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Priebus: Christie More Transparent Than Obama.


Image: Priebus: Christie More Transparent Than Obama

By Audrey Hudson

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday said Gov. Chris Christie showed more transparency and openness about the temporary lane closure on the George Washington Bridge than Barack Obama has about numerous scandals that have engulfed his presidency.

“Americans are a forgiving people, but they’re forgiving when you take ownership, when you admit mistakes you take corrective action, and that’s what Chris Christie showed,” Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“He stood there for 111 minutes in an open dialogue with the press,” Priebus said of the New Jersey Republican’s press conference after the revelation this week that an aide had participated in the decision to shut down numerous bridge lanes for several days last year.

“Now if only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would give us 111 seconds of that, would we find out some things we want to find out about Obamacare, Benghazi the IRS — I mean Chris Christie has been open here,” Priebus said.

NBC Host David Gregory argued that if Obama set the tone for the IRS scandal, as his critics have maintained, then the same should hold true for Christie.

The difference is that “Chris Christie gave us almost two hours of open dialogue and really, cross examination with the press (wherein) you can judge a person’s character, and we had an opportunity to do that,” Priebus said.

“The president never offered that open dialogue so the people could determine the character with the president,” Priebus said.

Gregory also questioned whether Christie had set the tone for petty political retribution within the governor’s office. Emails revealed that the lane closures were for political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, for refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection last year.

The lanes were closed without notice, slowing emergency vehicles and school buses, and were blamed for the death of a 91-year-old woman whose transportation to a hospital was delayed in the traffic.

“He trusted people that lied to him, and he fired those people. The president doubles down on Eric Holder, he doubles down on Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner and Susan Rice, it’s the opposite,” Priebus said.

The Republican chairman also addressed the new tell-all book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates called “Duty,” and an assertion that Clinton’s opposition to the 2007 surge in Iraq was purely political because she was facing Obama in the primary.

“I think she’s a political person,” Priebus said.

“And I think what this country is starving for, are real authentic people who want to serve this country with a pure heart. And when they read these things about Hillary Clinton, when they examine her life, they question it … is she real, is she authentic, is she genuine, does she want to serve this country with a pure heart?” Priebus said.

“I think she’s political and I think Robert Gates’ book shows that once again.”

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Giuliani on Bridge-gate: Christie ‘Pretty Darn Credible’.


Image: Giuliani on Bridge-gate: Christie 'Pretty Darn Credible'

By Greg Richter

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says “it’s pretty darn credible” that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was unaware his aides had purposely shut down most lanes of the George Washington Bridge as a form of political retaliation.

After all, Christie was in the middle of his re-election bid, Giuliani said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” and during “campaign mode” you miss a lot of things. He compared Christie’s situation to that of President Barack Obama, who initially denied terrorism was involved in the Benghazi attacks.

“This is what happens in political operations. People get wrong messages,” Giuliani said. “People in the IRS thought President Obama wanted them to do this. President Obama didn’t want them to do this,” he said of the IRS scandal in which conservative and tea party groups were targeted for added scrutiny.

In Christie’s case, aides ordered lane shutdowns for what most news organizations are reporting as political payback to Fort Lee, N.J., Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing his re-election. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has theorized it was over a fight on state Supreme Court judicial nominees. 

Either way, Giuliani said he believes the issue will “just go away” because Christie addressed it fully in an exhaustive press conference on Thursday.

That is, unless facts come out to implicate the governor.

“If it turns out there’s some evidence that he knew about it, he’s taken the complete risk that his political career is over,” Giuliani said.

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Haley Barbour: Liberal Press Going Overboard on Christie’s Bridge-gate.


Image: Haley Barbour: Liberal Press Going Overboard on Christie's Bridge-gate

By Elliot Jager

Haley Barbour, the prominent Republican Party leader, former Mississippi governor and a mentor of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, declared that “the liberal media elite” is treating the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal “like the Lincoln assassination,” NJ.com reported.

Christie staffers are alleged to have purposefully slowed traffic off the bridge and into North Jersey’s Fort Lee for four days in September 2013 as part of a political vendetta against that city’s Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich. Christie and Sokolich both deny that they had been feuding.

Barbour, who is associated with the moderate wing of the GOP, lauded Christie for apologizing and taking responsibility rather than claiming the behavior was someone else’s responsibility. The New Jersey governor told a Jan. 9 news conference that he was “embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.”

He fired his deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and his veteran campaign manager Bill Stepien. Christie’s senior political operative on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the George Washington Bridge, David Wildstein, also resigned.

“He stepped up to the plate and said what a great Democratic president once said: ‘The buck stops here. I take responsibility,'” said Barbour. “The American people are dying for that after five years of President Obama always saying it’s someone else’s fault,” Barbour told The Star-Ledger.

United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul Fishman also came under criticism from Barbour for launching an investigation into the lane closings.

“The Justice Department, while they don’t investigate the IRS for trampling on the rights of conservative groups, is going to be after this like a dog with a bone because it’s all about politics,” Barbour said.

While some political operatives are wondering whether a “smoking gun” will yet emerge to link Christie directly to the lane closings, Barbour pointed out that Christie is himself a former federal prosecutor.

“He understands that most people in politics who get in trouble don’t get in trouble for what they did, they get in trouble for not telling the truth.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Bridge-gate Getting Much More Press Than Obama Scandals.


Image: Bridge-gate Getting Much More Press Than Obama Scandals

By Lisa Barron

Just two days after news broke of politically motivated traffic jams in New Jersey, the mainstream media has already given the story far more airtime than it has given to the Obama administration’s IRS scandal.

The Media Research Center has found that the three networks have devoted 17 times more coverage to Bridge-gate than they have allowed in the last six months for the controversy over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.

“This is media bias,” former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said on Fox News’“Fox & Friends” Friday when asked about the report.

“If it’s a story involving a Republican that they can in any way make negative, they exaggerate it tremendously. If it’s a story involving a Democrat who they like — of course they love President Obama — they give it as little attention as possible. This is a perfect example of it,” he said.

A prominent GOP fundraiser agreed, telling Politico that Christie is getting blasted for standard “political activities” by a partisan media. “Obama had the IRS investigate GOP-ers and media yawned. That’s a crime. This is silly,” he said.

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote on Friday, “Republicans operate under a double media standard that holds them to a much lower scandal threshold. In that sense, the pathetic New Jersey traffic-lane scandal may be, as Mr. Obama likes to say, a teachable moment.”

Many in fact, contrasted the New Jersey governor’s decisive response to the controversy to the president’s failure to take action or responsibility for his administration’s missteps.
“The real question is does a leader own up to it and handle it correctly,” said Giuliani on Fox. “In the case of Obama, he has yet to own up to the IRS scandal. In this case, Chris Christie acted the way a leader has to act.”

“He was sincere and decisive. He apologized, fired people, and promised to make changes. He said the buck stopped at his desk,” Fox Business News host and analyst Charles Payne wrote in his Wall Street Commentary newsletter.

“We haven’t been able to say the same thing, when it comes to President Obama, whose litany of scandals are always met with a strategy of circling the wagons, and deflecting blame; no apologies and no accountability,” he said.

As the Wall Street Journal noted, “Lois Lerner, who ran the IRS tax-exempt shop and took the Fifth before Congress, was allowed to ‘retire,’ presumably with a pension. Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller resigned under pressure but no other heads have rolled.”

Meanwhile, with Christie’s political future still the subject of much debate, some Republicans say that the way he handled Bridge-gate could work to his advantage.

“This will be, at the end of the day, a political benefit to Chris Christie,” GOP strategist Steve Schmidt,” told The Washington Post, adding, “This sends a very clear signal: If you screw up, you violate the public trust, there’s not going to be an exercise in wagon-circling — there’s going to be an exercise in accountability.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Giuliani: Christie Holds People Accountable, Obama Doesn’t.


Rudy Giuliani praised New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Friday for firing the aides responsible for the so-called bridge-gate fiasco, saying he did what President Barack Obama “finds impossible to do” — hold people accountable.

“He explains it. And, here he does something that the Obama administration finds impossible to do. He held people accountable for it. He actually fired them,” the former New York Mayor said of his fellow Republican on “Fox & Friends.”

“All you have to do is contrast it with Benghazi, the IRS scandal. The way they obfuscate. They hide. The way they never have press conferences,” he added, referring to the Obama administration.

Giuliani called Christie’s apology for the shutdown of traffic last year across the George Washington Bridge connecting New York and New Jersey caused by his aides as “refreshing.” Not many politicians would have dealt with such a controversy by hold a full-blown press conference and giving “definitive answers. He said it was “exactly the opposite of what we have in the White House right now.”

“We’ve spent the last three or four years trying to figure out why President Obama never explains things. Is never transparent. Is never direct. Always seems to be leading from behind, which is, of course, following.

“Now we have an example of the opposite, a guy who gets out front and leads and tells the truth,” Giuliani said of the governor who is viewed as a major contender for the presidency in 2016.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Wanda Carruthers

FBI Finally Contacts Conservative Groups in IRS Targeting.


Image: FBI Finally Contacts Conservative Groups in IRS Targeting

 

By Sandy Fitzgerald

The FBI is contacting some conservative groups that were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service as calls heat up for a key Justice Department investigator to step down from the probe after questions about her donations to President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

A lawyer working with some of the tea party groups told The Washington Times that a “small number” of his clients were recently contacted, albeit seven months after the investigation was to begin.

“After seven months of no contact from federal investigators, a small number of our clients recently received a request for an interview from the FBI,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, which represents more than three dozen of the organizations.

Cleta Mitchell, another attorney representing some of the targeted groups, said her clients have not heard from investigators.

“Normally, don’t you first interview the victims?” Mitchell said. “I mean, I’ve watched enough cop shows over the years. You interview the victims. You don’t interview the perp.”

Republicans, though, say the whole investigation is under question following the selection of Justice Department attorney Barbara Kay Bosserman to lead the probe. Bosserman donated more than $6,000 to the president’s campaigns, and Republicans say she cannot be impartial.

House Speaker John Boehner said he is concerned by the Obama administration’s many obstructions on not only the IRS investigation, but many other issues.

“The administration has not been forthcoming with regard to the IRS investigation,” the Ohio Republican said. “Furthermore, they’ve not been forthcoming when it comes to the Benghazi investigation or Fast and Furious. And the administration can try to stonewall as much as they want, but these issues are not going to go away. The American people have a right to know the truth. And for the administration that came in five years ago promising to be the most transparent administration in history, they’ve got a very poor record.”

Meanwhile, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul called for independent investigations into the IRS scandal.

“They say the fox isn’t good to guard the henhouse; the fox is probably not good to investigate the henhouse, either,” Paul said Thursday. “I think these investigations need to be done by independent people outside of the administration.”

Last spring, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an FBI investigation after it was revealed the IRS had been targeting conservative groups for additional scrutiny and delaying tax-exempt status for hundreds of groups’ applications.

However, not much has been done with the investigation since that time, and House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and co-chair Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, complained last month that the committee still has not gotten related documents.

While the FBI rejected many of Issa’s demands for documents, he learned Bosserman was leading the investigation for the Justice Department, and on Wednesday he and Jordan sent a letter to Holder saying her selection tainted the entire investigation.

The Justice Department says federal law and policy prevents it from denying assignments based on an employee’s political views, and doing so violates workers’ rights right to participate in the political process, The Washington Times reports.

Sekulow said his firm’s clients are evaluating FBI’s requests, but Bosserman’s political leanings “create a serious conflict of interest and raises more questions and doubts about the Obama administration’s promise to get to the bottom of what happened.”

The FBI refused comment, pointing to a letter sent on Dec. 31 by Stephen Kelly, assistant director for the agency’s office of congressional affairs.

“We would request that the committee permit the investigators to complete their investigation and consult with federal prosecutors, as appropriate, to determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any statutes within our jurisdiction,” said Kelly. “As a result, we cannot provide the documents requested at this time while the criminal investigation is active and ongoing.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Donors Look for Alternatives to Skirt IRS Rules for Political Fundraising.


As the IRS moves to limit campaign fundraising by nonprofit groups, lawyers are looking for new ways to enable donors to continue to pour money into elections while remaining anonymous.

According to the Wall Street Journal one option being considered is the creation of taxable, for-profit businesses which would be used as campaigning vehicles. Another idea involves donors banding together in trade associations. Neither type of group is required to disclose their members.

In November, the IRS proposed new rules to limit political activity by social-welfare groups, known as 501(c)(4) groups, whose influence on political campaigns has skyrocketed in the last two years, partially because donors can contribute unlimited amounts on an anonymous basis.

“They’ve become the hot trend over the last year or so,” Robert Kelner, head of the political law group at Covington & Burling LLP, said of the for-profit vehicles, according to the Journal. “It’s a trend that is accelerating, and the new proposals are going to put more steam behind the train.”

A 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowed for companies to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates. These organizations are not required to report their activities to the Federal Election Commission since they are not seeking tax-exempt status.

Unlike political action committees, these entities, such as the Democratic firm Catalist and the GOP group called America Rising, do not have to disclose donors, clients, or spending and can work directly with political campaigns, though they are required to pay taxes on any profits. Even then, election-law specialists say those requirements can be minimized or possibly eliminated depending on how a company is structured, according to the Journal.

“The arrival of these taxable, for-profit entities in the political arena will make it increasingly difficult to distinguish political-consulting firms from advocacy groups,” Kelner said.

At the same time, companies must be able to demonstrate they have a legitimate business purpose other than campaign activity to avoid being defined by the IRS as a PAC. Many already do, saying they are providing services for a price, such as polling, consulting, and advertising.

“Are you just a political committee parading around as something other than a political committee?” Kenneth Gross, former associate general counsel of the FEC, and now at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, told the Journal. “That can be pierced either by FEC or IRS, depending on the nature of the entity.”

Meanwhile, political trade associations and charities, known as 501(c)(6) groups, similar to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are also finding ways of raising huge sums on an anonymous basis. The IRS has already hinted it may institute new rules to regulate these types of groups for their role in campaigning.

“If the IRS fails to act, Americans should expect to see an increase in the number of so-called ‘business leagues’ created to funnel money into our elections while cloaking the identities of their donors,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, told the Journal.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Melanie Batley

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