Using the IRS to Disarm Tea Party and Other Political Foes
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published February 19, 2014 on The Washington Times website.
When President Obama during a Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly blamed Fox News for problems caused by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, he sent an unmistakable signal to his base and his media allies: I will shoot the messenger, and so should you.
It’s like fighting a fire by turning off that annoying alarm.
That’s what has been happening on matters great and small since Mr. Obama advised his followers in 2008, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”
Some of them, especially IRS officials who have the power to terrorize and silence people, have been taking it seriously for the past five years. Now that the cat is out of the bag about the IRS’ political persecution of the Tea Party groups, Mr. Obama’s allies are doing everything they can to quell the uproar.
On Feb. 6, two House Democrats asked for an investigation of Treasury Department Inspector General J. Russell George, whose report blew the whistle on the IRS targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups.
That’s right. Even after IRS official Lois Lerner admitted in congressional testimony that her agency targeted the groups and then took the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, the Democrats’ response was to attack the guy who helped bring the embarrassing information to light.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Virginia Democrat, and Rep. Matthew A. Cartwright, Pennsylvania Democrat, who certainly know a gun from a knife, filed the complaint with three members of the Council of the Inspectors General, including the FBI’s Criminal Division.
Now that sends a warning. If this were “The Godfather,” assassin Luca Brasi would be shadowing Mr. George even as we speak.
One of the charges is that Mr. George allegedly met with Republican members of Congress without Democrats present. You know, like the closed-door sessions when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi locked out Republican members and drafted Obamacare.
The congressional hit men got immediate media cover for the bullying. Washington Post reporter Josh Hicks, ignoring the string of dots as big as a fleet of Goodyear blimps, wrote, “Republicans have used the [Treasury IG’s] report to attack the Obama administration but have failed in their efforts to link the problems to White House political motives.”
Say what? You would have to be profoundly naive or a true believer in Mr. Obama’s revolution of “fundamentally transforming” America to write this. Nowhere does Mr. Hicks acknowledge Ms. Lerner’s taking the Fifth, nor the frequent presence at the White House of then-IRS chief Douglas Shulman while the targeting was going on.
Nor the more recent revelation that recently proposed IRS rules aimed at silencing the Tea Party groups once and for all were drafted during the targeting, not afterward as “reforms.”
Mr. Obama insisted that Mr. Shulman’s visits were about Obamacare, and that the IRS’ jihad against the Tea Party groups, clearly traced to Washington, was merely “boneheaded decisions out of a local office not even a smidgeon of corruption.”
As with the brazen, ongoing lies about the Benghazi “video riot” cover-up story, the president seems unconcerned that anyone might vet his claim in this Internet age.
On the same day the Democrats fitted the rope for Treasury’s inspector general, two conservative women who have more courage than the entire city of Washington combined gave riveting testimony that should be required viewing for anyone still under the delusion that the IRS is not involved in a criminal conspiracy.
Lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who represents many groups that the IRS has been tyrannizing since 2009, told the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee that “the IRS scandal is not over. It is continuing to this day, and the Department of Justice investigation is a sham. It is a non-existent investigation.”
Mrs. Mitchell pulled no punches: “When Lois Lerner and President Obama accused line agents in Cincinnati of being responsible, ladies and gentlemen, that is a lie.” She went on to expose many more bald-faced lies and thuggish dictates, and concluded, “It’s time for the FBI to investigate these criminal acts.”
Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of Texas-based King Street Patriots and True the Vote, rocked the chamber with her own recitation of “multiple rounds of abusive inquiries” that she, her husband, their business and “all facets of my life” have suffered at the hands of the IRS and other federal agencies after she applied for the groups’ tax-exempt status in 2010.
Among other things, the IRS demanded “every Facebook and [tweet] I’d ever posted.”
“The answer to these sorts of questions are not of interest to the typical IRS analyst, but they are certainly of interest to a political machine that put its own survival against the civil liberties of a private citizen,” said Mrs. Engelbrecht, who is suing the IRS. “This government attacked me because of my political beliefs.”
Her voice rising with measured anger, she vowed not to be a victim: “No American citizen should be willing to accept a government that uses its power against its own people.”
Maybe it’s past time to ask what our members of Congress and senators are doing about all this.