Lois Lerner

Obstruction Junction, what’s your function?

Eric Holder's Obstruction

In 2009, U.S. officials discovered that Mexican cartels had become the leading gun-traffickers responsible for high levels of crime throughout the Southwest U.S.

On October 31, 2009, the Arizona Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), in cooperation with the Department of Justice (DOJ), launched a sting operation to help reduce cross-border drug and firearm trafficking by “purposely allowing licensed firearm dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers.”  The operation was intended to track weapon purchases made by Mexican drug cartels to expose the location of high level leaders and ultimately lead to their arrests.

By June 2010, the case internally became known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” as ATF agents discovered numerous cartel leaders under investigation were operating out of a busy auto-repair store.  More than 1,608 firearms worth a total of $1 million were purchased by suspected cartel leaders, but unbeknownst to the U.S. government, 179 had been linked to Mexican crimes and 130 had been found at crime scenes in the U.S.

On December 14, 2011, while patrolling Peck Canyon in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, Border Patrol officer Brian Terry was shot and killed by Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, a high-level cartel leader who purchased a weapon linked to Operation Fast and Furious.  While the operation was officially terminated on January 25, 2011, Americans and government officials would soon discover that the problems surrounding the sting had only just begun.

Another IRS scandal: One in 10 Tea Party donors were audited by the tax agency

In  light of the recent vote held by the Republican-led House to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, new evidence suggests that conservative groups that were targeted by the IRS division entrusted with organizations that have tax exempt status, had 10 percent of the names from their donors’ lists audited. The percentage represents a much higher rate within targeted groups, especially when compared to how often average Americans are audited.

The House voted on Wednesday to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. House Republicans insist that that the former IRS director only invoked her constitutional right after she declared her innocence to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Because new revelations pertaining to this case saw the light of day, Republicans were the first to jump at the new information.

According to the documents, nearly one in every 10 tea party donors were subject to audits after groups were forced to turn in their lists of donors, a rate that is suspiciously higher than the average 1 percent audit rate for the general public.

While the IRS maintained that it never targeted conservative or liberty-minded groups at the beginning of the investigation, the agency finally came clean, at least enough to admit that its agents were in fact singling out conservative or libertarian groups.

Disgraced ex-IRS official will not get immunity in exchange for testimony

When disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, she will not receive immunity for any testimony she gives, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):

“Her attorney indicates now that she will testify. We’ve had a back and forth negotiation,” Issa told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “But quite frankly, we believe that evidence that we’ve gathered causes her in her best interest to be summoned to testify.”

The evidence that Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has obtained are emails showing that Lerner drafted the proposed IRS regulations that would restrict political speech of nonprofit groups that engage in public policy discussions. The regulations are currently being considered by the IRS.

Wallace asked whether the House Oversight Committee offered Lerner immunity in exchange for her testimony. “We did not,” Issa replied, adding later that he believes the disgraced IRS official will answer all the committee’s questions about the powerful tax agencies targeting of conservative groups.

Obama defends handling of Benghazi, other scandals

Barack Obama

In an occasionally contentious interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s handling of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups. He also addressed the Obamacare canceled health plan controversy.

Obamacare rollout and Sebelius

O’Reilly began the interview by asking President Obama why HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius still has a job in his administration after the initial, disastrous rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange, Healthcare.gov.

President Obama repeated the line that no one in his administration “anticipated the degree of problems” on the federal Obamacare exchange website, which isn’t necessarily true, given the warnings from some officials that the website wasn’t ready for launch. Instead, he acknowledge the problems and focused on the fixes applied to the website.

IRS Scandal: Playing “count the lies” with Lois Lerner

After the revelations today about Lois Lerner, and her emails to her colleagues, perhaps quite a few of the victims of the IRS “special treatment” for conservative organizations would be wanting a good, stiff drink. While it might be a little reassuring to find out that Lerner really was behind the targeting of Tea Party organizations, what does that mean now? True, it’s come out that Lerner was communicating via email about the “very dangerous” matter of dealing with Tea Party organizations, but what now?

Lerner remains out of the loop, but she is still being paid by the taxpayers, and members of Congress have started screaming for accountability, but it’s not likely that anything meaningful will be done, at least not during this administration.

The activities that got Lerner in hot water in the first place are still happening now, and it’s not likely that Congress will manage to get bi-partisan support for any legislation that could possibly address the matter. That’s unlikely in itself, because this is a regulatory issue, as opposed to a legislative one, as in policies and procedures within the IRS have been misused for the political gain of the administration. However, at least one “mystery” has been solved. This probably is part of the reason why Lerner had pleaded the Fifth in her testimony.

Otherwise, the reaction from The Hill was at least a little interesting, with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) leading the charge to hold Lerner accountable:

Whoops! IRS Watchdog finds thousands of ‘lost’ Lois Lerner emails

Lois Lerner

Bad news for the former director of the Exempt Organizations Divisions of the IRS: the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration announced to Congressional staffers late last week that thousands of Lois Lerner’s previously “lost” emails had been discovered on “disaster recovery tapes,” according to POLITICO.

From the account:

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration told congressional staffers Friday the emails belonging to the most controversial figure in the IRS controversy were located on disaster recovery tapes.

The inspector general report on the matter attributed the mess to management screw-ups.

TIGTA, which wrote the original report about the tea party controversy, was asked to look into the missing emails matter. A report on the matter is due out soon.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen had said that he hopes TIGTA can find the tapes, as the agency could not — but he told Congress the hard drive, and likely emails, were gone for good as far as IRS officials knew.

Lerner asserts that she didn’t do anything wrong. She has invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and will not answer questions from Congress.

UL has followed this story extensively — just one of many that has plagued the Obama Administration and shows the real danger of a government that is too big.

IRS inappropriately asked for conservative groups’ donor lists for a so-called “secret research project”

There’s a long-standing legal precedent that prevents the federal government from accessing information that belongs to private organizations. In 1958, the Supreme Court, ruled that the State of Alabama violated the rights of NAACP members when it demanded information from the civil rights organization, including its membership list.

“Effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association,” wrote Justice John Harlan in the unanimous opinion. “It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the ‘liberty’ assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech.”

The Internal Revenue Service, however, doesn’t care. Or, at the very least, the powerful tax agency didn’t care when it was scrutinizing nonprofit organizations, the bulk of which had conservative leanings. Judicial Watch has obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in October 2013 in which IRS officials say that donor lists were needed for a unexplained “secret research project”:

Here’s more evidence the IRS really doesn’t want Congress to know what Lois Lerner may have been doing

Judicial Watch just keeps on uncovering more information about the Internal Revenue Service’s actions both before and after its targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge.

The conservative watchdog group managed to get the Justice Department to admit that the missing emails, including those of Lois Lerner, still exist on a backup system. Now, via National Review, Judicial Watch has discovered that the IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry, after — yes, after — Congress began looking into the targeting scandal, and didn’t bother to save any of the information on it:

According to the second round of IRS affidavits submitted to U.S. district court judge Emmett Sullivan, who is presiding over the lawsuit brought against the nation’s tax agency by watchdog group Judicial Watch, Inc., IRS technical analysts did not search Lois Lerner’s Blackberry for her allegedly “lost” e-mails — and the smartphone was destroyed after congressional investigation had begun.

Justice Department confirms the Lois Lerner emails still exist, proving that IRS officials are a pack of liars

Well, look at that. The Justice Department has confirmed to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch that the emails of several IRS officials, including those of Lois Lerner, still exist, despite claims that they’d been lost due to hard drive crashes and destroyed backup tapes:

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Justice Department lawyers informed him that the federal government keeps a back-up copy of every email and record in the event of a government-wide catastrophe.

The back-up system includes the IRS emails, too.

“So, the emails may inconvenient to access, but they are not gone with the [broken] hard drive,” Judicial Watch spokeswoman Jill Farrell told the Washington Examiner.

Judicial Watch is now seeking the release of the emails, which Justice Department lawyers say would be hard to find because of the significant size of the backup system.

Yeah, Judicial Watch is probably the least of the Justice Department and IRS’s concerns. The House Oversight and Government Reform and House Ways and Means committees, both of which are investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, aren’t going to care how difficult of a task it will be to recover these emails.

Federal judge orders an independent inquiry into Lois Lerner’s missing emails

A federal judge has ordered an independent inquiry to search for answers into the loss of emails at the Internal Revenue Service, including those of disgraced former official Lois Lerner, who is at the heart of the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton, wasn’t pleased by the IRS’s responses to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch.

In an order released on Thursday afternoon, Sullivan instructed the IRS “to file a sworn Declaration, by an official with the authority to speak under oath for the Agency, by no later than August 22, 2014.” That official, whomever it may be, will have to provide detail on the tax agency’s efforts to recover the Lerner’s emails, tracking of hard drives, and policies relating to the destruction of hard drives.

“In an extraordinary step, U. S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan has launched an independent inquiry into the issue of the missing emails associated with former IRS official Lois Lerner,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a release.

“Previously, Judge Sullivan ordered the IRS to produce sworn declarations about the IRS email issue by August 11,” he said. “[Thursday’s] order confirms Judicial Watch’s read of this week’s IRS’ filings that treated as a joke Judge Sullivan’s order.”


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