Tag: Turn Over

Judge Orders IRS To Turn Over Secret List Of Conservative Groups It Targeted – Accuses Government Of Acting In Bad Faith

Court Rebukes IRS For Tea Party Targeting, Orders Release Of Secret List – Washington Times

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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.

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Tea Partiers Gear Up For Class-Action Lawsuit As Federal Judge Orders IRS To Turn Over List Of Targeted Groups

Federal Judge Orders IRS To Release List Of Tea Party Groups Targeted For Scrutiny – Washington Times

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A federal judge ordered the IRS this week to turn over the list of 298 groups it targeted for intrusive scrutiny as the agency defends against a potential class-action lawsuit by tea party groups who claim their constitutional rights were violated.

The IRS had argued it shouldn’t have to release the names because doing so would violate privacy laws, but Judge Susan J. Dlott, who sits in the Southern District of Ohio, rejected that claim and ordered the tax agency to turn over any lists or spreadsheets detailing the groups that were targeted and when they filed their applications.

Judge Dlott also ordered the IRS to say whether a partial list of targeted groups reported by USA Today is authentic as a number of tea party groups try to win certification for a class action lawsuit against the IRS.

“The return information sought is directly related to the issue of class certification in this federal court proceeding,” the judge said. “The names of the putative class member organizations and their control dates – the date which the putative class member organizations submitted their applications for tax exempt status to the IRS – are directly related to the issue of class certification.”

The judge has not yet certified the tea party groups as a class, and the information that they’ve obtained so far through depositions remains under seal. But backers say if they can be certified, then they will begin to try to pry loose some of the key information about how the IRS chose which groups it went after in its targeting.

“We’re at the precipice,” said Mark Meckler, a member of one of the tea party groups suing, and also president of Citizens for Self-Governance, which is funding the litigation.

The Ohio lawsuit is the only major legal jeopardy still remaining in the courts for the IRS — though the agency is still facing an FBI investigation, according to documents obtained by True the Vote, a tea party group, under the Freedom of Information Act.

Earlier this week the deporting U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. informed House Speaker John A. Boehner he would not prosecute Lois G. Lerner, the former senior executive who’s at the center of the targeting scandal, for contempt of Congress. The prosecutor said Ms. Lerner didn’t waiver her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when she delivered an opening statement at a congressional hearing but then refused follow-up questions.

The scandal developed after the IRS acknowledged it singled out tea party groups for special scrutiny, and asked intrusive questions that agency executives later said were inappropriate. The IRS’s inspector general concluded that 298 groups were targeted, with all but a handful of them leaning toward the conservative side.

But the IRS has resisted releasing the official list, arguing that is private information.

“The Internal Revenue Service cannot disclose the identities of the potential class members because that is return information protected,” the administration said in its court filings.

The judge disagreed, saying exemptions in law apply to a case like this.

Several other cases had been filed in Washington, D.C., by tea party groups trying to force a judge to proactively halt any future targeting. The judge tossed those cases, saying that the IRS insists the targeting has ended, so there is no further action needed.

But some groups are still awaiting approval, including one that’s been pending for more than five years, which their lawyers argue means the IRS is still targeting despite its insistence that its program has ended.

Commissioner John Koskinen has said groups that are still waiting could take a deal, promising to limit their political activities to 40 percent of their business, but the groups argue that would mean giving up rights since they believe under current law politicking can be almost 50 percent of their activities.

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Clinton Crime Update: Hillary Scrubbed Email Server Clean After Being Subpoenaed To Turn Over Emails

Hillary Clinton Scrubbed Email Server Clean After She Was Asked To Turn Over Emails – Gateway Pundit

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Hillary Clinton scrubbed her private email server clean – after she was served a subpoena to hand over her emails to the State Department.

The Politico reported:

Hillary Clinton wiped “clean” the private server housing emails from her tenure as secretary of state, the chairman of the House committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi said Friday.

“While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a statement.

Clinton was under a subpoena order from the panel for all documents related to the 2012 attacks on the American compound there. But David Kendall, an attorney for Clinton, said the 900 pages of emails previously provided to the panel cover its request.

Kendall also informed the committee that Clinton’s emails from her time at the State Department have been permanently erased.

Gowdy said that Clinton’s response to the subpoena means he and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will now contemplate new legal actions against Clinton.

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After A Year Of Stonewalling, The IRS Finally Agrees To Turn Over Lois Lerner’s Emails

Breaking: IRS Agrees To Turn Over Lois Lerner’s Emails – Townhall

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IRS officials have agreed to turn over all emails belonging to former head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner as the Congressional probe into improper targeting of conservative groups by the agency gets deeper. Earlier this week Republicans and Democrats in the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt after her repeated refusal to testify in front of Congress. Lerner has given closed door testimony to the Department of Justice, but plead the Fifth twice in front of the House Oversight Committee.

Last month, emails surfaced showing Lerner was in contact with the Department of Justice about the possible criminal prosecution of conservative groups. Emails also showed Lerner was in contact with the staff of Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings about the voter fraud prevention group True the Vote. Cummings had denied in the Congressional record any contact between himself or his staff with the IRS about the group.

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Tyranny Update: Federal Government Demanding Internet Companies Turn Over User Passwords

Feds Demand Internet Companies Turn Over User Passwords – Independent Journal Review

If you had been told as little as a year ago that the feds were not only scanning your email and social websites, but had also demanded that web firms turn over your passwords, would you have believed it?

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Believe it now. As reported by cnet.com, the U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represents an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.

“If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.”

Some of the government orders demand not only a user’s password but also the secret question codes often associated with user accounts. So which companies are we talking about here?

A Microsoft spokesman would not say whether the company has received such “requests.” But when asked whether Microsoft would divulge passwords and other relevant information, a spokesman replied: “No, we don’t, and we can’t see a circumstance in which we would provide it.”

Google also declined to disclose whether it had received requests. But a spokesman said the company has “never” turned over a user’s encrypted password, and that it has a legal team that frequently pushes back against requests that are “fishing expeditions” or are otherwise problematic. “We take the privacy and security of our users very seriously,” the spokesman said.

A Yahoo spokeswoman would not say whether the company had received such requests, but did say: “If we receive a request from law enforcement for a user’s password, we deny such requests on the grounds that it would allow overly-broad access to our users’ private information. If we are required to provide information, we do so only in the strictest interpretation of what is required by law.”

Apple, Facebook, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast did not respond to cnet’s questions about whether they have received similar requests for users’ passwords and how they would respond if they did.

This may not (yet) be George Orwell’s “1984,” but Big Brother would surely be proud of the “progress” being made.

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Obama Labor Dept. To AP: We’ll Turn Over Our Secret Email Addresses… For A Million Bucks

The U.S. Government Asked The AP For $1 Million For Secret Email Addresses – The Atlantic

The Associated Press filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the secret email addresses of appointed administration employees, and a Labor Department spokesman came back with an offer: you can have the emails if you give us a million bucks.

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The AP tried to get the alternate addresses – being used by a variety government officials “to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages” – after an Environmental Protection Agency administrator disclosed using separate email accounts for work last year. But the government was hesitant because, as spokespeople for Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services insisted, the accounts are necessary for government officials to do their jobs efficiently. After the AP filed the FOIA requests, they were met with this:

The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay just over $1.03 million when the AP asked for email addresses of political appointees there. It said it needed pull 2,236 computer backup tapes from its archives and pay 50 people to pore over old records. Those costs included three weeks to identify tapes and ship them to a vendor, and pay each person $2,500 for nearly a month’s work.

Asking for that kind of money based on a FOIA request is, of course, against the law, something the Labor Department admitted in later emails with the AP. They eventually handed over the email accounts sought by the AP, who are on rocky terms with the administration right now, to say the least. And Health and Human Services, after initially refusing to hand over the secret accounts for Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, eventually obliged, giving the AP all three of her accounts while requesting they don’t disclose her private one:

The AP decided to publish the secret address for Sebelius – KGS2(at)hhs.gov – over the government’s objections because the secretary is a high-ranking civil servant who oversees not only major agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services but also the implementation of Obama’s signature health care law. Her public email address is Kathleen.Sebelius(at)hhs.gov.

So much for that. The AP called out 10 other branches of government, which are apparently working on a response to the email request: the EPA, the Pentagon, as well as Veterans Affairs, Transportation, the Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland, Commerce, and Agriculture.

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