On Monday the Center for Competitive Politics filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against nine U.S. senators: for interfering with IRS tax proceedings; for misusing official resources for campaign purposes; and for improper conduct that reflects poorly upon the Senate. Attempting to use the IRS to advance a partisan, electoral agenda is a fundamental assault on good government. We believe these elected officials have staged such an assault.
The complaint documents how the senators improperly interfered with IRS adjudications to further their party’s electoral prospects. They pressured the IRS to undertake income-tax investigations of specific organizations, to find that specific organizations were in violation of the law, to reach predetermined results pertaining to pending applications by individual organizations for nonprofit status, and to adopt specific regulatory interpretations and policies to further their campaign goals.
A year ago in May it became public knowledge that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative organizations. Republicans have since attempted to find a “smoking gun” directly linking the scandal to the White House. That likely does not exist, because that’s not the way these things are done. Meanwhile, their quest has helped enable the press to ignore obvious abuses of power emanating from the Senate.
After the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on Jan. 21, 2010, Democrats adopted a campaign strategy of attempting to squelch the speech of conservative groups. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) – named in our complaint – introduced the so-called Disclose Act, saying on Feb. 11 that it would make targeted speakers “think twice” before speaking out. “The deterrent effect should not be underestimated,” he added.
At campaign fundraisers in the summer of 2010, President Obama repeatedly denounced conservative organizations for “running millions of dollars of attack ads against Democratic candidates,” identifying Americans for Prosperity by name. On Aug. 27 the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed a complaint with the IRS against Americans for Prosperity.
Senate Democrats twice failed, on straight party-line votes, to end a filibuster of the Disclose Act. Mr. Obama told Democratic donors that they had “tried to fix” the problem but failed.
The attempt to silence opponents through legislation may be ugly, but such hardball politics are not a violation of Senate ethics rules. After failing to pass Disclose, however, the senators in our complaint began a pattern of improper conduct aimed at pressuring the IRS to harass and investigate their political opponents.
Senators may inquire about agency practices and operations. But they cross an ethical line when they interfere in pending tax exemption applications or pressure an agency to investigate or prosecute specific organizations.
Just days after the final defeat of the Disclose Act in October 2010, Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) – another senator in our complaint – wrote to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman on his official letterhead to demand that the IRS “quickly examine the tax status of Crossroads GPS,” a major conservative nonprofit.
Mr. Durbin accused Crossroads GPS of breaking the law. He later admitted to Chris Wallace on Fox News that he sought the investigation because “they were boastful about how much money they were going to raise and beat Democrats with.”
Pressure on the IRS increased after the 2010 midterm Republican landslide. Mr. Schumer stated in one speech, “It’s clear we’re not going to pass anything legislatively,” due to “Republican control” of the House. “But there are many things that can be done by the IRS… and we have to redouble our efforts. We have not worked hard enough on this.” In a letter to the IRS on March 12, 2012, Mr. Schumer urged the service to investigate various groups identified through reference to news articles.
Michigan Sen. Carl Levin wrote at least seven letters to the IRS, and demanded that it investigate specific nonprofits. The IRS’s failure to launch these investigations, he wrote in one, was “unacceptable.” Mr. Levin also sought confidential nonprofit tax return information from the IRS, even after being warned, repeatedly, by IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Steven T. Miller, that such information could not be legally divulged.
These are just a few examples of abuse of power for electoral gain. The other six senators named in the complaint are Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), Al Franken (D., Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) and Tom Udall (D., N.M.). Under the Senate Ethics Committee rules, when such a complaint is received – including by private individuals – “The Committee shall promptly commence a preliminary inquiry… of such duration and scope as is necessary” to find whether ethics rules were violated.
There is ample evidence that these efforts affected IRS policy, but the senators’ behavior is improper even if it did not. Senate rules require that the Ethics Committee take action. And we as citizens must make sure that the IRS is not abused by Democrats or Republicans for partisan electoral gain.
An investigation into conservative author and “2016: Obama’s America” filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza that resulted in his indictment on campaign contribution charges is rebounding on the FBI, with demands from Congress now to know how the investigation was triggered – and other details.
Four members, including Sens. Charles E. Grassley, Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, all Republicans, have written to the FBI with a list of questions for the agency to answer.
The indictment was seen in many quarters as political payback for D’Souza’s film, which was harshly critical of Obama during the 2012 election season, and there has been launched by WND an online petition demanding that Congress halt what gives the appearance of political retaliation.
WND has reported that D’Souza has vowed to present a strong defense to the allegations.
The letter from the senators, addressed to FBI Director James Comey Jr., noted that based on what is known so far, the investigation into D’Souza came following a “routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC of various candidates after the 2012 election.”
The senators explain, “The articles, however, did not provide any details regarding the scope and methodology of these routine reviews. Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz has said, ‘I can’t help but think that [D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it… It smacks of selective prosecution.’ To dispel this sort of public perception that Mr. D’Souza may have been targeted because of his outspoken criticisms of the president, it is important for the FBI to be transparent regarding the precise origin of this investigation.”
The senators listed the questions that the FBI should answer, including “It appears from U.S. attorney’s office comment that the FBI conducts regular, perhaps random reviews of campaign filings. Is this correct? If so, what methodology does the FBI use to conduct these reviews?”
The senators also ask, “Please identify and describe all methods by which a review of campaign filings may be initiated,” and “Please identify all other government entities involved in the FBI’s review of campaign filings and describe their involvement.”
No. 4 is, “How and why was this particular review initiated?”
No. 5 is, “What criteria involved in this particular review led to the suspicion that warranted further inquiry?”
No. 6 is, “What are the guidelines under which the FBI conducts its reviews of Campaign filings?”
No. 7 is, “Please describe how the FBI’s reviews of campaign filings are conducted.”
No. 8 is, “How many campaign filings has the FBI reviewed in each year from 2008 to the present?”
No. 9 is, “On average, how long does it take to complete a review of a campaign filing?”
No. 10 is, “How many agents are assigned, per case, to review campaign filings?”
No. 11 is, “On average, how many man hours are spent reviewing campaign filings?”
No. 12 is, “When did the FBI begin routinely reviewing campaign filings.”
The letter to Comey continued, “During your confirmation hearing, you pledged that you would carry the values of transparency and try to spread them as far as you could within the FBI. To explain the details of these routine reviews and provide context to those who may be skeptical of the origins of this investigation, please provide answers…”
They all were critical of Obama, and suddenly were being contacted by the Internal Revenue Service, or others.
The petition addressed to Congress seeks “an immediate halt to the Obama administration’s reign of ‘payback’ and ‘punishment’ levied against its political opponents, which it regards as ‘enemies’; and a congressional investigation into the administration’s unmistakable and undeniable pattern of political use of the fearsome machinery of government to punish critics and opponents – which is not only grossly illegal and immoral, but profoundly destructive of everything that makes America exceptional and free.”
WND previously reported that Gerald Molen, the producer of D’Souza’s two full-length feature film documentaries, “2016: Obama’s America,” released in 2012, and the about-to-be-released “America,” had characterized D’Souza’s criminal indictment as a Soviet-style “political prosecution.”
“When Dinesh D’Souza can be prosecuted for making a movie, every American should ask themselves one question: ‘What will I do to preserve the First Amendment?’” he said.
D’Souza told WND that Molen, too, was harassed by the Obama administration for his role producing D’Souza’s full-length feature film documentaries.
“Right after ’2016′ came out, Molen got a call from the IRS,” D’Souza said.
“I just think it’s interesting the searchlight fell on him so randomly, so to speak, and so quickly right after. Molen has been around for a long time. He’s made ‘Minority Report’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ and for all this time he escaped scrutiny from the IRS, but then suddenly in a sense, the moment he comes out of the closet as a conservative, boom – ‘Hello, this is your friendly IRS agent calling,’” he said.
D’Souza argued he was prosecuted because his first feature film offended Obama personally, not just because the film represented a political challenge to Obama’s presidential re-election hopes in 2012.
“When ’2016′ came out, I was carefully monitoring what kind of effect if any this would have on Obama, and I don’t just mean on the Obama campaign, I mean on the president himself,” he said. “And for a while, there was dead silence from the Obama campaign. They said nothing about the film. And, in fact, the major media networks followed and acted as if the film didn’t even exist, even though the film was in just about every major theater chain in America.”
In fact, it ranks as among the most popular documentaries ever.
Then D’Souza noticed “2016″ was attacked on the Obama campaign website, BarackObama.com.
“You can see it is a very intemperate and almost demented attack on the film. Some of the things that it charges about the film aren’t even in the film, although they do appear in my published works. You can see that the film ’2016′ did kind of unhinge Obama. And I think part of the reason for that is that the film wasn’t just a critique of his policies, it delved into his psyche. It kind of got in a way under his skin, I don’t mean by just annoying him, I mean by getting into what are the underlying traumatic factors that have driven him into becoming the kind of man that he is.”
D’Souza told WND the harassment from the Obama administration began when he was filming “2016″ in Africa.
“When we were down in Kenya and we were in the grandmother’s compound and we were observing the homestead and the grave, Obama’s sister got wind – she’s in Nairobi – and she got wind that we were there,” he said. “And she immediately called the cops and she called the local chieftains to basically run us out of town. And we had to literally grab our stuff and flee. And we were worried at that time that we would either be apprehended or equally significant that they would confiscate our film.”
D’Souza disclosed the film crew established emergency measures to make sure their film footage got out of Kenya should D’Souza and the film crew be detained in the country, or in case the Kenyan government made an attempt to otherwise confiscate the film footage.
“So my point is, it’s very clear with the Obama family that these people take this stuff very seriously and they try to run interception where they can,” he stressed. “Now, they did not succeed in blocking ’2016,’ and the film in fact made a big stir in 2012 after being released.”
D’Souza told WND his lawyers have a hearing with the federal court in New York to determine when his case will be tried, but he expects the case will go to trial with a 12-member jury, possibly beginning before the scheduled July 4 opening of “America” across the nation.
“Launching a defense in the federal criminal indictment has been every expensive,” D’Souza admitted.
“I won’t deny that it is traumatic. You have to take it seriously because they are looking to lock you up. So you can’t be frivolous about. At the same time, I want to be clear this is not something that has knocked me out for the count. I’m not someone to give in easily on this kind of a thing. I’m determined to continue to speak my mind and do my work.”
He explained that “America” was written in part to answer the question, “What is unique about America?”
Answering that question took D’Souza on a historical examination of America’s key conflicts, leading back to the challenges that faced our Founding Fathers.
He explained: “I think that the remarkable thing about our debate today is that the left and the right agree there is something unique about America, but the conservatives believe that America in some ways is uniquely good and the progressives led by Obama think that America is uniquely bad – in other words, that American history has been characterized by a unique set of crimes and offenses, that American capitalism is uniquely materialistic and selfish, that American foreign policy is uniquely devoted to plunder. So, we wanted to take on this argument head-on in the film and answer it at the root level.”
Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee introduced legislation today that would allow states to set their own standards as to what defines marriage.
On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced S. 2024, the State Marriage Defense Act, which allows states to set their own standards as to what defines marriage and protects the states from having the federal government encroach on that territory.
Thirty-three states define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
I support traditional marriage. Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to re-define marriage and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens. The Obama Administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states. We should respect the states, and the definition of marriage should be left to democratically elected legislatures, not dictated from Washington. This bill will safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for [their] residents.
How a state should define marriage should be left up to the citizens of each state. It is clear the Obama administration finds the principles of federalism inconvenient in its effort to force states to redefine the institution of marriage. The State Marriage Defense Act provides an important protection for states, respecting the right to choose for themselves how each will treat the institution of marriage under the law.
Meanwhile… A federal judge struck down Virginia’s ban on gay marriage on Thursday.
National Journal released its 2013 vote ratings on Thursday. The ratings are based on roll-call votes from 2013 and compared on an ideological scale. Votes on noncontroversial issues and issues that fall along regional lines were not included.
Below are the ten most liberal senators in 2013. The ratings were decided based on 117 votes in the Senate.
1. (Tie) Brian Schatz, Chuck Schumer, Chris Murphy
Sens. Schatz, Schumer, and Murphy all received the same scores on economic, social, and foreign policy issues. The three are 93 percent more liberal than the rest of the Senate on economic issues, 73 percent more liberal on social issues, and 71 percent more liberal on foreign policy issues. They received a composite liberal score of 89.5 out of 100.
Sen. Brian Schatz was elected in 2012 to fill the term of Daniel Inouye, who passed away in late 2012.
Prior to his term in the Senate, Schatz served as lieutenant governor of Hawaii and in the Hawaii state house. Additionally, he was the chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party from 2008-2010.
Schatz is up for reelection in 2014.
Sen. Chuck Schumer was first elected to the Senate in 1998.
Schumer has spent 40 years in elected office, serving in the New York state assembly from 1974-1980 and then the United States House from 1981 to 1999.
The 2014 Almanac of American Politics called Schumer “one of Capitol Hill’s most adept dealmakers.”
Schumer is up for reelection in 2016.
Sen. Chris Murphy is the junior senator from Connecticut and was elected in 2012. He is currently the youngest person in the Senate.
Murphy is up for reelection in 2018.
4. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii)
According to National Journal, Sen. Mazie Hirono is more liberal on economic issues than 92 percent of the Senate. She is 73 percent more liberal on social issues and 71 percent more liberal on foreign policy issues. She received a composite liberal score of 88.2.
Hirono is serving her first term in the Senate.
She has kept a relatively low profile, but her liberal voting record led the Hawaii Tribune-Herald to say, “We wish she’d be a little more independent and less partisan”
She previously served in the United States House (2006-2012), as Hawaii lieutenant governor (1994-2002), and in the Hawaii state House from 1980-1994.
Hirono will be up for reelection in 2016.
5. (Tie) Barbara Mikulski, Kirsten Gillibrand, Al Franken, Maria Cantwell, Richard Blumenthal, Tammy Baldwin
These six senators are 82 percent more liberal than the rest of the Senate on economic issues, 73 percent more liberal on social issues, and 71 percent more liberal on foreign policy issues. They received a composite ranking of 86.3.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski is serving her 5th term in the U.S. Senate.
Mikulski attended the same Baltimore high school as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Mikulski evinces little interest in the usual niceties of politics,” the 2014 Almanac of American Politics says. “She can snap at reporters whom she feels don’t get to the point quickly enough, and at committee hearings she is a self-described “table-pounder.”
She will be up for reelection in 2016.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate in 2009. She succeeded Hillary Clinton when she became secretary of state under President Barack Obama.
Gillibrand had cast conservative votes on gun issues while serving in the House of Representatives. However, she modified several of her positions that were out of step with the party after meeting with Democratic leadership.
Gillibrand is serving her first full term, which will expire in 2018.
Sen. Al Franken is the junior senator in Minnesota. He was elected in 2008.
Prior to his political career, Franken was a comedy writer and radio talk show host. He wrote for Saturday Night Live after graduating college until 1995, when he decided to pursue a career as a political commentator. He authored the book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and joined the liberal Air America Radio network.
Franken is up for reelection in 2014.
Sen. Maria Cantwell is serving her third term, having been elected in 2000.
Cantwell previously served in the U.S. House from 1992 to 1994, and the Washington state House from 1986-1992.
She will be up for reelection in 2018.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal was elected in 2010 to his first term in the Senate.
He is one of the richest members of Congress with a net worth of up to $121,299,056.
Blumenthal served in both the Connecticut state House and state Senate. He was Connecticut’s attorney general from 1991-2010.
He is up for reelection in 2016.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin was elected to her first term in the Senate in 2012.
She has a consistently liberal voting record. Her win in the 2012 Democratic primary is attributed to her support of abortion rights. Pro-choice group EMILY’s List helped her raise about a quarter of her $1.5 million campaign chest, according to the 2014 Almanac of American Politics.
Baldwin is up for reelection in 2018.
A new website is asking Arizona residents for their signatures to recall Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain for supporting the immigration-amnesty bill.
The website even has an easy name to remember – SenatorJeffFlake.com
Senator Flake is Failing Arizona!
** Senator Jeff Flake is not representing Arizona voters, conservatives, or American citizens, even though he is our employee and ran under the Republican ticket.
** Jeff Flake is voting as if he were employed by foreign nationals who have invaded the USA, aka illegal aliens, rather than his Arizona constituents.
** Jeff is showing us his true colors- he is as blue as they come, a Rhino, a Liberal Democrat in everything but official party designation.
His recall begins now.
Arizona Constitution Article 8, Section 1.
And this is from shameless Senator John McCain’s recall page:
Do you remember this? McCain’s “Complete the Danged Fence”? In June 2013, McCain showed us his true colors and voted against building the 700 mile-long fence (that was required by previous law in 2006).