Daily Media Links 7/31: New IRS Bombshell: Lois Lerner Bemoaned Right-Wing Crazies, Is the IRS Investigation Worth the Cost?, and more…

In the News

Slate: New IRS Bombshell: Lois Lerner Bemoaned Right-Wing Crazies

By David Weigel

No, it is not over. This morning, a smaller-than-usual group of House Oversight Committee members waged a friendly IRS scandal interrogation of four conservative witnesses, from Cleta Mitchell (who’s representing some Tea Party groups in a lawsuit) to David Keating (formerly at the Club for Growth, now at the Center for Competitive Politics, which is filing complaints against senators who asked for the IRS to look into 501 funding), to two Heritage Foundation scholars. 

Read more…

WND: ‘Rotten, broken IRS cannot be repaired”

By Jerome R. Corsi

“Get the IRS out of the ‘speech police business’ as soon as possible,” David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics testified. “The IRS has proved it is incompetent at policing speech.”

He argued the current law as written places political advocacy groups seeking tax-favored status at the mercy of IRS agents who are not competent to make determinations of whether the advocacy speech rights of any given group are or are not within bounds of First Amendment protections.

“I’m concerned that the mistrust of the IRS developing out the demonstrated IRS abuses in administering existing IRS rules will cause tax delinquencies to increase, costing the taxpayers millions of additional dollars.”

Read more…

CCP

Is the IRS Investigation Worth the Cost?

By Scott Blackburn

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the $18 million figure is accurate and that there is no compelling moral case for the investigation. From a purely utilitarian perspective, should the House investigate the IRS?  As long as the investigation restores even a modicum of trust in the accountability of government officials or in the impartiality of IRS employees, the answer is a resounding Yes.

If even a small portion of Americans believe that the IRS is not playing by its own rules and has become a partisan political agency, the effects on government revenue collection could be disastrous. If compliance with income tax laws drops just 1% the government will receive $170 billion less in revenue over the next ten years or about 10,000 times the amount the House investigation has cost. Keep in mind that 74% of Americans believe that, “lawmakers should investigate the IRS ‘until someone is held accountable.’”

Put another way, if the House investigation prevents only the smallest decrease in tax compliance – about 3,000 Americans – by convincing them that the IRS will be held accountable when it violates the rights of Americans for its partisan political gain then its investigation will be a net financial benefit to the government.

Read more…

Testimony of David Keating to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Solutions for Preventing a Future IRS Scandal

By David Keating

Americans’ confidence in government has been rocked by information that the IRS systematically targeted groups based on their political beliefs. The best path forward requires getting the IRS out of the messy business of campaign finance regulation altogether. It is no wonder that people suspect corruption when they see a tax-collection agency under control of the President going after the President’s political opponents.

The IRS does important work collecting the revenues needed to operate the government. This important function of the agency is threatened by its role as the speech police. For the sake of the IRS and the First Amendment, the IRS and Congress should work together so the agency can shed this role as soon as possible.

Read more…

IRS

Wall Street Journal: GOP Says Lerner Email Shows Bias Against Conservatives

By John D. McKinnon

Other emails by Ms. Lerner released by the committee in the past suggest that she was concerned the tea-party applications could lead to court challenges of IRS restrictions on political communications by tax-exempt organizations. Ms. Lerner retired from the IRS last year.  

Read more…

 Reason: The Problem Isn’t That Lois Lerner Doesn’t Like Conservatives, It’s That the IRS Gave Her a Weapon Against Them

By J.D. Tuccille

The proper response to the “revelation” that people have political biases is to make sure that they can’t wield government power against those they don’t like. If the people who are going to hold position in government are going to be biased, which is to say, actual human beings, then those positions shouldn’t inherently represent weapons to be used against the opposition.

Lois Lerner isn’t the problem. The power of the IRS—and so many other government agencies—is a bludgeon that will inevitably be used by almost anybody who gets their hands on it.

Read more…

Daily Caller: Lois Lerner Called Conservatives ‘Assholes,’ Fantasized About Working At Obama Group

By Chuck Ross

Lerner’s email mocking conservative “crazies” came at the end of an exchange with an unnamed colleague.

“Well, you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP. The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to,” wrote Lerner’s correspondent.

“And I’m talking about the hosts of the shows,” the colleague wrote. “The callers are rabid.”

“Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many assholes,” replied Lerner in the email, though the pejorative was redacted in the email provided by Camp.

Read more…

Independent Groups

Free Beacon: The ‘Billionaire’s Club’ Behind the Green Movement

By Lachlan Markay

While opacity in its operations is in itself legally permissible, the EPW report notes, the Billionaire’s Club may run afoul of federal laws governing non-profit groups to the extent that the  “educational” organizations DA and other Club players launder those funds for eventual use by affiliated lobbying and advocacy outfits.

“Their actions may impermissibly exceed the scope of their charitable designation,” the report says of a number of non-profits involved in the scheme.

Read more…

Time: The ‘Super PAC to End All Super PACs’ Is Backing These Candidates

By Denver Nicks

Mayday PAC has said it will support a total of five candidates in this year’s midterms. However, it has left three of the five candidates it will ultimately support unannounced as a “warning shot,” as the group calls it, to other politicians.  “If a candidate for Congress wants to be inoculated from being on our target list,” the group said in a press release Monday, “there is an easy way to do so: get on the right side of reform.”  

Read more…

CPI: Koch-backed seniors group low-balling election spending?

By Michael Beckel

Assume, for instance, that a nonprofit like the 60 Plus Associations spends $1 million on a series of 30-second television ads attacking a Democratic politician for supporting an issue such as Obamacare.

But, say, only five seconds of the ad directs urges viewers to vote against the candidate.

The nonprofit, Mitchell argued, could then report only a small portion of the $1 million as political spending, while the rest would be deemed “educational expenditures.”

Read more…

Disclosure

BuzzFeed: Mystery Campaign Publishes Names, Addresses Of Opponents Of LGBT-Discrimination Ban

In a twist, the people behind the website, HEROpetition.com, are themselves remaining anonymous. A person responding to an inquiry made to the email address provided on the website, HEROpetition.com, told BuzzFeed Tuesday night that they “aren’t identifying people associated with the website to protect our personal safety.”

The domain name was registered on July 3 through Domains By Proxy, a service whose purpose is to mask the identity of a person purchasing a web domain. The person or people making the petitions available to all defended their anonymity.

“The personal safety risks to the people who run this site are far greater than the risk to any one individual among tens of thousand who signed the petition,” the person responding to inquires made at the website’s email address wrote to BuzzFeed. “[S]ome people claim they will be the victims of harassment because of this site, but some of them have no problem coming after the folks on this side. People who have spoken out publicly in favor of HERO are already facing threats against their jobs.”

The article later continues: “We know who runs the website, and the people who run the website have requested to remain confidential. And we totally respect that,” he said. “I’m very much a public face of ‘the movement,’ and my own personal experience has given some people in the community pause. I’ve had people come after my job, I’ve had people do open records requests on my email because I’m a public employee. I’ve got video cameras on my house for a reason.” 

Read more…

Lobbying and Ethics

Roll Call: Mini-Mega Donors Dominate Downtown Giving | K Street Files

By Kate Ackley

Individual lobbyists typically do not reach into the highest levels of personal campaign contributions; that’s an echelon billionaires dominate.

But K Street’s elite mini-mega donors have blown beyond the former federal “max out” limitation of $123,200 that the Supreme Court threw out this spring in its McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Read more…

FEC

FEC: Statements in Relation to Commission Deadlock on Americans for Job Security, AAN

Republican commissioners’ statement…

Democrat commissioners’ statement…

State and Local

New York –– NY Times: U.S. Attorney Warns Cuomo on Ethics Case

By SUSANNE CRAIG, THOMAS KAPLAN and WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM

In an escalation of the confrontation between the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomoover the governor’s cancellation of his own anticorruption commission, Mr. Bharara has threatened to investigate the Cuomo administration for possible obstruction of justice or witness tampering.

The warning, in a sharply worded letter from Mr. Bharara’s office, came after several members of the panel issued public statements defending the governor’s handling of the panel, known as the Moreland Commission, which Mr. Cuomo created last year with promises of cleaning up corruption in state politics but shut down abruptly in March.

Mr. Bharara’s office has been investigating the shutdown of the commission, and pursuing its unfinished corruption cases, since April.

Read more…

New York –– NY Times: Gov. Cuomo’s Latest Excuses

Editorial

Mr. Cuomo abruptly shut down the commission in March, and in April argued that because he had created it, “it is mine. It is controlled by me.”

Now, he’s trying to sell New Yorkers another unconvincing spin. At a press briefing in Buffalo on Monday, he said that his administration had merely offered “advice” to commissioners and investigators. “Independence doesn’t mean you get holed up in an ivory tower and you don’t talk to anyone,” he said.

The investigators who had to respond to the governor’s pressure almost certainly did not view the directives of his aides as optional.

Read more…

New York –– NY Times: Ex-New York Councilman Is Convicted in Corruption Case

By MARC SANTORA

Mr. Halloran was accused of taking part in two separate schemes. In one, he was accused of acting as a liaison between Mr. Smith and Republican Party officials in an effort to get Mr. Smith on the ballot for mayor in 2013. The price for his services, according to the prosecution, was $20,000.

He was also charged with taking at least $15,000 in bribes for designating about $80,000 in New York City funds to a nonprofit entity, allowing the money to be embezzled through a no-show job.

Mr. Halloran, testifying in his defense, said the only time he took money, it was as a loan, not as a gift. He spent five days on the witness stand; on Tuesday, the jury deliberated for less than two hours before delivering a verdict.

Read more…