Documents Show Lois Lerner Contacted Holder’s DOJ About Potential Prosecution Of Tax-Exempt Groups

JW Obtains IRS Documents Showing Lerner In Contact With DOJ About Potential Prosecution Of Tax-Exempt Groups – Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch today released a new batch of internal IRS documents revealing that former IRS official Lois Lerner communicated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) about whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities. The documents were obtained as a result of an October 2013 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after the agency refused to respond to four FOIA requests dating back to May 2013.

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The newly released IRS documents contain an email exchange between Lerner and Nikole C. Flax, then-Chief of Staff to then-Acting-IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller discussing plans to work with the DOJ to prosecute nonprofit groups that “lied” (Lerner’s quotation marks) about political activities. The exchange includes the following:

May 8, 2013: Lerner to Flax

I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ… He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folks [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s – saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.

I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS…

May 9, 2013: Flax to Lerner

I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?

Lerner then “handed off” scheduling the issue to Senior Technical Adviser, Attorney Nancy Marks, who was then supposed to set up the meeting with the DOJ. Lerner also decided that it would be DOJ’s decision as to whether representatives from the Federal Election Commission would attend.

Democratic Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse had held a hearing on April 9 during which, “in questioning the witnesses from DOJ and IRS, Whitehouse asked why they have not prosecuted 501(c)(4) groups that have seemingly made false statements about their political activities.” Lerner described the impetus for this hearing in a March 27, 2013, email to top IRS staff:

As I mentioned yesterday – there are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down. One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing the stuff.

So, don’t be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity.

But in an email sent a few minutes earlier, Lerner acknowledged prosecutions would evidently be at odds with the law:

Whether there was a false statement or fraud regarding an [sic] description of an alleged political expenditure that doesn’t say vote for or vote against is not realistic under current law. Everyone is looking for a magic bullet or scapegoat – there isn’t one. The law in this area is just hard.

The documents also include email exchanges showing that before Lerner’s May 10, 2013, speech to the American Bar Association blaming “low-level” employees in Cincinnati for targeting tax-exempt organizations, the IRS Exempt Organizations division was scrambling to defuse the emerging targeting scandal:

May 1, 2013: After receiving an email from an assistant showing that 501(c)(4) applications had increased from 1591 in 2010 to 3398 in 2012 , Lerner wrote back, “Looks to me like 2010-2012 doubled too. Oh well – thanks.”

May 2, 2013: Discussing an upcoming conference call with approximately 100 congressional staffers on May 22, Lerner cautions aides, “Need to be careful not to mention sequester/furlough unless asked although can allude to budget and resources restraints.”

May 2, 2013: In response to an email reminding her about the upcoming conference call with congressional staffers, Lerner responded, “Arrgh – I just saw it. Sharon [White] could skate, but Cindy [Thomas] is the person who could answer that stuff. We need to give them some type of language in the event that type of question comes up” [apparently in reference to earlier email referencing “sensitive issues”].

The new documents obtained by Judicial Watch also include emails exchanged after Lerner’s May 10 ABA speech:

May 10, 2013: In an email to an aide responding to a request for information from a Washington Post reporter, Lerner admits that she “can’t confirm that there was anyone on the other side of the political spectrum” who had been targeted by the IRS. She then adds that “The one with the names used were only know [sic] because they have been very loud in the press.”

May 10, 2013: An email from former Cincinnati program manager Cindy Thomas excoriates Lerner for her comments blaming “low-level” employees in its Cincinnati office for targeting tax-exempt organizations that had “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in their names during the 2012 election. Highlighting the words “low-level workers” in bold-face type each of the seven times she used it in short, pungent email, Thomas asked, “How am I supposed to keep the low-level workers motivated when the public believes they are nothing more than low-level workers and now will have no respect for how they are working cases?” Lerner’s response nearly an hour later was a terse, “I will be back shortly and give you a call.”

May 15, 2013: In an email from an aide to Lerner, the aide specifically mentions “Tea Party Organizations”, the “Tea Party movement,” and “Tea Party Patriots” as organizations targeted by the IRS.

The Judicial Watch FOIA requests came on the heels of an explosive May 14, 2013, Treasury Inspector General report revealing that the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status. The IG probe determined that “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to (e.g., lists of past and future donors).” According to the report, the illegal IRS reviews continued for more than 18 months and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” preparing for the 2012 presidential election.

Lerner, who headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, refused to testify at a May 2013 hearing before Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) House Oversight Committee, demanding immunity concerning her role in the targeting scandal. Lerner retired from the IRS with full benefits on September 23 after an internal investigation found she was guilty of “neglect of duties” and was going to call for her ouster, according to news reports. On April 9, 2014, the Ways and Means Committee referred Lois Lerner to the DOJ for criminal prosecution. On April 10, 2014, the House Oversight Committee voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.

“These new emails show that the day before she broke the news of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner was talking to a top Obama Justice Department official about whether the DOJ could prosecute the very same organizations that the IRS had already improperly targeted,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The IRS emails show Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is now implicated and conflicted in the IRS scandal. No wonder we had to sue in federal court to get these documents.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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*AUDIO* Mark Levin: Cliven Bundy Versus The Federal Leviathan


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Corruption Update: Obama’s Census Bureau Planning To Cook Obamacare’s Books Before Midterm Elections

Obama’s Census Bureau Officially Plans To Cook Obamacare’s Books – The Federalist

In a bombshell article, the New York Times reported earlier today that the U.S. Census Bureau planned to radically alter its method of calculating the number of people without health insurance in the U.S. The result? The changes will be so radical that “it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.”

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From the NYT:

The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.

The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said.

An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.

You know what else is due this fall? A big election in which the effects of Obamacare are sure to weigh on voters’ minds.

Don’t worry, though. Census officials said the timing of the change was “coincidental” and “unfortunate.” The latter is most certainly the case, but unfortunate for whom? Certainly not the White House, which mere days ago was bragging, Mission Accomplished-style, about how amazing the Obama implementation was going. Does anyone actually believe this White House would want to change and obscure favorable numbers in the weeks and months ahead of an election?

It turns out the suspiciously timed changes aren’t the only remarkable aspect of that NYT story. Apparently the government’s statisticians knew for some time that the old method of collecting data on the uninsured significantly overstated their numbers:

Census officials and researchers have long expressed concerns about the old version of insurance questions in the Current Population Survey.

The questionnaire traditionally used by the Census Bureau provides an “inflated estimate of the uninsured” and is prone to “measurement errors,” said a working paper by statisticians and demographers at the agency.

So not only will the new numbers be close to useless when it comes to using them to figure out if Obamacare has had its intended effect, it turns out the old numbers – which the White House used to cram the law down America’s throat – were bogus as well. Heads they win, tails you lose. But remember: all of this is totally coincidental and really unfortunate.

Unrelated: remember that time the Obama administration tried to force the head of the Census Bureau to report directly to the White House, rather than to the Secretary of Commerce, as required by law?

President Obama has decided to have the director of the U.S. Census Bureau work directly with the White House, the administration said today, a move that comes as the Census Bureau prepares to conduct the 2010 census that will determine redistricting of congressional seats.

We’re sure that was just a coincidence, too.

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Sources Inside Obama’s BLM And LVMPD Say Feds Planning Raid On Bundy Home (Audio)

Exclusive: Sources Inside The BLM And Las Vegas Metro Say Feds Are Planning A Raid On Bundy Home – Ben Swann

As reported yesterday, hundreds of federal agents are still at the Bundy Ranch and the area continues its status as a no-fly zone. Despite major media reports that the Nevada Bureau of Land Management is retreating, the remaining activity that still surrounds the ranch illustrates a different scenario.

Not only is the BLM not actually backing off of Cliven Bundy, Sheriff Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association has revealed stunning information: on Ben Swann’s radio program, Mack said that he has received intelligence from multiple, credible sources inside the BLM and the Las Vegas Metro that there is “no question” that the federal government is planning a raid on the Bundy home and the homes of their children who live on the property.

According to Mack, the so-called retreat was nothing more than theatrics. “It was a ploy to get people to back off, to get people out of the way. They weren’t expecting us to get this amount of people here. They were surprised by the numbers and so they wanted a way to get us out of here. This was a ploy to get us out of here and then they’re going after the Bundys.” Mack said that when he was at the Bundy ranch on Saturday there were an estimated 600 to 800 protesters present when federal agents were releasing the cattle.

“If they do that kind of raid, I don’t believe there’s any way that could happen without bloodshed,” Mack told Swann.

Mack spoke about the tactic that protesters could use by putting women at the front of the line facing the federal agents to make them think carefully before opening fire.

“I would’ve gone next. I would’ve been the next one to be killed. I’m not afraid to die here. I’m willing to die here,” said Mack.

Mack said that he had been told by Bundy that the federal government is actively shutting down the ranching industry, specifically in Clark County. He also revealed that there used to be 53 ranches in Clark County. All of those ranchers have been put out of business, except for Bundy who is still trying to hold on. “Every American should be outraged by it,” said Mack. The ranch has been in Bundy’s family since 1877.

Mack decried Nevada governor Brian Sandoval for declaring this situation unconstutional while doing nothing to stop it. “He could have called in the state’s national guard, could have called in the sheriff’s office, could have called in highway patrol, and he’s done nothing except assail what’s going on. That’s easy, that’s cowardly.”

Sheriff Mack also called out media including radio host Glenn Beck who he says is siding with the BLM on this issue.

“I can’t believe that there are some Americans, and some media like Glenn Beck, that are supporting the BLM in this and it’s absolutely disgraceful.”

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Armed Guards Surround Bundy, Supporters Fear Imminent Threat – KLAS

Local rancher Cliven Bundy may have his cattle back, but his supporters say they are still preparing for an imminent threat.

Militia groups from all over the country say they are flocking to the Bundy ranch to protect the family from a feared federal government raid.

The Bureau of Land Management allowed Bundy to release his cattle Saturday, after they felt threatened.

Bundy now has a whole contingent of armed guards surrounding him 24 hours a day.

“They’re just there, trying to make sure something crazy doesn’t happen to him,” Bundy’s son Ammon Bundy said.

His security detail and family feel he is someone to be protected because of what the federal government could do.

“There were snipers on the hills and armed guards and you know, military forces with cameras all over.” Ammon Bundy said.

Cliven Bundy fears that the government could gather up again because they never reached a formal deal.

He is also trying to determine whether federal agents damaged any of his cattle before they released them.

The BLM only allowed the family to open up the gate of the pen where the animals were being held because officers were afraid of violence. As of now, no one has cleared him to take back his cattle for good.

Taking the stage to address supporters Monday, Bundy was quickly obscured behind his guards. The detail told 8 News NOW they are now patrolling the area 24 hours a day looking for federal snipers.

“You never know, you never know,” Ammon Bundy said.

According to the BLM, Bundy has allowed his cattle to graze public land illegally for the past 20 years. Following two court orders, the feds started rounding up the cattle last week.

The agency also says Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees for trespassing on federal lands since the 1990s.

Saturday, the BLM agreed to pull out of the area but hundreds of protesters flooded a BLM holding station, aiming to release hundreds of Bundy’s cattle.

Monday, Bundy says he never told his supporters to flood a federal cattle pen, using weapons. Members of Bundy’s security details say more militia groups are on their way and will be there for weeks to come.

Ammon Bundy says he was awake last night fearful the feds were going to come in and arrest his family.

No law enforcement have talked about arresting anyone in this dispute, and there is still no clear resolution to the fact that Bundy is grazing cattle on federal land without paying fees.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Harry Reid On Bundy Ranch Situation: ‘It’s Not Over’ – National Review

Clive Bundy may have prevailed over the weekend in his standoff with the Bureau of Land Management regarding his Nevada ranch and disputed ranch, but that’s just the first phase, according to Harry Reid.

“Well, it’s not over,” he told Reno’s KRNV. “We can’t have an American people that violate the law and just walk away from it, so it’s not over.”

Last week, the BLM began rounding up Bundy’s cattle amid controversy over whether he owed the federal government millions in grazing fees for his cattle being on their land. Bundy and his supporters, who gathered in Bunkerville, Nev., say that the rancher and his family have had rights to the land for over a century.

With tensions high, the BLM and federal agents backed off on Sunday, prompting some to think Bundy had prevailed. Reid’s comments may mean the government’s withdrawal was temporary, or that it will take a different approach to addressing the situation.

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Republican National Committee Sues IRS On Tax Day

On Tax Day, The RNC Is Suing The IRS – Townhall

Today’s the day Americans send their hard-earned tax dollars into the IRS. But this year, the IRS is going to receive something else: a lawsuit.

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The Republican National Committee is suing the IRS. Why? Because they’ve failed to provide documents we’ve requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Last May, the RNC requested copies of IRS correspondence related to the targeting of conservative groups. We wanted to find out why they were targeted, what criteria were used to target them, and who gave the orders. Clearly, the IRS wasn’t going to come clean on its own, so, like others, we took action.

Since then, the IRS has delayed and delayed and delayed – for 226 business days. They have provided documents to other organizations, so we know they’re capable. But they still haven’t answered our request.

So we’re filing a lawsuit.

Americans deserve to know how the IRS interprets and enforces the tax laws – and why it would deliberately target people because of their values and beliefs.

We’re filing this suit because the Obama administration has a responsibility to be transparent and accountable to the American people. The IRS has a legal obligation to answer our inquiry for these records. On Tax Day especially Americans deserve to know whether they can trust the agency to which they’re sending their taxes.

If the Obama administration doesn’t have anything to hide, why can’t they answer a simple request? Are they trying to cover up their actions? Are they taking cues from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who refuses to answer questions before Congress?

We have to keep fighting to hold the IRS and the administration accountable. It’s a simple issue of fairness. Americans deserve a government that treats them fairly. They shouldn’t be the victims of an administration that uses the IRS to go after its perceived political enemies.

The Obama administration surely hopes we forget about what happened and about what the IRS did to groups of Americans. We won’t forget. We’re going to keep working to expose what really happened – so that we can ensure it never happens again.

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*VIDEOS* AFP Freedom Summit: Featuring Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Laura Ingraham And Newt Gingrich


TED CRUZ

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STEVE KING

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LAURA INGRAHAM

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MIKE HUCKABEE

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RAND PAUL

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ARTHUR BROOKS

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MIKE LEE

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MARSHA BLACKBURN

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LOUIE GOHMERT

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NEWT GINGRICH

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ENTIRE EVENT

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Click HERE to visit the official Freedom Summit website sponsored by Citizens United and Americans For Prosperity.

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Westboro Batshit Church Gets Chased Out Of Oklahoma Town In Under 10 Minutes

Westboro Baptist Church Gets Chased Out Of Town In Under 10 Minutes – Conservative Tribune

You’d think that with the death of Pastor Fred Phelps the Westboro Baptist Church would grow a little quieter for a while, but they have kept their obnoxious and hateful protest speeches going strong.

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They recently showed up in Moore, Oklahoma, the site of a deadly F5 tornado that killed 24 and injured 377 just last year, urging them to “repent” for their “sins” that God was “punishing” them for.

The townspeople would have none of it. They immediately ran WBC protesters out of town… in less than 10 minutes.

Via E! Online:

The WBC was set to protest Moore, Okla. this week. They’ve protested the town thrice before, and this time they were arriving with their “God Hates Fags!” signs, because, as they explain:

God has given Moore, Oklahoma many chances to repent…On 5/2/13, God struck Moore with an EF5 tornado, killing 24, injuring 377 others, including many of your children…Not once did a single voice [besides WBC] say, Repent! Mourn for your sins! Obey God! Because you phony salt-of-the-eart-small-town-pseydo-patriot-pretend-Christians LOVE YOUR SIN MORE THAN YOUR LIFE, AND HAVE NOTHING BUT HATE IN YOUR HEARTS FOR EACH OTHER.

They also claim that Moore mocked the recent death of former WBC leader Fred Phelps. But what WBC obviously did not expect was to be met with another protest: Thousands of Moore residents gathered with their own signs and flags. A protest against the protest.

The WBC’s protest was supposed to be 30 minutes – they had a permit to “picket the slow learners” (their words) outside Central Junior High. That’s right: They were picketing a middle school (but would anything about WBC surprise you at this point?)

They only made it eight minutes in before “hastily getting into their cars and driving away” as Moore citizens pressed the protest lines, Huffington Post explains. The end of the short-lived protest was captured in this video by Matt Ramsey.

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Fantastic. The citizens of Moore are patriots for running these hateful, bigoted, anti-military, anti-American protesters out of town. If we had more people stand up and do what these townspeople did, Westboro would have a tough time descending on just anywhere with their signs and their vile speech to intimidate and demean others.

Share this article on Facebook and Twitter if you’re glad to see Westboro run out of town, and hope others would do what these townspeople did.

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Your Daley Gator Neo-Nazi IRS News Roundup (Video)

Boom! Emails Implicate Top Democrat In Colluding With IRS To Target Conservative Group – Gateway Pundit

Conservative activist and founder of True the Vote, Catherine Engelbrecht, filed an ethics complaint against far left Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in February. Engelbrecht accused Cummings of harassment and intimidation.

Catherine Engelbrecht testified before Congress in February.
She was visited by FBI, IRS, ATF, and OSHA after she filed for tax exempt status for her voters rights group.

Engelbrecht said her testimony before Congress and Cummings,
“Frankly, to sit before my accuser and be silent in the face of what he did was unconscionable.”

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Today, Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) accused Elijah Cummings of colluding with the IRS to target True the Vote.

National Review reported:

The war between Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa and the committee’s ranking member, Elijah Cummings, rages on.

Issa on Wednesday accused the Maryland Democrat of colluding with the Internal Revenue Service in its targeting of the conservative nonprofit group True the Vote, whose founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, said she received multiple letters from Cummings in 2012 and personal visits from the IRS and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives. Engelbrecht’s True the Vote is one of the many conservative groups that claims to have been improperly targeted by the IRS while it scrutinized the applications of tea-party groups.

In a letter signed by his five subcommittee chairmen, Issa raised the possibility that Cummings coordinated with the IRS, “surreptitiously” contacting the agency to request information about True the Vote.

E-mails unearthed in the course of Issa’s investigation into the IRS’s inappropriate targeting of right-leaning groups show that in January 2013, a member of Cummings’s staff contacted the IRS asking for any publicly available information on True the Vote. The matter was discussed by IRS officials that included Lois Lerner, the former exempt-organizations chief who retired in the wake of the targeting scandal. One of Lerner’s deputies, Holly Paz, subsequently sent the organization’s 990 forms to Cummings and his staff – not an illegal disclosure of taxpayer information, though sources say the exchange of such information was not routine.

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Issa: IRS Coordinated With Dems To Attack Tea Party Group – Washington Times

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa on Wednesday accused his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, of coordinating with the IRS to attack one of the tea party groups that was targeted by the tax agency for intrusive scrutiny and long delays.

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Mr. Issa and five other top Republicans said they have just last week been given emails showing Mr. Cummings sought information from the IRS about True the Vote, a conservative tax-exempt organization that drew the ire of liberals for pushing states to eliminate potentially bogus names from their voter rolls.

Mr. Issa said the IRS employees appear to have discussed confidential taxpayer information as they debated how to respond to the request from Mr. Cummings – though it’s unclear what response they ended up giving to the Maryland lawmaker, who is the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee.

“It is unclear whether the IRS shared True the Vote’s confidential taxpayer information with you or your staff through either official or unofficial channels,” Mr. Issa said, though he stressed that the IRS didn’t convey any of the information to the GOP, nor did they even alert Republicans of the request for information. Mr. Issa indicated he thought that was hypocritical since Mr. Cummings has repeatedly accused Republicans of refusing to share their requests or information they received.

Mr. Cummings‘ office didn’t immediate reply to a request for comment on the accusation.

At one point in public testimony earlier this year, Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer for True the Vote, wondered allowed whether congressional staffers “might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these federal agencies.”

Mr. Cummings vehemently denied that, calling it “absolutely incorrect and not true.”

But Mr. Issa laid out a series of questions that Mr. Cummings asked of True the Vote, which he said were so similar to the questions the IRS asked that they raised questions of coordination. The questions involved the computer software True the Vote uses, its training procedures and a list of jurisdictions the group has targeted for cleaner voting rolls.

“The timeline and pattern of inquiries raises concerns that the IRS improperly shared protected taxpayer information with your staff,” Mr. Issa wrote.

True the Vote applied for status as a 501(c )(3). The founders also created another organization, King Street Patriots, which applied for 501(c )(4) status. Catherine Engelbrecht, who founded both organizations, said soon after their creation, she, the groups and her business were subjected to multiple investigations, audits and inquiries from federal agencies ranging from the FBI and IRS to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Wednesday’s letter marks the latest escalation in what’s become a bitter relationship between the two men. Mr. Issa last month cut off Mr. Cummings’s microphone at a hearing with former IRS employee Lois G. Lerner, and Mr. Cummings demanded and received an apology.

Then, over the last week, Mr. Issa accused Mr. Cummings of trying to work out a secret deal with Ms. Lerner, and Mr. Cummings vehemently denied that.

The two men will likely clash again Thursday when the committee is slated to meet and consider holding Ms. Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer the committee’s questions. She has asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Mr. Cummings argues Mr. Issa botched the proceedings and tainted any contempt finding, and he is backed by more than two dozen lawyers who have issued memos or quotes saying contempt shouldn’t happen in this case.

On Wednesday, Mr. Cummings released a report from the Congressional Research Service arguing that there is no historical precedent for the House to find Ms. Lerner in contempt.

In the report, CRS went back to the 1950s, when then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy was investigating communists in the U.S. government. In an instance that appears to be similar to Ms. Lerner’s exchange with Mr. Issa, a witness testifying to Mr. McCarthy asserted her innocence and then refused to answer follow-ups.

A federal court upheld the woman’s right to remain silent.

“Sixty years ago, Joe McCarthy tried-and failed-to hold an American citizen in contempt after she professed her innocence and asserted her rights under the Fifth Amendment. I reject Chairman Issa’s attempts to re-create our committee in Joe McCarthy’s image, and I object to his effort to drag us back to that shameful era in which Congress tried to strip away the Constitutional rights of American citizens under the bright lights of hearings that had nothing to do with responsible oversight and everything to do with the most dishonorable kind of partisan politics,” Mr. Cummings said.

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GOP Says IRS’ Lois Lerner Targeted Crossroads – Political

House Republicans on Wednesday accused former IRS official Lois Lerner of breaking agency rules by aggressively urging denial of tax-exempt status to Crossroads GPS, the giant political nonprofit founded by Karl Rove.

The House Ways and Means Committee released emails showing the former chief of the tax-exempt unit took a special interest in Crossroads GPS in early 2013 – inquiring with IRS officials why they hadn’t been audited. Around the same time an email suggested she might be applying for a job with a pro-President Barack Obama group, Organizing For Action, though it is unclear if she was joking.

Democrats decried the release, calling it an election year gimmick to win over the party’s political base. One campaign finance group came to the defense of Lerner, who has denied any wrongdoing, calling the probe a partisan witch hunt.

The Republican committee letter calls her actions an “aggressive and improper pursuit of Crossroads… but no evidence [that] she directed review of similarly situated left-leaning groups.”

The documents were released after a rare, closed-door Ways and Means markup, where the panel voted 23-14 along party lines to send a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting he take the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division to court – though the department already has an ongoing investigation.

The scandal, spurred when Lerner publicly acknowledged extra scrutiny of tea party groups followed by a critical inspector general report, has surged back into the spotlight in recent months as congressional committees finish their investigations.

Lerner became a lightning rod for Republicans after she pleaded the Fifth and refused to testify before a House panel. The original inspector general report found that the targeting was inappropriate but found no evidence of partisan motivations.

Republicans want her charged for improperly influencing the IRS to take action against conservative organizations; disclosing confidential taxpayer info, a felony; and impeding an investigation.

Democrats cried foul play, accusing Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) of releasing private taxpayer information, and said its protests have nothing to do with holding Lerner accountable.

“This executive session isn’t about any of us condoning the mismanagement at the IRS tax-exempt division,” top panel Democrat Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said after the public was dismissed from the hearing, according to a release. “It now seems clear that Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee have decided that they do not want to be left behind in the Republican campaign to declare this a scandal and keep it going until November.”

Lerner’s lawyer William Taylor III said he had not heard from Ways and Means on the issue, and maintained his client’s innocence.

“Ms. Lerner has done nothing wrong,” Taylor, a partner of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP said in a statement. “She did not violate any law or regulation. She did not mislead Congress. She did not interfere with the rights of any organization to a tax exemption. Those are the facts.”

Camp defended the release.

“We have a right and obligation to protect the American people and to oversee the IRS and to hold them to account for their actions,” he said. “This was a career employee at the IRS so we have to make sure the signal goes out that this can’t happen again.”

The Justice Department said it will review the letter and noted it is already probing the matter.

“It remains a high priority of the Department,” Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce said.

The actions come a day before the House Oversight Committee will vote to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions on the controversy.

Advocates for reform of campaign finance rules say the scandal obscures an important policy debate about whether such politically active groups deserve tax-exempt status in the first place.

Crossroads spent $176 million during the 2012 election cycle – 99 percent of the time to back Republicans and bash Obama and Democrats. Its nonprofit arm spent about $70 million.

Paul S. Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates stricter campaign finance rules, said it is perfectly appropriate for Lerner to advocate denial of tax-exempt status if it was based on agency review of facts. He called the data dump part of a witch hunt against a career civil servant.

“If she was pushing for a denial based on facts that had been ascertained by her agency, that sounds to me that she was doing her job,” said Ryan, who attended one of the meetings cited in the letter. He said Lerner did not reveal any sensitive taxpayer information and in fact he left the meeting frustrated.

He also said the focus on Crossroads and not for example, the pro-Obama Priorities USA, was understandable given that the latter had raised scant funds at the time, compared to Crossroads.

So-called tax-exempt social welfare groups, organized under section 50(c) 4 of the tax code, are barred from using a significant amount of their resources for political purposes, though the standard is murky after an IRS regulation later changed the benchmark.

The documents released Wednesday include those that suggest Lerner was misleading when asked about the timeline of when she found out that “tea party” was a trigger word on a be-on-the-lookout list for groups that should get extra IRS scrutiny.

In an interview with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Lerner said she first learned of the BOLO on June 29, 2011.

But the panel has evidence that she knew that “tea party” cases were being treated differently as early as April 2010, when the whole shebang started, although whether she knew of the list is unclear.

On April 28, 2010, Lerner received an email alerting her that “there are 13 tea party cases out in EO Determinations.”

A few months later, on Aug. 3, 2010, Lerner asked her assistant to print the sensitive case report that detailed how the tea party groups were being handled. A few months later, in early 2011, she would write to her colleagues that the “Tea party matter [is] very dangerous.”

That was when she instructed the Cincinnati IRS officials handling the cases to send them to IRS counsel in Washington, D.C., where they would end up sitting for years, virtually untouched.

The documents also show that Lerner met with a group named Democracy 21, which made several complaints about Crossroads between 2010 and 2012. That Jan. 4, 2013 meeting included the Office of Chief Counsel and the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, according to the committee letter.

Before that, Lerner sent emails asking what happened to the Crossroads application, including whether the group had been audited or selected for audit.

When IRS official Tom Miller said it had not, she sent an email to IRS officials asking why: “I reviewed the information last night and thought the allegations in the documents were really damning, so wondered why we hadn’t done something with the org,” she wrote, later adding: “You should know that we are working on a denial of the application, which may solve the problem because we probably will say it isn’t exempt.”

The week later she followed up on her instructions: “As I said, we are working on the denial for [Crossroads], so I need to think about whether to open an exam. I think yes, but let me cogitate a bit on it.”

Steven Law, Crossroads GPS president in a statement said “it is now apparent that Ms. Lerner was directly and improperly involved in targeting our application, which may explain why we are still awaiting final action on our 501(c)(4) certification.”

The letter also charged that Lerner targeted conservative groups Americans for Responsible Leadership, Freedom Path, Rightchange.com, America is Not Stupid and A Better America after a January 2013 ProPublica story ran, accusing the “dark money groups” of lying to the IRS and over-engaging in politics when they aren’t supposed to.

Lerner forwarded the email to her colleagues and asked to meet on the groups. Ultimately three of the groups were selected for an audit.

A little later that month, Lerner seemed to be considering a job at a left leaning social welfare organization, Organization For Action.

But it’s unclear if she was serious or joking in her email to an IRS employee in response to a news story about the new group: “Oh – maybe I can get the DC office job!”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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House Ways And Means Committee Votes To Refer Lois Lerner For Criminal Charges – Townhall

The House Ways and Means Committee has voted to 23-14 along party lines to refer former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for prosecution. Although the details about exactly what charges will be have not yet been released, lawmakers are arguing Lerner has not been truthful with Congress or the IRS inspector general and leaked confidential tax information.

Last time a referral like this happened, it was to Major League Baseball player Roger Clemens, who was pursued by the Department of Justice for lying to Congress but was exonerated in court.

This is a test for the Department of Justice and the Obama administration. What’s more important? Baseball and steroids? Or the most powerful federal agency abusing its power to target innocent conservative groups?

Last summer President Obama called the targeting “outrageous” and promised to hold people responsible and accountable for what happened. If the Justice Department refuses to pursue charges against Lerner, it’s fair to say one reason is because they don’t want information leading back to the administration coming out in court.

Tomorrow the House Oversight Comittee will vote on whether to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Email: Lois Lerner Joked About Working For Pro-Obama Non-Profit Group – Big Government

Former IRS director Lois Lerner, the center figure in the scandal surrounding conservative and Tea Party groups once joked about getting a job with Organizing for Action while investigating the reorganization of President Obama’s former campaign operation into a 501(c)(4) group.

Lerner, the director of Exempt Organizations, emailed a colleague about OFA on January 24, who noted that they would primarily operate out of Chicago – but would have an office in Washington D.C.

“Oh – maybe I can get the DC office job!” Lerner emailed back.

See an image of the email below as provided by the House Ways and Means Committee.

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IRS Employees Accused Of Donning Pro-Obama Gear, Urging Callers To Vote For Him – Fox News

IRS workers in several offices have been openly supporting President Obama, including by donning pro-Obama paraphernalia and urging callers to reelect the president in 2012, according to allegations contained in a new government watchdog report.

A report by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, released Wednesday, cited accusations that workers at a Dallas IRS office may have violated federal law by wearing pro-Obama items like shirts, stickers and buttons. The Hatch Act forbids Executive Branch workers from engaging in partisan political activity.

The report comes as two House committees move to take action against former IRS official Lois Lerner regarding the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

The report, further fueling allegations of bias at the agency, claimed that several accusations were made against the Dallas office claiming pro-Obama gear was “commonplace” there. Employees allegedly wore Obama shirts, buttons and stickers to work and had Obama screensavers on their IRS computers.

The report said it was unclear whether this activity happened before or after the 2012 election, but an advisory was issued to Dallas employees that such activity was prohibited.

Another example cited in the report states an IRS employee in Kentucky also violated the law by touting her political views to a taxpayer during the 2012 election. According to the report, the employee told the caller she was “for” the Democrats because “Republicans already [sic] trying to cap my pension and… they’re going to take women back 40 years.”

The employee then told the taxpayer that she was not supposed to disclose her views “so you didn’t hear me saying that.” The report says the employee admitted violating the Hatch Act and will serve a 14-day suspension.

However, the Kentucky example was not the only IRS employee found to be urging taxpayers over the phone to vote for Obama. The report cites another unnamed customer service representative, who was accused of telling multiple callers in 2012 they needed to vote for Obama.

According to the report, the employee told the callers a chant based on Obama’s last name that touted his campaign and urged them to reelect him. The report does not say where the employee was located, but says the Office of Special Counsel is seeking “significant disciplinary action” against him.

The accusations come as a House committee on Wednesday voted to formally ask the Justice Department to consider criminal prosecution against Lerner. A separate committee will vote Thursday on whether to hold her in contempt of Congress for twice refusing to testify on the targeting scandal.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent government watchdog that investigates claims of wrongdoing by federal employees.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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HHS “Started” Obamacare Applications For People Without Their Knowledge Or Consent Prior To Enrollment Deadline

HHS “Started” Individual Obamacare Applications Prior To Deadline, Obtained Personal Info From States – Shark Tank

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In the closing days of the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) , the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was mailing out letters notifying certain Americans that they had already started a healthcare coverage application on their behalf.

The HHS letter stated that the information they used to begin the application for individual Healthcare was obtain by the state agency in charge of implementing Obamacare.

The next step for the individual would be visit Healthcare.gov and complete the already started application to see if they qualify for “Marketplace coverage.”

News of the HHS letter was first mentioned by a listener of the popular “Daybreak with Drew Steele” Show on Fox 92.5, which is out of Fort Myers, Florida.

After his radio show concluded, another listener emailed Steele telling him about receiving the same letter. The listener asked for their identity to masked because they worked for the state of Florida.

— Forwarded message —
From:
Date: Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 8:26 PM
Subject: letter from HHS
To: drew@925foxnews.com

Hi Drew,

I am not looking to have this read on air or my name used. I am merely wanting to have confirmation about another caller because I believe this is a pretty big story the STATE government is not talking about.

I listen every morning, but do not call in or contact you due to having a government position and I fear losing my job.

However, on Saturday of this past week I received a letter very similar to the letter I believe his name was Doug ( Doug called Wednesday A.M.) received from HHS.

It is a letter stating one of my dependents, I only have one, no longer qualifies for my insurance. I do not have said dependent on my insurance due to cost ($1000 a month).

This dependent is on Staywell Healthy Kids which is part of KidCare Florida (Staywell nor Kidcare has contacted me in regard to this matter). I do not receive subsidy due to my income but rather pay full premium for the coverage. The letter continued on to say that the State of Florida has forwarded my dependents information to them and they have set up an account for me. All I have to do is call to finish the process.

This scares me, badly. I will not finish the process as I have found coverage elsewhere, but it is a little freaky that this has happened.

All the best,

XXXX

A little freaky is right. The state of Florida is now passing personal information onto HHS, where they take the liberty of filling out an Obamacare health insurance application for you.

Is this how the Obama administration is inflating the enrollment numbers, by making it easier for people to finish the application?

Drew Steele posed this question:

“Is HHS telling the state to give them info on families with dependants NOT on family policies so they could inflate the numbers? How many other states are doing it as well?”- Drew Steele

Here is how the letter reads.

You submitted an application for healthcare coverage, or made a change to your eligibility information. Your state sent your information in a secure transaction to the Health Insurance Marketplace, because you or someone on your application does not qualify for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). You or someone on your application will likely be able to get coverage through the Marketplace, and get help paying for health coverage… We used the information from the state agency to start an application for you on Healthcare.gov. You’ll need to complete and submit this application to see if you qualify for Marketplace coverage.

To do this, you can log into your Healthcare.gov account, or if you don’t already have an account, you can create one on Healthcare.gov.

HHS urged enrollees to “confirm” information and “choose a plan before the deadline.”

For more information about how to complete the application we started for you http://www.healthcare.gov/help/statetranser

When visiting this web address, you will find the exact same text that is used in the letter, except for the asking the individual to “complete the application we started for you” part.

How many more healthcare coverage applications of unsuspecting Americans has HHS already “started” for them?

Here is the letter HHS sent this particular Floridian to notify them of their pending Obamacare application:

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Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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22 Progressive Groups That Are More Evil Than The Koch Brothers If Money In Politics Is ‘Evil’ (Kyle Becker)

22 Progressive Groups That Are More Evil Than The Koch Brothers If Money In Politics Is ‘Evil’ – Kyle Becker

Below is a list from Open Secrets of the campaign contributions of various groups. Try to find the infamous “Koch Brothers”:

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If you noticed there are no less than 22 groups that donated more to the Democratic Party than the Koch Brothers donated to the Republican Party – congratulations! You have basic math, reading and comprehension skills.

For extra credit, take note that DNC “Uber Donors” gave $485,652,385 more to the Democrat Party for their progressive causes than all RNC “Uber donors” combined.

After the Supreme Court struck down an elections law on campaign funding caps, progressives took to the media to vent their supposed frustrations.

“Now we know corporations are people and money is people too,” CNN anchor Caroline Costello lamented (apparently not noticing that “CNN is people” and it has freedom of the press rights). One wonders if Democrats also object as vehemently to the notion that “progressive groups are people” or “colleges are people” or “unions are people.”

According to Open Secrets, in 2012, “Obama’s campaign spent about $737.9 million, compared to the combined Republican total of $624.8 million.” The grand total for all elections tilted Republicans’ way, but by the margins of 9% and 10% in the House and Senate, respectively. While PACs leaned GOP, the Democrats dominated the 527s. The point is that the media’s outrage at spending in politics is entirely selective.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Related article:

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Reid Attacks Koch For Offenses Committed By Reid Donors – Washington Free Beacon

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) on Wednesday criticized a Koch Industries subsidiary for allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran even though Reid has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from companies that have done exactly that.

Reid also claimed that the Kochs support the recently introduced House Republican budget proposal. Neither the company nor its owners has taken a position on the legislation.

Reid’s claims were part of an ongoing offensive against libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch. Reid has accused them of being “un-American” for donating to groups that oppose the Democratic Party’s agenda.

A page on Reid’s Senate website is devoted entirely to attacking the Kochs. It initially cited former White House economist Austan Goolsbee, who falsely claimed in 2010 that Koch Industries does not pay any corporate taxes.

That claim remains on the website, with its text crossed out. Below is an “update” that claims the Kochs “have supported the Ryan budget, which provides tax cuts for the wealthy and protects taxpayer subsidies for big businesses and oil companies.”

The page links to a website from a left-wing nonprofit on the budget introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) this week, on which the Kochs have not taken a position.

Reid’s website goes on to quote from a heavily criticized Bloomberg article that accused Koch Industries of “sidestep[ping]” economic sanctions against Iran.

“The Kochs made improper payments to win contracts in Africa, India and the Middle East,” Reid claims. “And they sold millions of dollars of equipment to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism.”

After evidence of the said improper payments came to light, Koch Industries commissioned an internal investigation and fired the responsible employees, according to Bloomberg.

Reid has accepted campaign contributions from companies that engage in even more widespread corruption abroad.

According to the Washington Examiner, Reid has accepted more than half a million dollars in contributions since 2009 from employees and political action committees of companies under investigation for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Reid has also taken tens of thousands of dollars from companies that, like Koch, have done business in Iran through foreign subsidiaries, including General Electric ($25,500 in PAC contributions), Hewlett-Packard ($14,500 in PAC contributions), and Sony ($14,500 in PAC contributions).

Reid has also taken $26,000 from Boeing’s PAC. The company is currently trying to reestablish its presence in Iran even though the country remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Connecticut Community College Punishes Student Veteran For Questioning Governor About Leftist Gun Laws (Video)

Asnuntuck C.C. Punishes Student Speech, Ignores This Exculpatory Video – F.I.R.E.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has called on Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) to drop its disciplinary action against a student following a conversation on campus with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. Making matters worse, ACC deprived the student of crucial due process protections, even refusing to review exculpatory video evidence.

On October 23, 2013, student Nicholas Saucier recorded on video a conversation with Governor Malloy, who was speaking at ACC that day. Saucier asked Malloy questions about recent gun legislation, and the conversation was halted abruptly when Malloy got into his car and left. A second recording shows ACC President James Lombella and a campus security officer leading Saucier off campus.

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Based on this conversation, ACC suspended Saucier and charged him with violations of its Policy on Student Conduct, including harassment, threats, and failure to “[d]emonstrate good citizenship by not engaging in conduct prohibited by federal, state, or other laws.” Saucier chose to defend himself in a formal hearing rather than agree to an informal resolution requiring him to plead guilty to all charges, withdraw, and submit to a mandatory professional evaluation for readmission.

At his November 18 hearing, ACC gave itself discretion to “decide what information is appropriate” for consideration, then refused to review Saucier’s videos showing his speech to be protected by the First Amendment. It also prohibited any recording of the hearing, depriving Saucier of a fundamental safeguard colleges routinely afford students. These unwritten abridgements to ACC’s written procedures severely impaired Saucier’s ability to defend himself.

ACC found Saucier guilty of all charges. It lifted Saucier’s suspension but placed him on probation with the condition that any future conduct violations “will likely result in Suspension or Expulsion from the College.” In a letter sent January 13, FIRE called on ACC to reverse its severe violations of Saucier’s free speech and due process rights. The college has failed to respond.

“This case stands as a startling example of what can happen when disrespect for student First Amendment rights is combined with disregard for student due process rights,” said Peter Bonilla, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program. “ACC’s myriad violations of Nicholas Saucier’s rights, effective rewriting of its conduct procedures, and failure to rectify its errors should give all Americans great concern.”

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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*VIDEO* Senator Ted Cruz Speaks At The Heritage Foundation’s Resource Bank Meeting



……………………….Click on image above to watch video.

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H/T Right Scoop

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*VIDEO* Congressman Trey Gowdy Takes On Another IRS Hack


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Click HERE to watch the entire hearing.

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President Asshat Secretly Negotiating Away U.S. Sovereignty

Obama Secretly Negotiating Away U.S. Sovereignty – Weasel Zippers

Consumer protections and the use of domestic law in the U.S. may drastically change as President Obama forges ahead with two secretive international deals that impact major aspects of the economy, privacy and beyond.

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Wednesday, Obama defended a proposed mega free-trade zone between the world’s two largest economies, the United States and the European Union.

“I have fought my entire political career, and as president, to strengthen consumer protections. I have no intention of signing legislation that would weaken those protections,” Obama said during a visit to the EU headquarters in Brussels.

Obama was responding to criticism of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, which the U.S. has been negotiated with the EU since last July.

Besides creating the world’s biggest free-trade zone, the TTIP will also bring about closer cooperation between EU and U.S. regulatory bodies while more closely integrating the two economies.

One leak about the TTIP revealed a proposed “Regulatory Cooperation Council” that would evaluate existing regulations in the U.S. and EU and recommend future rules while coordinating a response to the current regulations.

Writing in the left-leaning the Nation magazine, foreign policy analyst Andrew Erwin said the TTIP was less about reducing tariffs and “more about weakening the power of average citizens to defend themselves against corporate labor and environmental abuses.”

Erwin took particular issue with a section in the TTIP called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which stipulates foreign corporations can sue the government utilizing a special international tribunal instead of the country’s own domestic system that uses U.S. law.

“The tribunals are not accountable to any national public or democratically elected body,” wrote Erwin.

Last December, a coalition of more than 200 environmentalists, labor unions and consumer advocacy organizations drafted a letter asking for the Investor-State Dispute Settlement section to be dropped.

The New York Times, meanwhile, reported earlier this week that some American companies “are concerned that protections for investors will not be part of a deal.”

While Obama is negotiating the TTIP largely in secret, talks continue to forge ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. The expansive plan is a proposed free-trade agreement between the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The agreement would create new guidelines for everything from food safety to fracking, financial markets, medical prices, copyright rules and Internet freedom.

On Tuesday, the leaders of Canada and Japan reportedly met on the sidelines of a nuclear summit at the Hague to discuss the TPP.

The TPP negotiations have been criticized by politicians and advocacy groups alike for their secrecy. The few aspects of the partnership leaked to the public indicate an expansive agenda with highly limited congressional oversight.

A New York Times opinion piece previously called the deal the “most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.”

Last October, the White House website released a joint statement with the other proposed TPP signatories affirming “our countries are on track to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.”

“Ministers and negotiators have made significant progress in recent months on all the legal texts and annexes on access to our respective goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, and temporary entry markets,” the White House said.

The statement did not divulge details of the partnership other than to suggest a final TPP agreement “must reflect our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries.”

Secrecy

In February, the Open the Government organization sent a letter to Obama blasting the lack of transparency surrounding the TPP talks, stating the negotiations have been “conducted in unprecedented secrecy.”

“Despite the fact the deal may significantly affect the way we live our lives by limiting our public protections, there has been no public access to even the most fundamental draft agreement texts and other documents,” read the letter.

The missive was signed by advocacy groups such as OpenTheGovernment.org, Project On Government Oversight, ARTICLE 19 and the Global Campaign for Freedom of Expression and Information.

The groups warned issues being secretly negotiated include “patent and copyright, land use, food and product standards, natural resources, professional licensing, government procurement, financial practices, healthcare, energy, telecommunications, and other service sector regulations.”

Lack of oversight

Normally free-trade agreements must be authorized by a majority of the House and Senate, usually in lengthy proceedings.

However, the White House is seeking what is known as “trade promotion authority” which would fast track approval of the TPP by requiring Congress to vote on the likely lengthy trade agreement within 90 days and without any amendments.

The authority also allows Obama to sign the agreement before Congress even has a chance to vote on it, with lawmakers getting only a quick post-facto vote.

A number of lawmakers have been speaking out about the secret TPP talks.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., recently proposed legislation requiring the White House to disclose all TPP documents to members of Congress.

“The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations – like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” said Wyden.

However, Obama has so far refused to give Congress a copy of the draft agreement.

Regulates food, Internet, medicine, commerce

The TPP is “more than just a trade deal,” wrote Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch in a New York Times op-ed last June.

“Only 5 of its 29 chapters cover traditional trade matters, like tariffs or quotas. The others impose parameters on nontrade policies. Existing and future American laws must be altered to conform with these terms, or trade sanctions can be imposed against American exports.”

Wallach and Beachy spotlighted several leaks in the proposed TPP text, including one that would regulate the price of medicine.

“Pharmaceutical companies, which are among those enjoying access to negotiators as ‘advisers,’ have long lobbied against government efforts to keep the cost of medicines down. Under the agreement, these companies could challenge such measures by claiming that they undermined their new rights granted by the deal.”

Amnesty International USA warned draft TPP provisions related to patents for pharmaceuticals “risk stifling the development and production of generic medicines, by strengthening and deepening monopoly protections.”

Another leak revealed the TPP would grant more incentives to relocate domestic manufacturing offshore, Wallach and Beachy related.

Jim Hightower, a progressive activist, wrote the TPP incorporates elements similar to the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Hightower wrote the deal would “transform Internet service providers into a private, Big Brother police force, empowered to monitor our ‘user activity,’ arbitrarily take down our content and cut off our access to the Internet.”

Indeed, Internet freedom advocacy groups have been protesting the TPP, taking specific issue with leaked proposals that would enact strict intellectual property restraints that would effectively change U.S. copyright law.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation argued the TPP would “restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector.”

In a petition signed by more than 30 Internet freedom organizations, the group warned the TPP would “rewrite global rules on intellectual property enforcement.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Egyptian Court Sentences 529 Obama-Backed, Muslim Brotherhood Extremists To Death

Egypt Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters To Death – Times Of Israel

A court in Egypt on Monday sentenced 529 supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to death after a mass trial, judicial sources said.

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Islamist backers of Morsi are facing a deadly crackdown launched by the military-installed authorities since his ouster in July, with hundreds of people killed and thousands arrested.

The sentence was delivered in the second hearing of a trial which began on Saturday in Minya, south of the capital.

Of those sentenced, 153 are in detention and the rest are on the run, the sources said, adding that 17 others were acquitted. The verdict can be appealed.

Those sentenced are among more than 1,200 Morsi supporters on trial in Minya. A second group of about 700 defendants will be in the dock on Tuesday.

They are accused of attacking both people and public property in southern Egypt in August, after security forces broke up two Cairo protest camps set up by Morsi supporters on August 14.

They are also charged with committing acts of violence that led to the deaths of two policemen in Minya, judicial sources said.

The accused include several leaders of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, including its supreme guide Mohamed Badie.

Morsi, Egypt’s first elected and civilian president, was ousted by the army on July 3 in a move that triggered widespread unrest across the deeply polarised nation.

Hundreds of people died in the August assault on the two Cairo protest camps and in subsequent clashes that day.

Rights group Amnesty International says at least 1,400 people have been killed in violence across Egypt since then, and thousands more have been arrested.

Morsi is himself currently on trial in three different cases, including one for inciting the killing of protesters outside a presidential palace while he was in office.

Morsi was removed after just 12 months as president following mass street protests against his rule amid allegations of power grabbing and worsening an already weak economy.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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John Beale: The EPA Fraudster You’ve Never Heard But Whose Work Is Destroying America (Judson Phillips)

John Beale: The EPA Fraudster You’ve Never Heard But Whose Work Is Destroying America – Judson Phillips

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Who is John Beale and why is he ruining your life? John Beale was a career employee in the Environmental Protection Agency. He was not qualified for the job he got. In fact, it is a bit of a mystery how he got the job. Beale defrauded the government, claiming to be an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency taking lengthy absences from his job in order to go to serve the CIA. Beale served thirty-two months in prison once he was found out.

An EPA spokeswoman is quoted by Fox News as saying “Beale went to great lengths to deceive and defraud the U.S. government over the span of more than a decade” But what Beale did at the EPA is far more damaging than the fraud he committed against the government in falsifying his resume. While an employee of the EPA, Beale created the EPA playbook, a guide to not only exaggerating the benefits of regulations versus their costs, it also created the insidious tactic of “sue and settle” or what is often called “friendly lawsuits.”

They work like this: An environmental group, often leaning pretty far left, sues the EPA over some agenda item they want. Instead of being truly antagonistic opponents, the EPA and these groups are in fact colluding. “Sue and settle agreements allow EPA to convert a state Regional Haze program into a major new set of federal mandates, with no recourse for those affected until it’s too late,” said Bill Kovacs, the Chamber’s senior vice president for Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs. “The report outlines the potentially disastrous effects of this regulatory tool being used by the EPA to disregard states sovereignty and take over what Congress clearly determined to be a state environmental responsibility. These federal haze requirements offer only high costs for states, utilities and consumers, with no benefit.” (US Chamber of Commerce)

Eventually they would settle the lawsuit with what is known as a “consent decree.” The “consent decree” is forever binding. And it is a scam. A scam against the American public.

The 2011 GAO Report shows that millions of dollars were awarded to environmental groups that sued the EPA with the majority of those awards going to just three groups:

* Earthjustice $4,644,425

* The Sierra Club $966,687

* Natural Resources Defense Council $252,004

Forbes.com writer Larry Bell characterizes that “Most of this was paid to environmental attorneys in connection to lawsuits filed under the Clean Air Act, followed next by the Clean Water Act.” Bell also reports that the DOJ ran up bills in excess of “$43 million defending the EPA in court between 1998 and 2010,” not including legal costs and/or attorney’s fees. Reviewing the GAO report, just one of many legal groups, Earthjustice, received attorney fees in amounts of:

* $11,019.57 in Sierra Club v. EPA

* $198,700.00 in Resources Defense Council v. EPA

* $198,997.00 in Florida Wildlife Federation v. EPA

* $209,867.00 in American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA

* $65,587.00 in Environmental Integrity Project v. EPA

* $163,500.00 in Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA

Which are just a few of dozens of legal fees paid, many five to six figures, to Earthjustice from 2005 through 2010 for actions in regard to the Clean Air Act.

The GAO report also outlines eight state studies that have created ongoing and oppressive consent decrees that the stated must continue to pay to rogue environmental groups.

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In the Chamber of Commerce document “EPA’s New Regulatory Front: Regional Haze and the Takeover of State Programs, one such decree, the EPA Regional Haze regulations requires states implement programs to meet “The “national goal” of EPA’s Regional Haze program, as defined by the statute, is the “remedying of any existing, impairment of visibility” at 156 federal National Parks and Wilderness Areas known as Class I Areas” The document explains that the State of North Dakota learned of new “regional haze” regulations after their implementation:

“…the implementation of North Dakota’s regional haze plan was the subject of a lawsuit brought in Oakland. Neither EPA, nor the environmental groups, nor the court provided North Dakota with notice of the lawsuit or the settlement. It was only after the settlement was announced that the state had a chance to provide input. Worst of all, the new requirements that EPA was insisting on, which came out of this mysterious settlement, were threatening to make power generation in North Dakota so expensive that several power and cement plants were in danger of shutting down. (Chamber of Commerce (“EPA’s New Regulatory Front: Regional Haze and the Takeover of State Programs)

The reported costs to states impacted by the Regional Haze regulations, of which the states had no stakeholder input into, include:

* Arizona: EPA’s Regional Haze regulation threatens to increase the cost of water [and] would force the state to spend an additional $90.2 million per year to implement the federal regulation.

* Montana: EPA’s proposed Regional Haze controls are almost 250% more expensive than what the agency’s standing rules presume to be “cost effective” for Regional Haze compliance.

* In 2011, the EPA disregarded New Mexico’s submitted Regional Haze plan and imposed a federal plan that requires nearly $840 million more in capital costs. According to the operators of the San Juan Generating Station, EPA’s plan would raise utility bills for each household in New Mexico by $120 annually.

* Although North Dakota is one of only 12 states that achieves all of EPA’s air quality standards for public health, it would not be able to achieve EPA’s Regional Haze goals for visibility improvement even if all industry in the state shut down. In addition, EPA’s proposed plan would cost North Dakota nearly $13 million per year.

* Refusing to approve Oklahoma’s Regional Haze plan, the EPA’s plan would cost the state $282 million per year.

* In Wyoming, the EPA proposed a federal implementation plan that would cost almost $96 million more per year than the state’s plan.

* Minnesota is subject to back-to-back Regional Haze regulations, where EPA is claiming authority to regulate regional haze twice in succession at the Sherburne County Generating Plant.

* EPA’s proposed plan would cost Nebraska almost $24 million per year to achieve “benefits” that are invisible.

Beale’s EPA playbook gets around the fact that Government agencies, like the EPA, do not have the inherent power to regulate. Congress gives that to them. With every major piece of agency legislation that passes, included is something that is known as “enabling language.” That language authorizes the Secretary of that department to promulgate regulations to achieve the goals of the legislation.

Obamacare is a class example of regulatory legislation. While the bill itself ran 906 pages, there are now over 20,000 pages of regulations. The legislation that created the EPA along with other laws, such as the Clean Air Act, also gives the EPA the power to create regulations.

That is the problem.

When governments change in the United States, administrators change. Policies also change and regulations sometimes change. The problem with consent decrees is that it is almost impossible to change those. In short, a succeeding administration is bound by the consent decree whether it likes the policy or not. Beale is least partially responsible for regulations that haunt Americans to this day.

And this is one of the greatest problems to face Congress today.

Senators David Vitter (R-La), ranking member Senate Committee on Environment and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala), ranking member on the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air & Public Works & Nuclear Safety wrote EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarty (April 2013) questioning:

First, this is the latest in a series of rulemakings initiated by this Administration in response to so-called “sue and settle” agreements with special interest groups. In November 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Sierra Club negotiated a settlement whereby EPA unilaterally agreed to respond to a petition filed by Sierra Club seeking the elimination of a longstanding Clean Air Act (CAA) exemption for excess emissions during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction (“SSM”).

The EPA went out of its way further to deny the participation of the States, and other affected parties. Oddly, it appears that, instead of defending EPA’s own regulations and the SSM provisions in the EPA-approved air programs of 39 states, EPA simply agreed to include an obligation to respond to the petition in the settlement of an entirely separate lawsuit. In other words, EPA went out of its way to resolve the SSM petition in a coordinated settlement with the Sierra Club.

Our concerns with the Agency’s sue and settle tactics are well documented – these settlement agreements are often accomplished in a closed door fashion that contravenes the Executive Branch’s solemn obligation to defend the law, avoids transparency and accountability, excludes impacted parties, and often results in the federal government paying the legal bills of these special interest groups at taxpayer expense. The circumstances under which EPA has agreed to initiate this new rulemaking reaffirms a pattern and practice of circumventing transparency.

If these regulations are good for America, why are the clocked in deceit and oppressive costs. Why doesn’t Congress pass them as laws? Because Congress would not, so the Playbook gets around that pesky requirement.

America is being slowly strangled by a byzantine myriad of regulations, created by unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats. What is truly scary is that some of these regulations can result in felony convictions to Americans who are often unaware these regulations even exist. It looks increasingly likely that the Republicans will take control of the Senate after the midterm elections.

If they are serious about changing Washington and fighting big government, the fastest way to do that is to stop regulations. All Congress has to do is remove the ability of government agencies to create new regulations. Republican politicians talk about smaller government and taking power from Washington. This is their great opportunity to do something. One of the first orders of business in 2015 for the Republicans should be to take the regulation making power away from the Obama Regime.

If it needs to be a law, let Congress pass it. Otherwise lets vote in a strong Republican congress able to remove regulatory power from bureaucratic agencies.

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Marxist Irresponsibility Update: Obama’s HHS Set To Blow $1 Trillion In 2015

HHS Set To Blow $1 Trillion In 2015 As Health-Care Costs Grow By Leaps And Bounds – Daily Caller

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to spend over one trillion dollars in 2015 – but HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has never once testified before the Senate’s Budget Committee on either Obamacare’s costs or the president’s budget at large.

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“The Department of Health and Human Services is projected to spend over $1 trillion in FY2015 under the president’s budget, and health care costs – which today comprise nearly 30 percent of all federal spending – are growing more rapidly than other areas of the budget, especially over the long-term. It would be good for members of the Committee to discuss these matters with Secretary Sebelius,” Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said on Monday, according to The Hill.

Sessions, a ranking member on the Budget Committee, has stridently criticized President Barack Obama’s health-care law and the high costs it imposes on Americans. Back in 2012, Sessions blasted a $17 trillion funding gap that came to light during a grilling session between Supreme Court justices and the law’s supporters. Long-term promises written into the law will squeeze $17 trillion out of taxpayers – not counting the existing shortfalls from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending, which brings the total to an eye-popping $99 trillion.

The U.S. produces only $15 trillion worth of goods and services each year.

“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” Sessions said.

Exploding health care costs may impose restrictions on Obama’s second term wish list, which includes a top-down rewrite of U.S. immigration laws. Republicans, while expressing support for allowing 11 million illegal immigrations to become voting citizens, are reluctant to back bipartisan immigration reform because they don’t trust Obama to enforce existing laws.

Last March, Sessions worried that frontloading Obamacare with millions of foreign enrollees might tank entitlement programs and send costs spiraling out of control.

“The core legal and economic principle of immigration is that those seeking admission to a new country must be self-sufficient and contribute to the economic health of the nation,” Sessions said in a statement as the Senate voted down an amendment that would prohibit newly-legalized immigrants who broke immigration laws from receiving health-care benefits. “But, for years, the federal government has failed to enforce this law. This principle is even more urgent when dealing with those who have illegally entered the country.”

Meanwhile, health-care costs imposed by Obamacare continue to mount as the administration fails to track enrollees and unilaterally suspends requirements until after the 2014 midterm elections, which endanger the party’s hold on Congress.

Sebelius admitted that Obamacare premiums will increase in 2015 on Wednesday – but had no idea how many Obamacare enrollees had actually paid their premiums or previously had insurance.

“I think premiums are likely to go up, but go up at a slower pace,” Sebelius claimed at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

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Pennsylvania Tea Partier Wins State Senate Seat As Write-In Candidate In Three-Way Race

Scott Wagner Makes History With His Win In York County Senate Race – Penn Live

Republican Scott Wagner pulled off a stunning victory in Tuesday’s special election and made history in the process by becoming the first person ever to win a state Senate seat as a write-in candidate.

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Taking advantage of a low voter turnout and a well-financed campaign that got his name in front of voters along highways, at major intersections, on TV and in mailboxes, Wagner waltzed past his party-endorsed opponents – Republican Ron Miller and Democrat Linda Small – to clinch a victory.

He will serve as the state senator representing the 28th District through Nov. 30, allowing Republicans to maintain their 27 to 23 majority in the chamber. The seat is up for election for a four-year term later this year.

York County’s unofficial vote totals show Wagner capturing 48 percent of the vote. Democrat Linda Small received 26 percent and GOP-endorsed candidate Ron Miller got 27 percent.

Turnout for this special election was dismal. Only 14 percent of the 163,617 registered voters in the senatorial district showed up at the polls to cast a ballot in the special election to identify a successor for longtime senator Mike Waugh, who resigned in January to become executive director of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.

York County Director of Elections Nikki Suchanic ventured a guess that part of the reason for the low turnout was the change in the senatorial district boundaries that occurred since the last time that seat was up for election.

That left some people unaware they were eligible to vote, and others who turned out to vote but couldn’t because they no longer lived in the 28th District.

Regardless, the votes that were cast gave Wagner, 58, of Spring Garden Twp., a resounding victory in a race that got exceedingly nasty toward the end.

Ads that were run cast Wagner as a bully and his trash hauling company, York-based Penn Waste, an environmental violator. Wagner responded with his own negative attack ad against on Miller and in recent days, Small too.

The attacks against him angered Wagner. He was astonished that his business-friendly Republican Party would go after a job creator like himself.

Those ads were funded by the Senate Republicans, the ranks of whom Wagner will now join.

On Tuesday evening, Wagner shrugged off those barbs at his victory party in a room inside in an empty Santander Stadium. He said he plans to try to work with his Senate colleagues.

“You sit down at the table. You drink a cup of coffee or you have lunch in somebody’s office and you have to learn a little bit of their story, and they have to learn a little bit of my story,” Wagner said.

“But what I’m all about is more representative of what’s reality on the street,” he added. “I didn’t get where I am today by not sitting down” with people.

State GOP Chairman Rob Gleason issued a statement Tuesday evening congratulating Wagner on his victory and commending Miller for running a great race.

“Scott Wagner won a hard-fought race, and I am sure he will serve as a strong advocate for the people of the 28th District in the Senate,” Gleason said. As for Miller, he said, “I look forward to watching him continue to stand up for the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility in the state House.”

Wagner, who also owns a KBS Trucking in Thomasville, comes to the Senate planning to be a maverick by not accepting a taxpayer-funded pension or health insurance, limiting himself to two terms, limiting his contacts with special interests, and working to downsize state government.

He supports eliminating school property taxes and replacing that lost revenue by imposing sales tax on food and clothing. He supports job training for welfare recipients. He also supports legalizing medical marijuana.

Throughout his campaign, Wagner was critical of the Senate Republican leadership and state Republican Party for orchestrating the special election in such a way to hand the seat, vacated by Mike Waugh in January, to Miller, which GOP leaders denied.

Miller, 62, of Jacobus, called Wagner shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday to congratulate him on becoming his next senator.

At a gathering at York County GOP headquarters, Miller said he respected the will of the voters and planned on returning to Harrisburg on Wednesday to carry out his duties as the 93rd state House district representative for the remainder of this year. He is not seeking re-election to his House seat that he has held for 16 years.

Meanwhile, Small, 53, of New Freedom, won kudos from state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burns for running a spirited campaign that made her party proud. “The people of this commonwealth would have been well served with her leadership in Harrisburg,” Burns said.

Wagner said during a campaign stop last week that he plans to move right into campaign mode immediately after the special election to gear up for the May 20 primary when he will stand for election again against Miller and political newcomer Zachary Hearn, 37, of Windsor Twp., for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat. Small is unopposed in her bid for the Democratic nomination in the spring primary.

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Your Daley Gator Obamacare Nightmare News Roundup

March Madness? Fake ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers – Commentary

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The administration is claiming a limited victory by saying the number of those enrolled in ObamaCare has now hit 5 million with two weeks to go until the March 31 deadline. If accurate, the number does represent a steep increase over the 4.2 million that were said to have signed up at the beginning of the month. At this rate, administration cheerleaders reason, the goal of 7 million enrolled in the Affordable Care Act may yet be reached at some point in the near future, if not quite on time. This burst of enrollments is seen as a vindication of President Obama’s all-out push to promote the law including such questionable activities as appearing on the “Between Two Ferns” web show where he traded barbs with comedian Zach Galifianakis.

But before the president and his team start popping the champagne corks to celebrate their achievement and their faux hipness, it’s time once again to point out that the administration’s Potemkin enrollment figures should be read with a truckload of salt. As the New York Times reported last month, as much as 20 percent of all those enrolled had not actually paid their premiums, meaning they were not covered by the program. While Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told Congress she had no idea what the numbers of unpaid enrollees were, more states are reporting these figures and, as CNBC reported last week, the results are literally all over the map. While some states report high pay rates, others like Maryland say only 54 percent have paid.

All this calls in to question not only the effectiveness of the sales job done by the president and celebrity supporters such as Lebron James. It also means that the odds that this system can sustain itself without mandating vast increases in rates for those who do pay are getting slimmer every day.

For months we’ve been told by the administration that the only problem with ObamaCare was a “glitchy” website that had since been fixed. But what has since become clear is that the effort to convince young and healthy Americans to sign up for insurance that is both expensive and not something they may need is a failure. Though many of those who clearly benefit from the new health law, such as the poor and those with pre-existing conditions, have signed up, the scheme requires large numbers of those who won’t need the coverage as often in order to be economically viable. That problem will be exacerbated by the failure of much larger percentages of customers to pay for their insurance.

As we’ve noted previously, the non-payment of the premium is not a technicality. Many of those purchasing the insurance may be first-time buyers and not understand that they must pay their bill before coverage starts rather than long after the fact, as they can with a credit card transaction. Or it may be that some enrolled with no intention of paying or thinking that the hype about the glories of ObamaCare they’ve heard in the mainstream media and from the president absolved them of the obligation to pay for it. But either way, the large number of non-payments renders the enrollment figures meaningless and ensures that the rates for those who do pay are going up next year by percentages that will shock them.

The president claimed that the number of enrollees has already reached the point where the law will work rather than collapse from lack of participation. But even if we accept his premise that falling millions of customers short of the announced goal of seven million is no big deal, the fact that hundreds of thousands of those being counted in the pool of those he’s counting are not covered because of non-payment of premiums makes his assertion a colossal fraud.

The president may think that a March madness ad blitz during the NCAA basketball tournament may save ObamaCare. But if the past pattern holds, any further surge in enrollment will provide the scheme with a false sense of security. Until we get a full accounting not only of those who signed up on a website but completed the process by paying for the plan they chose, we’ll have no idea how many people truly are enrolled. Seen in that light, the president’s enrollment promises may well turn out to be no different from other pledges he has made about the ACA in the last few years: completely untrue.

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Obamacare Leaves Las Vegas Man Owing $407,000 In Doctor Bills – Las Vegas Review-Journal

The hospital bills are hitting Larry Basich’s mailbox.

That would be OK if Basich had health insurance. But he doesn’t.

Thing is, he should be covered. Basich, 62, bought a plan through the state’s Nevada Health Link insurance exchange in the fall. He’s been paying monthly premiums since November.

Yet the Las Vegan is stranded in a no-man’s-land where no carrier claims him, and his tab is mounting: Basich owes $407,000 for care received in January and February, when his policy was supposed to be in effect. Instead, he’s covered only for March and beyond.

Basich has begged for weeks for help from the exchange and its contractor, Xerox. But Basich’s insurance broker said Xerox seems more interested in lawyering up and covering its hide than in working out Basich’s problems. Nor is Basich the only client facing plan-selection errors through the exchange, she added.

Xerox, meanwhile, said it’s working every day to fix Basich’s problem, and its legal counsel is routine.

In the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its insurance exchanges, you can find a success story for every failure. But Basich’s case is extreme.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE?

Basich said he began trying to enroll on Oct. 1, the day the exchange website went live. Like many consumers, he fought technical flaws during multiple sign-up attempts. In mid-November he finally got through and chose his plan: UnitedHealthcare’s MyHPNSilver1.

“It was like reaching the third level of Doom,” Basich said of the torturous sign-up process.

Basich paid his first premium on Nov. 21, and within days the exchange withdrew the $160.77 payment from his money-market savings account. Because Basich paid a month before the Dec. 23 deadline, his coverage was to begin Jan. 1.

Weeks ticked by, but Basich received nothing to confirm he had insurance. Nevada Health Link kept telling him he was enrolled, but UnitedHealthcare said he wasn’t in their system.

Basich’s predicament went critical on Dec. 31, when he had a heart attack. His treatment, which included a triple bypass on Jan. 3, resulted in $407,000 in medical bills in January and February that no insurer is covering.

Basich and his insurance broker, Tamar Burch of Branch Benefits Consultants, said the issue appears to be confusion at the state exchange. Xerox’s system says Basich chose a plan from another insurer, Nevada Health CO-OP, even though Basich has paperwork that shows he selected MyHPNSilver1. In short, Xerox can’t seem to decide where Basich belongs, Burch said.

So the exchange is trying to compromise, putting Basich with Nevada Health CO-OP for January and February, when he incurred his bills, and with UnitedHealthcare from this month on. But CO-OP officials say Basich is not their member.

Nevada Health CO-OP CEO Tom Zumtobel told the exchange board on Feb. 27 that the nonprofit carrier spent seven days with Xerox determining Basich’s eligibility, only to find that Basich hadn’t chosen the group’s coverage.

“If he had picked our health plan, we would be advocating for a solution. But he didn’t pick us,” Zumtobel said. “We need someone on the board to advocate for him.”

Why have four months passed without a resolution?

“Xerox is truly out of their league. They need to understand they are an administrator, they are not an insurance company,” Burch said. “They need to understand their boundaries. They don’t understand this world. Everybody is at the mercy of Xerox, and they are not doing this right.”

Xerox representatives responded that they’re working hard to make it right.

“Mr. Basich’s issue is complex, and we’re working on it every day. We are in touch with Mr. Basich, his broker, the carriers, (Silver State Health Insurance Exchange) leadership, and the Division of Insurance to sort it out,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer.

The help didn’t come fast enough, said Basich, who blames his back-and-forth with the exchange in December at least in part for stress that caused his heart attack. That stress has turned up a few notches now that Basich is getting the bills. He fretted in the exchange board’s Thursday meeting about what will happen to his credit rating – and his ability to qualify for a mortgage – if the bills are not covered.

“All I wanted to do when I moved here was buy a house, get a dog and go to some spring training games for the Dodgers,” said Basich, who moved to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 2012.

Meanwhile, the exchange sent Basich premium invoices for January and February. He paid them both.

WHO CAN HELP?

Basich has sought help at virtually every level of the system, from the Xerox customer-service reps who answer the phones at the exchange’s Henderson call center all the way to Gov. Brian Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Both Sandoval’s and Reid’s offices have told him they want to help, Basich said, but there’s been no resolution so far.

Even Reid, who took flak for his Feb. 26 statement that “all” Obamacare “horror stories” are “untrue,” is trying to help. Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said one of the senator’s health-care legislative aides has been on the phone with Basich almost daily, “but at this point it’s in the hands of Xerox to see what can be done.”

Sandoval spokesman Mac Bybee said the office “regularly engages” the exchange and Xerox on behalf of any consumer who reaches out with concerns about Nevada Health Link.

Officials with the Nevada Division of Insurance said they’re also watching the situation.

“Mr. Basich’s concerns are certainly on our radar. We have discussed them with our partners at the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, and we feel confident that his concerns will soon be resolved appropriately,” division spokesman Jake Sunderland said.

But there hasn’t been much action. What’s more, when Burch discussed Basich’s case with Xerox executives on March 11, they said they couldn’t tell her much because the company had hired legal counsel. That’s even though Basich has no interest in suing and has not retained a lawyer. He said he merely wants the exchange to keep the promise it made when it withdrew three premium payments from his savings account.

Xerox seems to be spending inordinate time documenting Basich’s phone calls, website access and emails, Burch said. She said a Xerox executive tried to throw blame on Basich for writing four different applications with four separate sets of information.

“I said, ‘Larry’s not the only one who did that. Lots of people have created multiple applications. Nothing is concrete until people pay. If you have a problem with multiple applications, then you’ll have to come to our office and take back hundreds of cases,’” Burch said.

“I believe Xerox is covering themselves because of a huge system error. They don’t want the accountability of saying, ‘Yes, we did mess this up, and here’s the plan you selected.’ It’s like, ‘What did he pay for?’ That’s it. They are making this more complicated than it has to be,” she added.

Wasmer said there was nothing unusual about bringing in Xerox’s attorneys.

“Our internal counsel is part of the extended Xerox team looking into the situation,” she said. “It’s regular practice for a corporation to tap experts across its organization to best understand complicated issues like this one. We’ll continue to keep the goal of resolving Mr. Basich’s issue front and center as we work through its complexities.”

Though Basich’s problem is exceptional for its dollar value, his situation is not unusual, Burch said. She estimates that of nearly 200 Branch Benefits Consultants client sign ups via Nevada Health Link, only 5 percent have gone through problem-free. More than 20 customers have the same plan-selection issue as Basich. One gave up trying to fix it and is sticking with the plan the exchange put her in.

With the March 31 enrollment deadline looming, Burch said she still sees other widespread enrollment problems, including frequent website error messages; inaccurate federal subsidy calculations; payments missing in the system despite clients’ canceled checks; and wrong effective coverage dates. One client chose an effective coverage date of March 1. Her insurance card showed an effective date of Jan. 1. Burch said that when she called to fix the issue, a customer-service rep told her the system showed a start date of April 1.

Burch said her brokerage supports the Affordable Care Act and launched a department to sell exchange plans. But she said the experience is not what she or her clients hoped for.

“We think it’s a great concept for those who need insurance. It’s just unfortunate, with all of the roadblocks we’re dealing with right now,” Burch said. “The bottom line is, we’re talking about people. It’s not a system, it’s people. I think, somehow, Xerox forgot that.”

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State Touted As Obama’s Healthcare Reform Model Fires Its Obamacare Website Contractor – Daily Caller

The state of Massachusetts – touted by President Obama as the model for national health-care reform – is firing the company that designed both its failed state Obamacare enrollment website and also the Obama administration’s federal enrollment site.

Massachusetts is firing Canadian company CGI, which holds a $69 million contract to run the state’s Obamacare site. The state has already paid the company approximately $15.9 million. CGI was previously fired by the federal government in January.

“We have made the decision that we are going to be parting ways with CGI,” said Sarah Iselin, who serves as Governor Deval Patrick’s special assistant on the state’s Obamacare website fix, at a Monday board of directors meeting for the Massachusetts Obamacare exchange.

CGI’s incompetence is costing the state $10 million per month in unforeseen enrollment costs and preventing Massachusetts from having a fully working enrollment website until October 2014, according to an estimate.

But while CGI’s relationship with the Bay State is over, the company is still on good terms with the federal government.

The Daily Caller reported that CGI received six additional contracts from the Obama administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after the disastrous launch of the federal government’s Obamacare enrollment site. The six contracts were awarded between October 1 – when the over $600 million Obamacare website launched – through January 2014.

CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of the Canadian company CGI Group, and was formed in 2009 to bring CGI into the federal contracting business. The company employs Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate, and 2010 White House Christmas guest, Toni Townes-Whitley as a top executive.

CGI, which received the Obamacare website contract in Obama’s first term, was fired from its role as prime contractor on the federal government website in January. But the company still holds numerous government contracts, including a $6 billion contract with the Department of Homeland Security awarded less than a month before the failed Obamacare site went live and a prime contract on the Army’s much-maligned Human Terrain System, a failed program that sends academics into war zones to help soldiers understand local populations.

Massachusetts’ capital city of Boston now has the longest wait times to see a doctor of any of the 15 major U.S. cities. Bostonians wait an average of 45.5 days for an appointment with a family physician, dermatologist, orthopedic surgeon, or cardiologist.

“And it’s because you guys had a proven model that we built the Affordable Care Act on… Your law was the model for the nation’s law,” Obama said in an October 30 speech at Boston’s Fanueil Hall.

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Health Insurance Premiums Up 39% To 56% Under Obamacare, Reach $2,604 A Month In California – Washington Examiner

Americans buying health insurance outside the new Obamacare exchanges are being forced to swallow premiums up to 56 percent higher than before the health law took effect because insurers have jumped the cost to cover all the added features of the new Affordable Care Act.

According to a cost report from eHealthInsurance, a nationwide online private insurance exchange, families are paying an average of $663 a month and singles $274 a month, far more than before Obamacare kicked in. What’s more, to save money, most buyers are choosing the lowest level of coverage, the so-called “bronze” plans.

The firm provided the costs to Secrets through their new online price index, which gives the averages of what people are paying for insurance sold through their system. In California, for example, some families are paying a high of $2,604 a month and in New York, $1,845.

The shocking surge in prices show what Americans not in Obamacare or covered by their employer are paying as they seek lower premiums. Typically, they are not eligible for the subsidies Obamacare offers those with low incomes.

“Premiums are increasing primarily because of the new required provisions for 2014 Affordable Care Act compliant plans, including guaranteed issue, essential health benefits, modified community rating and minimum actuarial values,” said Brian Mast, spokesman for eHealthInsurance. “It is also likely that health insurance companies expected additional risk in the risk pool, because people with pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage, and may have priced their plans higher to accommodate for this risk,” said Mast.

His firm’s price index also gives an average age for singles buying plans, and the results are worrying for insurers and the Obama administration. That’s because the average age is 36, older than the administration had hoped for.

Explaining the higher costs, Mast said, “There are likely other factors, but what is important is that moving forward, there needs to be a collective effort to enroll as many people as possible and create a broad and diverse risk pool to keep premiums in check. eHealth can help in that effort by enrolling consumers off-exchange and is pushing to be able to enroll people in subsidy-eligible plans as well.”

There is a hint of good news, though, in firm’s the price index. While the current costs for insurance are higher than before Obamacare, they have come down over the past several months.

Below is a cost summary provided by eHealthInsurance:

- Premiums have increased by 39 percent to 56 percent, compared to pre-Obamacare coverage. As of Feb. 24, the average premium for an individual health plan selected through eHealth without a subsidy was $274 per month, a 39 percent increase over the average individual premium for pre-Obamacare coverage.

- The most recent average premium for plans without a subsidy chosen by families was $663 per month, a 56 percent increase over the average family premium in Feb. 2013, which was $426 per month.

- For both individual and family applicants, bronze plans have been the most popular plan type chosen since the beginning of open enrollment.

- Shoppers chose less expensive plans as open enrollment progressed

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Pastor Diagnosed With Cancer: ‘No Compassion In The Affordable Care Act’ – Weekly Standard

A pastor recently diagnosed with cancer, and who is covered under Obamacare, tells a local Iowa reporter that there’s “no compassion in the Affordable Care Act.”

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“Back in January, Pastor Angran was diagnosed with stage three cancer of the esophagus. He had insurance, but because of a previous heart condition, it did not cover the treatments he needed for his cancer. He found that out just minutes before receiving life-saving chemo,” says the local reporter.

The pastor says, “One of the workers came and said let me talk to you. And so I went to talk to her. She says that we found out that your insurance does not include chemo.”

“Over the past two months, the Angrans have emptied their savings account and racked up $50,000 in debt. They signed up for the Affordable Care Act,” says the local reporter, “but found it to be anything but affordable. It will cost the couple more than $800 per month, money they just don’t have.”

The reporter adds, “As a pastor, Angran has devoted his life to helping others, to being compassionate. He says, ‘There’s no compassion in the Affordable Care Act.’”

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White House Now Touting Obamacare With Twerking, Cat Gifs – Daily Caller

The newest Obamacare promotion has the official White House website imitating a March Madness-style bracket featuring gifs of twerking girls, cats and “YOLO” to convince coveted young millennials to sign up.

While President Obama’s campaigns were noted for their successful youth outreach, he has been unable to attract young people to sign up for insurance under Obamacare so far. Last week, Obama tried to up youth exchange enrollment with an appearance on “Between Two Ferns” with the often foul-mouthed star Zack Galifianakis.

Now the White House has moved onto gifs with “The 16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered.”

White House advertising experts spent taxpayer dollars putting together a bracket of new Obamacare benefits, intended to attract young viewers. People are encouraged to vote for their favorite benefit, with an accompanying gif that paints a picture of what Obamacare supposedly does for you.

One features young girl attempting to twerk on a countertop in a public bathroom and failing catastrophically – “because accidents happen.”

Twerk girl’s moves are set against Michelle Obama dunking a mini-basketball – because “women can’t be charged more than men,” despite women’s higher usage of health care services.

White House Deputy Director of Online Engagement Erin Lindsay already weighed in on the most pressing question facing the Obama administration – whether the girl in the gif is successfully twerking. Though she’s not a “twerk expert,” Lindsay admitted in a tweet Monday afternoon, “I certainly think she’s trying.”

“Birth control is free,’ one bracket proclaims, alongside a gif of several ducks that reads “I’m so excited.” Regulations directly hitting insurance companies are illustrated by cats – one decked out in a blazer with cash splashed about in front of it.

The benefits are illustrated with dogs, cats, pandas, even an over-excited Elmo. But the best might be a waving proclamation that “You only YOLO once,” “So don’t gamble with your health.”

Though the Obama administration predicted it would need at least 39 percent of exchange customers to fall between the ages of 18 and 35 in order for the marketplaces to remain afloat, they’ve currently topped out at 25 percent with just a few weeks left.

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