represents his wife, Naghmeh, and their two children, who live in Idaho.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

GENE KAPP

Wife of American Jailed in Iran ‘Devastated’ US Didn’t Demand Release.


Image: Wife of American Jailed in Iran 'Devastated' US Didn't Demand Release

By Amy Woods

Naghmeh Abedini, whose American husband Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned in  Iran, spoke out Monday about the failure of the United States to work the Christian pastor’s release into the nuclear deal reached early Sunday, Fox News reported.

“It’s devastating,” Naghmeh Abedini said. “Iran has no incentive for them to release him. I don’t think we have any more leverage. We now have to consider other avenues and having other countries speak out because our country, when we could have used our leverage, chose to stay silent.”

With the holidays approaching, Naghmeh Abedini said her children were praying their 33-year-old father, who has been behind bars for more than a year because of his Christian religious practices, would be returned to the United States.

“It’s unbearable to think of another Christmas without him and see my kids not have him home for Christmas,” she said.

Despite the hope of the family, Saeed Abedini’s freedom was not a talking point when the Obama administration struck an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.

According to the White Housethe release of Abedini — a U.S. citizen who was born in Iran and who was working in an Iranian government-approved orphanage when he was arrested — did not enter discussions that took place last week in in Geneva.

President Barack Obama raised the issue of Saeed Abedini’s release in September during earlier rounds of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but an agreement allowing the prisoner to come home was not reached, prompting the American Center for Law and Justice to reach out to Secretary of State John Kerry.

ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow accused both Obama and Kerry of turning their backs on a U.S. citizen; however, Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said Saeed Abedini’s case, as well as the cases of other American prisoners in Iran, have been part of diplomatic discussions.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Kerry Fails to Secure Release of Pastor Held in Iran.


Image: Kerry Fails to Secure Release of Pastor Held in Iran

By Melissa Clyne

Secretary of State John Kerry apparently failed to negotiate the release of an American pastor held prisoner and tortured there for more than a year, despite Senate pressure to make that part of a deal with Iran to ease economic sanctions in return for freezing its nuclear program.

According to the Daily Caller, Saeed Abedini, a former member of Islam who converted to Christianity, has been incarcerated in Iran since the summer of 2012 when the Iranian government sentenced him to eight years in prison for purportedly undermining national security by preaching Christianity.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took to Twitter Sunday to blast the deal with Iran and draw attention to Abedini’s plight.

“Was the Christian pastor’s release part of this weekend’s ‘historic’ deal struck with Iran? If not, why not?,” tweeted Palin.

Both the United States Senate and the House Foreign Affairs Committee have unanimously passed resolutions calling for Abedini’s release. The Rev. Billy Graham also made a personal appeal to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on behalf of the Iranian pastor, the Daily Caller reported.

The White House has not commented on why the release was not part of the deal.

The effort to free Abedini had been headed by the American Center for Law and Justice. Joining Palin, it condemned the fact that his release was apparently not presented as precondition to the deal reached over the weekend.

“President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry turned their backs on a U.S. citizen by refusing to secure his freedom before reaching an agreement with Iran,” ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement following the deal.

“It is outrageous and a betrayal of American Pastor Saeed Abedini who has spent more than a year in an Iranian prison simply because of his Christian faith.”

Related Stories:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

ICantEnroll.com Offers Protesters New Way to Challenge Obamacare.


Affordable Care Act application
The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as ‘Obamacare.’ (Reuters/Jonathan Bachman)

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) announced Tuesday it has launched a new Web strategy to challenge Obamacare and the individual mandate.

The ACLJ, which already is challenging the HHS mandate in federal court, has launchedICantEnroll.com and is encouraging Americans to add their names to a growing chorus of protest toObamacare.

“We want to send a very strong message to theObama administration that Americans are saying ‘Enough is enough’ when it comes to Obamacare,” explains Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “We’re preparing a new legal strategy to stop the Obama administration from penalizing Americans who fail to sign up for a program that doesn’t work. Obamacare is failing. The health care website doesn’t work. The costs are too high. And the individual mandate is looming. With this new campaign, we are giving Americans an opportunity to voice their concerns.”

The launch of ICantEnroll.com to protest Obamacare comes as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is scheduled to testify before a House committee next week.

“We expect to hear from thousands of dissatisfied Americans through our new website,” Sekulow adds. “And we will let Congress know about the feedback we receive prior to next week’s hearing. We urge Congress to aggressively investigate this debacle—the rollout of Obamacare. The American people deserve answers from the Obama administration, and the American people deserve accountability.”

Sekulow also says the ACLJ is exploring a litigation strategy that will seek to protect Americans from penalties imposed by the Obama administration for a product Americans can’t even obtain.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Christian Lawsuit Against IRS Reveals New Evidence of Politically Motivated Attacks.


IRS
The ACLJ has added to a lawsuit against the IRS additional defendants and evidence that reveals a politically motivated attack on conservative organizations. (Heritage Foundation)

The American Center for Law and Justice announced Monday that it filed a second amended lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. The suit adds additional defendants—including top IRS political appointees—an additional claim, and evidence that reveals a politically motivated attack on conservative organizations by the IRS—a secret and illegal targeting campaign—based on their political beliefs.

“The intimidation campaign conducted by the IRS is much more politically motivated and coordinated than previously thought,” says Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, which has filed the largest lawsuit of its kind against the IRS.

“We now know that President Obama through his public comments initiated actions that resulted in the unlawful targeting of our clients—a self-induced unconstitutional act. In addition to the president’s remarks, Congressional Democrats along with the media created a climate of hostility—making it impossible for our clients to exercise their First Amendment freedoms.

“This hostile climate set the stage for the unprecedented illegal targeting by the IRS,” Sekulow adds. “The Obama administration and the IRS objected to the conservative message of our clients, which resulted in the unlawful and unconstitutional scheme to keep our clients on the sidelines—out of the political debate. This filing strengthens our case and underscores our commitment to holding those responsible for this scheme accountable.”

The ACLJ filed its initial lawsuit challenging the IRS in May, filed an amended complaint in June, and with this filing provides additional evidence of a coordinated, highly partisan attack on conservative and Tea Party groups.

“The facts of this case reflect a course of conduct by a faction of the United States government that would make the Founders weep and which should outrage every American,” the complaint contends. “The Defendants, acting in their official and/or individual capacities, have, based upon their constituencies or benefactors, obstructed other law abiding citizens from freely associating together and giving voice to their beliefs.  This deprivation occurred solely and unconstitutionally based on the perceived beliefs of those citizens whose rights have been deprived.”

In the amended complaint filed Friday, the ACLJ adds a number of additional defendants to the suit: Douglas H. Shulman (former Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), William Wilkins (Chief Counsel, IRS), Sarah Hall Ingram (former Commissioner, Tax Exempt/Government Entities Division), Joseph Grant (Commissioner, Tax Exempt/Government Entities Division), Michael Seto (Acting Manager, EO Technical Unit), Nikole Flax (Senior Technical Advisor, Exempt Organization Division) and Judith E. Kindell (Senior Technical Advisor, Exempt Organization Division).

The amended complaint also adds an additional claim for violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Further, the amended complaint contends that the White House, Congressional Democrats and the media put pressure on the IRS to adopt a more rigorous standard when applying for tax-exempt status than was applied to liberal organizations.

The complaint argues that the IRS responded to this pressure by engaging in a campaign of unlawful targeting.

According to the complaint, President Obama’s comments aimed at his political opponents began as early as August 2010: “President Obama joined what the IRS and Democrat members of Congress had already started: a relentless campaign to stifle the free speech of those protesting his and Democrats’ policies and the direction of the federal government.”

The number of Plaintiffs in the lawsuit remains unchanged. The ACLJ represents 41 organizations in 22 states. Of the 41 groups, 22 organizations received tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 12 are still pending, 5 withdrew applications because of frustration with the IRS process, and 2 had their files closed by the IRS after refusing to answer the unconstitutional requests for more information.

The amended lawsuit urges the court to find that the Obama Administration overstepped its authority and violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as the IRS’s own rules and regulations. The lawsuit requests a declaratory judgment that the Defendants unlawfully delayed and obstructed the organizations’ applications for a determination of tax-exempt status by means of conduct that was based on unconstitutional criteria and impermissibly disparate treatment of the groups.

The 81-page amended lawsuit is posted here. An Executive Summary of the amended complaint is posted here.

The suit also seeks injunctive relief to protect the ACLJ’s clients—and their officers and directors—from further IRS abuse or retaliation. Further, the lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive monetary damages to be determined at trial at a later date.

The IRS contends that the targeting scheme originated with a couple of rogue IRS agents out of the Cincinnati, Ohio office and contends the abusive conduct has been halted. However, the ACLJ has correspondence showing this tactic was used not only in the Cincinnati office, but also from two offices in California—El Monte and Laguna Niguel—as well as the national office in Washington, D.C.

Furthermore, the ACLJ has letters signed by Lois Lerner, former director of Exempt Organizations, suggesting her personal involvement in sending invasive questionnaires to 15 of their clients in March 2012—some nine months after she was told about the scheme and promised to stop it.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ACLJ

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