IRS Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Theft Of 60 Million Medical Records – Healthcare IT News
The Internal Revenue Service is now facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.
According to a report by Courthousenews.com, an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California is suing the IRS, alleging that some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents. The personal health information seized on March 11, 2011, included psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual/drug treatment and other medical treatment data.
“This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service agents,” the complaint reads. “No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search. IT personnel at the scene, a HIPPA facility warning on the building and the IT portion of the searched premises, and the company executives each warned the IRS agents of these privileged records,” it continued.
According to the case, the IRS agents had a search warrant for financial data pertaining to a former employee of the John Doe company, however, “it did not authorize any seizure of any healthcare or medical record of any persons, least of all third parties completely unrelated to the matter,” the complaint read.
The class action lawsuit against the IRS seeks $25,000 in compensatory damages “per violation per individual” in addition to punitive damages for constitutional violations. Thus, compensatory damages could start at a minimum of $250 billion.
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IRS Told Pro-Life Group It Must Promote Abortion – Gateway Pundit
It’s an Obama world…
The IRS told a pro-life group that it had to promote abortion or they wouldn’t qualify for nonprofit status.
World Net Daily reported:
The Internal Revenue Service already has confessed to targeting and trying to injure tea party, Constitution and patriot organizations, by demanding answers to arbitrary questions and delaying their applications for a tax status so they could operate.
Now WND has learned that the IRS also put an organization in its bull’s-eye that wanted to do nothing more than share its pro-life message with churches.
Cherish Life Ministries was created to be a non-profit under the IRS 501(c)3 provision so that churches would feel comfortable working together…
…Shinn said the IRS contacted him regarding his application for nonprofit status, and was told he didn’t qualify.
“The representative was telling me I had to provide information on all aspects of abortion, I couldn’t just educate the church from the pro-life perspective,” he said. “Every time I pressed her on this issue and asked her to clarify her position, she would state that it wasn’t what she was saying, and then, she would repeat it almost the same way.”
The IRS agent did not respond to a WND request for comment on the ministry’s position.
But Shinn said he was accused of setting up a political organization.
“I asked her why she said we were political organization and she said it was because we had said in our application that we did less than 5 percent political activity. I explained to her that this was what was stated in the application and all we were doing was acknowledging that we were doing less than 5 percent political activity,” he said.
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Document: IRS Ordered Conservative Educational Group To Turn Over A List Of High School And College Students It Trained – Daily Mail
When a Tennessee lawyer asked the IRS for tax-exempt status for a mentoring group that trained high school and college students about conservative political philosophy, the agency responded with a list of 95 questions in 31 parts, including an ultimatum for a list of everyone the group had trained, or planned to train.
‘Provide details regarding all training you have provided or will provide,’ the IRS demanded. ‘Indicate who has received or will receive the training and submit copies of the training material.’
That question was part of the tax collection agency’s February 14, 2012 letter to Kevin Kookogey. founder of the group Linchpins of Liberty. He had submitted his application 13 months earlier.
‘Can you imagine my responsibility to parents if I disclosed the names of their children to the IRS?’ he asked MailOnline.
It’s ‘an impossible question to answer fully and truthfully,’ he said, ‘without disclosing the names of anyone I ever taught, or would ever teach, including students.’
Like the leaders of many tea party-affiliated groups whose tax-exemption applications have become the subject of angry complaints, Kookogey called the IRS’s inquisition an overreach, ‘especially considering that my organization mentors high school and college students.’
It ‘should send chills through your spine,’ he told MailOnline, ‘that the government would ask me to identify those I teach, and to provide details of what I teach them.’
The 13-month delay, while burdensome, was far shorter than those some other groups endured. According to a report released late Tuesday by the IRS’s Office of Inspector General, the average delay at one point was 574 days.
But Kookogey said a $30,000 grant was canceled as a result of the IRS’s months-long radio silence, when he couldn’t tell his donor that Linchpins had earned its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
That money would have made a significant difference to the group, judging from its public filings in Tennessee. In 2011, Linchpins of Liberty reported collecting just $3,460 in contributions, and spending $7,328 on its programs.
The group’s online materials refer to it as ‘an American leadership development enterprise.’ Its stated purpose is to mentor high school and college students, placing an emphasis on Western civilization and an old-style core curriculum – what previous generations called the ‘great books.’
‘Our ideas are opposed to the Obama administration, but we’re not tea party,’ Kookogey told The Tennessean.
It’s that lack of a tea party connection, he said, that makes his predicament so maddening.
He told MailOnline that nothing about his group – ‘not our name or our description or our website, or anything’ – should have placed it among the organizations the IRS chose to scrutinize closely by using key words like ‘tea party,’ ‘9/12,’ and ‘patriots’ as qualifiers.
‘I’m not a Tea Party group. I’m not a Patriot group by name’ he told NewsChannel 5 in Nashville.
‘We mentor high school and college students in conservative political philosophy. It’s a one on one relationship.’
Kookogey summed it up in an interview with MailOnline as ‘unethical, unconstitutional, and unfair,’ later asserting in an email that ‘[w]e were targeted by the IRS based on our political beliefs and the content of our speech.’
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents 27 conservative groups including Linchpins of Liberty, is planning to file suit against the IRS.
Jay Sekulow, that organization’s chief counsel, wrote on Tuesday that ‘the IRS abuse is ongoing.’
‘Even though the IRS admitted wrongdoing,’ Sekulow wrote in an essay for FoxNews.com, even though the Inspector General’s report indicates that wrongdoing was widespread, the IRS still hasn’t withdrawn its overbroad and unconstitutional questions, and it still hasn’t granted the exemptions it should grant, despite the fact that some applications have been pending for more than two years.’
The Inspector General’s report includes a list of ‘the seven questions’ the IRS asked right-wing groups that were later ‘identified as being unnecessary.’
Its request for the list of students trained by Linchpins of Liberty was not among them.
The report also largely exonerates political appointees in the Treasury Department and at the top of the IRS, instead blaming mid-level bureaucrats for providing ‘ineffective management’ and using ‘inappropriate criteria’ to red-flag conservative groups.
It makes no mention of anyone in the White House directing the IRS to play political favorites. But The Washington Post has reported that ‘senior IRS officials’ in Washington, D.C. were notified of the practice in 2011.
In December of that year, Kookogey says, he called the IRS’s nonprofit evaluation arm in Cincinnati, Ohio, to find out why his group’s application had taken so long.
The agent on the other end of the line, he said, told him, ‘We are waiting on guidance from our superiors as to your organization and similar organizations.’
Attorney General Eric Holder has said that he ordered the FBI to initiate a criminal probe on Friday, when he learned about the IRS’s practices.
The IRS’s actions, he said, were, ‘certainly outrageous and unacceptable, but we are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations.’
Holder is expected to testify in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday in Washington. On Friday the House Ways and Means Committee will hear testimony from acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller and Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has called for Miller to lose his job.
‘At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech,’ Rubio wrote Monday in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. ‘Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.’
‘It is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership,’ Rubio continued. ‘Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effective immediately.’
On Friday, Sekulow demanded that the IRS immediately approve the tax-exempt status applications of his organization’s 10 legal clients, including Linchpins of Liberty, that are still waiting. He issued the agency an ultimatum: Grant the requests by noon on May 17, or prepare to fight in court.
‘We are demanding that the IRS grant our remaining clients tax-exempt status immediately,’ Sekulow said in a statement. ‘If that does not occur by Friday, we will advise our clients of their right to sue the IRS for the redress of their grievances.’
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IRS Executive In Charge Of Unit That Targeted Conservatives Received Over $42K In Bonuses Since 2009 – Weasel Zippers
By all accounts she did a splendid job targeting anti-Obama groups.
Via Beltway Confidential:
Lois Lerner, the senior executive in charge of the IRS tax exemption department and the person at the center of the exploding scandal over the IRS targeting conservative, evangelical and pro-Israel non-profits, has been given $42,531 in bonuses since 2009.
That figure was included in data provided by the IRS in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Washington Examiner. Lerner is director of the IRS exempt organizations division, which processes and approves or denies applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Lerner received $17,220 for 2009, $24,691 for 2010 and $10,620 for 2011, the most recent year for which the I(RS said data was available.
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10 Of 12 IRS Offices Implicated In Scandal Are In Washington – Washington Examiner
The Treasury Inspector General’s damaging report on the IRS-Tea Party scandal has destroyed the administration’s claim that low-level workers in a Cincinnati, Ohio office are to blame, revealing that 10 of 12 agency offices referenced in the affair are in Washington.
The report repeatedly references actions taken by the Washington-based Exempt Organizations unit and guidance specialists also in Washington. What’s more, the report was researched in the Exempt Organizations offices and the Cincinnati-based Determinations Units, which has received the blame for targeting Tea Party groups.
The audit, for example, probes into how the Cincinnati-based Determinations Unit developed its plan to pay attention to groups with the words “Tea Party,” “Patriot,” and other phrases used by anti-Obama groups during the 2010 election.
Washington-based offices denied involvement, but did change the “criteria” for groups to target in July 2011. Instead of looking for “Tea Party” groups seeking tax exempt status to investigate, the criteria was broadened to “political, lobbying or [general] advocacy.”
However, “the team of specialists subsequently changed the criteria in January 2012″ back, apparently without telling their bosses. “Specialists” are both Washington- and Ohio- based.
Popular talk radio host Mark Levin, one of the first to post the IG report online, suggested that the House committees investigating the scandal use the IG’s “High-Level Organization Chart of Offices Referenced in this Report” on page 29 in picking who should testify. He suggested that the heads of all 12 be called to testify.
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‘Very Frightening’: Prominent Catholic Prof. Claims IRS Audited Her After Speaking Out Against Obama And Demanded To Know Who Was Paying Her – The Blaze
In the midst of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, individuals and groups, alike, are continuing to come forward with ever-startling allegations. On Wednesday, Dr. Anne Hendershott, a devout Catholic and a noted sociologist, professor and author, exclusively told TheBlaze that she believes she may have been one of the IRS’s targets.
According to Hendershott, the IRS audited her in 2010 and demanded to know who was paying her and “what their politics were.”
It all started with a phone call she received at her home in May of that year – a call during which Hendershott was told she would be audited. A letter that followed on May 19, 2010 solidified the IRS’s request to meet her in person two months later in July. While IRS investigations are certainly not uncommon occurrences, the professor believes that the situation surrounding hers was more-than-curious.
“The IRS calls my house and says… ‘I just wanted to let you know that we’re going to be auditing your business’ and I said ‘My businesses?’ and he said, ‘You know the expenses you take off for writing,” the academic recalls.
Hendershott was surprised she was being audited on business grounds considering she does not operate an entrepreneurial endeavor in the traditional sense. In addition to her academic work, she told TheBlaze that she occasionally freelances for Catholic outlets and for the Wall Street Journal. But can this really be considered “business” activity?
“I don’t make a lot of money from writing. In fact most years I don’t show a profit,” she told TheBlaze.
Hendershott said some of the outlets and organizations she has written for haven’t paid her a cent.
But the circumstances surrounding the irregular nature of the experience don’t end there. Hendershott noted it was particularly surprising that she, alone, was audited. Her husband, who brings in the vast majority of the family’s income, was not included in the IRS’s inquiry – even though the Hendershotts always files jointly.
So when the agent explained that she would need to come alone and in person to discuss her “business” activity in July of 2010, the professor was perplexed.
“[The IRS agent] didn’t even let me decide when it would be good for me… He didn’t want my husband to come,” she said of the meeting, which was held at an IRS office in New Haven, Connecticut.
The process was a grueling one, including many questions that Hendershott felt were political in nature. Numerous records were requested before the in-person meeting, as well as during and after.
“Every question had to do with bank deposits we made. Every single question,” she said. “What is this money? And I didn’t know a lot of it. We had to go to our bank and get deposits back. We had to get records showing where the money came from.”
While asking about the deposits, the agent wanted to know if the monies came from groups and, if so, what the organizations’ politics were.
The mention of groups, Hendershott notes, is particularly interesting, as she had been writing for numerous Catholic outlets and organizations at the time. In addition to Catholic World Report and the Catholic Advocate, she also penned op-eds for the Wall Street Journal. Many of these writings were critical of President Barack Obama and his policies.
And the plot thickens. Among the organizations she targeted in her writings were progressive groups highly supportive of Democratic causes, including: Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics United, and Catholic Democrats.
At the time, one of the founders of Catholics United, Chris Korzen, had become a target of her work, as she exposed, in her view, his true leftist agenda and some of the complicated theological stances the left-of-center organizations he associated with were taking. Plus, there were alleged financial ties with billionaire liberal George Soros. Here’s just two paragraphs from an article she wrote in March 2010, just months before her meeting with IRS officials:
On its website, Catholics United describes itself as a 501(c) (4) non-profit organization – eligible to accept donations. But, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good emerged in 2005 as a kind of sister organization to Catholics United. A 501(c) (3) organization, donors can claim a deduction against personal income tax when they donate money to Catholics in Alliance. Reviewing the 2007 IRS 990 forms for both Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United raises some questions, because Chris Korzen is listed as having received $84,821 in compensation for 40 hours per week from Catholics in Alliance on the group’s 990 Form – even though the Catholics United website claimed he was the director there during the same time period. [...]
Despite their inability to engage in extensive lobbying, Catholics in Alliance has been extremely successful in attracting large donors. Never a friend to the Catholic Church, George Soros, one of the earliest donors, contributed $50,000 to Catholics in Alliance in 2005 and another $100,000 in 2006 through his Open Society Institute. Likewise, Smith Bagley, a major Democratic donor and fundraiser, whose wife, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, is Chairman of the Board of Catholics in Alliance, came close to matching Soros with grants from his family’s Arca Foundation. With a long history of supporting progressive organizations like ACORN, the Gamaliel Foundation, People for the American Way, and Planned Parenthood, Arca contributed $50,000 to Catholics in Alliance in 2007 and another $75,000 in 2008.
Hendershott can’t help but wonder if her writings against progressive groups played a role in her audit. It’s obvious that before she was notified by the IRS she was commenting regularly about matters of faith and politics and, in particular, Obamacare. While she doesn’t have proof that the IRS investigation was political in nature, she has strong suspicions that it was.
“I started writing articles like crazy saying these are fake Catholic groups,” she said of the aforementioned organizations, noting that Korzen would often target her work and rail against her assertions.
Hendershott noted that the progressive leader once called into a radio show she appeared on to challenge her contention that he had accepted Soros money.
“I had the tax return in front of me and read off the amounts that Chris Korzen was getting paid from Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good – a Soros supported fake Catholic group,” she told TheBlaze, noting that, through Catholics in Alliance, he had received $85,000.
While Korzen denied this on the air, Hendershott read from the 990 form in an effort to prove he wasn’t telling the truth. This, she believes, may have sparked – or played a role – in spawning the IRS audit.
“He was getting paid by one organization and working for another,” the professor said of Korzen. ”The IRS should have gone after them.”
Her writings for the Catholic Advocate soon ceased because, Hendershott admits, the IRS audit silenced her. If her suspicions are true, this may have been its chilling intention.
“I haven’t written for them since the audit, because I was so scared,” she said (records show her last article for the organization was on July 10, 2010 – the same month the IRS audit unfolded).
So far, she has only shared her story with friends and those close to her, but in light of the recent IRS scandal, she has decided to speak out.
“It was clear they didn’t like me criticizing the people who helped pass Obamacare,” she said of the audit,” later adding, ”The IRS is very frightening.”
In addition to creating stress and fear, Hendershott said that the experience came at a great emotional and financial expense for the family, noting that even after the audit the government sought more information from her.
“It was like they just couldn’t find what they wanted because they wanted more and more and more,” she said.
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Flashback 2012: Democrat Senators Demand IRS Scrutinize Tea Party Groups – Gateway Pundit
In March of 2012 Democratic Senators sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service demanding that Tea Party groups get extra scrutiny (harassment). The Democrats even threatened legislative action if the IRS did not act.
From Sen. Chuck Schumer’s website:
A group of seven Senate Democrats urged the Internal Revenue Service on Monday to impose a strict cap on the amount of political spending by tax-exempt, nonprofit groups.
The senators said the lack of clarity in the IRS rules has allowed political groups to improperly claim 501(c)4 status and may even be allowing donors to these groups to wrongly claim tax deductions for their contributions. The senators promised legislation if the IRS failed to act to fix these problems.
“We urge the IRS to take these steps immediately to prevent abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities. But if the IRS is unable to issue administrative guidance in this area then we plan to introduce legislation to accomplish these important changes,” the senators wrote.
The letter was signed by Senators Charles E. Schumer, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken. It follows an earlier letter, sent to the IRS by the same of group of senators last month, that also urged the IRS to better enforce rules pertaining to 501(c)4 organizations.
A copy of the letter is here.
This week Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana vowed congressional hearings and called the IRS actions “an outrageous abuse of power.” But, over the last three years, Democratic senators repeatedly and publicly pressured the IRS to engage in the very activities that they are only now condemning today.
UPDATE: Inspector General: The IRS targeted EVERY group with Tea Party in its name.
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