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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Senator Max Baucus, now investigating IRS, urged IRS to target conservative groups in 2010

Baucus, now investigating IRS, urged IRS to target conservative groups in 2010

Democratic Montana Senator Max Baucus is leading an investigation into why the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative nonprofit groups for extra scrutiny despite the fact that Baucus once wrote a letter urging the IRS to do exactly that.

Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, will head the committee’s investigation into the IRS, which apologized Friday for targeting groups with the terms “Tea Party” and “Patriot” in their titles for extra scrutiny of their nonprofit status as early as 2011.

However, Baucus once wrote a letter requesting that the IRS engage in that very conduct.
Baucus wrote a letter to then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman dated September 28, 2010 urging the IRS to investigative nonprofit conservative groups during the Tea Party-dominated 2010 midterm elections.

“With hundreds of millions of dollars being spent in election contests by tax-exempt entities, it is time to take a fresh look at current practices and how they comport with the Internal Revenue Code’s rules for nonprofits,” Baucus wrote in the letter.

“I request that you and your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations involved in political campaign activity to examine whether they are operated for the organization’s intended tax exempt purpose and to ensure that political campaign activity is not the organization’s primary activity,” Baucus wrote in the letter.

“The tax exemption given to non-profit organizations comes with a responsibility to serve the public interest and Congress has an obligation to exercise the vigorous oversight necessary to ensure they do,” Baucus said in a 2010 statement accompanying his letter.

Though Baucus identified 501 (c) (5) groups — or labor unions — as worthy of investigation, the only organizations cited in his request were conservative, pro-Republican groups.

Baucus specifically named Americans for Job Security, which is described as a “pro-Republican organization,” as a specific target for the IRS to investigate.

Crossroads GPS, co-founded by Karl Rove, and American Action Network, chaired by former Republican senator Norm Coleman, were also cited in press coverage related to Baucus’ letter as pro-Republican groups helping to elect GOP congressional candidates in 2010.

Those organizations appeared in a September 16, 2010 TIME article by writer Michael Crowley titled, “The New GOP Money Stampede.” Baucus cited that piece in his letter to the IRS.

Whatever the fallout might be from such a conflict of interest, Baucus won’t be around too much longer to deal with it.

He’s already announced his retirement from the Senate, and won’t run for re-election in 2014.
A Baucus spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

Sen. Max Baucus asked IRS in 2010 to investigate 501(c) groups, letter shows

By Robert Romano
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) in a 2010 letter requested that then-Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Douglas Shulman deeply investigate 501(c) non-profit political organizations.

The letter called on Shulman to “survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations involved in political campaign activity to examine whether they are operated for the organization’s intended tax exempt purpose and to ensure that political campaign activity is not the organization’s primary activity” and to “to determine whether they are acting as conduits for major donors advancing their own private interests regarding legislation or political campaigns, or are providing major donors with excess benefits.”

In his own letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens noted, “Considering the invasive questions the IRS was asking the targeted organizations, it appears that Sen. Baucus got exactly what he asked for, which was a witch-hunt.”

Baucus’ letter also instructed Shulman that “Possible violation of tax laws should be identified as you conduct this study. Please report back to the Finance Committee as soon as possible with your findings and recommended actions regarding this matter.”

Baucus specifically referenced a Sept. 16, 2010 Time article, “The New GOP Money Stampede” reporting that “Democrats fear [what] could be a $300 million Republican spending blitz this year.” The story detailed allegations that local tea party groups were actually “shadow Republican groups formed by longtime party officials.” The article referenced the tea party, but also American Crossroads, American Action Network, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as forming a wider campaign front for the 2010 Republican election campaign effort, financed “in the form of secret undisclosed contributions.”

Baucus also referenced “a group transforming itself into a non-profit under 501(c)(4) of the tax code,” ensuring, as the Time article put it, that the group would “not have to publicly disclose any information about its donors.” That “group” Baucus referenced was actually Crossroads GPS.

“The Time article Baucus so prominently referenced was all about the financing of Republican election efforts and right of center political and advocacy organizations,” Mehrens noted in his letter, adding, “It did not scrutinize any left-wing groups. Nor did Baucus include in his letter to Shulman any footnotes to articles that detailed Democrat campaign activities or left of center groups. The implicit task was to investigate the political right from start to finish. And that’s exactly what the IRS did.”

Yesterday, Baucus issued a statement suggesting “Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable, promising a “full investigation into this matter by the Senate Finance Committee.”

But that is not possible, Mehrens said, considering Baucus’ letter to Shulman. “Senate Democrats were complicit in the IRS scandal targeting the tea party and other groups, per Baucus’ explicit letter to Shulman. The Senate majority must therefore recuse itself from any ensuing investigation in order to ensure that the public’s trust in the inquiry’s findings is not tainted.”

The only good option, Mehrens wrote, was for Senate leaders to call on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to prosecute the case. “Just as the Senate majority cannot be trusted to investigate its own complicity in this affair, neither can the Obama Administration.”

He concluded, “These targeted attacks by the IRS were not about restoring ‘transparency’ to our political process, they were a part of a brazen partisan assault using the instrumentalities of the state to harass political opponents and stifle dissent to achieve a partisan end. It is beyond Nixonian in its flagrant disregard for the rule of law. Only a special counsel can get to the bottom of this.”

Mehrens joined others, including the Republican Governors Association, who today also demanded a special prosecutor be appointed.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.


The IRS Predicted Scandal: Baucus Demanded IRS Investigation Before He Condemned It

The IRS targeting conservative groups has reached scandal stage in record time in Washington, D.C. with even Michael Gerson writing in the Washington Post,
It is precisely because police powers are essential to the public good that abusing them is so offensive. The same holds for overzealous or corrupt airport-security agents. And it is doubly true with IRS personnel who misuse their broad and intimidating powers. It is enough to bring out the Samuel Adams in anyone.”
Senate Democrats also jumped on the bandwagon of criticism, most notably led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus who promised Committee hearings saying in a release on the Committee website:
“These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust. Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable.
“Americans expect the IRS to do its job without passion or prejudice. We need to get to the bottom of what happened here. I want to see all the facts. We need to know who knew what, and exactly what mistakes were made. The American people have questions for the IRS and I intend to get answers. I want to review the Inspector General’s report first, but the IRS should be prepared for a full investigation into this matter by the Senate Finance Committee. The IRS will now be the ones put under additional scrutiny.”
The outrage after the 2012 elections is palpable from both sides of the aisle as a consensus is developing on Capitol Hill that political points can be scored by beating up on the one part of government that everyone hates — the IRS.

But the Internet may not be kind to those Democrats like Max Baucus who demand the IRS hides today.  Veteran Bing or Yahoo! users can easily find that the retiring Senator from Montana had a different view of what the IRS should do back in 2010 in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that clarified what third party groups could do related to electioneering.

In 2010, Democrats were scrambling to pass something known as the DISCLOSE Act which was designed to stifle political speech of those who traditionally opposed them.

The inconvenient Internet reveals that Senator Baucus was a leader in demanding that the IRS investigate outside groups way back in 2010.  In a letter he wrote to the Agency, Mr. Baucus wrote:
“I request that you and your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations involved in political campaign activity to examine whether they are operated for the organization’s intended tax exempt purpose and to ensure that political campaign activity is not the organization’s primary activity. Specifically you should examine if these political activities reach a primary purpose level — the standard imposed by the federal tax code — and if they do not, whether the organization is complying with the notice or proxy tax requirements of Section 6033(e). I also request that you or your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) organizations to determine whether they are acting as conduits for major donors advancing their own private interests regarding legislation or political campaigns, or are providing major donors with excess benefits.”
Considering the over burdensome and intrusive questions — about donor histories, lobbying activities, connections to political campaigns, etc. — that the agency was asking of tea party and other groups, it appears Baucus’ request was fulfilled in full. Quite specifically.

Americans for Limited Government’s Bill Wilson immediately and forcefully responded to Baucus at the time writing in a widely discussed article:
“Not only has the tax code under section 501(c) been used to limit the types of speech that certain organizations can engage in — which on its face violates the First Amendment — now Baucus wants to use the IRS to intimidate groups and threaten their tax-exempt statuses ‘[e]ven if political campaign activity is not the primary purpose’ of the group. This is designed purely to have a chilling effect on the speech of any organizations that are otherwise lawfully exercising their rights to freedom of speech.”
As Wilson so clearly warned, Baucus’ letter, if followed by the IRS could only have led to the singling out and targeting non-profit groups not favored by the party in power. That was clearly Baucus’ intent in 2010, so it is hypocritical even by Washington, D.C. standards for Montana Max to show faux outrage now that it has been revealed that the IRS did exactly what he asked.

As Democrat politicians jump on the carcass of the already dead man walking IRS officials, let the voter beware.   In the world of spin control, it is more likely that they are trying to control the investigation and headlines about the scandal than actually getting to the bottom of it.

Because more than likely, you can find the bottom by looking at their own demands of the Agency and it is almost certain that Max Baucus and the congressional Democrats don’t want to look in that mirror.

If they did, the people might go all Samuel Adams on them ruining their hopes for the 2014 election.
Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government

Senate Dems Led by Senator Schumer called on IRS to harass Conservatives and the Tea Party. 202-224-3121

Senators Charles E. Schumer, Max Baucus, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken. Carl Levin will be added to this list as of a report I saw this morning. (Max Baucus was not on the list but is instrumental in demanding the IRS investigate Conservative groups.


More On the IRS Scandal: 
This video is from 2012.  It is now known that the IRS was well aware of the targeting of Conservatives,  as well as those on Obama's enemies list in 2011.  If that is the case, the IRS' Commissioner, Douglas Shulman,  committed perjury in front of Congress.

Published on Mar 23, 2012
Congressman Charles W. Boustany, Jr., M.D. (R-South Louisiana), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight, held a hearing on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), its operations and budget, and the 2012 tax return filing season on March 22, 2012. Chairman Boustany questioned IRS Commissioner, Douglas Shulman, on whether or not Tea Party groups' and other groups' tax-exempt status are being targeted due to their political views.

University to Bestow ‘Face of IRS Scandal’ with Honorary Tribute

The woman in charge of the IRS division responsible for reviewing tax-exempt status applications and who is at the heart of an ongoing scandal over revelations the agency targeted conservative groups is set to receive an honorary tribute from Western New England University School of Law on Saturday.

Lois Lerner – director for the IRS Exempt Organization Division – is slated to deliver the school’s commencement address and be given the university’s “President’s Medallion.”

Established in 2002, the award is “bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves in a particular field or in service to an important cause that has benefited society locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally,” the college’s website states.

In the wake of revelations that her division zeroed in on and gave extra scrutiny to groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, Lerner, 62, has been thrust into the national spotlight, dubbed by some as the “face of the IRS scandal.”

Lerner knew of the inappropriate focus in her division on conservative groups since June 2011. She recently apologized publicly, but won’t comment on whether IRS employees will be disciplined, and denied any political bias was involved in the effort.

In touting Lerner’s impending arrival to the Springfield, Mass., campus – her alma mater – university officials noted she graduated from the law school in 1978 and now oversees nearly 1,000 employees charged with reviewing IRS applications for tax-exempt status and conducting examinations and compliance efforts.

Campus officials also tout how she is past president of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws.
More recently, she has become the butt of jokes on social media and news websites after she revealed during a conference call with reporters Friday that “I’m not good at math.”

“You’re with the IRS, thank you,” replied Tom Costello of NBC News with a chuckle. He had asked the question that prompted her admission.

“I am a lawyer, I am not an accountant,” Lerner had quickly replied.

Revelations on the ongoing IRS scandal reveal Lerner’s division demanded much of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, including information “under penalties of perjury” on donor lists, names of family members and spouses, and whether people affiliated with the groups were planning to run for office.

Western New England University School of Law officials announced May 1 that Lerner is set to give the upcoming commencement speech and receive the honorary award, roughly one week before the controversial news surfaced.

Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix.

5/15/13 1:40pm UPDATE: "I just called the Dean of Western New England University School Of Law, Arthur R. Gaudio, to express my concern over them having Lois Lerner (the face of the IRS scandal) as their commencement speaker this Saturday and recipient of their "President's Medallion" award.

He said that they hadn't removed her BUT due to the obvious negative press out there, SHE removed herself.

He went on to say that this is a conspiracy and if I read her actual transcript of the conversation that brought attention to this, there really wasn't anything she had done wrong, that there is more to the story, and she is an 'honorable' person." ~Michele

Maybe they should read the IRS Inspector General’s report before Saturday. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

If this outrages you as much as it does me, Please contact the Dean of Western New England University School Of Law, Arthur R. Gaudio, and let him know they must remove this woman from their commencement ceremony and must NOT give her any honorary tribute: 413-782-1413 or Media Relations: David Stawasz 413-796-2026

This is an outrage!  Having her speak at a school of law when she has blatantly broken the law?   
She has already admitted to having knowledge of the illegal activities of the IRS, under her supervision, as early as 2011. 

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