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Posts tagged ‘Lois Lerner’

Darrell Issa Hammers Rep. Cummings Over House Probe of Lois Lerner.

House Oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa ramped up his feud with Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings on Friday, slamming him for hampering the panel’s probe of the IRS’s tea party-targeting scandal — and efforts to get retired official Lois Lerner to testify about it — out of loyalty to the White House and his own party.

In a scathing letter, Issa accused Cummings of acting like a defense lawyer for Lerner, who has twice refused to answer questions before the committee, most recently on March 5, by invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, The Hill reported.

“Your tactics undermine the committee’s investigative prerogatives and harm the institutional interests of the House of Representatives,” the California Republican wrote.

“Even though the White House helped orchestrate your ascension to ranking member, I have encouraged, and continue to encourage, you to subordinate your political loyalties to the institutional interests of the committee and the House, especially in cases like this where obstructing the committee’s work risks permanently disadvantaging Congress in its interactions with the executive branch.”

Cummings has argued the GOP’s pursuit of a contempt charge against Lerner is politically driven and lacks legal standing. On Wednesday, he wrote to House Speaker John Boehner, contending Issa committed a “fatal error” at the end of the contentious March 5 hearing by not making it clear Lerner would face a charge of contempt by refusing to talk.

“You and your lawyers and consultants say, repeatedly, that our committee did not provide ‘certainty for the witness and her counsel that a contempt prosecution was inevitable,'” Issa wrote Cummings, The Hill reported.

“But as a longtime member of the House of Representatives, you know as well as I do that that is a certainty that neither I nor anyone else can provide.”

In a blistering response, Cummings shot back that “seven independent constitutional law experts have now concluded that Chairman Issa botched the contempt proceedings,” The Washington Examiner reported.

“The chairman’s letter today provides no House Counsel memo or opinion, even though he and Speaker Boehner claimed they had one this week, and it cites no experts who support his inaccurate view of the Constitution and the law,” he charged.

“The entire country has now seen firsthand how Chairman Issa runs this Committee in violation of House Rules, and no reasonable person would accept his legal views over those of the United States Supreme Court. Contrary to Chairman Issa’s accusations, we are not defending Lois Lerner or her actions — we are defending the Constitution and the rights it guarantees to all Americans.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

‘Growing Crescendo’ in GOP to Hold Lerner in Contempt

There’s a “growing crescendo” to hold retired IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her repeated refusal to testify about the tax agency’s targeted scrutiny of tea party groups, one House Oversight Committee member said Wednesday.

In the wake of a contentious less-than-10-minute hearing where Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination — triggering an angry exchange between committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa and ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings — North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said “The American people … want to hold those people accountable.. and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“There is a growing crescendo that they should hold her in contempt of Congress and the American people get what they deserve,” Meadows told Fox News.

Among the GOP chorus calling for a contempt charge is House Speaker John Boehner.

“She has to testify or she should be held in contempt,” the Ohio Republican said after the hearing, saying he’d wait for a report from Issa.

A contempt vote could lead to a criminal prosecution — and fan the controversy that erupted last year when the agency’s extra scrutiny of tea party-backed nonprofits came to light.

Issa’s committee since then has held five hearings, issued three subpoenas for documents and interviewed IRS officials.

Democrats howled after the hearing, where Cummings had demanded he be given a right to speak before adjournment — but instead had his microphone turned off.

“I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America,” Cummings yelled as Issa dismissed the meeting and cut of microphones. “I am tired of this.

“We have members over here, each who represent 700,000 people. You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that. And, it’s absolutely un-American,” Cummings yelled.

“We had a hearing. We are adjourned. I gave you an opportunity to ask a question. You had no questions,” Issa, a Republican from California, responded.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, slammed Issa for conducting a “witch hunt.”

“What we’re seeing in the House today is a sign of larger dysfunction and partisanship on behalf of Republicans,” Van Hollen told MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” according to Politico.

“Darrell Issa has been conducting this political witch hunt for a long time now. He’s frustrated because he hasn’t been able to come up with any evidence of intentional political wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration, and so he’s getting frustrated and making stuff up.”

Democratic National Committee chair, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, called Issa’s conduct at the Wednesday hearing comparable to oppression in Ukraine and Venezuela, according to Politico, saying she was “stunned” that Issa would try to silence Cummings by cutting off his mic.

Cummings continued speaking for about 10 minutes; Lerner remained seated.

Issa said he’ll decide by next week whether his committee will seek to hold Lerner in contempt.

Lerner first appeared before the committee last May, when she also invoked the Fifth Amendment after maintaining that she was innocent of wrongdoing. The committee determined the following month that Lerner waived her right against self-incrimination by making that statement.

A Treasury inspector general’s report has since determined the IRS had used inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups, though it found no evidence of a political motivation.

The Justice Department is involved in a criminal probe of the matter.

The IRS has since proposed new rules for handling social welfare groups engaged in political activity, though conservative groups have called them too restrictive.

Bloomberg news contributed to this report

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers and Cathy Burke

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.

IRS Approval for Many Conservative Groups Still Stalled.

It’s business as usual at the Internal Revenue Service, where officials tell USA Today 
that little has changed since Congress investigated the agency for targeting tea party groups for unnecessary delays.

Forty percent of the conservative groups caught up in the backlog remain in limbo, and new applications pending since May 2012 have not been considered.

Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

The Cincinnati office that handles tax-exempt status groups still faces a backlog, however some officials believe there has been a change in culture and the process improved since division director Lois Lerner and IRS Commissioner Steven Miller resigned.

“I’m quite sure they’re not going to go after tea party groups again,” said Paul Streckfus, editor of a trade journal focused on tax-exempt issues.

“The larger question is, is the system working better than it did? And the answer, as far as I can tell, is it’s not,” Streckfus said.

Congress began investigating the agency six months ago after it was revealed that 500 conservative and tea party groups waited years for approval, while some presented evidence that federal authorities demanded private and intrusive information about the groups.

Danny Werfel, the new IRS chief, has since banned the “Be on the Look Out,” or BOLO lists of certain words like “patriot” or “tea party” that were used to target right-leaning groups.

Marcus Owens, a Washington-based tax attorney and former director of the IRS’ exempt organizations division, said applications “don’t seem to be moving at all.”

“The IRS just isn’t saying anything to the public or even giving guidance to professionals in the tax field,” Owens said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Audrey Hudson

WSJ: Emails Show IRS’ Lerner Targeted Tea Party Groups.

Image: WSJ: Emails Show IRS' Lerner Targeted Tea Party Groups

By Dan Weil

New IRS emails raise doubts about the agency’s claims that its targeting of conservative groups wasn’t politically motivated and that it was low-level IRS workers in Cincinnati who masterminded the operation.

The emails were sent between former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner and her staff, and were discovered by the House Ways and Means Committee, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial.

In a February 2011 email, Lerner told her staff that a tea party issue is “very dangerous” and is something “Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on … Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”

That contradicts former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller’s comments in May that the targeting was merely the work of two “rogue” employees in Cincinnati. “When the story broke, Ms. Lerner suggested that her office had been unaware of the pattern of targeting until she read about it in the newspaper,” the editorial says.

“Earlier this summer, IRS lawyer Carter Hull, who oversaw the review of many tea party cases and questionnaires, testified that his oversight began in April 2010.”

Tea party cases are “being supervised by Chip Hull at each step,” IRS Rulings and Agreements Director Holly Paz wrote to Ms. Lerner in a February 2011 email. “He reviews info from TPs [tea parties], correspondence to TPs etc. No decisions are going out of Cincy until we go all the way through the process.”

The emails also bring in the issue of conservative campaign spending on the 2012 elections, the editorial says. In July 2012, Lerner-adviser Sharon Light emailed Lerner a National Public Radio story saying outside money was working against Democratic efforts to keep their Senate majority.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told the Federal Election Commission that conservative groups such as Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity should be treated as political committees rather than as tax-exempt social welfare groups that don’t have to reveal their contributors, the editorial says.

“Perhaps the FEC will save the day,” Lerner wrote back.

“That response suggests Ms. Lerner’s political leanings,” the editorial says.

“Democrats want to pretend the IRS scandal is over, but Ms. Lerner’s role deserves much more exposure.”

In the end, the IRS actions against tea party groups may have done them a favor. Outrage over the government agency’s activity is being credited with helping the national movement regain its momentum.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rep. Mica: IRS Testimony Points Finger at Washington.

Image: Rep. Mica: IRS Testimony Points Finger at Washington

By Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter

Rep. John Mica tells Newsmax that an IRS official from Cincinnati who testified on Thursday about the targeting of conservative groups “very clearly” indicated that instructions came from Washington.

The Florida Republican also states that Obamacare is “spinning out of control” and should be replaced, and asserts that the Department of Homeland Security is a “monstrosity” that needs dramatic reform.

Story continues below.


Mica was first elected in 1992. He is chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which he chaired until last December.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on Thursday where two key IRS officials testified for the first time about IRS targeting — agency lawyer Carter Hull and Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Thursday, Rep. Mica discloses what the committee learned.

“In today’s testimony Ms. Hofacre testified very clearly that she sought guidance from above and direction. Mr. Hull, who was in Washington, sought guidance from further up the chain from [exempt organization office chief] Lois Lerner’s office, and he also indicated that the questions went beyond even that office to two political appointees. One of them is of course the commissioner and the legal counsel office was also involved, so that I guess is William Wilkins.

“What we’re trying to do is take this methodically. We’re talking to the people in Cincinnati. We haven’t talked to all of these individuals at the Washington level. We wanted to do a thorough job on what took place in Cincinnati. Clearly they have pointed the finger consistently at Washington, so now we take it to that level.”

Lois Lerner has so far refused to testify, having invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at one hearing. But because she delivered a statement, she might have in fact waived those rights and “she may very well be called back” to testify, Mica says. “That’s a decision of the chairman and the legal counsel.”

As to whether the IRS has since corrected the problem and ended its targeting of conservative groups, Mica observes: “There’s been enough attention so what was taking place for a period of time has probably concluded.

“We’ll know better as we continue this but you have to be thorough. The other side first tried to close down the investigation, then they tried to take selective parts out of testimony we were getting because when they sit in on these depositions from folks, they take selective parts and then use that to again try to close down the investigation, not telling the whole truth.

“They tried to discredit the chairman and today [they attempted] to discredit the inspector general who conducted the audit. So it’s a little bit of a cat and mouse game they’re playing.”

President Obama has said he didn’t know anything about the IRS targeting. Mica says he would “tend to” believe him.

“I don’t think anyone’s made an accusation that the president was involved. What we try to do is find out who was involved. It wasn’t just a group of IRS rogues, as they said, the employees who gathered around a water cooler in the office in Cincinnati where some of these applications were processed. And again the witness we had today from that office clearly stated that she ought direction from Washington.

“Ms. Hofacre said today she did not have any progressive groups she was targeting. I guess they had to have ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their title.”

Mica adds that “there’s always the possibility” that criminal charges may be filed against the individuals behind the targeting.

“The inspector general had said that he might have referrals. The committee can do referrals and we found today that the Department of Justice and FBI are doing some investigating. Both of the witnesses that we had, the Cincinnati witness and Washington, had been contacted by either the FBI and/or the Department of Justice.”

Turning to immigration, Mica says the House should not take up the bipartisan reform legislation passed in the Senate.

“We have our procedures. We have at least four bills. Three of them I’m inclined to support. But I’ve not seen the final on each of them.

“I personally do not support the pathway to citizenship and have a very strong personal and philosophical reason not to support that. All of my grandparents were legal immigrants who worked very hard, who struggled, and who went through a process that took some years to gain their citizenship, and I don’t want that sacrifice and process that they went through set aside.”

The House on Wednesday voted to delay implementation of Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.

Mica comments: “Supporting the president’s desire to put off the employer mandate was one of the votes and I supported that. But if we’re going to allow a delay for employers, then we [should allow a delay for] individuals too.

“Right now, Obamacare is spinning out of control. They’ve devised a very bureaucratic system and they don’t have the mechanisms in place even if they wanted to go forward — not to mention is it appropriate and helpful as a package for the American people to have that particular law in place? I’m for replacing it.”

As chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last term, Mica was very critical of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s invasive body scanners at our nation’s airport. Now she’s stepping down.

“Napolitano did not have the management skills,” Mica tells Newsmax.

“That’s a very difficult agency. We combine 22 activities of government and agencies with 200,000 people so it’s a tough one. She was out of her league.

“We created that in haste. We need to look at dismantling the Department of Homeland Security and having, actually, a homeland security agency that deals with connecting the dots and information that allows us to go after terrorist organizations that pose a risk. Agencies would work much better independently. We need dramatic reform of a huge monstrosity we created.

“It’s an agency gone wild.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

House Panel Says IRS’ Lerner Waived Rights.

Image: House Panel Says IRS' Lerner Waived Rights

The House Oversight Committee voted 22-17 on a resolution Friday stating that Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she made an opening statement while appearing before the committee in May.

Lerner is the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the agency’s targeting of conservative and tea party groups applying for non-profit status. She began her testimony before the committee in May by making a statement and then invoking her Fifth Amendment rights.

The committee voted along party lines with Democrats saying the statement had notwaived her rights.

Committee chairman Darrell Issa said at the opening of the committee’s meeting Friday that Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she testified before the committee in May.

“She did so when she delivered an opening statement,” Issa said, Fox News reports.

“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws,” she said in her opening statement. “I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”

Daniel Werfel, the IRS head, asked for Lerner’s resignation after following her appearance before the committee. After refusing to resign, she was placed on administrative leave.

Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina concurred with the California Republican’s conclusion.

“That’s not how the Fifth Amendment works,” Gowdy said. “You’re not allowed to just say your side of the story . . . She could have sat there and said nothing.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said that he does want to hear what Lerner knows about the IRS scandal, but he also wants to be careful to “respect the constitutional rights of every witness who comes before this committee,” The Washington Times reports.

A Republican staff member who works for the Oversight committee told Politico that they are willing to negotiate with Lerner’s attorneys other options such as granting her partial immunity so that her testimony won’t be held against her in court.

Politico notes that if Lerner refuses to testify, she could be held in contempt.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Lois Lerner Reportedly Still Has Access to IRS System.

Image: Lois Lerner Reportedly Still Has Access to IRS System

By Greg Richter

Lois Lerner, the IRS official placed on paid leave for her role in targeting conservative groups, still has full access to her IRS computer and has logged in since being placed on leave, National Review Online reports.

NRO quotes a source as saying that Lerner has logged in as recently as June 4. She was placed on leave May 21.

The source did not say whether simply logging in was a problem. The source did say, however, that Lerner’s access has not been restricted at all since she headed up the agency’s Exempt Organizations division. That would give her access to taxpayer information, and IRS rules do not allow employees to see that information unless their duties include dealing with taxpayers. Since she was placed on leave her duties no longer require her to deal with taxpayers.

“That is a violation of IRS policy,” the source told NRO, “and if she actually accesses any file that contains any Personal Identifiable Information, it is a felony violation. That would include emails that she has in her files discussing any taxpayer case that contains the name, address, phone numbers or tax data from a case.”

Unauthorized access by Lerner would give new Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel good reason “to can her in a hurry,” the source said. “I am sure a simple examination of her email files and hard drive would discover she still has taxpayer data.”

If any changes were made to her hard drive they could be discovered by investigators. NRO reports that Lerner’s hard drive has already been copied.

Lerner broke the news in early May that groups with “tea party,” “patriot” and other conservative-sounding words and phrases in their names had been inappropriately targeted for added scrutiny. She did so while answering a planted question after a speech to the American Bar Association.

Tea party groups had complained of harassment since 2010, but the IRS denied it. Lerner herself testified in 2011 before the House Oversight Committee that criteria had not changed even though she had previously been made aware of the targeting.

When he took over the agency, Werfel asked Lerner to resign. She refused and was placed on paid leave. When called back this month to testify, Lerner said she broke no laws but refused to answer questions, pleading the Fifth Amendment. Republican members of the House Oversight Committee have questioned whether Lerner can plead the Fifth since she made an opening statement and declared she did nothing illegal.

Chairman Darrell Issa said she may be required to return and testify under oath.

Meanwhile, those calling for Lerner to be fired are likely to be disappointed. Forbesreported today.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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