A federal appeals court spanked the IRS Tuesday, saying it has taken laws designed to protect taxpayers from the government and turned them on their head, using them to try to protect the tax agency from the very tea party groups it targeted.
The judges ordered the IRS to quickly turn over the full list of groups it targeted so that a class-action lawsuit, filed by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots, can proceed. The judges also accused the Justice Department lawyers, who are representing the IRS in the case, of acting in bad faith – compounding the initial targeting – by fighting the disclosure.
“The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws – all of them, not just selective ones – in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition,” Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote in a unanimous opinion for a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. “We expect that the IRS will do better going forward.”
Justice Department officials declined to comment on the judicial drubbing, and the IRS didn’t respond to a request for comment on the unusually strong language Judge Kethledge used.
The case stems from the IRS‘ decision in 2010 to begin subjecting tea party and conservative groups to intrusive scrutiny when they applied for nonprofit status.
An inspector general found several hundred groups were asked inappropriate questions about their members’ activities, their fundraising and their political leanings.
The IRS has since apologized for its behavior, but insisted the targeting was a mistake born of overzealous employees confused by the law rather than a politically motivated attempt to stifle conservatives.
Tea party groups have been trying for years to get a full list of nonprofit groups that were targeted by the IRS, but the IRS had refused, saying that even the names of those who applied or were approved are considered secret taxpayer information. The IRS said section 6103 of the tax code prevented it from releasing that information.
Judge Kethledge, however, said that turned the law on its head.
“Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers,” he wrote.
Edward Greim, a lawyer at Graves Garrett who is representing NorCal Patriots, said they should be able to get a better idea of the IRS‘ decision-making once they see the list of groups that was targeted.
“What we’ll be able to see is how, starting in the spring of 2010, with the first one or two groups the IRS targeted, we’ll be able to see that number grow, and we’ll even be able to see at the tail end their possible covering up that conduct,” he said.
He said they suspect the IRS, aware that the inspector general was looking into the tax agency’s behavior, began adding in other groups to try to muddle the perception that only conservatives were being targeted.
Tuesday’s ruling is the second victory this year for NorCal Patriots.
In January U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott certified their case as a class-action lawsuit, signaling that she agreed with NorCal Patriots that the IRS did systematically target hundreds of groups for special scrutiny.
Certifying the class allows any of the more than 200 groups that were subjected to the criteria to join the lawsuit. But until the IRS complies with the appeals court’s ruling this week, the list of those groups is secret.
Now that the class has been certified, the case moves to the discovery stage, where the tea party groups’ lawyers will ask for all of the agency’s documents related to the targeting and will depose IRS employees about their actions.
The lawyers hope they’ll be able to learn details Congress was unable to shake free in its own investigations.
The Justice Department has concluded its own criminal investigation into the IRS and said the targeting was the result of bad management. But investigators said they found no criminal behavior, and specifically cleared former IRS head Lois G. Lerner, saying her fellow employees said she tried to correct the problems when she learned of them.
Republicans dismissed that investigation as a whitewash by the Obama administration.
Washington, DC (February 18, 2016) – CRTV is announcing the launch of LevinTV, hosted by one of the nation’s most compelling, passionate and thoughtful Conservative voices, Mark Levin. Having just signed a contract extension to continue his nation wide radio broadcast to millions of listeners for another nine years, the six-time New York Times best-selling author is further expanding his media network, to reach an even larger audience through a dynamic, cutting edge, digital based television platform. LevinTV will be America’s new televised Town Hall meeting and is the next step in the evolution of digital conservative media.
LevinTV will be produced five days a week in a state-of-the-art studio built exclusively for the Show. It will be broadcast in HD, featuring one of the most technologically advanced television sets ever created. Mark Levin will bring his unique perspective of pro-American and patriotic values to his new TV show that champions liberty and true conservatism.
LevinTV is a commercial-free explosion of Mark Levin’s engaging personality, unique intellect and passionate commentary about history, economics, philosophy and the latest political and current events. The show will also feature exclusive, long-form interviews with compelling guests from all walks of life.
“I have the greatest audience in the world and I give them my best every night,” said Mark Levin. “I am thrilled we are expanding our Town Hall meeting place for patriots, by taking TV broadcasting to a new level on multiple platforms where I will speak directly to my audience – uncensored, without middlemen, and commercial free.” Levin added, “I make no excuses for my patriotism, I am proud of it, and LevinTV will reflect it. It’s about time there is a place on television where people can go and have their principles, beliefs, and values reinforced rather than attacked.”
How to Watch
LevinTV launches on March 7, 2016. His inaugural episode, along with hours of preview material, can be accessed on any digital or mobile device. Levin’s loyal audience and new fans alike can subscribe for an entire year for $59 (just $4.92 a month) saving $10 off the regular price of $69 a year by subscribing on or before March 7. Monthly subscription fees are $7.99. By keeping subscription prices low, LevinTV will be accessible to a large and growing audience.
For more information, visit www.LevinTV.com.
Mary Mayhew, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services, knows her politics aren’t always popular.
“I can’t stress enough what an attack campaign it has been from the media for four and a half years,” Mayhew said Thursday at an anti-poverty forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by The Heritage Foundation.
Then there are the more personalized critiques: “There is a poet, or he calls himself a poet, and he sends me poems all the time,” she added. “They are not nice poems.”
Mayhew claims that detractors – who mostly take issue with welfare reforms enacted by Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, since his election in 2011 – have gone so far as to call her “Commissioner Evil,” and her and LePage’s policies a “War on the Poor.”
The irony, according to Mayhew, lies in the fact that her and LePage’s efforts actually aim to empower Maine’s poorest citizens. She says a third of the state is on welfare.
“The welfare hurricane doesn’t just destroy one family; it destroys generations of them,” Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, said at the event Thursday. “This work is about giving children a better chance for a future.”
To illustrate that point, Mayhew told a story of one of her first days on the job as DHHS commissioner, spent touring a substance abuse treatment facility for adolescents:
I was taken aback by one of the youth who came up to me – it was actually several youth, who were just completely focused on whether I could help them get disability. These were 15-year-old, 16-year-old young men clearly battling addiction, but they had decided that the answer for them was to pursue disability. And, frankly, as we all look at that pathway, that truly is committing individuals to a lifetime of poverty.
Since LePage assumed the governorship, Maine has reduced enrollment in the state’s food stamp program by over 58,000; currently, according to Mayhew, there are 197,000 people on food stamps, down from a high of 255,663 in February 2012.
Mayhew says the decline is due to eliminating the waiver of the work requirement previously attached to food stamps, as also witnessed in Kansas. Under the new legislation, recipients would need to work 20 hours per week, volunteer for about an hour a day, or attend a class to receive food stamps past three months.
LePage and Mayhew have also rolled back Medicaid eligibility through a series of battles Mayhew called “fierce.”
With a population of roughly 1.3 million, Maine had 357,000 individuals receiving Medicaid benefits when LePage took office. Today, 287,000 people are on Medicaid, according to Mayhew.
“What we have done truly has taken the arguments to the public to underscore what has been lost as that program grew out of control, never mind that the resources that had to be devoted to Medicaid were being taken away from education, infrastructure, and reduced tax burden on the state of Maine,” Mayhew said.
In August, Maine DHHS announced they planned to redirect $3.24 million in welfare savings to fund home care services for elderly citizens as well as the Meals on Wheels program.
Lastly, Mayhew touched upon Maine’s efforts to retool the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card programs, stating that Maine had over 15,000 open TANF cases when LePage took office. That number is down to less than 5,000.
LePage’s and Mayhew’s policies, as Mayhew herself highlighted, have not been without controversy.
Earlier this week, amid an ongoing dispute over EBT cards being used to wire money abroad, critics accused the LePage administration of using last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris to justify reforms.
“This proposal is really an example of fear-mongering at its worst,” Robyn Merrill, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, told MPBN News.
But Mayhew does not plan to back down – especially if it means reducing her own influence long-term, and shifting that responsibility to local non-profits.
“I can’t underscore enough that part of the issue is government is too big, my agency is too large, and people are trying to preserve their jobs,” she said.
“We have got to reduce the size and scope of these agencies if we are going to have communities really take on the responsibility of supporting these families and these individuals on those pathways [to independence].”
Now who’s being the child?
Conservative YouTube sensation CJ Pearson, a 13-year-old black middle schooler from Georgia, revealed on Wednesday that he’s been blocked from following President Obama on Twitter. He’s also unable to view the president’s tweets.
11,040 Likes – 4,948 Comments – 5,410 Shares
“It’s an honor,” Pearson tells The American Mirror, insisting he did nothing to warrant being blocked, except his most recent video released last week.
In the video, he accuses the president of playing politics with the Texas student who was suspended for bringing a clock to school that appeared to be a bomb.
“He’s used this child as a political prop,” Pearson said. “This president has used this child to push his radical, leftward agenda. And I think it’s disgusting, and I think many, many people agree.”
Pearson’s video has been viewed over 1.8 million times on YouTube.
UPDATE – 10:23 p.m.:
CJ says the White House issued a statement saying the president didn’t block him on Twitter. CJ responds here: