‘Beyond horrifying – this is not 1930’s Germany or 1950’s Soviet Russia’
(Tea Party) – It appears that the IRS appears has been caught red-handed breaking federal law in its quest to criminally prosecute conservatives for their political activities by sending the FBI a database of confidential taxpayer information that is protected by federal law. According to the House Oversight Committee the database contains more than one million pages of confidential taxpayer information.
In what turns out to be a surprising admission, the Department of Justice (DOJ), led by Attorney General Eric Holder, is now admitting that the FBI should never have had that data in the first place.
The FBI received the information just weeks before the 2010 elections, after a conversation between Richard Pilger, an official with the Justice Department’s Election Crimes Branch, and Lois Lerner, former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations who was a central figure in the IRS targeting scandal.
In a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio wrote, “At the very least, this information suggests that the IRS considered the political speech activities of nonprofits to be worthy of investigation by federal law-enforcement officials.”
Now lawmakers are demanding the IRS chief provide more information after they discovered that the IRS sent the FBI a total of 21 disks with 1.1 million page database of information from 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations. The transmission of data took place in October 2010.
“The IRS apparently considered political speech by nonprofit groups to be so troublesome that it illegally assisted federal law-enforcement officials in assembling a massive database of the lawful political speech of thousands of American citizens, weeks before the 2010 midterm elections, using confidential taxpayer information,” Jordan and Issa wrote.
Among those on Capitol Hill and within grassroots organizations, the reactions were scathing.
High-powered Washington attorney Cleta Mitchell who represented several Tea Party groups that were targeted told news media WND:
“This is absolutely shocking and appalling.” “That the IRS was seeking to assist in criminally prosecuting citizens groups for exercising their free speech rights is beyond horrifying. This is America – not 1930′s Germany or 1950′s Soviet Russia,” said Mitchell.
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas told WND that the real criminals are in the White House. Stockman said, “This is yet more evidence of criminal activity by the Obama administration. It’s also proof ‘campaign finance reform’ is just a way for government to target citizens who express dissenting views.”
Stockman continued, “Under Obama there is increasingly no difference between the State and the Party. Democrats view government’s central role as one of suppressing dissent.”
Having founded and then led True the Vote and King Street Patriots Catherine Engelbrecht had quite a few federal agencies come knocking on her door so she knows what it’s like being targeted by the federal government.
Despite the fact that the Englebrechts ran a business for two decades without any interest from federal agencies, as soon as she applied for tax-exempt status for her grassroots groups, Englebrecht was suddenly audited by the IRS and ATF. She also was the recipient of multiple visits by OSHA and ATF, and furthermore, was visited by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee.
Englebrecht was subjected to a mind-boggling 15 audits or inquiries, in all. She told WND, “The discovery that Lois Lerner provided the Elections Crimes Branch of the FBI with 1.1 million pages of documents is shocking, but the fact that the IRS and FBI have withheld this smoking gun evidence for over a year demonstrates this Administration’s continued contempt for Congress, and the law.”
Englebrecht continued, “Lois Lerner obviously hoped this information would encourage the FBI to prosecute conservative groups on the Administration’s enemies list.”
President and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, Jenny Beth Martin told WND, “This is further evidence of how the Obama administration sought to criminalize free-speech as early as 2010. The more we learn about this IRS targeting of individuals and groups, the more we see it is rotten to the core.”
Also weighing in with WND was Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., a member of the Oversight Committee, who told WND, “Records associated with tax collection are to be kept secure and should never be used for political purposes. Now, it’s clear right before the 2010 election the IRS transferred documents outside their jurisdiction for purposes unrelated to tax collection.”
“We cannot allow this administration to overstep the law or put the private information of the American people at risk for political purposes,” Lankford concluded.
A leader of a national grassroots coalition with more than 15 million supporters nationwide and over 3,400 locally organized chapters stated, “It also shows how important it is that Congress keep asking questions until we learn the truth of this outrageous abuse of power by the administration.”
Earlier this month the database was learned about by the House Oversight Committee only after interviewing DOJ’s Pilger. Pilger had discussed the possibility of prosecuting tax exempt organizations that engaged in political activity with Lerner.
On Oct. 5, 2010, Lerner emailed Pilger asking about his formatting preference for “the disks we spoke about.” Pilger forwarded Lerner’s e-mail to an FBI agent, writing, “This is incoming data re 501c4 issues. Does FBI have a format preference?” Pilger then responded to Lerner, “Thanks Lois – FBI says Raw format is best because they can put it into their systems like excel.”
Issa and Jordan were angry, noting that, despite an extensive investigation over the targeting, the IRS had not told congressional investigators that Lerner had sent this massive database of tax exempt organizations to the FBI for scrutiny.
“We were extremely troubled by this new information, and by the fact that the IRS has withheld it from the Committee for over a year,” Issa and Jordan wrote to IRS Commissioner Koskinen. “We were astonished to learn days ago from the Justice Department that these 21 disks contained confidential taxpayer information protected by federal law. We ask that you immediately produce all material explaining how these disks were prepared and transmitted to the FBI.”
Issa and Jordan’s letter continued, “Despite two Committee subpoenas, the IRS has not produced material relating to these 21 disks and all associated information. … The subpoena [to the IRS] created a legal requirement on you, as the Commissioner of the IRS, to identify and produce all subpoenaed material in an expeditious manner. Your choice to withhold this highly relevant material obstructs the Committee’s ongoing oversight obligations – especially when this information implicates violations of federal law.”
Their letter requests the IRS provide a thorough explanation in regards to why information about the disks was withheld, every document and communication that is related to the creation and transmission of the disks, and all communications between the IRS and any other agency related to the 21 disks.