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Difference between revisions of "IRS targeting allegations"

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The House Ways and Means Committee announced on June 13, 2014, that emails from Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011 to those outside of the IRS were lost due to a computer crash. Koskinen promised all documentation from Lerner would be handed over for investigation, but it was revealed in a letter that emails from that period could not be found. Chairman [[Dave Camp]] (R-MI) released a response, stating, "The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials.  It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights." Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee [[Charles Boustany Jr.]], (D-LA) questioned the administration's transparency claiming, "This is not the transparency promised to the American people.  If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?"<ref>[http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=384506 ''Ways and Means Committee'', "IRS Claims to Have Lost Over 2 Years of Lerner Emails," June 13, 2014]</ref>
 
The House Ways and Means Committee announced on June 13, 2014, that emails from Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011 to those outside of the IRS were lost due to a computer crash. Koskinen promised all documentation from Lerner would be handed over for investigation, but it was revealed in a letter that emails from that period could not be found. Chairman [[Dave Camp]] (R-MI) released a response, stating, "The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials.  It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights." Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee [[Charles Boustany Jr.]], (D-LA) questioned the administration's transparency claiming, "This is not the transparency promised to the American people.  If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?"<ref>[http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=384506 ''Ways and Means Committee'', "IRS Claims to Have Lost Over 2 Years of Lerner Emails," June 13, 2014]</ref>
  
[[File:US-InternalRevenueService-Seal.svg|right|200px|link=Internal Revenue Service]]On June 13, 2014, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) requested the metadata records of the emails from Lerner from the [[National Security Agency]]. The metadata requested, collected by the NSA program Stellar Wind, would not provide the content of the emails from Lerner, but the information would provide where the emails were sent from and where they were delivered. A spokesperson from Stockman's office justified the request, saying, "If the government can collect data on American citizens without a warrant and use it in court or investigation, there is no immunity exempting government officials from having their data collected without a warrant and used in court or investigations."<ref>[http://thehill.com/policy/technology/209566-conservatives-turn-to-nsa-for-help-getting-wh-records?utm_content=bufferf4a78&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer ''The Hill'', "Conservatives turn to NSA for help getting White House records," June 17, 2014]</ref> By June 17, 2014, Republicans insisted that emails from an additional six people had been lost. [[John Koskinen]] was subpoenaed to testify before the multiple House committees again, this time about the increasing number of lost emails over the highly-scrutinized period of time for the IRS.<ref>[http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/irs-lost-emails-tea-party-gop-accuse-107950.html?hp=r4 ''Politico'', "GOP: IRS lost more emails in tea party affair," June, 18, 2014]</ref>
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[[File:US-InternalRevenueService-Seal.svg|right|200px|link=Internal Revenue Service]]On June 13, 2014, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) requested the metadata records of the emails from Lerner from the [[National Security Agency]]. The metadata requested, collected by the NSA program Stellar Wind, would not provide the content of the emails from Lerner, but the information would provide where the emails were sent from and where they were delivered. A spokesperson from Stockman's office justified the request, saying, "If the government can collect data on American citizens without a warrant and use it in court or investigation, there is no immunity exempting government officials from having their data collected without a warrant and used in court or investigations."<ref>[http://thehill.com/policy/technology/209566-conservatives-turn-to-nsa-for-help-getting-wh-records?utm_content=bufferf4a78&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer ''The Hill'', "Conservatives turn to NSA for help getting White House records," June 17, 2014]</ref> By June 17, 2014, Republicans insisted that emails from an additional six people had been lost. [[John Koskinen]] was subpoenaed to testify before the multiple House committees again, only about the increasing number of lost emails over the highly-scrutinized period of time for the IRS.<ref>[http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/irs-lost-emails-tea-party-gop-accuse-107950.html?hp=r4 ''Politico'', "GOP: IRS lost more emails in tea party affair," June, 18, 2014]</ref> During testimony on June 21, 2014, Koskinen claimed the IRS was following through with promises of transparency by providing all the emails to Congress, but stated, "I said I would provide all the e-mails — we are providing all the e-mails. I never said I would provide e-mails we didn't have." He also explained that following Lerner's hard drive problem, she brought in IRS IT experts in an attempt to recover the contents of the drive, but they were not able to salvage it.<ref>[http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/06/24/irs-chief-denies-tipping-off-white-house-about-missing-emails/ ''The Washington Post'', "IRS chief denies tipping off White House about missing e-mails," June 24, 2014]</ref>
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[[Texas]]-based non-profit organization True the Vote filed a suit against the IRS on June 30, 2014, to allow an independent forensics investigation into what happened with the hard drive. The case will be heard on July 11, 2014, by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton. The attorneys for True the Vote argued, "If the IRS’s public statements about ‘recycling’ Ms. Lerner’s hard drive are true, that alone establishes spoliation of evidence that violates federal statutes and regulations, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and professional ethics and responsibility."<ref>[http://washingtonexaminer.com/another-federal-judge-tells-irs-to-explain-itself-on-lost-emails/article/2550394?utm_campaign=Fox%20News&utm_source=foxnews.com&utm_medium=feed ''The Washington Examiner'', "Another federal judge tells IRS to explain itself on lost emails," July 1, 2014]</ref>
  
 
===FBI documents===
 
===FBI documents===

Revision as of 15:06, 3 July 2014

FederalAffairsLogo-01.png
On May 10, 2013, news broke that various branches of the IRS had specifically targeted conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status. It began during the tea party surge in 2010. The agency was separating tax-exempt applications by searching for political terms such as "tea party" and "patriot." In June 2011, an IRS official was briefed on these transgressions and asked that this practice end. The flagging continued, however, when the criteria was changed in January 2012 to look out for groups educating on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.[1]

The targeting included allegations that tea party groups were forced to provide information not asked of other tax exempt groups. Examples of this were requests for donor information, Facebook posts, resumes and political intentions of group officials and connections to other groups.[2][3]


FederalAffairsLogo-01.png

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Testifying on May 15, 2013, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised a criminal investigation spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and federal prosecutors into the Cincinnati office that has been blamed for the extra attention paid to conservative organizations, but he made it clear that the investigation would span more than just Cincinnati in order to find out where the "enforcement gaps" in the IRS's policies lie. Holder also added that groups paying for legal representation during the controversy would be reimbursed for legal costs.[4]

On May 16, 2013, IRS Commissioner Steven Miller announced his resignation. He still testified at the hearings the next day.[5] Lois Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt organizations division throughout the targeting scandal retired on September 23, 2013, when an IRS review board informed her she would be removed from her position due to "neglect of duties."[6]

Pursuit of criminal charges

In January 2014, the FBI announced no criminal charges would be filed over the IRS targeting scandal unless new evidence came to light.[7] On April 9, 2014, emails from Lerner, expressing her interest in denying the Crossroads GPS 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, were released to the public, and a letter was sent by the House Ways and Means Committee urging prosecutors to hold Lerner accountable. Fourteen committee democrats voted against sending the letter with Rep. Sandy Levin stating the intention of the letter was to "declare this a scandal and keep it going until November."[8]

Lerner in contempt

On May 7, 2014, the U.S. House voted to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress due to her refusal to answer questions during her hearing. The criminal contempt charge carries a jail sentence and fine, but the Justice Department must first decide whether or not to pursue the charge. If the department opts not to pursue the charge, the House can bring up a civil suit demanding Lerner to testify or face time in jail. Lerner would not necessarily be forced to testify if the criminal charge is pursued.[9]

Lost email communications

The House Ways and Means Committee announced on June 13, 2014, that emails from Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011 to those outside of the IRS were lost due to a computer crash. Koskinen promised all documentation from Lerner would be handed over for investigation, but it was revealed in a letter that emails from that period could not be found. Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a response, stating, "The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights." Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee Charles Boustany Jr., (D-LA) questioned the administration's transparency claiming, "This is not the transparency promised to the American people. If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?"[10]

US-InternalRevenueService-Seal.svg
On June 13, 2014, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) requested the metadata records of the emails from Lerner from the National Security Agency. The metadata requested, collected by the NSA program Stellar Wind, would not provide the content of the emails from Lerner, but the information would provide where the emails were sent from and where they were delivered. A spokesperson from Stockman's office justified the request, saying, "If the government can collect data on American citizens without a warrant and use it in court or investigation, there is no immunity exempting government officials from having their data collected without a warrant and used in court or investigations."[11] By June 17, 2014, Republicans insisted that emails from an additional six people had been lost. John Koskinen was subpoenaed to testify before the multiple House committees again, only about the increasing number of lost emails over the highly-scrutinized period of time for the IRS.[12] During testimony on June 21, 2014, Koskinen claimed the IRS was following through with promises of transparency by providing all the emails to Congress, but stated, "I said I would provide all the e-mails — we are providing all the e-mails. I never said I would provide e-mails we didn't have." He also explained that following Lerner's hard drive problem, she brought in IRS IT experts in an attempt to recover the contents of the drive, but they were not able to salvage it.[13]

Texas-based non-profit organization True the Vote filed a suit against the IRS on June 30, 2014, to allow an independent forensics investigation into what happened with the hard drive. The case will be heard on July 11, 2014, by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton. The attorneys for True the Vote argued, "If the IRS’s public statements about ‘recycling’ Ms. Lerner’s hard drive are true, that alone establishes spoliation of evidence that violates federal statutes and regulations, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and professional ethics and responsibility."[14]

FBI documents

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee received information from the Justice Department that the IRS provided the FBI with a 1.1 million page database of information on tax-exempt organizations. The files, announced by the committee on June 9, 2014, were to be used by the FBI to investigate the political activity of the tax-exempt organizations. In a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote, "We were extremely troubled by this new information, and by the fact that the IRS has withheld it from the committee for over a year. We were astonished to learn days ago from the Justice Department that these 21 disks contained confidential taxpayer information protected by federal law." The IRS claimed most of the information was publicly available with the exception of 33 organizations for which it accidentally released non-public information to the FBI. Republican representatives are looking into whether any wrongdoing occurred.[15]

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