What the IRS Has Become
The IRS has hypocritically ignored the Constitution, having targeted groups whose names included what America once stood for: patriotism, freedom, and the Constitution. This will be emphasized on June 20, when Judicial Watch, the people's watchdog over the government, holds a public panel discussion with some of those who were victimized. American Thinker interviewed Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch's president, and some of those who were harassed and abused by the IRS.
Fitton is not surprised by the Obama administration's actions and regards them as a continual Democratic tactic. He told American Thinker how, during the entire Clinton presidency, his group was targeted via numerous audits. He sees this latest scandal as déjà vu, since conservative groups "were put in a box by the IRS and could not do the actions they planned on doing because their activities were curtailed significantly. This is a scandal for the ages. We all saw in the last few years that the Tea Party became inactive and now we know why. All I know is, the IRS engaged in a massive suppression of perceived political opposition to the president at a time that was very important for his re-election campaign. This is government suppression and oppression. The movement was coming out, and they were stopped by this administration. This is about Obama's role as chief executive and his refusal to take responsibility."
Freedom's Watch, a 501(c)(4), was established in 2007 to counter MoveOn.org and to help with public relations in support of the Iraq troop surge. Its former president and CEO, Bradley Blakeman, said Lois Lerner of the IRS from 2009 to 2011 targeted him, the organization, and the donors. He told American Thinker that not only did the IRS go after start-ups, but they also went after established and defunct conservative groups in an effort to intimidate, harass, and create fear. They tried to hold him personally liable for any excess income, and the big donors were told that their donations would instead be considered a gift, subject to being taxed. Although it was found that there was no liability on his part, he had to pay a substantial amount of money to lawyers and an accounting firm that specializes in executive compensation. He wants Americans to beware, since "[i]t cost us dearly to defend ourselves. You are guilty until proven innocent, because you are not charged with anything but have to go through an investigation with the IRS having the ultimate power."
Blakeman was the scheduler for President George W. Bush and wonders why the IRS commissioner visited the White House over 150 times, whom he saw, and how long he was there. He asserts that as a former presidential scheduler, it is inconceivable to him that any outside official would spend approximately every fourth day at the White House. He seems to have a very good point, since Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, and Leon Panetta each visited under fifty times. "The lawyer in me is very suspicious of the White House reaction of stone walling. If there is nothing to it release the records. They only did it through visits to try to control the message. They wanted everything oral, and made sure there was no paper trail."
Regarding ObamaCare, Blakeman and the others want Americans to understand that the IRS will be enforcing it, which means that "[t]he IRS will know you better than your relatives." This can be seen in the most recent revelation, that the IRS improperly seized 60 million medical records from a California health care provider in March 2011. This health care provider is suing the IRS for improperly stealing medical records, claiming the search warrant was limited to only the financial records.
Dan Backer, the legal counsel of theteaparty.net, and Niger Innis, the strategic director, told American Thinker that Americans should be wary of the IRS, since it is not independent and will have an increased role in implementing ObamaCare. They cite how the IRS had them buried in paperwork and filling out questionnaires, such as what donors were likely to run for office, as well as being asked to print out their entire Facebook and Twitter pages. Innis noted that a pending decision for becoming a (c)(4) is actually worse than being rejected. Since they are now somewhere in limbo, they cannot appeal, as would be the case if they were rejected. Innis agrees with Blakeman that Obama is stonewalling and points to the answer the president gave at a news conference to the question of whether anyone at the White House had been aware of these incidents. For him, the president's answer -- "I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the [inspector general] report before the I.G. report had been leaked" -- was diversionary on a number of different accounts.
Ken Crow, the co-founder of The Tea Party Community, said he is being abused by having to undergo a personal income tax audit. He is very angry, since he thinks this was done to limit freedom of speech. "The IRS was using its full power to inhibit conservative grassroots efforts. If there is so much smoke, there has to be a fire some place and it is with some high-ranking figures. This is the most corrupt regime in American history. I won't even call them an administration anymore."
Backer is hoping that everyone involved will be fired, including Lerner. "It is insane to me that she is getting a paid administrative leave. She is getting a paid vacation for violating people's constitutional rights. Is she being kept on to keep her silent? Everyone up and down the ladder should be fired as an example that those who work in government are held accountable to the law so this never happens again. President Obama has the ability to fire people for cause. The president created an atmosphere by attacking anyone who disagreed with him, that they were dangerous to democracy. You do not necessarily have to give the order for people under you to believe that is what you want to happen."
The legal counsel also explained that anyone applying for a (c)(3) can sue the IRS if the process for approval or denial takes too long. He is hoping that at the minimum this will also occur for those applying for a (c)(4) so the IRS will not be allowed to stonewall and drag out the process as is the case for theteaparty.net.
Blakeman also wants a special prosecutor appointed who is not perceived as partisan and is seen by both sides as someone who is fair, knowledgeable, and balanced. He thinks this is needed to show that there are consequences: "Remember, during Watergate, as today, people said that a special prosecutor is not needed and the only reason to appoint one is to go on a fishing expedition. The call words of Watergate are certainly here: 'stonewalling' and 'cover-up.' Does the liability reach the White House with this current scandal? It took two years for the truth to come out during Watergate, and today a special prosecutor is also needed to get to the bottom of this."
Fitton is not sure if he supports appointing a special prosecutor but his organization is requesting over half a dozen documents under the Freedom of Information Act. He does not think congressional investigations are the answer since they appear to be lax in oversight and accountability. "We cannot rely on the institution of government, since it has broken down and does not hold anyone accountable for wrong doing. This needs to never happen again and there needs to be resignations, firings, and a complete report to the American people."
Everyone interviewed sees this as a case of the Obama administration turning on the people through harassment, intimidation, and limiting political opposition. What was done went against the rule of law and the Constitution. People need to be held accountable so this never happens again, or democracy will be a word of the past.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.