EPA – Garnish Wages? Judge, Jury, Executioner!

Editor’s Note – The EPA is perhaps one the most powerful agencies in the US government when it comes to direct control over the individual. It is perhaps second only to the IRS in this regard and with the recent revelations of weaponization of our federal agencies, the EPA is just as famous for playing judge, jury, and executioner.

It is also famous for its wild over reach and capricious judgments. If they determine that you are to be fined, they claim they can even garnish your wages by using a 1996 law to collect funds they say are owed for unpaid fines largely leaving you no recourse or redress of your grievances. The Washington Times tells us the following:stop-the-EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and hitting individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules, including recently slapping a $75,000 fine on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property.

However, that excerpt does not tell the whole story with the Johnson’s dilemma. Here is background on this EPA decision that shows the sheer power of the EPA:

When Andy and Katie Johnson built a pond on their property in 2011 to provide water for their cattle, they never dreamed it would result in threats of $75,000 a day in fines from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Johnsons believed they had done everything necessary to get permission for the pond, where the tiny Six Mile Creek runs through their property south of Fort Bridger, Wyo. The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office provided the permit and even stated in an April 4, 2013 letter to the Johnsons: “All of the legal requirements of the State Engineer’s Office, that were your responsibility, have been satisfied for the Johnson Stock Reservoir.”

The EPA saw it differently — and sent the Johnsons a Jan. 30 notice informing them they had violated the Clean Water Act, which could carry thousands of dollars in fines.

The Johnson Family from Wyoming
The Johnson Family from Wyoming

To be fair to this story, it must be mentioned that Congress did pass the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). From the Treasury web site we see the explanation of the law aimed at collecting non-tax debts owed to the Federal Government. Here are some excerpts:

This law centralized the government wide collection of delinquent debt and gave Treasury significant new responsibilities in this area. The Financial Management Service (FMS) is responsible for Treasury’s implementation of the debt collection provisions of the DCIA…

The types of debts referred to FMS include unpaid loans, overpayments or duplicate payments made to federal salary or benefit payment recipients, misused grant funds, and fines, penalties or fees assessed by federal agencies. FMS sends demand letters to debtors on Treasury letterhead, and enters into repayment arrangements with debtors. FMS’ cross-servicing program administers a contract with PCAs who provide delinquent debt collection services and FMS refers debts to these PCAs.

However, in a sheer case of abject hypocrisy, why is the EPA hitting this nail with such a large sledge hammer that began in 2011 while we learned in early 2012 that many White House staffers owed huge back taxes? In fact, PolitiFact verified that this was true but also mentions that each year, many federal workers are in arrears.

The EPA uses such threats to get quicker payment because they know you are more likely to pay than go through any expensive litigation while the fines pile up and you have the burden of proving your innocence. “It is a powerful incentive for people to agree to expensive settlements rather than fight EPA charges.”

We then ask why the IRS does not pursue true tax offenders with the same zeal that the EPA exhibits to garnish the wages of simple ranchers for massive fines it unilaterally decided upon? The Johnsons thought they had done all that needed to done, only to be trumped by a federal agency, all while federal employees routinely do not try to do the right thing.

The EPA announced the plan last week in a notice in the Federal Register, saying federal law allows it “to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.”McCarthy_Gina2

the rule would give the EPA sweeping authority to dictate how and whether Americans could dispute fines and penalties, even as the amount of EPA fines collected from individuals, businesses and local governments steadily increase.

The EPA said it deemed the action as not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore not subject to review.

It is yet another example of selective enforcement, Executive Branch over reach, agency weaponization, and the total disregard for the rule-of-law and fairness. Apparently the EPA is above the law in their eyes because their goals are so righteous in saving our planet, regardless of scientific fact.

However, the push back is becoming very vocal and some Senators are objecting vigorously this newest Obama Administration power grab:

GOP senators slam EPA on wage garnishment

By Timothy Cama – The Hill

Three Republican senators attacked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Thursday for a proposal that they said would allow the agency to garnish individuals’ wages.

In a letter to EPA head Gina McCarthy, the senators, led by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), called the proposal an unwarranted overreach into citizens’ lives.

The EPA would be able to garnish wages without a court order, and unilaterally decide whether people could argue against the garnishments, they said.

The pond in question on the Johnson Ranch
The pond in question on the Johnson Ranch

“While we recognize the government’s legitimate interest in efficiently and effectively pursuing delinquent debt, EPA’s new wage garnishment procedures provide an agency prone to regulatory abuses with even more power over Americans,” Vitter wrote, along with Wyoming Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso.

“Individuals who face threats of ruinous fines from the agency may now have to think twice before challenging EPA over its regulatory jurisdiction.”

 

Under the rule proposed last week, the EPA would be allowed to garnish up to 15 percent of the “disposable pay” of anybody with non-tax debt to the agency, such as fines for violating regulations.

Thanks to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the agency does not need to obtain court permission before garnishing.

The EPA defended the rule, saying it complies with the 1996 law.

“EPA is complying with existing laws by adopting hearing procedures that ensure debtors receive a hearing in order to provide due process,” spokeswoman Alisha Johnson said.

“Administrative wage garnishment would apply only after EPA attempts to collect delinquent debts and after [the Treasury Department attempts to collect delinquent debts through other means.”

The garnishment process requires that the agency give advanced notice before any action and give an opportunity for the debtor to review it, contest it or negotiate a repayment agreement, Johnson said.

The EPA issued its proposal as a “direct final rule.” If no one objects to the proposal, it will become final, but if the agency receives negative comments, it will respond to them and finalize the rule in a standard rulemaking process.

IRS – Entrenchment of the Left in Gov, the Rule-of-Law Sacrificed

By Scott W. Winchell, SUA Editor

With the revelations of the lost Lois Lerner emails in the growing IRS Scandal, and the obvious political ideology she infused into her work, it is important to reflect on the general make-up of the body that are largely the employees in federal government in ideological terms. It is not just Lois Lerner.

It’s also people like her former agency’s newest boss, John Koskinen; yes he who donated over $85,000 to liberal candidates over many years now, including Obama twice, at least.

You could see it in IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s arrogance as well as he testified. Allen West summed it up well in his recent article entitled “Koskinen illustrates primary job qualification for Obama administration: arrogance”:Koskinen Arrogance

The real issue is not the IRS scandal in and of itself, or actually any isolated scandal – because there are too many to count at this point. The issue is the abject arrogance of officialdom exhibited by the Obama administration as aided by the complicit liberal progressive media — and the über-partisan ignorance of the progressive socialist acolytes.

Computer crashes?  Meet the others at the IRS whose computers crashed. Beyond Lois Lerner, and as we reported yesterday, Nikole Flax, there was Michelle Eldridge, IRS national media relations chief, Agent Kimberly Kitchens, Agent Nancy Heagney, Agent Julie Chen, and Supervisory Agent, Tyler Chumny. (Read here from the Daily Caller on these characters.) More supporters of Obama, especially Kitchens as far as we know.

The newest revelation is that the EPA also lost emails; crucial to current litigation.

Why did the EPA release this news now? Because a day earlier, the National Archivist testified that the IRS has broken the law by not reporting lost documents as required. The EPA lost critical emails in a contentious case in Alaska over mining.

“They did not follow the law,” said David Ferriero, the U.S. Archivist who stopped short of saying the tax-collecting agency “broke” the law, saying “I am not a lawyer” in testimony last week. (Read more here at Politico)

Move over, IRS — now the EPA is having its own problems with missing emails. The environmental agency is having trouble locating emails belonging to a former agency employee and pulling information from his crashed hard drive, House members revealed Wednesday while questioning Administrator Gina McCarthy at a hearing on complaints of mismanagement.

“What is it with bureaucrats and public employees … the hard drives crash?” asked Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.). (Read more here.)

Here is an excerpt from The Hill on the EPA revelation:

“We have tried to serve a subpoena on your former employee and we have asked for the failed hard drive from this Alaskan individual who now is in New Zealand, and seems to never be returning,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, said Wednesday.

Emails provided by the committee show that EPA told congressional investigators about the hard drive crash months ago. But McCarthy said she only told the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) about the problem Tuesday.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

The NARA enforces the Federal Records Act, which governs federal agencies’ responsibilities to maintain records.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said EPA probably violated the Federal Records Act by not backing up North’s emails.

“It looks like the Federal Records Act has been violated by the EPA,” Meadows said. Did he preserve his emails? That is required by the Federal Records Act.”

“We may have some emails that we cannot produce that we should have kept,” McCarthy admitted.

These are just a few points that demonstrate that the leftists in government are unconcerned with the laws until exposed.

They are hired during Democratically controlled administrations largely, or appointed to head agencies that are growing in liberal dominance in those agencies. Then, if not appointed, once employed, they move up in the system, become decision makers, then determine who gets hired in the future. All to crteate a permanent liberal bias in our federal government.

It has always been the feeling of many that the make-up of federal employees was left-leaning, but in recent years, it is becoming evident that they are now in full control. We reported on a couple of examples in the recent past, especially concerning the hiring of Lawyers. The DHS recently hired a bevy of uber-leftists, and the DoJ is festooned with them.

Lois Lerner and Senator Grassley of Iowa
Lois Lerner and Senator Grassley of Iowa

Let us not forget also, when former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson created a fake name to use on a personal email account, a practice prohibited by law, to be used for official EPA business.

Richard Windsor never existed at the EPA, but the agency awarded the fictional staffer’s email account certificates proving he had mastered all of the agency’s technology training — including declaring him a “scholar of ethical behavior,” according to documents disclosed late last week.

Windsor.Richard@epa.gov was the controversial email alias used by former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, who resigned earlier this year amid questions about whether epa-using-instant-messages-avoid-s/?page=all”>her agency was complying with open-records laws.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Energy and Environment The new records — the latest in a series that EPA critics have pried loose under open-records requests — suggests Ms. Jackson used the alias even more widely than known, including taking required agency computer training under the fake identity.

Then another revelation emerges. A revelation of epic proportion where Lois Lerner’s ideology is exposed completely.

An email is released, where Lerner, in a knee-jerk reaction, desires to investigate a Senator for the right, Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Why, because an inadvertent, and mistakenly sent email invites Grassley to an event he never even attended because his wife was invited as well and the group offered to offset her expenses if they attended.

Investigators in Congress discovered new emails from Lois Lerner Wednesday revealing the former IRS Exempt Organizations director’s attempt to audit GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley in 2012 over an email mixup.

We hope that Congressmen like SC-R Trey Gowdy prevail for us, here at the IRS, and in the upcoming Benghazi Select Committee Hearings
We hope that Congressmen like SC-R Trey Gowdy prevail for us, here at the IRS, and in the upcoming Benghazi Select Committee Hearings

According to the Associated Press, Lerner mistakenly received an email invitation to an event in December of that year meant for Grassley, who presumably received Lerner’s.

The invitation from the organizer reportedly included an offer to pay for the attendance of Grassley’s wife, should the two be interested in coming. Upon reading Grassley’s invitation mistakenly sent to Lerner, the IRS official accused of unjustifiably targeting conservative tea party organizations’ tax exempt status forwarded the email to another IRS employee, and inquired about a possible audit of the Iowa senator.

Lerner speculated it could be inappropriate for the organizer to pay for Grassley’s wife to attend. The second IRS official dismissed Lerner’s suggestion, and said an audit would be a premature action.

Of all the people at the IRS at the time, why was Lois Lerner chosen to head the Tax Exempt & Government Entities Division of the IRS? Because there was a liberal bias already present. Remember, Lois Lerner worked for the Federal Elections Commission prior and displayed a clear pentient for attacking Republicans and ignoring Democrat Party shenanigans.

Before Lois Lerner was embroiled in the IRS scandal, she was involved in a questionable pattern of law enforcement at the Federal Election Commission that mirrors the discrimination recently exposed at the nation’s tax-collection agency.

One of Lerner’s former colleagues tells National Review Online that her political ideology was evident during her tenure at the FEC, where, he says, she routinely subjected groups seeking to expand the influence of money in politics — including, in her view, conservatives and Republicans — to the sort of heightened scrutiny we now know they came under at the IRS.

General counsel’s reports composed during Lerner’s tenure at the FEC confirm Engle’s recollections of a woman predisposed to back Republicans against the wall while giving Democrats a pass. Though Noble, then the FEC’s general counsel, is listed as the author of the reports, sources familiar with the commission say that given Lerner’s position, she would have played an integral role shaping their conclusions.(Read the rest at National Review)

It is clear to us at SUA that this is what comes from cult-of-personality trumping sane, logical, and sustaining politicians, people that are ‘Americans First’ politicians. The ideological entrenchment is here to stay unless America collectively overcomes this tide. This is what we get when we toss rule-of-law to the curb and elect personalities, those who thrive on the cult-of-personality.

Heck, there is now a $1 Million bounty for her emails. We may never find them, unless more investigation is done. Our bet lies with civil litigation underway now from those aggrieved through the discovery process. People like Catherine Engelbrecht and many others deserve “redress of the grievances.”

The House Ways and Means Committee under Chairman Dave Camp has referred Lois Lerner to the DoJ for criminal investigation, but we see little hope that Eric Holder will do anything there. It is time for a Independent Counsel or Special Prosecutor.

IRS Hearings – IRS Search and Destroy Approved by Dems

By Scott W. Winchell and Denise Simon

We truly are in the land of utter disbelief. The IRS Scandal is one huge and complicated set of moving parts and its hard to maintain any focus to gather in the breadth and depth of all the wrong-doing and excuses. Things do not look right, smell right, sound right, or feel right, but we are told there was not a “smidgeon of corruption.”

As we watched the IRS hearings last Friday, last night, and then this morning, one thing was clear, one side was conducting an investigation and the other side was conducting a smear campaign. Of course, in that smear campaign, we saw several tactics used to roil the water, all to make the Republicans look bad and to confuse the public.

'I don't believe you!': Paul Ryan levels blistering attack against IRS boss over 'lost' emails explanation
‘I don’t believe you!’: Paul Ryan levels blistering attack against IRS boss over ‘lost’ emails explanation

The Republicans were investigating, the Democrats were smearing, while accusing the Republicans of smearing. But look at how it was characterized by the MSM or “Establishment Media” as posted at Newsbusters:

After ten days of ignoring the June13 revelation that the IRS mysteriously lost two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails related to the scandal plaguing the agency, Tuesday’s network morning shows finally took notice of the development only to tout Democrats dismissing the latest congressional hearing on the government abuse as a “farce.” [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]   

NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning both provided full reports on the “contentious” hearing in which “Republicans unleashed their full fury” on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. On Today, correspondent Peter Alexander proclaimed: “The hearings showcased another round of bitter partisanship, with little resolution in sight.” A soundbite followed of Massachusetts Democratic Congressman John Tierney declaring: “I don’t think I’ve seen a display of this kind of disrespect in all the time I’ve been here in Congress.”

A clip played of Republican committee chairman Darrell Issa admonishing Tierney: “I would caution all members not to characterize the intent or the character of your fellow members here on the dais.” Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly quipped: “I was going to say, but it’s fair to question the integrity of the witness?”

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes asserted: “Previous investigations found no evidence of political motivation, just bad judgment. And Democrats called the hearing a farce.”

What is certain, the left is definitely not looking out for those they represent, they were instead defending their own in the party. They certainly were not acting as Americans First, while accusing the right of attacking the President. Yet the Commissioner, John Koskinen, would not apologize for what happened.

We know that wrong-doing took place, so why was the left not investigating? We know there is a connection, because guess who else lost some emails, Nikole Flax, who served as chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller. Patrick Howley at the Daily Caller wrote this excerpt:

Flax was one of seven IRS employees including ex-official Lois Lerner whose emails to and from White House officials and other Obama administration agencies were purportedly deleted and could not be handed over to congressional investigators.

Jeanne Lambrew with Obama
Jeanne Lambrew with Obama

Flax held personal meetings with a top assistant to President Obama and also colluded with Lerner to prosecute conservative activists.

Flax made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010 and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs. Flax’s visits started in the early days of the IRS targeting program and ended just two days before the IRS scandal broke on May 10, 2013.

Flax met twice in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew, on Oct. 5, 2012 and Jan. 15, 2013.

Who is Jeanne Lambrew?

As The Daily Caller reported, Lambrew exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservative groups with IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram in 2012 as the White House tried to figure out how to deal with a lawsuit filed by a religious organization fighting Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Lambrew also hosted 155 of Ingram’s 165 White House visits. (Read more here.)

John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner at the Hearing.
John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner at the Hearing.

Why is the left not fuming over such incredible activity, blithely defending the indefensible? Once again, one must suspend disbelief to even entertain the left’s accusations, excuses, and blame game tactics. It is more and more obvious daily that the White House was thoroughly involved.

We know that the IRS has admitted to wrong-doing already in this case as we see what Kevin McIntyre wrote at the Daily Signal:

Two years after activists for same-sex marriage obtained the confidential tax return and donor list of a national group opposed to redefining marriage, the Internal Revenue Service has admitted wrongdoing and agreed to settle the resulting lawsuit.

The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.

“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.” (Read the rest here.)

Nothing to see here folks. Move along…

Also in the hearing, there was the references to the Valerie Plame Scandal during the Bush Administration and the admitted loss of emails then. Then there was the accusation that the two committees charged with investigating the IRS were in a “one-up-man-ship” game between Darrel Issa and Dave Camp. Then there was the accusation of badgering witnesses and so on.

The key thing to remember is that in the Plame case, it was one so-called covert agent exposed, in this case, its hundreds of regular everyday citizens who were denied their first amendment rights. Americans were targeted by the strongest of all governmental agencies, the one we all fear. Then there are the inconsistencies, outright lies, the cover-up, and destruction of evidence. Then, as we found out this morning, the IRS itself was not obeying the archival laws.

Jennifer O’Connor of the Office of the White House Counsel, center, who was subpoenaed by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 24, 2014, before the committee's hearing on the IRS targeting scandal. O’Connor once worked at the IRS.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Jennifer O’Connor of the Office of the White House Counsel, center, who was subpoenaed by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 24, 2014, before the committee’s hearing on the IRS targeting scandal. O’Connor once worked at the IRS. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Everyone seems to have a bad memory as well. Take a look at one of the key witnesses today, Jennifer O’Connor, a white House lawyer who worked for the IRS in the attempt to clean it up:

White House attorney Jennifer O’Connor testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tuesday that she couldn’t recall who she worked with during her six months at the IRS.

Before working for the Office of White House Counsel, O’Connor worked for the IRS from May 2013 to November 2013 to help the agency deal with the IRS scandal.

Besides naming acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins, and IRS Deputy Chief Counsel of Operations Chris Sterner – whom she reported to – O’Connor could not name one person she interacted with or specifically reported to her during her tenure at the IRS. (Read more here.)

When one cannot argue the law, or the facts, attack the prosecutor. We saw that take place numerous times as well. Then there was all the praise heaped upon John Koskinen, the IRS Commissioner.

Where do we go from here? Darrel Issa did not adjourn the hearing, so look for more of the same. It really was worthy of pay-per-view admission to watch last night.

It is clear that we the people have no way to redress our grievances when the IRS can get away with the power to tax, search and destroy through bolos, all while never being held accountable. Why and how could anyone defend that?

 

McCarthy – The Internal Repression Service

The revenue agency has become a tool for suppressing speech.

By Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review

Andy McCarthy
Andy C. McCarthy

Through months of Obama administration stonewalling, the redoubtable Judicial Watch perseveres in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, finally uncovering bombshell documents that have eluded several congressional investigations.

For the second time in a matter of days, we find that standing oversight committees with competing subject-matter jurisdictions and limited attention spans are incapable of the grand-jury-style probe needed to get to the bottom of administration lawlessness.

For that, in the absence of a scrupulous special prosecutor reasonably independent from the Obama Justice Department (not gonna happen), it becomes clear that a select committee will be necessary.

Just two weeks ago, the scandal involved the cover-up of administration duplicity regarding the Benghazi massacre. (See my related article in the new edition of National Review.) Now, it is the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service.

For a year, the administration and IRS headquarters in Gomorrah by the Potomac have attempted to run an implausible con-job:

“The harassment of organizations opposed to Obama’s policies by an executive-branch agency had nothing to do with the Obama administration — it was just a rogue operation by an IRS office in Cincinnati which, though regrettably overzealous, was apolitical, non-ideological, and without “even a smidgen of corruption.”

The story had about as much credibility as the administration’s “blame the video” script that Susan Rice dutifully performed on the post-Benghazi Sunday shows, or the Justice Department’s 2011 assurance to Congress that its agents would never knowingly allow the transfer of a couple of thousand guns to criminal gangs in Mexico. The “Cincinnati did it” yarn has been unraveling since it was first spun by IRS honcho Lois Lerner and, soon afterwards, by President Obama himself. The lie has now been exploded by e-mails clawed from the IRS by Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act suit.irs-lied-to-congress-820x48

These include one from a top IRS lawyer in Washington succinctly explaining in July 2010 that “EOT [i.e., the revenue agency’s “Exempt Organization Technical unit” in Washington] is working Tea party applications in coordination with Cincy.” “Tea party applications” were requests by conservative groups to be granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. By selectively setting aside their applications, delaying the conferral of tax-exempt status to which the law entitled them, and putting them through inquisitions that violated their constitutional rights to political speech and association, IRS headquarters prevented them from raising funds and organizing as an effective opposition.

The e-mails elucidate that Cincinnati’s strings were being pulled in Washington: “We are developing a few applications here in DC and providing copies of our development letters with the agent [in Cincinnati] to use as examples in the development of their cases.” “Tea party applications,” IRS headquarters elaborates, have been isolated as “the subject of an SCR” — meaning “sensitive case report.” To “resolve” such cases would require “coordination with Rob” — a reference, Judicial Watch contends, to Rob Choi, who was then a high-ranking IRS official in Washington.

It is no more conceivable that IRS headquarters was off on its own anti–Tea Party witch-hunt than that the subordinate Cincinnati office was. The fuse, it must be recalled, was lit by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, affirming the First Amendment’s prohibition against government restrictions of political speech by corporations. The ruling enraged the Left and prompted the president’s tongue-lashing of the stunned justices during the 2010 State of the Union address.

At this point, it remains unclear which, if any, administration officials were — to borrow the delicate term — “coordinating” with the IRS. It is manifest, though, that in the atmosphere charged by Obama’s impertinence, congressional Democrats felt empowered to push the IRS to undermine free political speech through administrative intimidation. Judicial Watch’s FOIA suit reveals correspondence in which Senator Carl Levin, the powerful Michigan Democrat, agitates for IRS action against several conservative groups. In accommodating responses, then-IRS deputy commissioner Steven Miller takes pains to assure him that flexible regulations enable the revenue agency to design “individualized questions and requests” for targeted Section 501(c)(4) applicants.

2014-05-15-b672324fAfter a damning Treasury inspector-general report last year, even the IRS concedes that its singling out of conservative groups and obnoxiously intrusive demands for information were “inappropriate.” In truth, they were blatantly unconstitutional. As is always the case in Washington scandals, the question of whether crimes were committed arises — and now, the companion question of whether lawmakers who encouraged executive lawlessness are guilty of crimes.

For the time being, the lawsuits brought by conservative organizations victimized by the IRS have alleged only civil wrongs: principally, the deprivation of their constitutional rights to free speech and association, and of their statutory right to tax-exempt status. Nevertheless, these claims could trigger criminal jeopardy. For example, federal law (specifically, Section 242 of the penal code) makes it a crime for a government official to “willfully subject[] any person . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

Without a competent, impartial investigation, it will be tough to amass sufficient evidence to prove a willful violation of law. The officials implicated would surely claim — however dubiously — that they were just trying to enforce ambiguous regulations. Moreover, even if executive-branch officials could be proved criminally culpable, any prosecution of members of Congress would face a severe roadblock: the broad constitutional immunity lawmakers enjoy whenever arguably engaged in “legislative acts.” Remember Representative William Jefferson, whose crass acceptance of bribes did not stop a federal appeals court from invalidating an FBI search of his Capitol Hill office.

In any event, as I argued here last weekend, to focus on criminal or civil liability is to miss the point. The importance of government officials lies in the public trust reposed in them and the awesome power it entails. When they demonstrate themselves to be unworthy of that trust, the imperative is to take the power away.

The IRS has become a vehicle of repression — one that Democrats have further empowered through Obamacare. Its budget should be slashed, and we should figure out better ways to raise revenue. In addition, government officials have engaged in conduct that, at a minimum, grossly disregarded the constitutional rights our government exists to safeguard. Whether such serious misbehavior is attributable to incompetence or corruption, the officials who engaged in it should be defrocked. Most of us couldn’t care less whether they are sent to jail or successfully sued, but we should all insist that they no longer wield power.LernerLewMiller

The most ominous development in the IRS scandal is the confederation of executive and congressional authority in opposition to our fundamental rights. The accumulation of all government powers in the same hands, Madison warned, “may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” In a free society, powers must be separated. The Framers thus gave us a Constitution that heeded the wisdom of Montesquieu:

When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.

The IRS scandal presents a textbook case of tyrannical execution. It is fraught with peril. We are dealing not merely with a single president, who presumes to rule by decree; nor just with his congressional partisans, who presume to pull the executive bureaucracy’s coercive levers. Enormous power is cumulating in an ideological movement that is hostile to free expression, one that views its political opposition not as fellow citizens with a different point of view but as enemies to be silenced and destroyed.

Frightening times.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His next book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, will be released by Encounter Books on June 3.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An error in this column as it originally appeared has been corrected, as explained here.

Obama Admin – Transparency, Redaction, and Delay…

Editor’s Note – The “Most transparent administration ever” is the mantra of the Obama Administration, and they laud the fact that the White House Visitor List is available – elsewhere, not so…

Ask the Citizens Commission on Benghazi with their myriad requests for information on Benghazi. Ask Karen and Billy Vaughn about ‘Extortion 17’. Ask the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, ask the House Ways and Means Committee.Capture2

Look at all the scandals – all of them still unsolved and/or not concluded from Fast & Furious, to the IRS, from the AP to Fox News reporters, it’s always opaque at best.

The reason is always – NO TRANSPARENCY! All we see is redaction, lies, deflections, demagoguery, distractions, delays, finger pointing, the blame game, the fifth… and then there all those unbelievable statistics on jobs, GNP, the debt, ObamaCare, HHS, wage disparity, etc. – lies, damn lies, and those rascally  statistics.

The most [REDACTED] administration in history

BY GENE HEALY – Washington Examiner

Good news: thanks to a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, the “most transparent administration in history” is going to have to tell American citizens when it believes it’s legally entitled to kill them.

The lawsuit arose out of Freedom of Information Act requests by two New York Times reporters for Office of Legal Counsel memoranda exploring the circumstances under which it would be legal for U.S. personnel to target American citizens. The administration stonewalled, asserting that “the very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified,” and a federal district judge upheld the refusal in January 2013.

Issa-600A month later, however, someone leaked a Justice Department “white paper” on the subject to NBC News, forcing a re-examination of the question in light of changed circumstances. On Monday, the three-judge panel held “it is no longer either ‘logical’ or ‘plausible’ to maintain that disclosure of the legal analysis in the OLC-DOD Memorandum risks disclosing any aspect” of sensitive sources and methods.

In matters of transparency, the Obama Team can always be counted on to do the right thing — after exhausting all other legal options and being forced into it by the federal courts.

When “peals of laughter broke out in the briefing room” after then-press secretary Robert Gibbs floated the “most transparent administration” line at an April 2010 presser, the administration should have taken the hint. But it’s one soundbite they just can’t quit. Gibbs’ successor Jay Carneyrepeated it just last week, as did the president himself in a Google Hangout last year: “This is the most transparent administration in history …. I can document that this is the case.”

Actually, any number of journalists and open government advocates have documented that it’s not. As the Associated Press reported last month: “More often than ever, the [Obama] administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In the hope-infused afterglow of his first inauguration, President Obama declared, “for a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” and ordered his attorney general to issue newly restrictive standards for government use of the “state secrets privilege,” which allows the government to shield national security secrets from civil or criminal discovery. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged that the administration would not “invoke the privilege for the purpose of concealing government wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment.”GretaVanSustern-RedactedDocs224x199

Easier pledged than done, apparently. Earlier this year, in a case involving a Stanford graduate student erroneously placed on a no-fly list, we learned that the government had cried “state secrets” to cover up a paperwork error. Holder himself assured the court that assertion of the privilege was in keeping with the new policy of openness. When the presiding judge found out the truth, he said: “I feel that I have been had by the government.”

In fact, the Obama administration has driven state secrecy to new levels of absurdity. We’re not even allowed to know who we’re at war with, apparently, because letting that secret slip could cause “serious damage to national security.”

Over the last year, thanks in large part to illegal leaks, we’ve learned that we’re living in a [REDACTED] republic. In the president’s version of “transparency,” the Americans have no right to debate even the most basic public questions — like the legal standards for spying on or killing American citizens — unless, of course, that information leaks, at which point the administration “welcomes” the debate.