The House Ways and Means Committee has voted to 23-14 along party lines to refer former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for prosecution. Although the details about exactly what charges will be have not yet been released, lawmakers are arguing Lerner has not been truthful with Congress or the IRS inspector general and leaked confidential tax information.
Last time a referral like this happened, it was to Major League Baseball player Roger Clemens, who was pursued by the Department of Justice for lying to Congress but was exonerated in court.
This is a test for the Department of Justice and the Obama administration. What's more important? Baseball and steroids? Or the most powerful federal agency abusing its power to target innocent conservative groups?
Last summer President Obama called the targeting "outrageous" and promised to hold people responsible and accountable for what happened. If the Justice Department refuses to pursue charges against Lerner, it's fair to say one reason is because they don't want information leading back to the administration coming out in court.
Tomorrow the House Oversight Comittee will vote on whether to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.
Last month, academic freedom and the First Amendment scored a major victory when a federal jury found that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington had retaliated against conservative Christian professor Dr. Mike Adams. Despite a track record of success at the public university, the criminology professor was denied a promotion to full professor because of his social and political views.
“[T]he judge ruled – holding that Dr. Adams was entitled to receive the promotion he was wrongly denied, the pay increase he was entitled to, and back pay to compensate him for lost income,” the ACLJ, who represents Adams along with Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Travis Barham, wrote on Tuesday. “This ruling sends a message to public universities: academic freedom isn’t just for the Left, it’s a constitutional right for all professors -- even Christian conservatives.”
The verdict and the judge’s ruling are encouraging and certainly a victory on many fronts, but as the ACLJ notes, the battle to defend our nation’s fundamental freedoms isn’t over.
Ask a Democratic operative about generic ballot polls like this one, and he'd tell you that the party would obviously prefer to be in a better position, but they're not overly concerned at this early stage. Show him this data, however, and watch the color will drain from his face:
A new poll from Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg has got to be cause for concern for Democrats. The poll shows that the key members of the Democratic coalition that has delivered Barack Obama two terms a president are not anxious to vote in the 2014 midterm election. The poll shows that a group known as the "Rising American Electorate" -- which includes the strongly Democratic blocs of young people, unmarried women and minorities -- is significantly less likely to vote than other voters, who tend to favor Republicans...Just 64 percent of members of the Rising American Electorate say they are "almost certain" to vote in 2014, compared to 79 percent of everyone else...This is hardly the first sign of potential turnout problems for Democrats. An AP poll released over the weekend showed those who are very interested in politics favor a GOP-controlled Congress to a Democratic one by 51-37 percent.
"RAE" voters are core members of the demographic coalition Democrats need to turn out in order to be successful. It's this group that made Barack Obama a two-term president in 2012. Non-RAE voters heavily skew Republican. As you can see, nearly 80 percent of strong GOP leaners are highly likely to vote in November, whereas these key Democratic groups are in the mid-60's on that question. If that's how things ultimately play out this fall, Team Blue is in for a world of hurt -- which is why Democrats are pulling out all the pandering stops. The administration is brushing aside scheduled Obamacare-caused Medicare cuts to try to mitigate the damage among seniors. Joe Biden is admonishing his party to fight back against Republican "voter suppression" schemes. And the entire Democratic machine is coordinating to draw attention to the phony "pay gap for women" issue, which they're hoping will galvanize unmarried women. That latter push has been met with unusual skepticism -- if not hostility -- from the mainstream media. CNN aired a decidedly negative segment on the White House's rhetoric, while CBS News exposed the White House's hypocrisy on the issue:
White House spokesman Jay Carney got testy with a reporter who asked a question about the administration's misleading statistics, drawing surprised jeers from others in the press corps:
And that wasn't the only time a White House official was knocked back on his or her heels trying to square their demagoguery with empirical facts:
As soon as Stevenson was actually questioned about the statistic by McClatchy reporter Lindsay Wise, the White House adviser crumbled, admitting her earlier comments were inaccurate. “If I said 77 cents was equal pay for equal work, then I completely misspoke,” Stevenson said. “So let me just apologize and say that I certainly wouldn’t have meant to say that.” Oh, I’m sorry, I guess when Stevenson said “we see it when men and women are working side by side doing identical work” — that was an accident?
If this was the next big ploy to turn Democrats' polls around, it's off to a very rough start.
Not an official announcement by any means, but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today during a post-speech question and answer session that she is "thinking about" running for president in 2016. She declined to give a definite yes or no when asked, and joked that she was there for "marketing advice."
"I am obviously flattered and deeply honored to have people ask me and encourage me, and I am thinking about it, but I am going to continue to think about it for a while."
Clinton is considered by many to be the front-runner for the Democratic nominee, despite the fact that she has not actually entered the race.
Concerns about Clinton's health, however, have some questioning whether or not she is physically capable of handling the grueling campaign schedule. In late 2012, Clinton was briefly hospitalized for a blood clot on her brain.
Regardless of health or other factors, Clinton made it clear that an announcement about her campaign won't be coming for a long time.
Anyone who has watched the gross partisan abuse of the IRS under the Obama administration had to have seen this coming: There are other instances of IRS employees showing overt cheerleading for the president and Democrats across the country, according to the Washington Times, citing sources at the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC).
Every federal employee is well aware that such partisanship on the job is illegal, violating the clear provisions of the Hatch Act. But apparently that wasn't a deterrent to some IRS employees.
One can understand why.
Think of what we've learned about the IRS in the age of Obama: There's Eric Holder at Justice, refusing to prosecute for the IRS targeting scandal; Lois Lerner, refusing to testify about her oversight of a campaign of harassment against conservative groups; the IRS and DOJ offering special aid to pro-Obama nonprofits in 2012 even as conservatives were targeted; Democrat politicians urging the IRS to attack groups they oppose; an IRS employee telling a pro-life group it can obtain 501(c)(3) status only if it doesn't "force" its faith on others.
With all this -- and more -- is it any surprise to anyone that some IRS workers feel free to display brazenly partisan beliefs in violation of the law? As outrageous as it is, these guys cited by the OSC are only the little fish.
Last month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration agreed to pay back $98 million to African American and Hispanic firefighter applicants who took two civil service exams in 1999 and 2002. The decision proves the city is succumbing to pressure from the Vulcan Society, an organization that claimed the New York Police Department tests discriminated against minorities. Dennis Saffran, an attorney and former GOP candidate for city council, is at least one New Yorker who isn't staying silent about the City's politically correct decision - especially considering that settlement money could have helped put thousands of kids through De Blasio's universal Pre-K program. In an editorial in the City Journal entitled, "De Blasio's Dereliction," Saffran let the mayor have it:
This unnecessary and wasteful expenditure touches on a troubling aspect of modern progressivism. The settlement money would have paid for one-third of the yearly cost of de Blasio’s universal pre-K program, funding over 10,000 classroom seats. But as legal scholar Mary Ann Glendon suggests, in today’s lawyer-led and court-driven liberalism, those asserting “rights” take precedent over other social-welfare causes that may have greater merit.
He's not kidding. De Blasio secured $300 million from the state budget to fund his Pre-K program, an achievement he even bragged about in a recent ad. In addition to this outrageous payment, the City has also agreed to introduce an affirmative action bureaucracy in the fire department, while working to ensure African-Americans are overrepresented by 3 percent compared with their portion of the labor market, according to Saffran.
In De Blasio's short time in office thus far, he's proven his priorities are shamefully out of order. First, horse and buggies over unborn children. Now, political correctness over pupils.
I hope he enjoys his one term.
UPDATE: We can now confirm that 19 students and one teacher were wounded in the attack. Fortunately, no one has died, but two students are in critical condition, Fox News reports.UPDATE: A hospital official says three students are in critical condition (at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, PA) and are now being treated. Two victims have severe injuries to their lower abdominal organs. The third victim was severely wounded in his/her upper abdomen. They are all in the operating room.
UPDATE: Seefeld said the suspect used two knives to carry out the attacks.
UPDATE: Murrysville Police Chief Thomas P. Seefeld said in a press conference all the victims were students except one.
UPDATE: Some encouraging news:
UPDATE: Forbes Hospital (PA) says 8 victims with "life-threatening injuries" should recover.— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 9, 2014
UPDATE: The suspect's name has not been released but a photo of him has surfaced on Twitter:
UPDATE: Fox News reports that the suspect is a male sophomore student. He has been apprehended and is being questioned by police.
UPDATE: The number of victims with serious injuries is higher than first reported:
Forbes Regional Hospital (PA): 7 teens, 1 adult admitted with "life-threatening" stab wounds.— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 9, 2014
At Franklin Regional School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, 20 people were reportedly stabbed today, four of whom are in serious condition. No fatalities have yet been reported:
NEW: 20 injured in Franklin Regional HS stabbing. --4 serious --Ages 15 to 60 years old. --Suspect in custody http://t.co/FJ3hdm25EM— KDKA (@CBSPittsburgh) April 9, 2014
Westmoreland County emergency management spokesman Dan Stevens says not all of the 20 injured were cut by the knife, though most were. Some suffered scrapes and cuts in the mayhem that ensued at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville on Wednesday morning.
Stevens says it doesn't appear any students suffered life-threatening injuries. He says all the injured are between 14 and 17 years old.
The suspect, a male student, was taken into custody and being questioned.
Stevens says the suspect used a knife, though he didn't say what kind or why he attacked the others.
ABC News reports, however, that two hospitals released information saying they treated several patients between the ages of 15 and 60:
The breakdown of injured and whether they were students or staff was not immediately known, but two hospitals reported nine patients ranging in age from 15 to 60.
Stevens said the alleged stabber, whose identity has not been released, was in custody.
A statement posted on the Franklin Regional School District's website said "all elementary schools are cancelled, the middle school and high school students are secure. Additional information will be released as soon as possible. Please keep our campus clear of traffic."
Obviously it isn’t immediately clear how many of those injured are students. Nor do we know who carried out these heinous crimes. Stay tuned for updates.
Today on Capitol Hill the House Ways and Means Committee will be submitting recommendations to the Department of Justice regarding criminal charges and prosecution for former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner. Committee members said they have evidence to prove Lerner broke the law during inappropriate targeting of conservative groups between 2010 and 2012, but haven't detailed what specific charges they'll be recommending.
According to email evidence, Lerner called Tea Party groups "very dangerous," but after multiple Congressional probes and questions by Congress, she admitted during a conference in 2013 that the IRS had inappropriately targeted conservative groups. Lerner and other IRS officials have claimed the targeting stopped, but dozens of conservative groups are still waiting on their tax exempt status just ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
Tomorrow, the House Oversight Committee will vote on whether to hold Lerner in contempt for failing to cooperate with Congress. Earlier this week, Speaker John Boehner said he has no problem holding a full House contempt vote for Lerner if she continues to fail telling the truth about the IRS targeting.
Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the April issue of Townhall Magazine.
In May 2013, when the IRS’ Lois Lerner publicly admitted and apologized for inappropriately targeting conservative tea party groups, President Obama said, “If you’ve got the IRS operating in anything less than a neutral and nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous. It is contradictory to our traditions, and people have to be held accountable.”
He didn’t mean it, which is probably why he used the word “if.” Just a few months later in an interview with his
biggest fan, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Obama brushed off the scandal as faux outrage from conservative groups while advisers continue to declare the White House had no involvement in the targeting.
“They’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged,” Obama said.
Today, IRS officials are still dragging their feet when it comes to getting tea party and other patriot groups their tax-exempt status. One of the largest tea party groups in the country, Tea Party Patriots, waited three years before finally receiving their tax-exempt status in February 2014. Conveniently, the IRS’ slow response to hundreds of groups waiting for an answer comes just before the 2014 midterm elections, when tea party groups could have a big impact.
But Obama’s squelching of free speech doesn’t only apply to purely political opponents, but to the press as well.
When my book about Operation Fast and Furious came out in April of 2012, the Soros funded non-profit group Media
Matters wrote a long hit piece in an attempt to discredit my work. When Free Beacon reporter C.J. Ciaramella asked Media Matters for comment about a specific issue in the book, he was referred to Justice Department Public Affairs staffer Katie Dixon for information.
DOJ had done something similar when former DOJ attorney and whistleblower J. Christian Adams wrote a book exposing Obama’s overtly racial Justice Department. Adams filed a Freedom of Information Request to find out if there had been any documented collusion between the folks at Media Matters and the DOJ Public Affairs Office. Information returned by the request showed Media Matters writer Matt Gertz working with former DOJ Spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler on attack pieces against journalists publishing stories embarrassing to the administration. I was one of them.
Two years later in the summer of 2013 news broke that DOJ attorneys were monitoring hundreds of phone lines and emails belonging to reporters at the Associated Press and other news outlets. Reporters and executives at Fox
News were also monitored, with the most egregious case being against Fox News Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen. Not only was Rosen monitored to the point DOJ knew where he was located throughout the day, but the phone records attached to lines running to his parents’ house on Staten Island were seized. In a DOJ affidavit to a judge, Rosen was classified as a criminal co-conspirator. Further, the Obama administration has prosecuted more people under the Espionage Act for leaking valuable, relevant information from inside the government than any other administration in history, combined.
At the end of 2013, we learned Center for American Progress founder and former-Clinton adviser John Podesta would be returning to the White House as an adviser for Obama. Podesta also happens to be a longtime advocate of the fairness doctrine. In 2007, his far-Left think tank published a report detailing how the FCC could be used to snuff out conservative voices on the radio while replacing them with liberal opinions. These are the same liberal opinions that have failed over and over again in the free market place of ideas due to a lack of listeners.
Fast-forward to a few months after Podesta is back in the White House, and we find out the FCC wants to conduct a “study” which would put government bureaucrats inside newsrooms to monitor how editors and reporters collect and choose stories for consumer consumption. The FCC argued the study was necessary to ensure Americans were receiving the “critical information” they need in today’s society.
The true goal of “studies” like this isn’t to get people “critical” information, but to stifle free speech and put a chilling effect on the newsgathering industry. Luckily, thanks to the work of Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who exposed the study from the inside out, it died (for now). I suggest Pai start preparing for his IRS tax audit now.
Some of the most important stories in America right now—Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, the NSA, etc.—wouldn’t have been exposed without the alternative news outlets we have today. Allowing the government, with the president’s support, to dictate or intimidate what we say or when we say it, is unacceptable. •
Headed into election 2014, things at the RNC are looking pretty good.
According to new number just released, the RNC raised $25.2 million in the first quarter, bringing the total raised for the 2014 cycle to $105.9 million with $12.3 million in cash-on-hand. The RNC has no debt. More on the numbers:
Total raised in March 2014: $10.2 million
Total raised in Q1 2014: $25.2 million
Total raised for 2014 cycle: $105.9 million
Total cash on hand: $12.3 million
Percentage of donations $200 and under in March: 99 percent
Average donation in March: $52
Total Debt: $0
“We’re so grateful to our donors and supporters who have made this a very successful quarter for us. Thanks to their generosity, we’re able to engage year-round with voters on a community level, and we’re able to make unprecedented investments in developing the best technology for our candidates and volunteers. After the Republican success in the Florida-13 special election, we received an outpouring of support from people who want to help us continue the work we’re doing all across the country. In that race, the RNC was able to provide support—in the form of data, tools, and staff—to the NRCC, state party, and the campaign. As a result, people have stepped up to ensure we’ll have the resources to replicate that success in 2014 races at all levels," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “The momentum is on the Republican side because Republicans are on the side of the American people. Voters are frustrated with ObamaCare and angry about the Democrat politicians who lied to them about it. They’re worried about job security and their paychecks, and Republicans are the only ones offering solutions. Unlike the DNC, we’re on a strong financial footing, so we will have the resources to connect with voters—especially voters who haven’t heard from us in a long time—to share a solutions-based message and to listen to their concerns as we head toward November.”
Currently, the DNC is $15 million in debt with less than $7 million cash-on-hand. The 2014 midterm elections are just seven months away.