In May, 2013, it was reported that the IRS scrutinized targeted conservative groups who had applied for 501C4 tax-exempt status more than other groups. Rep. Tom Reed had a series of Town Hall meetings scheduled for the Saturday just after the news of the “scandal’ was released. I was at his Manchester (Ontario County) meeting.He was almost giddy when he reported the “IRS Breaking News”. He explained that he was on the Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over the IRS, and there were going to be hearings until the Committee gets to the bottom of targeting. As reported in a May 22, 2013 Reed Press Release:
“Americans have the right to know all of the facts, including just how many individuals and organizations were impacted by the actions of the IRS,” continued Reed. “By gathering this information, we can advance an investigation that raises serious concerns for individual rights.”
A year and dozens of hearings later, the Ways and Means Committee is continuing its investigation. It is now inquiring into damaged hard drives and lost emails. In Reed’s most recent “Update” he wrote:
“At the Ways and Means Committee hearing, I pushed IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on how two years of critical emails could go missing and why Lois Lerner’s hard drive was sent to a forensic lab run by the IRS’s criminal investigations unit. Americans deserve to know exactly what those experts found during their investigation of Lerner’s hard drive. If we can’t get answers from the IRS on this, how can we trust the agency – one of the country’s most powerful agencies – with anything else?”
Our Representative, both a year ago and last week, said that Americans need to know the answers to the many IRS questions. According to Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC’s The Last Word the following facts have been found since the hearing began, but seldom accepted nor reported by the right-wing media:
- The Committee have already received 67,000 emails from Lois Lerner.
- The IRS has turned over all of her emails from the months the Committee is most interested in (the last presidential campaign)
- The IRS has located most of the ‘lost emails’ by checking the mailboxes of the people who received or sent them. Those emails (24,000) have been turned over to the Ways and Means Committee.
- The IRS have primitive computers. The hard drives hold only 150 megabytes of information, which is about 5 pictures of your family. That is 1% of the memory that GMAIL gives you for free!
- Spending money to improve the IRS performance does not increase the deficit. It will help the IRS to bring in more money for the government.
- Congress, in it wisdom, is planning on cutting the IRS by $341 million.
- Rep Reed wants Americans to know how many individuals and organizations were impacted by the actions of the IRS— The answer is: Not 1 Republican/Conservative political group was denied 501c4 status! The one group that was denied was a liberal group named “Emerge America” which goal is to persuade democratic women to run for office.
- In reality none of the groups should have been given 501c4 status since the law says 501c4 are for groups that “exclusively for promotion of social welfare”…which was unofficially changed in 1959 to be “primarily for social welfare”.
The right wing is having a hay day making a mountain out of the “lost email” molehill during this never-ending probe. Fox News is suggesting a Special Prosecutor (which would need a law to authorize one) be assigned AND to eliminate funding the IRS until someone comes up with the ‘lost emails’. Texas Representatives Louie Gohmert and Bill Flores sponsored “Recover Sent Emails Act” which offers a $1 million to anyone recovering Lerner’s lost emails and would offer $500,000 to anyone with information that can be used to prosecute officials involved in destroying the emails. There are many who are trying too find a link from the “destroyed” hard drives to the White House.
There are many articles that have turned the Way-Back Machine to Congressional and criminal investigations of the Bush years and found that emails were being lost then, too:
· House Oversight Committee Investigation of White House Records Retention: Between January 2003 and August 2005, there were 473 days in which a component of the Executive Office of the President had no e-mails preserved, and 229 days in which a component had an unusually low number of e-mails preserved on the server.
· U.S. Attorney Firings: In 2007, the White House admitted that it lost nearly 5 million emails between March 2003 and October 2005 related to allegations of the politically motivated dismissal of U.S. Attorneys. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino stated: “We screwed up, and we’re trying to fix it.” She also acknowledged that there were “a potential 5 million e-mails lost.”
· Valerie Plame Leak Investigation: In January 2006, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald sought White House documents that had not been properly preserved related to the Valerie Plame CIA leak. In a letter on January 23, 2006, Fitzgerald wrote: “we have learned that not all e-mail of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system.”
· Torture Memo Documents: In a 2009 report, the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility found that email records had been deleted from two Bush Administration officials who prepared memoranda evaluating the legality of the use of torture. The Office of Legal Counsel stated that all of one official’s emails during the period when the classified “Bybee Memo” was completedhad “been deleted and were reportedly not recoverable.”
It should be noted that our Rep. Reed received some notoriety by asking tough questions during some of these hearings. At the first hearing in May 2013, Reed’s attacked IRS Acting Commissioner, Steven Miller for being paid to be a witness at the hearing. He told Miller, “In my private experience, you would been fired on the spot.” Reed’s questioning at that hearing got an overwhelming response on his Facebook page— 33 “Likes”, 54 comments (most of them approving Reed’s performance) and the video was shared 25 times so a lot more people viewed/commented on it. This “scandal” is a gold mind for Reed (and the GOP) in terms of keeping his base involved. Will the other voters see through the smoke and mirrors?
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