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Katie Pavlich - Oversight Committee Members Demand Answers About DOJ Role in Targeting Conservative Groups With the IRS
Posted: 4/24/2014 11:05:00 AM EST

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa and sixteen Committee members are demanding answers from Attorney General Eric Holder after it was revealed last week, through a series of emails, former IRS official Lois Lerner was in contact with the Director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Department of Justice Public Integrity Section Richard Pilger about prosecuting tax exempt groups.

A newly released email obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Request shows someone instructed Pilger to run the idea of prosecution by Lerner, but it is unclear who the instruction came from.

“When you have a moment, would you call me? I have been asked to run something by you," a May 8, 2013 email from Pilger to Lerner states.

Shortly after Pilger's contact, Lerner forwarded the following email to Nicole Flax, the former chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who visited the White House 118 times between 2010 and 2011 when the bulk of the IRS targeting of conservatives took place.

"I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ ... He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who "lied" on their 1024s --saying they weren't planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS," Lerner wrote in a May 8, 2013 email.

Flax responded by saying she not only wanted to help, but wanted to rope in the Criminal Division of DOJ.

"I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?" Flax responded on May 9, 2013.

In another email more than a month before the exchange with DOJ, Lerner detailed how a single prosecution of just one tax-exempt group would essentially send a chilling affect across all [conservative] groups.

"One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing stuff. So, don’t be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity," she wrote on March 27, 2013 adding, "There are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down."

Just two days after these emails were exchanged between DOJ, Lerner and Flax, news the IRS inappropriately targeted conservative groups surfaced.

"Mr. Pilger’s communications with Ms. Lerner are also striking for their timing. They show that the IRS and the Justice Department were actively considering efforts to target tax-exempt organizations just two days before Ms. Lerner’s public apology for the targeting. This information certainly undermines the sincerity of Ms. Lerner’s apology, but it calls into question your reaction that targeting was “outrageous” and “unacceptable.” These comments ring hollow in light of evidence that your subordinates apparently colluded with the IRS to target nonprofit groups less than a week before. We are severely disappointed in the Department’s apparent contribution to the Administration’s targeting of tax-exempt applicants," a letter sent directly to Holder from Issa and other Committee members states. "This e-mail is shocking on several levels. As an initial matter, this e-mail is further evidence that the Administration’s targeting and inappropriate treatment of conservative tax-exempt applicants was the result of political pressure from prominent Democrats to “fix the problem” posed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Information obtained by the Committee shows that beginning in 2010, the President and congressional Democrats loudly and aggressively criticized the Court’s decision and conservative nonprofit groups that they believed would benefit from it."

"This e-mail makes clear that the Justice Department, like the IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission, played a role in a government-wide effort to target political speech. Certainly, as is apparent in this e-mail, the Department felt the need to do something in response to Democratic rhetoric against nonprofit political speech. More unbelievably, this e-mail also suggests that the Department actually considered prosecuting nonprofit groups for their political activities. Even more astounding, the Department considered prosecuting these groups for actions that are legal for 501(c)(4) nonprofits under federal tax law – that is, engaging in political speech. The Department’s use of alleged false statement on the tax-exempt application is an unfortunate instance of prosecutorial “gotcha,” targeting these victims for supposed “lies” about activities that they are legally allowed to do. In this way, the tactics suggested by Mr. Pilger appear to be nothing more than harassment by the Justice Department of groups engaged in otherwise lawful activity."

Issa and members are demanding to know who at DOJ gave the instructions to ask the IRS to look into prosecutions and asking for documentation surrounding the communication. The Committee is also asking for Pilger to be available for a transcribed interview.

All documents and communications referring or relating to 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations or applicants for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status for the period January 1, 2009, through the present.

All documents and communications between or among Lois Lerner and employees of the Department of Justice for the period January 1, 2009, through the present.

All documents and communications referring or relating to the potential prosecution of tax-exempt organizations for alleged false statements made on Internal Revenue Service forms for the period January 1, 2009, through the present.

Documentation must be produced by DOJ by May 5, 2014.


RELATED: New Emails Show Lois Lerner Was in Contact With DOJ About Prosecuting Tax Exempt Groups

RELATED: Emails Show Lois Lerner Fed True the Vote Tax Information to Democrat Elijah Cummings

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Guy Benson - Competence: WH Has Missed More Than Half of Own Obamacare Deadlines
Posted: 4/24/2014 10:31:00 AM EST


They bungled the roll-out, botched the website, and have leaned on a string of unilateral delays and alterations to keep this mess afloat. Undeterred, liberals would still love to see this very same federal government completely envelop and administer the entire American healthcare system. The follies of blind ideology. Yes, let's hand these people even more power -- they've done such a spectacular job thus far:


The administration has failed to meet 44 statutory deadlines required under Obamacare, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The report, released on Monday, documents every provision with a specific deadline within the health care law and the administration’s actions taken as of April 15, 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has missed more than half of the 83 deadlines mandated since March 2011. The missed deadlines range from several days to years.

The truth of the matter is that few Americans would care at all about these unmet deadlines if the law's core promises -- zero impact on satisfied consumers, lower costs for all, etc. -- had been realized. Instead, millions are grappling with Obamacare's shattered pledges. Logistical snafus are a symptom, not the disease. The New York Times profiles some of those who took a pass on Obamacare, many of whom decided they couldn't afford the "Affordable" Care Act:


For every individual who did sign up, there were others...people who have decided to stay uninsured for now, despite the law’s requirement that most Americans get coverage this year or pay an income tax penalty of $95 or more. A common thread running through stories of the unenrolled is cost. Many people either do not qualify for federal subsidies or believe that the assistance is not enough to make insurance affordable, interviews with consumers and experts suggested. According to enrollment counselors in several states, people who have gone without health insurance or major illness for years can be especially resistant to investing in coverage. To be sure, some of those who chose not to sign up were motivated by ideological opposition to Mr. Obama, to the law’s mandate that they buy insurance, or to both....But a New York Times/CBS News poll of uninsured people in December found that of those who did not plan to get coverage, half said that cost was the main reason. Nearly three in 10 said they objected to the government’s requiring it, while about one in 10 said they felt they did not need it.


Click through to meet some of the ordinary people behind those statistics. As we've noted in the past, America's uninsured population has been particularly hostile to Obamacare in public polling. Coverage, in many cases, is too expensive -- and unless these unhappy campers claim a hardship waiver, they'll be forced to pay a tax for the privilege of not being able to afford Obamacare. Businesses have received delays on the mandate that impacts them; individuals and families have not. Meanwhile, in Florida, "sign ups" have exceeded expectations, but rates are on the rise due to demographics:


Most of the consumers who bought a private health plan from Florida Blue through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges between October and April were previously uninsured — one of many factors potentially leading to higher premium rates in 2015, according to a senior executive. Jason Altmire, a former Pennsylvania congressman and now senior vice president of public policy for Florida Blue, cited familiar reasons for a likely rise in rates next year, including the requirement that insurers no longer exclude those with pre-existing conditions, charge equal rates regardless of gender and charge older members no more than three times the amount paid by younger ones. Other reasons consumers may see higher premiums in 2015, he said, include the Obama administration’s decision to allow Americans to keep their health insurance plans for an additional year even if the plans did not meet the coverage requirements of the health law. Altmire said that most consumers signed up through the exchange were previously uninsured Americans who may have delayed seeking medical care, making them potentially more costly to insure. “A lot of them aren’t in the best of health,” he said, noting that consumers who signed up at the outset of open enrollment were likely the ones who needed it most. “We expect it to cost more to insure them because of deferred health needs.” Altmire said...the insurer did not enroll as many of the so-called “young invincibles” as it had hoped, to help spread the risk across a wide pool — another factor potentially affecting premiums next year. “It did not get to where we hoped it would be,” Altmire said of enrollment among young adults, though he declined to specify Florida Blue’s target.


That report confirms one trend we've been following (not enough "young invicibles" in the risk pool to defray premium hikes), but contradicts another. Independent studies have indicated that a hefty majority of "new" Obamacare enrollments came from people who previously had coverage. This story suggests that "most" of Florida's sign-ups came from the ranks of the uninsured. If accurate (details are scant), the Sunshine State's experience would represent an improvement in terms of meeting the law's stated goal -- but as described in the above excerpt, it comes with substantial actuarial downsides. Another mystery is the percentage of "enrollees" who've paid their first premium, thus activating their coverage. Estimates peg the national delinquency rate at 20 percent, but some of the state-level data trickling in looks much uglier. In Georgia, for instance, less than half of the sign-ups have sealed the deal by ponying up the requisite cash. I'll leave you with an embarrassing mistake impacting consumers in the Covered California exchange, which is often brandished by supporters as an Obamacare success story:




If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Unless you can't, that is -- perhaps because your state exchange inaccurately listed her as covered through your plan.

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Cortney O'Brien - Kickstarter on Rejecting Pro-Life Films: "We Made a Mistake"
Posted: 4/24/2014 10:30:00 AM EST

Last week, Katie exposed how the crowd funding website Kickstarter suspiciously rejected two pro-life films within two weeks. First came Gosnell the Movie, a documentary from filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney about America’s worst serial killer, abortionist Kermit Gosnell. That, Kickstarter claimed, was too “graphic.” Then they rejected Stolen Moments, Jason Vaughn’s film highlighting precious moments in life that are stolen by abortion. This time, the website claimed they don’t allow any films that offer “self-help.” Their excuses were poor, considering Kickstarter routinely allows porn on its site as well as films that give out health advice, which can certainly be classified as “self-help.”

Now, it seems the crowd funding website is apologizing for rejecting both McAleer’s and Vaughn’s pro-life based projects. Yancey Strickler, the CEO at Kickstarter, sent a message to Vaughn, explaining how they were in the wrong. Vaughn shared that email with The Federalist:

Hi Jason,

My name is Yancey, and I’m the CEO of Kickstarter. I came across a blog post this morning that reported your frustration at having a project rejected by us at Kickstarter. I took a look at the project, and think you’re right: we made a mistake. Your project is not in violation of our rules, and we would welcome it on the site.

I see that you’ve understandably launched your project elsewhere. I wish you the best with it. I’m sorry for the frustration and that you had a poor experience with us. We set very high standards for how we serve our community, and it’s frustrating when we fall short. I realize this is small consolation at this point, but it was important to me that we shared these thoughts.

Thanks for your time and all the best,

Yancey

Whether Strickler is sincere or not is now a moot point. Both McAleer and Vaughn have taken their business to Indiegogo. That move seemed to pay off, as The Gosnell movie has now received over $1 million in funds.

So, a little too late for Kickstarter. To help out both of the important films they dismissed, go here and here.

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Katie Pavlich - Horrifying: Bodies of Aborted Babies Burned to Power Homes in Oregon
Posted: 4/24/2014 8:21:00 AM EST

An incinerator in Oregon has been ordered to stop burning medical waste to power homes after it was discovered aborted babies from Canada were part of materials being used for energy. Apparently, this has been going on for years and it is common practice in Canada to mix "waste" baby parts in with cancer and other materials.

An Oregon county commission has ordered an incinerator to stop accepting boxed medical waste to generate electricity after learning the waste it's been burning may include tissue from aborted fetuses from British Columbia.

Sam Brentano, chairman of the Marion County board of commissioners, said late Wednesday the board is taking immediate action to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries at the plant that has been turning waste into energy since 1987.

"We provide an important service to the people of this state and it would be a travesty if this program is jeopardized due to this finding," he said in a statement. "We thought our ordinance excluded this type of material at the waste-to-energy facility. We will take immediate action to ensure a process is developed to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries."

Kristy Anderson, a British Columbia Health Ministry spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that regional health authorities there have a contract with a company that sends biomedical waste, such as fetal tissue, cancerous tissue and amputated limbs, to Oregon, where it's incinerated in the waste-energy plant.

Last month, it was discovered nearly a dozen hospitals in the United Kingdom were burning aborted babies, along with trash, to fuel government run hospitals.

British health officials are responding to a news program's report that accuses some hospitals of incinerating aborted and miscarried fetuses, in some cases as part of a system for heating the facilities.

The TV news program Dispatches on Channel 4 in the U.K. reports that 10 National Health Service (NHS) hospital trusts have admitted burning the remains as "clinical waste" alongside trash, while two other facilities disposed of the remains in incinerators that generate power for heating, multiple British news organizations including the BBC and the Telegraph reported.

Reports said that in the past two years alone, at least 15,500 fetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts. In some cases, mothers were told that the remains were cremated.

Absolutely horrifying and tragic.
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Katie Pavlich - Three American Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Guard
Posted: 4/24/2014 6:00:00 AM EST

Three American doctors were killed early Thursday morning at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan by an Afghan security officer according to the U.S. Embassy. More from Fox News:

The shooting at Cure International Hospital in the western part of the Afghan capital was the latest attack on foreign civilians in the city this year.

"With great sadness we confirm that three Americans were killed in the attack at CURE Hospital," said a statement posted on the Embassy's Twitter page. "No other information will be released at this time."

The attacker was a member of the Afghan Police Protection Force assigned to guard the hospital, District Police Chief Hafiz Khan told the Associated Press. Khan said the man's motive was not yet clear.


Doctors at CURE International Hospital specialize in maternity and child health. Qualified doctors in Afghanistan are hard to find.

Today, CURE International Hospital of Kabul is one of the leading medical institutions in Afghanistan. The hospital represents many things to many people. To expecting mothers, it is a haven where they can safely deliver their child. For children with physical disabilities, it is where they can be made whole. For health care professionals, it is a center of medical excellence where they can receive advanced training and education. For the nation of Afghanistan, it is a source of hope.

In recent years, attacks from "friendly" sources have become all too common.

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Heather Ginsberg - Over 40,000 People Are Registered to Vote in Both Virginia and Maryland
Posted: 4/23/2014 6:15:00 PM EST

As midterm elections quickly approach, many are starting to think about voting and potential fraud at the polls. And once again, we find that there is cause to be worried about voter fraud here in the U.S. It appears in a new report that 44,000 people are registered to vote in both Virginia and Maryland.

A vote-integrity group crosschecked the voter rolls in the two states and found far too many people registered in both states. The group, known as The Virginia Voters Alliance, is going to expand their research into surrounding states like Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia.

The group found that the number of voters who actually cast ballots in both states was only 164 in 2012, but that is still far too many. And the problem of potentially having thousands of people casting multiple ballots is the real issue.

The Virginia Voters Alliance also worked with the Privileges and Elections committees of the state House and Senate. They found 31,000 dead voters through the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. The president of the organization said that dead voter registration is a prime target for voter fraud.

A simple solution for this issue is a voter ID law. Not only should people be required to show ID at the polls, but voter registrations should be cross checked more frequently. Hiring an outside group to do this, not only will help with voter fraud, but provides business to a non-governmental group. These numbers need to be greatly reduced before November.

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Cortney O'Brien - Victory: NY School Reverses Suspension for Student Wearing NRA Shirt
Posted: 4/23/2014 5:15:00 PM EST

It's not often the Second Amendment scores a victory in the state of New York, but they got one on Tuesday when the Grand Island School district decided to reverse its decision to suspend a student for wearing a T-shirt with the NRA logo.

Shane Kinney, a sophomore at Grand Island High School, was ordered to report to the principal's office last month when a teacher spotted him wearing the "controversial" piece of clothing.

"They've yelled at me for wearing it before because it has a gun on it and I had to duct tape it," says Kinney. Administrators suggested he turn the shirt inside out or find another shirt. He refused, saying there was nothing wrong with it, adding the NRA has done great things for the country.

Parents and gun rights advocates protested the school's intolerant move, and now it seems their efforts have paid off - the district is retracting the suspension. Activist Rus Thompson, who led protests against the school district, posted some insight about the administration's change of heart on his Facebook page after attending Tuesday's board of education meeting:

Victory on Grand Island! Mission accomplished! The Superintendent read a great statement, she admitted they were wrong in the suspension. The suspension has been expunged from Shane's school records. They returned his pocket tool and have stopped the 30 year practice of turning T-shirts inside out. She respects the 2nd Amendment, the 1st Amendment, and is the daughter of a veteran, her daughter shoots on a team. I started the applause after she was finished.

I wish I was in that meeting so I could clap along with him. Good for Grand Island for recognizing that Kinney's T-shirt was harmless and for ultimately ruling in free speech's favor.

It's a small victory in a state that has introduced some of the most anti-gun legislation in the country, but it's a victory nonetheless.

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Daniel Doherty - Tearjerker: Senate GOP Candidate Launches Powerful "Pro-life" Ad
Posted: 4/23/2014 4:30:00 PM EST

Guy analyzed this campaign spot earlier today, but I wanted to add some additional commentary as a follow-up.

As my other colleague Cortney recently noted, Oregon Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Monica Wehby is not pro-life. She is of the, shall we say, Joe Biden mold in that she is “personally” pro-life but supports abortion rights in practice. The GOP establishment, however, as Cortney lamented, has endorsed her candidacy over the pro-life candidate in the belief that she is -- and will prove to be -- more electable. We’ll see. (Personally, I don’t summarily object when the party endorses “moderate” candidates from blue states. Republicans after all are playing to win. But conservatives -- understandably -- have the right to criticize and take issue with any of their strategic endorsements).

Nevertheless, Dr. Wehby’s new campaign spot is tastefully done and hits all the right notes. She doesn’t explicitly assert she’s “pro-life” in the traditional sense, of course, but the ad titled “Trust” does explain how she guided and brought hope to a young mother in need. As it happens, Lexi Liebelt was suddenly informed by her physician -- after an ultrasound -- that she should at least consider aborting her child, who suffered from severe spinal damage. Upon hearing the news, then, it comes as no surprise that Mrs. Liebelt was devastated and disconsolate. However, as a pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Wehby went on to perform the necessary surgery that quite literally saved the child’s life. Today, we’re told, Liebelt's daughter Gabby is a healthy 12-year-old:

For obvious reasons this spot will appeal to Oregon’s pro-life crowd. What’s more inspiring than a Senate hopeful using her skills and experience as a surgeon to save a child’s life from the violence and barbarism of abortion? If she wins the primary, then, perhaps pro-lifers can summon the strength to vote for her over the Democrat.

But the ad, I think, will also appeal to those fed up with Washington -- and the lawmakers who make their living there. Trust in government is rapidly declining, so any spot that can meaningfully show a candidate is worthy of the public’s trust has the capacity to move the needle.

This ad might do just that.

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Guy Benson - Video: Conservative Ads Blitz Top Senate Races
Posted: 4/23/2014 4:22:00 PM EST


Americans for Prosperity is launching anti-Obamacare ad campaigns in four key states, The Hill reports, which will undoubtedly fuel Democrats' Koch Derangement Syndrome. The story mentions the Kochs in both the headline and the lede; we'll see if the publication applies the same standard to campaigns bankrolled by liberal billionaires like Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. The new spots will air in Louisiana, Michigan, Colorado and New Hampshire -- all states in which Democrat-held Senate seats are being targeted by the GOP. The Louisiana version features a Marine who served two tours in Iraq, and who isn't feeling especially grateful over Obamacare's changes to the health plan with which he was fully satisfied:



"I don't think Mary Landrieu is looking out for my best interests."


In Michigan, AFP hits Rep. Gary Peters for his unqualified support for a law that's hurting many consumers -- including single mother and leukemia patient Julie Boonstra:



And in New Hampshire, the organization builds a similar case against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:



The Colorado spot hasn't been released yet. You can see my write-up of that contested race here. While the AFP ads are solid, the best ones I've seen this week come from GOP campaigns. Yesterday, Dan wrote up Tom Cotton's lighthearted push-back effort against Sen. Mark Pryor's outrageous "sense of entitlement" smear. A fresh poll in that race gives Pryor a ten-point lead, although the internals look rather suspect. Nevertheless, it's appears as though Cotton has work to do in order to unseat the incumbent. If Pryor survives in Arkansas, a Republican takeover of the Senate becomes highly unlikely. I'll leave you with this moving spot from Oregon doctor Monica Wehby:



Wehby has a compelling story to tell. Her years in the medical profession put her in an unique position to critique Obamacare, and her status as a woman renders "war on women" attacks less effective -- as Democrats are learning in Michigan. The theme of this ad is trust, highlighting her integrity and commitment to working for others when everything is on the line. She's drawing a contrast with incumbent Sen. Jeff Merkley, whom she's denounced for playing along with his party's "lie of the year" on Obamacare.

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Christine Rousselle - Jeb Bush "Thinking About" Running for President
Posted: 4/23/2014 2:15:00 PM EST

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush reportedly admitted today that he is "thinking about" running for president. Jeb Bush has now joined the ranks of Hillary Clinton in admitting that there is a possibility he may throw his hat in the ring.

The exchange took place at an event in New York City. Bush has been faulted recently for his support of Common Core and for his saying that illegal immigration is an "act of love."

Nobody has officially entered the 2016 election yet.

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