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.
The long election season that has already degenerated into a circus is a boon for Democrats. It keeps most people distracted from how ObamaCare is unfolding:
More than half of the government-funded nonprofit health insurers created by Obamacare have failed, sticking taxpayers with a $1.2 billion tab and leaving hundreds of thousands of people in more than a dozen states scrambling for medical coverage, a new federal audit reveals. The nonprofit insurers are known as Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program (CO-OP) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has pumped $2.4 billion into them under the president’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system.
Congress initially allocated $6 billion for the Obamacare CO-OP program, with the goal of establishing CO-OPs in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. Thankfully, subsequent legislation slashed funding for the ill-fated experiment. In all, HHS has funded 23 of these dubious enterprises and 12 have already gone under after losing an astounding $1.2 billion that’s unlikely to ever be recovered. As a result 740,000 people in 14 states must search for new medical coverage they thought they had under the disastrous Obamacare plan. Every resident of the United States who pays taxes should be outraged by this monstrous failure, exposed in great detail in a scathing report published by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee’s probe reveals that, even when the CO-OPs showed clear signs of financial failure, HHS kept giving them huge amounts of money in the form of “loans” the agency knew would never be repaid.
Statists believe that anything can be made to work if you infuse it with enough of other people’s money. But as Margaret Thatcher observed, eventually you run out of that.
A leaked report from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Agency reveals refugees committed over 200,000 crimes between 2014 and 2015.
The report is only supposed to be seen by police and other government employees, but it ended up in the hands of Bild, a German newspaper, Deutsche Welle reports.
What the document shows primarily is that refugees are responsible for 208,344 crimes.
A total of 32 percent of those crimes were related to asset or fraud offenses, and another 33 percent were due to theft. Of the total number of crimes, only 1 percent, or 1,688, had anything to do with sexual offenses. There were 458 cases of serious sexual assault, which includes either rape or coercion.
Not all ethnic groups were equal in the amount of crimes committed. Viewed proportionally, there were more offenders from Eritrea, Nigeria and countries from the Balkans like Serbia and Albania. In absolute numbers, Syrians committed 24 percent of refugee crimes, but Serbs only comprised 2 percent of the refugee population and managed to account for an incredible 13 percent of crimes.
Bild noted, however, the report did not include the reported cases of sexual assault in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, skewing the data slightly.
The 446 alleged sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve threw Germany into an uproar, mostly because of accusations that the German government collaborated with the media to downplay the incident. Of particular note, following the assaults, Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker put the onus on females who were assault and suggested women should abide by a code of conduct to avoid future assaults.
Due to crime rates and generally undesirable behavior, tensions over importing over a million refugees were high, and the assaults in Cologne, committed mostly by Arabs and North Africans, pushed ordinary Germans over the edge. A recent poll indicated that 40 percent of Germans want Chancellor Angela Merkel to resign due to her poor handling of the refugee crisis. She has admitted Europe has totally lost control of the situation.
Government oversight officials informed Congress on Wednesday that the Transportation Security Administration continues to operate in disarray, failing to record basic security details for thousands of employees and not tracking official IDs and badges that allow access to the most sensitive areas of an airport.
Lawmakers described the security agency as operating “in chaos” and expressed frustration with Obama administration officials as they informed the House Oversight Committee about a range of security shortfalls that continue to endanger the nation’s 450 commercial airports.
TSA’s inability to properly screen and track employees has been well documented for years. However, the administration has failed to enact multiple reforms aimed at tightening security and making it more efficient, lawmakers said.
TSA still cannot verify their employees’ criminal histories and immigration statuses, according to disclosures made by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
“Even 15 years” since the 9/11 terror attacks, “we still see a system that has not complied with the laws we have passed multiple times… and we see failures,” said Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.), chair of the House Transportation Subcommittee.
Following the discovery last year of 73 aviation employees who also were listed on the nation’s terror watch list, TSA has struggled to implement reforms aimed to remedy these security gaps, Mica said.
“TSA employees are not properly vetted,” he said. “We’ve found that tens of thousands of incomplete records are even lacking full names. They [TSA] had 14,000 immigrants listed in the database that did not have alien registration numbers and 75,000 of these records lacked passport numbers. This is not acceptable.”
Officials additionally could not account for “hundreds and thousands of IDs” that had gone missing, including TSA security badges, airport identity badges, and officer identification.
“Everything you can imagine stolen, or missing, or unaccounted for,” Mica said. “Here we are in 2016, 15 years after 9/11, and we don’t know who’s going in and who’s going out. There’s no way to ensure it.”
John Roth, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general, provided a list of security flaws and inefficiencies in the TSA’s employee screening process.
In addition to still not having full access to the U.S. terror watch list, TSA is incapable of verifying employees’ criminal records.
“TSA is considerably challenged when it comes to verifying workers’ criminal histories and immigration status,” Roth said. “TSA does not recurrently vet airport workers’ criminal histories after they are initially cleared to work, but rely on individuals to self-report disqualifying crimes.”
Most employees do not follow this policy, he said.
“TSA cannot systematically determine whether individuals have been convicted of disqualifying crimes,” Roth said, noting that commercial airports also do not hold onto these records. “Due to the large workload involved, this inspection process looked at as few as one percent of all aviation workers applications.”
Additionally, the records TSA uses for vetting individuals is “not reliable, as it contains incomplete or inaccurate data,” Roth said.
At least 87,000 active aviation workers, or 10 percent of the total workforce, do not have social security numbers listed in their records, according to Roth.
An additional 75,000 active employee credentials listed the worker as a non-U.S. citizen but did not include passport numbers. Of that number, 14,000 workers also did not list an alien registration number, meaning they could potentially be undocumented.
“TSA did not have appropriate checks in place to reject records from such vetting,” Roth said. “Without complete and accurate info TSA risked credentialing and providing unescorted access to secure airport areas for a worker who could potentially harm the nation’s air transportation system.”