Remember when President Obama's Department of Justice got caught secretly monitoring the phone calls and emails of reporters from the Associated Press, Fox News and many other news outlets? Remember when DOJ attorneys classified Fox News' James Rosen as a criminal conspirator in court documents, monitored his work and personal emails, read his work and personal emails, monitored his phones, seized phone numbers, monitored his movements and even monitored the phones to his parent's house on Staten Island.
Now Obama's IRS, the same IRS embroiled in controversy over the targeting of conservative groups, is auditing Breitbart News.
The company that runs the conservative Breitbart.com news site says the IRS has selected the network for an audit, in a move company executives suggest is politically motivated.
Breitbart News Network, a California-based company which runs several conservative websites, says the IRS recently audited its 2012 financial information.
"The Obama administration's timing on this is exquisite, but try as they might through various methods to silence us, we will only get more emboldened,” Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network, said in a written statement.
Larry Solov, president and CEO of Breitbart News Network said: "We stand ready to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service on its audit of our company, but this will not deter us in the least from continuing our aggressive coverage of this president or his administration.”
A random audit of a website that does extensive investigative work exposing corruption in the Obama administration? Coincidence? Hardly.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has already sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about the audit, calling it a direct assault on free speech and the First Amendment, adding that moves like this used to be considered unacceptable.
I write to express deep concern over the recent announcement by Breitbart News that the Internal Revenue Service recently notified the Breitbart News Network, LLC that it would be subject to a far-reaching, burdensome, and open-ended audit.
As you know, the Breitbart News Network LLC is a conservative-leaning press outlet. It has editors and reporters who cover daily political news and regularly breaks stories that are critical of the Obama Administration's policies. To conduct this audit, Breitbart News Network, LLC was asked to provide the IRS with all of its organizational documents, financial records, W-2s, W-4s, 1099s, and K-1s filed, personal income tax returns for each member of the company, payroll tax forms, information regarding properties and assets acquired by the company, bank statements, and array of other records documenting revenues, expenses, and depreciation costs.
This media audit, coupled with the recent proposal of 49 Senate Democrats to amend the Constitution to give Congress plenary power to regulate political speech, paints a disturbing picture of a coordinated assault on the First Amendment.
In another time, under another Administration, the decision to audit a conservative news organization might not have risen to a worrisome level of concern. However, given the IRS's disturbing track record of illegally targeting conservative organizations-including the IRS recently paying a $50,000 settlement for having wrongfully leaked a conservative group's confidential tax information-and the persistent refusal by the current Department of Justice to meaningfully investigate or prosecute those crimes, the decision to audit Breitbart News Network, LLC appears highly questionable.
For the IRS to behave like a partisan political organization, targeting media organizations whose views differ from the President's, would represent a gross abuse of power. It would undermine the statutory mission and integrity of the IRS. And it would likely subject IRS employees to criminal prosecution.