An IRS 'Cause of Action' – WH Stonewalling a Court

Editor’s Note – In the latest twist or turn in the weaponization of the IRS Scandal, Cause of Action won a critical case regarding its FOIA requests that took over two years to adjudicate while the IRS stone-walled. Here is what Cause of Action lists as its focus on the IRS:

COA-Final4Cause of Action is investigating how the IRS conducts oversight of tax-exempt entities. Ranging from FOIA requests to tax status complaints to litigating against the agency for not releasing documents, the more we dig, the more we find how taxpayer dollars are funding an agency that is failing to properly oversee tax-exempt organizations.

Like Judicial Watch, these are great American patriots exposing government overreach, corruption, and what are in our opinion, criminal acts by the Obama Administration, its appointed hacks, and supporters already employed in the Federal Government.

Cause of Action won, but the Treasury Department; parent to the IRS, says no, just hold on there. They say they cannot release anything based on 6103 strictures.

Here is the report from the Washington Examiner:

Less than a week after ’fessing up that it found some 2,500 documents potentially showing that the IRS shared taxpayer returns with the White House, the Obama administration has reversed course and won’t release the trove to a group suing for access.

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

In an abrupt decision, the Treasury inspector general’s office said that the documents are covered by privacy and disclosure laws and can’t be provided to Cause of Action, despite a promise last week to hand over some 2,500.

“All of the 2,043 pages of documents we have determined to be responsive were collected by the Secretary of the Treasury with respect to the determination of possible liability under Title 26 of the United States Code.

These pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and may not be disclosed absent an express statutory exception,” said the office in a letter dated Dec. 1.

What’s more, Treasury, which oversees the IRS, is still considering what to do with another 466 documents and said that they will provide a “response regarding” them.

Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, said Treasury was using “sophisticated” lawyering to weasel out of providing the documents. And he noted that their letter said that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is now looking into “potential liability” that his tax aides broke laws in sharing taxpayer information with the White House. (Read the rest here.)

But it gets even more puzzling, the administration is using circle logic to defend their choice to not obey the order. Why, because of confidentiality issues. But the White House was in possession of ‘your’ confidential documents. Can they do that? Apparently yes, but we ask why?

Why does the White House need these documents and data? Is this just another example of weaponization of federal agencies for some gain, likely political gain. But we cannot know that because we cannot see whose records were requested as is laid out for us, but did Congress already know this? Here is the Hot Air article on the latest:

IRS holding “thousands” of requests by White House for tax documents

Update: Congress already knew?

By Jazz Shaw – Hot Air

Are you ready to finally hear some good news about the IRS? Me too! Sadly, you’ll have to wait a bit longer because this looks like yet another example of something particularly shady at the agency.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew

A watchdog group claims that after two years worth of court actions and battles with the government, the Internal Revenue Service has admitted that it has thousands of documents pertaining to requests made by the White House for the tax documents of individuals and businesses. But (wait for it…) they are refusing to turn them over.

The revelation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) came as part of a lawsuit filed by non-profit group Cause of Action, which began investigating whether the IRS was improperly sharing taxpayer information with the White House in 2012.

Cause of Action originally filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the IRS to turn over any documents, if they existed, related to correspondence between the IRS and the White House about requests for tax returns for individuals or businesses.

When the IRS said it was unable to do so because of constraints in the Internal Revenue Code, the group filed the lawsuit. A judge ruled that the IRS must turn over any relevant documents to Cause of Action by Dec. 1 to comply with the FOIA request.

On Tuesday, an attorney with TIGTA wrote a letter to Cause of Action, and acknowledged that the watchdog had located “2,509 pages of documents potentially responsive to your request.” Of those, TIGTA confirmed that 2,043 were in fact responsive to the request.

Just admitting that the documents exist doesn’t mean that we’re going to get them. The IRS maintains that the documents are covered under 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and can not be handed over without an express statutory exception. In response to the request, the IRS stated that no such statutory exception exists, so basically… go pack sand.

But that leads us to a second question. If the tax returns of individuals and businesses are so private that they can’t be viewed without an act of congress, how is it that the White House was gobbling up thousands of them for reasons unknown? To find that out, we need to look a little more closely at 26 U.S.C § 6103. After explaining how important it is to keep tax returns private and the terrible penalties to be incurred for their unauthorized release, way down in section (f) we find a list of exceptions. Your tax returns can be revealed to certain committees of Congress, such as Ways and Means, Committee on Finance, and Joint Committee on Taxation. Kind of makes sense, right? But a whole separate section is included which for some reason allows the White House to request your tax returns as well.

(g) Disclosure to President and certain other persons

(1) In general

Upon written request by the President, signed by him personally, the Secretary shall furnish to the President, or to such employee or employees of the White House Office as the President may designate by name in such request, a return or return information with respect to any taxpayer named in such request. Any such request shall state—

(A) the name and address of the taxpayer whose return or return information is to be disclosed,
(B) the kind of return or return information which is to be disclosed,
(C) the taxable period or periods covered by such return or return information, and
(D) the specific reason why the inspection or disclosure is requested.

Well, that certainly seems convenient, eh? The President himself – or his specifically designated representative – can ask for tax returns, provided he includes a specific reason why he wants them. Of course, there is no mention of what would qualify as a valid reason… he just has to provide one.

So why was Barack Obama requesting that many tax returns in 2012? And how many others has he requested in the years prior to or since then? Absent an act of Congress, we may not find out. But by the wording of the law, this can’t be tossed off onto the shoulders of some scapegoat. These requests came directly from the Oval Office or a specific person designated by the President. This could get very interesting very quickly.

UPDATE: Another interesting note on the law caught by one of our eagle eye commenters. If everyone was following the rules, at least some members of Congress should already know about this.

(5) Reporting requirements

Within 30 days after the close of each calendar quarter, the President and the head of any agency requesting returns and return information under this subsection shall each file a report with the Joint Committee on Taxation setting forth the taxpayers with respect to whom such requests were made during such quarter under this subsection, the returns or return information involved, and the reasons for such requests.

The President shall not be required to report on any request for returns and return information pertaining to an individual who was an officer or employee of the executive branch of the Federal Government at the time such request was made.

Reports filed pursuant to this paragraph shall not be disclosed unless the Joint Committee on Taxation determines that disclosure thereof (including identifying details) would be in the national interest. Such reports shall be maintained by the Joint Committee on Taxation for a period not exceeding 2 years unless, within such period, the Joint Committee on Taxation determines that a disclosure to the Congress is necessary.

Here are the current members of the Joint Committee on Taxation [Link and title added by SUA]:

HOUSE:

  • Dave Camp (R-MI 4) Vice ChairmanJCOT_b
  • Sam Johnson (R-TX 3)
  • Kevin Brady (R-TX 8)
  • Sander M. Levin (D-MI 9)
  • Charles B. Rangel (D-NY 13)

SENATE

  • Ron Wyden (D OR) Chairman
  • John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

More Editor’s Note:

Who do you believe after the recent revelations that the missing and lost emails were found, despite the IRS telling us otherwise? Also, we must ask again, who were these people that had their records delivered to the White House and why!

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?