Trib Calls for Special Prosecutor. Again.

The editors of the Chicago Tribune have called once again for a special prosecutor for the IRS scandal:

On a matter this serious, the administration can’t adequately investigate itself. Given the amount of smoke now rising from the IRS, many Americans won’t be much interested in what one arm of the administration concludes about other arms, including the IRS, the Treasury Department of which it’s part, and possibly the White House.

That’s why we’ve urged Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor — a phrase that, like “customer support” or “designated hitter,” provokes Pavlovian suspicions. We’ve been skeptical of some special prosecutors and their tendency toward mission creep. But we’ve also seen situations where only a special prosecutor has the independence and credibility to resolve a case that drips with politics, as when then-U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago investigated (and convicted of perjury and other offenses) I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who had been Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

Why Holder won’t act is a mystery he’s inviting Americans to resolve, uncharitably, in their own minds.

The latest revelations is that emails which may shed light on the matter which were required by law to be retained may have either been irrevocably lost or destroyed.

Only the most partisan can possibly doubt that there is a scandal here. The IG acknowledged wrongdoing more than a year ago and Lois Lerner’s early assertions that the actions were only those of a few rogue agents in a single office have been revealed as either most charitably mistaken or more likely baldfaced lies. The scandal is either the classic one of wrongdoing and subsequent cover-up or monumental incompetence and scofflawry. Either is a scandal.

Public trust in government is at historic lows. That may have been abetted by relentless Republican attacks on government but it’s obvious that the federal government has done itself little good over the last six years. We’re in desperate need of the air being cleared and I’m not really sure what actions or policies will bring that about.

If early indications are any gauge we’re shaping up for a strong anti-incumbent election in the fall. Since rates of retention in office approach 90%, an anti-incumbent wave would mean that only three-quarters of incumbents would be returned to office. I don’t think will quite do it.

81 comments… add one
  • steve

    I like the idea, but have reservations since we know the history of what happens when a special prosecutor goes astray. Since I dont really know, is it possible to set limits or boundaries on what they investigate? We really dont need another Ken Starr interviewing girls who were teens and lived a thousand miles away from the supposed crime.

    “I’m not really sure what actions or policies will bring that about.”

    I am sure you saw the recent poll showing that trust in Congress hit a new low with a 7% favorable rating. We concentrate on the presidency because it is easier to discuss one target, but I think our real problems, and for a long time, lie with Congress. For many reasons, I dont see this changing. Hence, while a true special prosecutor, not a witch hunter, would be a good idea to get to the bottom of this, I dispute the idea that it will clear the air. There will always be another problem somewhere. In a very large organization, something will go wrong somewhere. It will be turned into a “scandal” by the appropriate media and by the Congress regardless of who holds office.

    Steve

  • michael reynolds

    What Steve said.

    The disappearing emails were the final straw for me as far as accepting that we have to continue slogging along on what I strongly suspect is a nowhere path. It’s impossible to resist the idea of further investigation under the circumstances.

    But don’t kid yourself that any result short of Mr. Obama’s head on a pike will satisfy Issa and his crowd. Facts matter to a very small slice of Congress, and no slice at all of Republicans in Congress. Republicans are in a post-factual era. They’ve evolved beyond the need for reality.

  • Steve, it’s worth noting that Starr was an Independent Counsel rather than just a Special Counsel. The Independent Counsel statute was retired. The Special Counsel has less leeway.

  • CStanley

    What, Michael, you don’t accept Kevin Drum’s explanation of the emails?

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/08/irs-scandal-fizzle

    What is enlightening at this stage of the scandal, is seeing who holds out. It’s like a roll call for hacks, and kudos to the Trib editorial board for distinguishing itself from them.

  • There’s a Robert Benchley short that I wish I could find online. In the short I’m thinking of he’s checking in to a hotel with his wife of many years and he’s so shifty and uncomfortable that he attracts the attention of the house detective.

    IMO the very most charitable explanation of the administration is something like that. There’s nothing untoward going on but they’re acting so guilty it looks as though there were.

    The solution to that is for the administration to stop acting either guilty or defiant but open. Tell the truth and shame the devil, as Hotspur put it.

    Or they could continue to look guilty. It hasn’t been working very well for them.

  • BTW, the claim that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was unrecoverable is stupid. Other than hard drives destroyed by fire, flood, crushing, or other physical damage there are only drives that aren’t worth recovering not unrecoverable drives. An industrial guillotine shear will do the job quite nicely. But I’ve seen hard drives destroyed by fire recovered.

    Te data on many “unrecoverable drives” can be recovered quite easily with just a few hours’ work.

  • ...

    Anyone that’s ever been around a big, or even a small but well run, IT department knows that the story being proffered is pure unadulterated bullshit. The very best that can be said is that the IRS Commissioner is completely senile and the people reporting to him are completely dishonest and/or incompetent. It quickly devolves into law breaking.

    As for people wanting Obama’s head on a stick: one of the charges against Nixon was that he tried and failed to do what the Obama Administration successfully pulled off – going after political enemies with the IRS. Amazing how desires that made Nixon the devil are something to be shrugged off now that a Democratic President has realized them. I guess it’s like interns. A Republican makes googlie eyes at an intern and we don’t stop hearing about it for weeks. A Dem bangs an underage intern and gets lauded as a hero for it when he’s dead.

  • CStanley

    BTW, the claim that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was unrecoverable is stupid.

    Which is of course why it was “recycled” after it was declared unrecoverable. Dead hard drives, in landfills, can tell no tales.

  • Dead hard drives, in landfills, can tell no tales.

    If you gave me 1,000 old hard drives, even ones that had been tossed into landfills, and a large enough budget, I could probably keep a states attorney busy for the rest of his career.

  • But aren’t you especially skilled in your profession or trade, or however you prefer to name it?

  • Guarneri

    I guess we found the “most partisan” masquerading as even handed “folks” concerned about mechanics.

    In any event, I’m with them. I heard directly from a pretty high up administration official that there wasn’t a smidgeon of corruption here. Not a smidge. So there you have it. Case closed. Let’s turn to real stuff, shall we?

    So if I can beg of you to excuse me, I must go as I am to pick up Sasquatch and we will resume our intense search, along with most mainstream media types, for “the real killer.” I must tell you that on today’s intensive search I will hit a three wood from the tee on #16, not driver like yesterday. Sassy has to make his own decision. But if you hit it too long, behind the old elm, not only does the “real killer” have a moment to escape, but you have to hit a vicious hook around it with an 8 iron. Tough duty.

  • How are your hand and arm?

    There’s a golf shop in Monroe, tucked into the corner of a strip shopping center, that I wandered into a couple of weeks ago. Do you have any of those “dial-a-matic” clubs?

  • ...

    Forget looking for “the real killer,” go looking for Elvis. He doesn’t have too many years left at this point.

  • And you will remember, Guarneri, that in the past election I voted for Johnson. I have no brief for the IRS or the Obama administration.

    You will remember that the Romney’s Republican get-out-the vote program and organization failed dismally. So don’t talk to me about computer failures.

  • Guarneri

    Aye-aye, Captain.

  • jan

    Is this just another coincidence that the IRS canceled it’s long term contract with Sonasoft just two months after a letter was written to the IRS questioning if they were targeting certain non-profit groups or not?

    The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”

    Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.

    But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.

  • I won’t take a thing the Daily Caller says as gospel. It could be just the end of a contract. The Republicans in Congress are all about austerity.

    However, I don’t object to a proper investigation. Get after it.

  • Guarneri

    Just saw this.

    “Dial-a-matic?

    Say what?

  • https://plus.google.com/106121148961574598356/about?gl=us&hl=en

    Go there. The old pro running the shop (30 years) pitched me out quickly.

  • I saw Taylors and Calloways . They have a dial on their heads. Presumably, they could change their distance based on the slant of the heads, or something.

  • Andy

    Well the hard drive thing doesn’t make much sense to me. The IRS, like 95% of the federal government, uses MS Exchange-based email, so any archiving should be transparent to individual users and the archival process should happen at the server level, not on individual computers. So I’m not sure why the hard drive should matter at all if the IRS as an organization was archiving properly.

    So let’s assume it wasn’t. Like a lot of federal employees, I have a personal outlook data file where I keep my own archive of emails simply because we don’t get much space on the exchange server. I have mine setup to move anything older than two weeks into this secondary PST file. Most people save those personal PST files on their local hard drive (I put mine on a network share). So if the IRS IT department didn’t archive at the server level, then maybe Lerner had a personal archive that was “lost” in the hard drive crash.

    That’s the only case where I can see that a hard drive might matter. If she was using unofficial email to circumvent the government email system then she would have to use a web-based email like Gmail – there wouldn’t be emails saved on her hard drive from that unless she specifically saved them.

    So I don’t know – the hard drive might be a red herring or it might not. It seems to me the bigger issue is why didn’t the IRS IT department archive at the server level?

  • the bigger issue is why didn’t the IRS IT department archive at the server level?

    That’s part of what I meant in the body of the post by “monumental incompetence”. That itself is a scandal.

    Not that incompetence would be a surprise. I’ve had substantial experience of government IT at all levels of government, as a local, state, and federal contractor. Not recently, admittedly.

    My experience was that governmental entities tend to rely far too heavily on amateurs, self-proclaimed internal experts, and the politically connected. They don’t use best practice, frequently blaming their poor practices on lack of money. I think it’s actually that, like many others in service industries, they think that spending on anything but wages is a waste of money.

  • Andy

    Dave,

    Your experience may not be recent, but your description is accurate.

  • CStanley

    Here’s the thing too- wasn’t there already an internal investigation, the one that produced the allegation of wrongful targeting to begin with (which led to Lerner disclosing this problem at an obscure conference?)

    Unless I’m missing something, wouldn’t those investigators have had to have had access to emails from this time period for Lerner and the others?

    At the very least it seems that if all of those records really had been lost, the IRS officials must have known about it long before they disclosed this.

  • Zachriel

    Why don’t the Republican-controlled committees give Lerner immunity, and have her testify? They prefer the scandal to the facts, apparently.

  • CStanley

    @Zachriel: Another possible explanation is that a full disclosure might implicate some GOP congressional members too. It’s hardly implausible that GOP incumbents were also trying to tamp down the grass roots Tea Party organizations.

    This was my initial working theory, although The evidence so far shows Dems putting the pressure on (their focus was Rove’s Crossroads GPS) while I’ve not seen any such evidence on the GOP side. Still, I’m wondering why the small grassroots organizations were targeted when the Dems weren’t directly concerned about them.

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: Still, I’m wondering why the small grassroots organizations were targeted when the Dems weren’t directly concerned about them.

    It’s rather obvious there was an attempt to use the tax laws to shelter partisan political organizations. This attempt came primarily from the right. Again, if they wanted the truth, all they would have to do is immunize Lerner.

  • ...

    Yes, Zachriel, it is obvious that right-wingers in Congress got Obama Administration officials to attempt to stop the Republican Party from destroying itself in a civil war. @@

  • ...

    How do the mechanics of granting immunity work, both the written and unwritten rules? Can the chairman of the committee grant it on his own? Does it require a vote of committee members? Do unwritten rules exist for a need for some bi-partisan support?

    Could the Dems on the committee push for a grant of immunity? Has that happened? If not, why not, if there’s nothing to it?

    What we know for certain is that an IG report states wrong doing occurred, that the official in charge of the people conducting the audits lied to congress, that the same individual now claims that if she testifies truthfully that she will likely implicate herself in criminal wrongdoing, that the IRS has destroyed a large volume of critical emails either through gross incompetence or outright criminal behavior, and that the current IRS Commissioner has been hiding that last fact for about a year.

    But I’m sure that this is either a series of highly unfortunate events, or that Republicans in Congress are really behind this.

  • ....

    For that matter, if there’s nothing to this, why doesn’t Obama issue a carefully worded Presidential Pardon to Lois Lerner for any crimes connected to this scandal, thus compelling her to testify? It’s not like Eric Holder doesn’t have experience crafting pardons for shady characters, lol!*

    But instead of the Administration trying to clear the air of this alleged non-scandal, they’re fighting this in a manner that would have made Nixon envious, as Nixon didn’t have a lapdog media constantly trying to brush this off as no big deal. (No digital media, and I don’t think the big news outlets would ever mention this story.) Witness the fact that the current IRS Commissioner has been sitting on this email story for months.

    If Nixon had used email instead of audio tape, he’d have served two full terms.

    * Interesting that Obama chose as his AG a man that we KNOW could be bought by criminals to do the wrong thing, and that could get Presidents to do the wrong thing on the behalf of criminals.

  • Cstanley

    It’s rather obvious there was an attempt to use the tax laws to shelter partisan political organizations. This attempt came primarily from the right. Again, if they wanted the truth, all they would have to do is immunize Lerner.

    Why should it be imperative to immunize a federal employee in order to compel her to testify on matters regarding her employment? For that matter, if I’m not mistaken there is already evidence of criminal wrongdoing (didn’t her division illegally give out an organization’s application with donor information?) and it seems to me we should be at the stage of offering a plea bargain deal for a lesser sentence if she’ll come clean.

    I’m also laughing at “that attempt came primarily from the right.” Sure, there are no major lefty 501(c)4’s. Well, or the lefty ones only do community service work.

  • jan

    Ice,

    I liked your succinct synopsis of the IRS controversy. When you actually go through the ‘facts,’ in a detached manner, the lack of timely cooperation and overall government sincerity in getting to the crux of the targeting allegations is incredible.

    More often than not, though, when you put so much into the jurisdiction of government regulation and management, it simply becomes mired down by protective red tape keeping accountability off the backs of government employees and their departments. This kind of malfeasance, incompetence, whatever you want to call it, would be more difficult to pull off in the private sector — big banking institutions excluded.

  • ...

    jan, it’s possible that this is all merely extreme incompetence followed up by an unusual amount of foot dragging and the regular amount of ass covering. But I just don’t buy it.

    The questions for me are: Did bureaucrats in the IRS do this on their own, or did the impetus come “from on high”? And if the impetus did come “from on high”, how high up, from who and how? I doubt Obama himself would have been involved, as he just seems too detached. People below him? Certainly, they could have done so. I doubt any ‘orders’ were given, however, and I sincerely doubt there is a paper trail. (We know that the digital trail will have been ‘erased’.)

    But it could have been suggested to someone. Say after a meeting or a lunch, someone could have said, “Man, it would be great if all the nasty Tea Party 501(c)4′s would get audited – that would show ’em what for!” Or someone could have said, “Do it.” Or, as per Schuler’s favorite Rostenkowski quote, someone just showed Lerner or one of her superiors a business card.

    But pinning it down? Good luck. I doubt it came thru the SecTreas office. Holder is definitely the kind of slimeball that would do that, but I doubt he would step outside his boundaries in the Justice Department – doesn’t seem his style. If it did come from on high, I imagine it came through one of Barry O’s political insiders, like a Plouffe, Jarrett or Axelrod, possibly through a trusted proxy. Who plays Dick Armitage to those three’s Colin Powell?

  • Cstanley

    Ice pick- there was already quite a bit of that coming from Dems in Congress- Durbin, Shumer, Levin, maybe others. There’s a pretty good timeline here:
    http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=375999

    For his part, as far as what is known and knowable, Obama was on the sidelines with the cheerleader pompoms.

  • Cstanley

    I’ve seen some musings that there may be a related but separate scandal of coordination regarding the lawsuits over ACA and contraception. With the degree of brazen coverup, it does seem like there is something big that they’re trying to hide, and if have to wonder if that’s what it is because potentially it’s even worse than the parts that we know, and would certainly go high up in the executive branch if not to Obama himself.

  • Cstanley

    Could the Dems on the committee push for a grant of immunity? Has that happened? If not, why not, if there’s nothing to it?

    This. Can’t anyone in our incurious media think to put that question to Democratic congressional members?

  • jan

    Ice, there are just too many “coincidences” of “oops” by the IRS to make this just a case of incompetence. And, if that were the case, why weren’t these incompetent employees ‘fired’ on the spot? Plus, you have all the other squirrelly events going on in DC where secrecy, non-compliance, EO’s, stupid decisions rule the day.

    In the meantime, ran across this light-hearted piece:

    Some legislative humor offered as a possible taxpayer recourse to the IRS’s own excuse-making factory.

    Under Stockman’s bill, taxpayers could claim one of the following 10 reasons for not submitting documents requested by the IRS:

    1. The dog ate my tax receipts

    2. Convenient, unexplained, miscellaneous computer malfunction

    3. Traded documents for five terrorists

    4. Burned for warmth while lost in the Yukon

    5. Left on table in Hillary’s Book Room

    6. Received water damage in the trunk of Ted Kennedy’s car

    7. Forgot in gun case sold to Mexican drug lords

    8. Forced to recycle by municipal Green Czar

    9. Was short on toilet paper while camping

    10. At this point, what difference does it make?

  • ...

    Yes, I keep forgetting that Congress was playing a role in this too. So much for separation of powers. But what the Hell, right? I mean the President keeps re-writing the laws, no reason Congress shouldn’t take over some executive functions.

    On the larger point, it just doesn’t matter. Obama can do whatever he wants, and he will suffer little consequence. He’s not up for re-election again so he has no need to worry about polls. And since he has a pen and is willing to use it, it doesn’t matter if he has no popular support. He has support of the financiers, or at least enough of them, and that’s all that matters. And no Republican Congress would impeach him, as they don’t’ want rioting from almost 39,000,000 black people. Obama is immune, his top advisers slightly less so. The people below them? They’re vulnerable unless they’ve got stainless steel balls and lots of dirt on higher ups.

    Both sides in Washington want to concentrate more power in the White House, and both sides want less accountability anywhere. There’s a logical endpoint to that, and it will come when some future President appoints his favorite horse to the Senate. (That will probably lead to a decrease in quality for the President’s stable, and an increase in quality for the Senate, but that’s another matter.)

  • ...

    Cstanley, I really don’t know how a grant of Congressional immunity would work, and I’m too lazy/distracted to look it up. I am curious to how it works, and perhaps PD will provide the answer.

  • jan

    “Holder is definitely the kind of slimeball that would do that, but I doubt he would step outside his boundaries in the Justice Department – doesn’t seem his style.”

    Holder’s “style” is yet to be determined, as far as I’m concerned. For instance, while Lerner took the 5th during the Congressional Hearings, she did go over to Holder’s office to discuss what? I’ve often wondered if he didn’t counsel her as to her legal options and perimeters. This administration seems to be holding hands in order to cover for each other, rather than coming clean, as to any legal improprieties that may have been committed negatively effecting the people.

  • ...

    And, if that were the case, why weren’t these incompetent employees ‘fired’ on the spot?

    Are you kidding? In the government employees like that are worth their weight in … something more expensive than gold. Is gallium arsenide still insanely expensive, or do I have the wrong substance in mind.

    But having people like that upon which to shift the blame? Friggin’ priceless, they are!

    Some legislative humor

    Okay, I have to stop right there due to incredulity!

  • CStanley

    Jan, they forgot to include Sandy Berger’s socks.

  • ...

    But jan, Holder is the AG, and explaining how people outside the White House should lie, stonewall and obfuscate are part of his responsibilities. I mean, each separate entity will have their own lawyers, but ultimately he is the subject matter expert!

    (The President has a personal attorney for such matters, and I imagine the same person counsels the President’s chief White House aides.)

  • jan

    Ice,

    This year we’ve had our own IRS experience, where they sent a letter, with a short time fuse for us to respond, saying we owed more income taxes.

    Their own audit of our ’13 return, however, was flawed, in that, although they noted we had a credit applied to our final payment, they nonetheless ignored/overlooked it. We then had to go back to our accountant, who hacked into the IRS internals, producing their own data acknowledging our credit, which we sent back to the IRS as evidence of “their” error.

    The accountability placed upon the taxpayer, with enormous liability attached (like daily interest) if not cleared up in a short time frame, is insanely lopsided, IMO.

  • Zachriel

    : How do the mechanics of granting immunity work, both the written and unwritten rules? Can the chairman of the committee grant it on his own? Does it require a vote of committee members? Do unwritten rules exist for a need for some bi-partisan support?

    Testimonial immunity requires 2/3 vote of the committee. The actual order is made by a district court, and the Justice Department must be informed.

    Democrats, including the ranking Democrat, have called for a grant of immunity. In the House, nothing happens unless the chairman lets it happen.

    Cstanley: Why should it be imperative to immunize a federal employee in order to compel her to testify on matters regarding her employment?

    Because Constitution.

    Cstanley: I’m also laughing at “that attempt came primarily from the right.” Sure, there are no major lefty 501(c)4′s. Well, or the lefty ones only do community service work.

    Of course there were, but the Right was highly energized through the Tea Party Movement, had little respect for federal rules, and everybody and his brother thought they could beat the system. In any case, the IRS was clearly looking for groups on the left and the right that were skirting the rules.

    : Could the Dems on the committee push for a grant of immunity? Has that happened? If not, why not, if there’s nothing to it?

    Cstanley: Can’t anyone in our incurious media think to put that question to Democratic congressional members?

    Democrats have been pushing for immunity. That Republicans have continued to resist suggests that they want the scandal, not the truth.

  • jan

    Taken from the IRS Manual:

    1.10.3.2.3 (07-08-2011)
    Emails as Possible Federal Records
    All federal employees and federal contractors are required by law to preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency. Records must be properly stored and preserved, available for retrieval and subject to appropriate approved disposition schedules.

    The Federal Records Act applies to email records just as it does to records you create using other media. Emails are records when they are:

    Created or received in the transaction of agency business

    Appropriate for preservation as evidence of the government’s function and activities, or

    Valuable because of the information they contain

    If you create or receive email messages during the course of your daily work, you are responsible for ensuring that you manage them properly. The Treasury Department’s current email policy requires emails and attachments that meet the definition of a federal record be added to the organization’s files by printing them (including the essential transmission data) and filing them with related paper records. If transmission and receipt data are not printed by the email system, annotate the paper copy. More information on IRS records management requirements is available at http://erc.web.irs.gov/Displayanswers/Question.asp?FolderID=4&CategoryID=5 or see the Records Management Handbook, IRM 1.15.1 http://publish.no.irs.gov/IRM/P01/PDF/31421A03.PDF).

    An email determined to be a federal record may eventually be considered as having historical value by the National Archivist prior to disposal. Therefore, ensure that all your communications are professional in tone.

    Please note that maintaining a copy of an email or its attachments within the IRS email MS Outlook application does not meet the requirements of maintaining an official record. Therefore, print and file email and its attachments if they are either permanent records or if they relate to a specific case.

  • CStanley

    In any case, the IRS was clearly looking for groups on the left and the right that were skirting the rules.

    Clearly, if they had been doing so impartially, there wole be no need for any of this.

    Regarding immunity, I missed some of the drama involving Cummings and am trying to catch up presently. My question though is whether other Democrats are also calling for it. I suspect that there are some who would be incriminated if she were to talk. Even if it’s just symbolic, I’d like for them to go on record.

  • CStanley

    In other word, please define “pushing for it.”

  • ...

    Zachriel, your “because the constitution” quip effectively means that you believe the executive can operate without any oversight by Congress. No reason that every member of the executive branch shouldn’t claim their right to silence on every question put to them by Congress.

    If someone from the executive claims they can’t answer questions about their actual duties because otherwise they will incriminate themselves, then those people ars clearly crooks, they should be removed from office, and their bosses should be hauled into Congress to answer the questions. If they refuse to do so, lather, rinse, & repeat until you get to someone who will answer the questions.

  • ...

    Pushing for it doesn’t mean much if they don’t have to go on record. It’s like being for it before you were against, all purely on procedural grounds.

    Also, granting immunity to get someone to testify about their actual job duties sets a precedent that people committing any potentially illegal acts in government can get a free pass from Congress. Congress acting like a bull in a China shop using such methods for discovery are likely to male it harder than hell for prosecutors.

  • ...

    Jan, if anyone else tried to cheat you like that, you could sue them. Or at least never deal with them again. But what can you do against the king’s men?

    Also, you’d better stop discussing this online. The NSA is taking notes. That’s probably how you got in this mess to begin with.

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: Clearly, if they had been doing so impartially, there wole be no need for any of this.

    There are two issues. They used keywords, which seems reasonable on the surface, but can be seen as bias. And there were more groups on the right trying to use that aspect of the law, so more were scrutinized.

    CStanley: Even if it’s just symbolic, I’d like for them to go on record.

    Nothing gets past the chair. Have a vote, that’s how you get them on record.

    : No reason that every member of the executive branch shouldn’t claim their right to silence on every question put to them by Congress.

    You could say the same about any witness in any proceeding, but taking the 5th requires the possibility of self-incrimination, not mere embarrassment, or obstinance. There’s substantial case law involved.

    : If someone from the executive claims they can’t answer questions about their actual duties because otherwise they will incriminate themselves, then those people ars clearly crooks, they should be removed from office, and their bosses should be hauled into Congress to answer the questions.

    Lerner no longer works for the government.

    : Also, granting immunity to get someone to testify about their actual job duties sets a precedent that people committing any potentially illegal acts in government can get a free pass from Congress.

    If there is a conspiracy that involves higher ups, as some have claimed, then a grant of immunity may be reasonable.

  • CStanley

    And there were more groups on the right trying to use that aspect of the law, so more were scrutinized.

    On a percentage basis, the numbers were much higher for the conservative groups and the BOLO triggered a different set of actions for them.

  • ...

    People still work at the IRS who have responsibility for overseeing the work Lerner’s office did. The current Commissioner should be fired for stonewalling and the SecTreas should have his ass plopped down in front of the committee to explain why he can’t find anyone at the IRS from the IT staff up to the commissioner’s office to do a competent and/or honest job at anything. Failing that, impeach the President and remove him freom office for allowing the IRS to be used for his personal gain.

    This is bullshit, and it is obvious bullshit. They are stonewalling, obfuscating and now destroying evidence. It is completely unreasonable at this point to assume anything but the worst of the Administration’s intent and involvement, unless they can prove otherwise.

  • Guarneri

    “This is bullshit, and it is obvious bullshit. They are stonewalling, obfuscating and now destroying evidence. It is completely unreasonable at this point to assume anything but the worst of the Administration’s intent and involvement, unless they can prove otherwise.”

    Ice, you racist slut………

  • ...

    Lol @ Mr. Aykroyd.

  • Zachriel

    Dave Schuler: The latest revelations is that emails which may shed light on the matter which were required by law to be retained may have either been irrevocably lost or destroyed.

    The data problem was reported in 2011, two years before the scandal broke.

    CStanley: On a percentage basis, the numbers were much higher for the conservative groups and the BOLO triggered a different set of actions for them.

    That doesn’t necessarily imply bias. The right had a lot of new groups run by highly energized dilettantes.

  • CStanley

    That doesn’t necessarily imply bias. The right had a lot of new groups run by highly energized dilettantes

    Nonsense. It doesn’t just imply bias, it’s probative of it. The criteria that the IRS is supposed to use is percentage of activities that are political, full stop. Even that is problematic, but to accept them making decisions about who is more or less likely to overstep the bounds, is ridiculous. To ask that is to send an engraved invitation to partisan abuse.

  • Guarneri

    >>>>>>>>

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: It doesn’t just imply bias, it’s probative of it.

    That is not correct. If the applications are faulty, such as the explanation as to why they should be tax exempt, then they will be scrutinized, and further inquiries made.

    What’s interesting is how they claim their political activities were inhibited, all the while attesting to the IRS that the groups were formed primarily for non-political activities.

  • CStanley

    That is not correct. If the applications are faulty, such as the explanation as to why they should be tax exempt, then they will be scrutinized, and further inquiries made.

    Except that is not what happened. They were singled out, profiled, if you will, for “applying while conservative”. If the agency were just selecting random groups for enhanced scrutiny, and then moving applications through a chain of heightened scrutiny based on initial red flags that weren’t based on partisan criteria, then that would have been appropriate.

    What’s interesting is how they claim their political activities were inhibited, all the while attesting to the IRS that the groups were formed primarily for non-political activities.
    These aren’t apolitical groups. It is permissible for nearly half of their activities to be political advocacy. Now I would agree that this is a stupid basis for tax exemption, but obviously partisans on both sides can and will take advantage of this structure and it is completely inappropriate for the IRS to put it’s thumb on the scale. And having obvious partisans in these sensitive positions is particularly egregious.

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: If the agency were just selecting random groups for enhanced scrutiny, and then moving applications through a chain of heightened scrutiny based on initial red flags that weren’t based on partisan criteria, then that would have been appropriate.

    So? Do you have evidence this wasn’t the case?

    CStanley: These aren’t apolitical groups. It is permissible for nearly half of their activities to be political advocacy.

    They have to be “operated primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterments and social improvements”. Many of them are obvious front-groups for funneling campaign money.

    Regardless, they still have the right to be treated equitably.

  • So? Do you have evidence this wasn’t the case?

    Zachriel, you’re beating a dead horse. The IG found cause to believe that the IRS had acted wrongly more than a year ago. There’s no use in insisting that nothing untowards happened at this point.

    I don’t think there’s any longer any reason to debate over whether the IRS acted wrongly (since the IG found that it had) or whether it was just in one office or the actions of a few rogue agents. Why re-litigate it?

    At this point there’s a legitimate investigation into the degree to which IRS officials have obstructed investigation and to how high the wrongdoing rises. I happen to think that it does not reach the White House but the White House, the IRS, and Democratic Party officials, generally, are acting so guilty it lends credence to an otherwise iffy case.

    All of that supports the case for a special prosecutor.

  • ...

    “There’s no use in insisting that nothing untowards happened at this point.”

    And yet, that has been done for a year now by those that support this president having completely unchecked power to do whatever the Hell he wants.

  • CStanley

    I’m guessing that Zachriel’s rue litigation might be related to the fact that Democrats on the oversight committee tried to litigate the TIGTA report last summer.. By bringing fort a document that included progressive keywords as BOLO terms.

    My take on that is, if this was the case then why didn’t the agency defend itself with that when the IG was investigating the matter? If they were innocent of bias and had prepared BOLO terms purposely from across the political spectrum, then it makes no sense that the IG would have issued a critical report with recommendations for remedies, nor that the agency would have accepted and acknowledged the criticism.

  • ...

    Hey Drew, a question: Think the IRS record keeping protocols would pass SOX muster?

    Thank god they got that passed to make big organizations keep to the straight and narrow.

  • Zachriel

    Dave Schuler: The IG found cause to believe that the IRS had acted wrongly more than a year ago.

    As you said, it has already been determined that it was inappropriate to use politically-charged keywords. We agree. So? The claim is that there was a conscious effort to bias the approval process, and that this effort was led from high political office.

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: By bringing fort a document that included progressive keywords as BOLO terms.

    That would certainly suggest there was no conscious bias.

  • CStanley

    CStanley: By bringing fort a document that included progressive keywords as BOLO terms.

    That would certainly suggest there was no conscious bias.

    Except that it was then determined that those other terms did not lead to the “special treatment” that the conservative group received.

    It’s like a guy admits to committing a crime, and then is convicted for it…but on appeal, his lawyer produces an appointment card showing he had a doctor’s appointment scheduled at the time that the crime was committed. That might “suggest” that he had an alibi, except for the fact that he already went on record admitting that he didn’t keep the appointment.

    Here’s the IG testimony, relevant part is the last two paragraphs.

    http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/congress/congress_07182013.pdf

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: Except that it was then determined that those other terms did not lead to the “special treatment” that the conservative group received.

    “whether TIGTA saw any evidence that IRS employees were politically motivated in their creation or use of the inappropriate screening criteria. I stated unequivocally, quote ‘[W]e received no evidence during the course of our audit to that effect’ Unquote.”

  • CStanley

    Absence of proof isn’t proof of absence.

    Especially since the interviews with the Cincinnati staffers took place with their DC supervisor, Holly Paz, in the room. I have no idea why the IG agreed to that.

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: Absence of proof isn’t proof of absence.

    It’s your citation! You offered it as proof that there was a partisan motive.

  • CStanley

    No, I offered it as proof that:
    “it was then determined that those other terms did not lead to the “special treatment” that the conservative group received.”

    That is proof that the cases were handled with bias, but it doesn’t go as far as establishing the motives for the bias, or who imposed it into the system.

  • Zachriel

    Zachriel: That would certainly suggest there was no conscious bias.

    CStanley: Except that … Absence of proof isn’t proof of absence.

    There’s no doubt there was a surge of Tea Party activity whose primary motivation was political and partisan.

    Nevertheless, just as it might make superficial sense to target blacks for extra scrutiny when there is a surge of crime in the black community, subjecting all Tea Party groups to extra scrutiny has at least the appearance of bias.

  • CStanley

    It’s good that you at least acknowledge the problem with profiling, but consider also that this profiling was to try to disallow the status of these organizations altogether, not just to try to catch them in the act of wrongdoing. To use an analogy to race and crime, it would be more like an organized attempt to prevent black people from moving into a neighborhood, rather than comparing this to police taking a more active role in policing blacks over whites. Both of those are problematic, but the former is even less defensible.

    And that’s not to even mention that it’s dubious, at best, to assert that conservative groups have a higher probability of breaking the tax rules on political activity than do liberal groups.

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: It’s good that you at least acknowledge the problem with profiling, but consider also that this profiling was to try to disallow the status of these organizations altogether, not just to try to catch them in the act of wrongdoing.

    So you are claiming there was a conscious effort at political bias. You provided one citation, which directly contradicted this claim.

    CStanley: And that’s not to even mention that it’s dubious, at best, to assert that conservative groups have a higher probability of breaking the tax rules on political activity than do liberal groups.

    The Tea Party represented a highly motivated group of dilettantes who have little respect for process, and have a tendency to think that finding a loophole is a meritorious endeavor. So yes, conservatives groups at the time were much more likely to try to evade tax rules on political activity.

  • Cstanley

    There is plenty of reason to infer the political motivation, but as of this time it is not proven. Conveniently the evidence that could prove or disprove that inference has disappeared, but I’m sure it’s just an unfortunate coincidence.

    “group of dilettantes”
    “So yes, conservatives groups at the time were much more likely to try to evade tax rules on political activity.”

    At least I’m providing citations. Where are yours?

  • Cstanley

    I am thinking I should stop trying to change your mind about this though. If partisan Democrats want to run with defending this behavior from the IRS, I’m sure it will go over well with voters.

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: At least I’m providing citations.

    Sorry. Thought the growth of the Tea Party was common knowledge.

    “The U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 ‘Citizens United’ ruling unleashed a torrent of new political spending and 501(c)4 groups became a popular conduit for some of it, on both ends of the political spectrum, but especially for conservatives.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/13/us-usa-tax-irs-criteria-idUSBRE94C03N20130513

    “About 85 percent of the money that was spent by nonprofits in the 2012 cycle, as reported to the FEC, was paid out by conservative groups.”
    http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/05/501c-factsheet/

  • Zachriel

    CStanley: At least I’m providing citations.

    Sorry. Thought the growth of the Tea Party was common knowledge.

    “The U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 ‘Citizens United’ ruling unleashed a torrent of new political spending and 501(c)4 groups became a popular conduit for some of it, on both ends of the political spectrum, but especially for conservatives.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/13/us-usa-tax-irs-criteria-idUSBRE94C03N20130513

  • Zachriel

    “About 85 percent of the money that was spent by nonprofits in the 2012 cycle, as reported to the FEC, was paid out by conservative groups.”
    http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/05/501c-factsheet/

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