At least four conservative groups in Colorado and a self-described Christian ministry were among those targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for extra scrutiny and application delays, according to recent news reports.
The Coalition for a Conservative Majority, the Western Slope Conservative Alliance, the Citizen Awareness Project and the Tea Party Patriots of Denver — none with budgets greater than a few thousand dollars — all reported onerous paperwork, intrusive questions and lengthy delays in application processing from the IRS, according to the Denver Post.
The Citizen Awareness Project even had its application leaked to ProPublica before it was approved, the paper reported.
“I think it chills free speech,” chairman Charlie Smith is reported as saying. “Lots of people are intimidated by the IRS, and when the IRS starts asking you a bunch of questions, you get a little nervous.”
The Post also reports that Citizen Awareness Project has spent more than $1 million last year attempting to defeat Democratic candidates even though its tax-exempt status is still pending. Should the application be denied, it could be on the hook for back taxes.
“It’s no coincidence that we were singled-out for interrogation after public reports that we opposed the president’s policies,” Smith said.
A Christian ministry formed by Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson was also targeted, according to a statement on the website for the group, Family Talk Action Corporation. The statement was first reported by Westword magazine.
It details a conversation the group’s attorney had with an IRS agent 18 months after it applied for 501(c)(4) status.
IRS official in Tea Party scandal to plead the Fifth
Lois Lerner, the IRS official who played a key role in the agency’s screening of Tea Party groups for additional scrutiny, will invoke the Fifth Amendment and will not answer questions at a congressional hearing Wednesday, according to a letter sent to the committee Monday by her lawyer. “She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” wrote lawyer William Taylor.
Union representing immigration officials opposes immigration reform
The union representing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials will officially oppose the proposed Senate immigration reform legislation on Monday, according to an advance statement obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council (USCIS Council) says the legislation fails to address its top concerns about the current system, including the pressure on USCIS officers to approve visa applications without thorough review and the bureaucratic barricades that prevent them from coordinating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials.
Sources say it is highly unusual for the USCIS Council to weigh in publicly on legislation.
The USCIS Council, whose members would play a key role in implementing the proposed immigration law, will be the second of three government immigration services union to oppose the so-called Gang of Eight’s immigration bill. The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Council, which represents ICE officials, has also been a vocal critic of the legislation.
The USCIS is in charge of processing residency and visa applications, and would be responsible for handling the millions of legalization applications that would come before the agency should the Gang of Eight legislation become law.
“Like the ICE Council, the USCIS Council was not consulted in the crafting of the Gang of Eight’s legislation,” wrote USCIS Council president Kenneth Palinkas in a statement. “Instead, the legislation was written with special interests—producing a bill that makes the current system worse, not better. S. 744 will damage public safety and national security and should be opposed by lawmakers.”
“The legislation will provide legal status to millions of visa overstays while failing to provide for necessary in-person interviews,” said Palinkas “We need immigration reform that works. This legislation, sadly, will not.”
The USCIS Council said it would add its name to a May 14 letter to Congress organized by the ICE Council. MORE
Parade Magazine is apologizing for a design flub that paired a Nazi battleship with an award winning U.S. Navy chef, the magazine’s top editor told USNI News on Monday.
The story featured Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Derrick Davenport, a chef for the Joint Chiefs Chairman, who won the gold medal in the March 38th Annual Military Culinary Arts Competition at Fort Lee, Va.
But topping the heart warming tale of Davenport’s rise to the gold from the broom closet sized kitchen of the attack sub USS Annapolis (SSN-760) was a collection of ship silhouettes that included the most notorious Nazi battleships of World War II – the Bismarck-class.
“Mea culpa,” wrote Parade editorial director Maggie Murphy in an email to USNI News.
“I regret we didn’t dig deeper into the exact descriptions of the graphics we used for our story on Derrick Davenport this past Sunday.” MORE
The SenateJudiciary Committee voted Monday to allow illegal immigrants who get legal status to begin collecting tax-welfare payments, as the panel spent a fourth day working through amendments to the massive immigration bill and party-line splits began to emerge.
In one major change, the committee voted 17-1 to make a third drunken-driving conviction a deportable offense for the newly legalized immigrants if at least one of those offenses occurs after they are approved for legal status.
But immigrant-rights groups called that a rollback of due-process rights for the immigrants and said a drunken-driving incident shouldn’t cost someone a chance at citizenship.
“We cannot and will not support hard-line proposals that take away discretion and limit an individual’s ability to pursue the pathway to citizenship,” said Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Lawyers Guild’s National Immigration Project.
Overall, the committee continued to maintain the delicate balance struck by the “Gang of Eight” senators who negotiated the 867-page bill: Quick legal status for illegal immigrants, but delaying citizenship rights until after the administration spends more money on border security, puts in place a new electronic verification system to check workers’ status, and enacts an entry-exit system to check visas at airports and seaports.
In previous days’ action, two Republican members of the Gang of Eight — Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona — joined with Democrats to block a series of GOP amendments to stiffen the bill’s security.
But on Monday, the two Republicans sided with their party colleagues on key questions on giving illegal immigrants public benefits.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) demanded information about conservative groups’ college-aged interns, prompting outrage from one of the country’s top conservative activist organizations and leading one former intern to wonder whether his family’s pizza parlor would be endangered.
The IRS requested, in an audit, the names of the conservative Leadership Institute’s 2008 interns, as well as specific information about their internship work and where the interns were employed in 2012, according to a document request the IRS sent to the Leadership Institute, dated February 14, 2012.
The IRS requested:
“Copies of applications for internships and summer programs; to include: lists of those selected for internships and students in 2008.
– In regards to such internships, please provide information regarding where the interns physically worked and how the placement was arranged.
– After completing internships and courses, where were the students and interns employed?”
The Arlington, Virginia-based Leadership Institute is a conservative activist training organization founded in 1979 by Virginia Republican National Committeeman Morton C. Blackwell, the youngest elected delegate to the 1964 Republican convention that nominated Barry Goldwater. The institute was audited in 2011. As The Daily Caller has reported, at least two different IRS offices made a concerted effort to obtain the group’s training materials.
The Leadership Institute’s audit, which was conducted by the IRS’ Baltimore office and which ended with no determination of wrongdoing but cost the conservative group $50,000 in legal fees, only covered the year 2008, leading employees to speculate that the IRS’ primary interest was figuring out how the group operates during a presidential election year.
Last year this headline looked like something straight out of Coast To Coast, Prison Planet or InfoWars.
In light of the recent revelations that the Obama Administration is indeed employing thuggish, tyrannical and brutal tactics that target American citizens that dare question the thin-skinned dictator-in-chief, does the headline seem so wacky?
I don’t think so.
The Senate on Monday opened debate on a $955 billion farm bill that would reduce federal spending by as much as $23 billion over the next 10 years by cutting funding for food stamps and eliminating some farm-support programs.
“This legislation will create jobs, cut taxpayer subsidies and reduce the deficit,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday.
The White House offered only conditional support for the bill, an indication that lawmakers will need to make changes to win the president’s signature.
The Obama administration in April called for a 3 percent reduction in the nation’s crop insurance program, saving $4.2 billion over 10 years. But farm state lawmakers rejected any proposed reduction to a program that pays 60 percent of a farmer’s cost of buying crop insurance. The Senate bill actually would increase spending on those programs and expand them to cotton and peanut growers.
The Obama administration wants to cut farm subsidies by $37.8 billion, but the Senate bill would reduce those by $24.4 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. To reduce spending further, senators propose making cuts Obama does not support, including reducing the food stamps program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by $4.1 billion over 10 years.
“The administration,” the White House said in a statement released Monday, “strongly supports the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, a cornerstone of our nation’s food assistance safety net, which is why it was not subject to cuts in the president’s budget. SNAP helps families put food on the table, while also benefitting farm and rural economies.”
Restoring funding for food stamps will likely be difficult for the administration. MORE
Sharyl Attkisson, the Emmy-award winning CBS News investigative reporter, says that her personal and work computers have been compromised and are under investigation.
Democratic operative Ira Forman, who served as the National Jewish Democratic Council’s (NJDC) executive director before becoming President Obama’s Jewish point man on the 2012 reelection campaign, will become the administration’s Special Envoy on anti-Semitism, according to reports.
Forman is known among insiders for his temper and tendency to commit political blunders. Here are a few of Forman’s most notable accomplishments:
1. Forman helped assemble a list of anti-Israel pro-Obama rabbis.
As the Obama campaign’s director of Jewish outreach, Forman oversaw the creation of Rabbis for Obama, which included a group of more than 200 rabbis who support boycotts of the Jewish state and regularly criticize Israel.
Many of the rabbis were also supporters of the liberal fringe group J Street, while others “associated with groups that have been described by the Anti-Defamation League as ‘anti-Israel,’” the Washington Free Beacon reported at the time.
One of the pro-Obama rabbis had dinner date with anti-Semitic Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Another blamed the U.S. and Israel for the Sept. 11, 2001 terror, attacks.