The conservative group Freedom Watch has filed a racketeering lawsuit against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that accuses her of failing to produce documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The civil suit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, argues that Clinton used her private emails to sell access to other officials in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation.
It alleges that, during her tenure, Clinton withheld documents requested under FOIA regarding State Department waivers given to businesses or individuals doing business with Iran, possibly undermining U.S.-imposed sanctions.
The complaint, which lists Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation as defendants, alleges the Clintons sold access to other U.S. government officials in return for donations to their organization, which they concealed, allegedly, by using a private computer server for her emails operated from their home in Chappaqua, New York.
Larry Klayman, the founder of Freedom Watch, launched dozens of lawsuits against former President Bill Clinton’s administration.
In the new lawsuit, he alleges that, during Hillary Clinton’s tenure, the State Department “clearly leaked” information to New York Times reporter David Sanger on U.S. and Israeli efforts to counteract Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
“Public reports about plans to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons development programs undermined the effectiveness of those plans by revealing them to Iran and other terrorist organizations and states,” the complaint states.
The civil suit alleges the Clintons “systematically and continuously… conducted a corrupt enterprise” over more than 10 years, allegedly in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, which deals with abuse and misuse of organizations or businesses.
In a statement, Klayman cast his lawsuit as “the first and only hard-hitting case to address the growing email scandal.”
“What Hillary Clinton, her husband, and their foundation have done is nothing new. It is simply part of a criminal enterprise which dates back at least 10 years, all designed to enrich themselves personally at the expense of the American people and our nation. It’s time, however, that they finally be held legally accountable,” Klayman said.
Clinton acknowledged the private server earlier this month, explaining that she deleted more than 30,000 emails her aides deemed personal, and turned over the rest to the State Department for archiving.
The House select committee investigating the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, has asked Clinton to turn over her server to an independent arbiter. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has also demanded Clinton turn over the server but has so far not directed House Republicans to subpoena her records.
Last April House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) released a report implicating Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in colluding with the IRS and Lois Lerner against the nonpartisan voters rights group “True the Vote.”
Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of “True the Vote,” testified before Congress in February. She was targeted by FBI, IRS, ATF, and OSHA after she filed for tax exempt status for her voters rights group.
Engelbrecht said this during her testimony before Congress and Cummings: “Frankly, to sit before my accuser and be silent in the face of what he did was unconscionable.”
This week the House Oversight Committee released more emails that prove the IRS was feeding Rep. Cummings with confidential tax information on the voter fraud prevention group True the Vote.
New IRS emails released by the House Oversight Committee show staff working for Democratic Ranking Member Elijah Cummings communicated with the IRS multiple times between 2012 and 2013 about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote. True the Vote was targeted by the IRS after applying for tax exempt status more than two years ago. Further, information shows the IRS and Cummings’ staff asked for nearly identical information from True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht about her organization, indicating coordination and improper sharing of confidential taxpayer information.
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, along with five Subcommittee Chairmen are demanding Cummings provide an explanation for the staff inquiries to the IRS about True the Vote and for his denial that his staff ever contacted the IRS about the group.
“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff – indicates otherwise,” the letter to Cummings states. “As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.”
A report published last April 2014 confirmed that Lois Lerner funneled information on Conservative group True the Vote to Democrat Cummings.
New IRS E-mails: Lois Lerner Funneled Elijah Cummings Info On Targeted Conservative Group – Ranking Democrat previously denied his staff contacted the IRS about group True the Vote
WASHINGTON – Newly delivered internal IRS e-mails sent and received by former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner and other IRS employees show that House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Minority staff, working for Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, began contacting the IRS in August 2012 about targeted non-profit applicant True the Vote. The IRS produced this e-mail on April 2, 2014 – only days after Oversight Committee Members had taken new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to task for withholding relevant e-mails. The Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairmen on the Oversight Committee today sent a letter to Ranking Member Cummings demanding an explanation for his staff’s queries, why the Minority hid these efforts from the Majority, and why the Ranking Member denied such actions by his staff at a February Subcommittee hearing:
“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff – indicates otherwise,” wrote the Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairmen of the Oversight Committee. “As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.”
The letter notes:
* The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings’ staff.
* Five days after Cummings contacted True the Vote seeking “copies of all training materials used for volunteers, affiliates, or other entities,” the IRS sent True the Vote a letter requesting True the Vote provide “a copy of [True the Vote’s] volunteer registration form,” “…the process you use to assign volunteers,” “how you keep your volunteers in teams,” and “how your volunteers are deployed… following the training they receive by you.”
* On or before January 25, 2013, Cummings’ staff requested more information from the IRS about True the Vote. The head of the IRS Legislative Affairs office e-mailed several IRS officials, including former Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, that “House Oversight Committee Minority staff” sought information about True the Vote. On Monday, January 28, Lerner wrote to her deputy Holly Paz: “Did we find anything?” When Paz informed her minutes later that she had not heard back about True the Vote’s information, Lerner replied: “thanks – check tomorrow please.”
* On January 31, 2013, Paz attached True the Vote’s form 990s, which she authorized the IRS to share with the Minority staff. Neither Cummings nor the IRS shared these requested documents with the Oversight Majority. None of the Minority’s communications about True the Vote with the IRS were shared with the Committee Majority even though Ranking Member Cummings frequently complains about the Committee Majority contacting individuals on official matters without the involvement of Minority staff.
Cummings denied that his staff, “might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies” at a February 6, 2014, Subcommittee hearing:
Here is the exchange:
Ms. Mitchell: We want to get to the bottom of how these coincidences happened, and we’re going to try to figure out whether any – if there was any staff of this committee that might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies. We don’t know that, but we – we’re going to do everything we can do to try to get to the bottom of how did this all happen.
Mr. Cummings. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. Meadows. Yes.
Mr. Cummings. I want to thank the gentleman for his courtesy. What she just said is absolutely incorrect and not true.
Click here for a copy of the letter from the Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairman to Ranking Member Cummings.
Click here for documents about Cummings’ interactions with the IRS about a targeted conservative organization.
Top Democrat Elijah Cummings faces up to five years in prison for his criminal actions.
A federal court on Tuesday blocked efforts by officials in California to force a conservative group to hand over the names of its donors, saying the order could violate those donors’ First Amendment rights.
Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general and a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, demanded last year that the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) turn over its donor rolls. The court enjoined that demand pending the outcome of AFPF’s suit attempting to invalidate the order.
AFPF claims that the disclosure would subject its donors to “grotesque threats” similar to the routine attacks against Charles and David Koch, the group’s founders, and would therefore chill their free speech. The court agreed.
“Donors who have witnessed harassment of those perceived to be connected with plaintiff’s co-founders have experienced their unwillingness to continue to participate if such limited disclosure is made,” said Judge Manuel Real of the District Court of the Central District of California.
AFPF, the judge said, “has proffered sufficient evidence establishing that public disclosure would have a chilling effect on free speech.”
Harris’ does not have adequate measures in place to compartmentalize and protect sensitive personal information contained in AFPF’s annual tax filings, the court noted.
Its policies regarding the treatment of identifying donor information, the court said, is “impermissibly entirely discretionary and could change at any moment.”
Attorneys representing Harris objected to the order on the grounds that it enjoined the attorney general from gathering any information that would identify donors, not simply the specific tax filings that the state initially demanded from the group.
Harris did not object to the more narrow provisions of the injunction, which protects AFPF from having to furnish those tax filings specifically.
In a separate injunction last week, Real blocked the public disclosure of that information in light of death threats and other instances of harassment and intimidation against the Kochs and others affiliated with AFPF.
The judge noted at the time that AFPF had presented evidence suggesting that merely disclosing that information to the state would leave donors vulnerable to harassment. It cited previous attempts by high-ranking California officials to erroneously link the Kochs to campaign finance violations in the state.
Tuesday’s ruling is not a final determination on the merits of AFPF’s position, but rather an effort to prevent violations of its donors’ First Amendment rights while the court considers the case.
However, the ruling is a major victory for AFP and other groups fighting mandatory donor disclosure for 501(c)(4) issue advocacy groups that generally are not required by federal law to disclose their donors.
It is also a setback for Harris, whose focus on AFPF dovetails with a national Democratic strategy of vilifying Republican donors, especially the Kochs.
Harris is already running a scorched earth campaign, targeting potential Democratic rivals for a U.S. Senate seat that will be left vacant next year with the retirement of Sen. Barbara Boxer. “I make no apologies,” Harris said of her aggressive campaign style.
Attacks on the Kochs could be a useful populist foil for her campaign.
Anti-Koch sentiment has paid dividends for Ann Ravel, until 2013 the chair of the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. Ravel made headlines that year when she accused the Kochs of supporting two groups that copped to campaign finance violations during the 2012 elections.
Ravel was forced to retract her claim after the Kochs denied any involvement with the groups, but not before President Obama appointed her as the co-chair of the Federal Election Commission.
Harris and Ravel teamed up to win a $1 million settlement from the two groups in 2013. That helped establish the former’s anti-Koch bona fides, pleasing many progressive commentators looking toward the 2016 Senate race.
Dan Newman, a political consultant in California, has been sounding the alarm on the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Kochs and their allies plan to spend during the 2016 election cycle.
Such warnings have boosted Democratic fundraising efforts in the past. Newman is also working for Harris’ 2016 campaign.
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert has declared his candidacy for Speaker of the House of Representatives against John Boehner.
“After the November elections gave Republicans control of the Senate, voters made clear they wanted change,” Gohmert said in a statement timed alongside a Sunday show interview with Tucker Carlson.
“There have been numerous examples of problematic Republican leadership, but we were hopeful our leaders got the voters’ message,” Gohmert stated. “However, after our Speaker forced through the CRomnibus by passing it with Democratic votes and without time to read it, it seemed clear that we needed new leadership. There had been much discussion. But, until yesterday, no one had stepped up.”
“I applaud my friend Rep. Ted Yoho for putting his name forward as an alternative to the status quo. Ted is a good man for whom I could vote, but I have heard from many supporters and also friends in Congress who have urged me to put forward my name for Speaker as well to increase our chances of change. That is why I am also offering my name as a candidate for Speaker.”
Gohmert’s statement elaborated as to how he can win the Speaker’s race.
“There is false information being floated that any Republican candidates in addition to the current Speaker will split the vote and give the Speaker’s gavel to Congresswoman Pelosi,” Gohmert said. “This is nothing but a scare tactic to keep the current regime in power.”
“As long as Republicans vote for an adult American citizen for Speaker, no Democrat can win. Only if 30 Republicans voted ‘Present’ would there be a chance for a Democrat to win.”
“To win the Speaker’s race, an adult American citizen has to get a clear majority of all Members of Congress on the House floor voting for an eligible person. Voting ‘Present’ simply reduces the number of votes required to win a majority. If no one wins a majority on the first ballot, then we go to a second vote, then a third, until someone gets a majority.”
Gohmert solidified his growing stature in the Republican Party this year with the successful launch of GOHPAC, a tea party PAC to defend primary challengers from their GOP establishment rivals. The PAC helped shine a media light on young conservative candidates like Dan Bongino and Boehner’s Ohio-based primary challenger J.D. Winteregg in the run-up to Dave Brat’s historic defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor in the Virginia eighth district primary.