Documents Confirm that Obama IRS Improperly Targeted Conservatives
We continue to undercover the details of the Obama IRS’ arbitrary and capricious behavior toward those presumed to be “enemies” of President Obama.
This week we released 695 pages of new documents containing admissions by IRS officials that the agency used “inappropriate political labels” to screen the tax-exempt applications of conservative organizations. Other records reveal that the IRS was going to require 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations to restrict their alleged political activities if they opted for “expedited consideration” of their tax-exempt applications.
The documents were produced after a revelation by the IRS that it had located “an additional 6,924 documents of potentially responsive records” relating to a 2015 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit about the Obama IRS targeting scandal. These new records are the first batch of nearly 7,000 documents that had been hidden from JW, Congress, and the American people. (Our FOIA lawsuit seeks records about the IRS’ selection of individuals and organizations for audits based upon applications requesting nonprofit tax status filed by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)).
Of the 695 pages of documents released by the IRS, 422 (61%) were completely blacked out. Again, this new material was not in the “Congressional Database,” which the IRS created in 2013 to house records responsive to congressional inquiries into the IRS scandal.
Nevertheless, we extracted some key info – such as a June 20, 2013, memo from Karen Schiller, then-acting director, EO (Exempt Organizations) Rulings and Agreements, suspending use of the controversial Be on the Lookout (BOLO) and Touch and Go (TAG) lists:
EO Rulings and Agreements is undertaking a comprehensive review of screening and identification of critical issues. We intend to develop proper procedures and uses for these types of documents. Until a more formal process for identification, approval and distribution of this type of data is established, Rulings and Agreements will not use this technique to elevate issues.
In an August 9, 2013, memo, Schiller admitted the IRS used political labels in targeting the groups for special scrutiny and possible audit and that, going forward, the agency would screen organizations based only on their activities, “not words” or “labels of any kind:”
As Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel has said, the IRS has taken decisive action to eliminate the use of inappropriate political labels in the screening of 501(c)(4) applications. IRS policy is now clear that screening is based on activity, not words in a name. The new steps and current policies were outlined in the June 24 report, which noted: “In the absence of BOLO lists, the Determinations Unit will continue to screen for information affecting the determination of applications for tax exempt status, including activity tied to political campaign intervention, but it [will] be done without regard to specific labels of any kind.” The 30-day report also reflects the June 20, 2013 memorandum, which was issued to officially suspend the use of the BOLO list in the screening process.
The documents also include a “Dear [Applicant]” letter that offers an “expedited process” for 501(c)(4) groups in exchange for restriction on their activities:
This optional expedited process is currently available only to applicants for 501(c)(4) status with applications pending for more than 120 days as of May 28, 2013, that indicate the organization may be involved in political campaign intervention.
In this optional process, an organization will represent that it satisfies, and will continue to satisfy, set percentages with respect to the level of its social welfare activities and political campaign intervention activities (as defined in the specific instructions on pages 5-7). These percentage representations are not an interpretation of law but are a safe harbor for those organizations that choose to participate in the optional process.
In short, the Obama IRS, after lawlessly delaying the approval of Tea Party group applications, tried to extort restrictions – which had no basis in law – on these very same groups.
On September 30, 2013, Acting Director, Exempt Organizations, Kenneth C. Corbin, sent a memo to IRS staff providing detailed guidance on classifying applications when “‘merit approval’ is not an option,” emphasizing that the determination is to be based on “facts and circumstances,” not “words and labels:”
Classifier reviews the application and determines if it should be routed to a specialty group. This determination is based upon facts and circumstances of the stated activities within Part II of the application rather than names or labels. This is consistent with Karen Schiller’s August 9, 2013 memorandum …
The Schiller and Corbin memos came on the heels of the May 14, 2013, Inspector General report revealing that the IRS had singled out groups using conservative-sounding terms such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” when applying for tax-exempt status. The IG probe determined that “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status (e.g., lists of past and future donors)” and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” in advance of the 2012 presidential election.
No wonder the Obama IRS hid these records. These new smoking-gun documents contain admissions by the Obama IRS that it inappropriately targeted conservative groups. But the records also show that the abuse continued – as the Obama IRS tried to force conservative applicants to give up their First Amendment rights in order to finally get their applications granted.
JW Exposes Dangerous Criminals Protected by Texas Sanctuary City Policy
Sanctuary city policies that undermine and thwart immigration law put politics above the public safety.
As evidence of this, please take a look at 204 illegal alien Detainer Requests denied to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by the Travis County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office. The illegal aliens protected by the Sheriff’s Office were charged or convicted of 34 acts of violence, and 14 thefts or burglaries. Forty-four of the denied requests were for inmates originally detained by Homeland Security and temporarily transferred to Travis County (home to the state capital in Austin) for disposition of state or local charges.
The sanctuary policy, the “Travis County Sheriff’s Office Policy on Cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” limits the extent to which the sheriff’s office will cooperate with ICE.
On February 2, 2017, the Austin American-Statesman reported that the Travis County Sheriff’s Office had “declined 196 detention requests” from ICE. Once the ICE detainers were removed, 37 people were released on bail. These inmates may have been able to post bail prior to the new sanctuary policy, “but they would have been released into ICE custody for possible deportation.”
On February 3 we submitted a Public Information Act Request to the sheriff’s office asking for:
- The 196 detention requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Such requests may include Department of Homeland Security Forms I-247N, I-247D or I-247-X; and
- Any records provided to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by the Travis County’s Sheriff’s office that declines the 196 detention requests.
We got back forms ( “Immigration Detainer—Request for Voluntary Action”) that show the illegal aliens protected by this sanctuary policy had the following criminal records:
- 58 DWIs;
- 34 acts of violence (assault, aggregated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, etc.);
- 14 thefts/burglaries or other crimes against property;
- 8 drug-possession charges; 6 firearms violations;
- 45 other assorted felonies and misdemeanors (including contempt and failure to appear in court), and
- 35 unlisted or unclassified charges. [NOTE: Totals do not add due to multiple charges/convictions in some instances.]
These documents provide disturbing evidence of how Travis County’s sanctuary policy protects criminal illegal aliens, many of whom are dangerous felons, from deportation. Again, sanctuary policies such as these put the public’s safety at risk.
Under the new sanctuary policy, the sheriff’s office now honors only select detention requests for inmates charged or convicted of a crime on a narrowly specified list of such crimes as murder and aggravated sexual assault. For all other crimes, ICE must present the sheriff with a warrant or judicial order before the inmate will be detained:
(a) when the detainer request is accompanied by a judicial warrant or court order for continued detention or notification to the extent required by the judicial warrant of court order; or (b) when the individual who is the subject of the ICE detainer request is charged with or has been convicted of the following felonies under Texas law: (1) Capita Murder …
(2) Murder – First Degree … (3) Aggravated Sexual Assault … (4) Continuous Smuggling of Persons … A conviction consists of a final entry of adjudication of guilt by a court pursuant to statue and after exhaustion of the appellate process. If a court later (a) vacates the judicial warrant or court order, or (b) the individual’s conviction and/or sentence is overturned, TCSO will decline the ICE detainer request relating to that individual.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott intends to support federal actions against sanctuary policies by signing legislation that could put sheriffs of sanctuary cities in jail. The governor announced $1.5 million in cuts for the county in response to Travis County Sheriff Hernandez’s policy.
So in the face of all the sanctuaries, there is some sanity. In the meantime, we are investigating other sanctuary cities’ coddling of illegal alien criminals. And we are directly challenging in court San Francisco’s sanctuary policy.
Climategate Obstruction Challenged in Court
Here in DC today it is terribly cold for early April. The problem for the “climate change” crowd is that a plethora of cold days such as this have added to one long pause in global warming. In other words, there hasn’t been any “global warming” for years.
This inconvenient truth is at the heart of new Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation against the U.S. Department of Commerce to get all records of communications between a pair of federal scientists who heavily influenced the Obama administration’s climate change policy and its backing of the Obama-pushed global warming alarmist agenda under the so-called Paris Agreement (Judicial Watch v. Department of Commerce (No. 1:17-cv-00541)).
We filed the lawsuit after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a component of the Department of Commerce, failed to respond to our February 6 FOIA request seeking:
All records of communications between NOAA scientist Thomas Karl and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren.
The FOIA request covers the timeframe of January 20, 2009 to January 20, 2017.
Karl, who until last year was director of the NOAA section that produces climate data, the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), was the lead author of a landmark paper that was reported to have heavily influenced the Paris Agreement.
Holdren is a former director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, director of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and long-time proponent of strong measures to curb emissions.
According to The Daily Mail, a whistleblower accused Thomas Karl of bypassing normal procedures to produce a scientific paper promoting climate alarmism:
A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.
The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. …
But the whistleblower, Dr. John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.
It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr. Bates devised.
His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.
In an exclusive interview, Dr. Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximized warming and minimized documentation … in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.
This lawsuit could result in the release of emails that will help Americans understand how Obama administration officials may have mishandled scientific data to advance the political agenda of global warming alarmism.
Separately, we are suing for records of communications from NOAA officials regarding methodology for collecting and interpreting data used in climate models to justify the controversial findings in the “Pausebuster” study. The data documents had also been withheld from Congress. (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Commerce (No 1:15-cv-02088)).
We previously investigated alleged data manipulation by global warming advocates in the Obama administration. In 2010, we obtained internal documents from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) related to a controversy that erupted in 2007 when Canadian blogger Stephen McIntyre exposed an error in NASA’s handling of raw temperature data from 2000-2006 that exaggerated the reported rise in temperature readings in the United States. According to multiple press reports, when NASA corrected the error, the new data apparently caused a reshuffling of NASA’s rankings for the hottest years on record in the United States, with 1934 replacing 1998 at the top of the list.
Forget about “fake news,” with the leftists that have been running our government for years – we have to worry about the potential of taxpayer-funded “fake science.”
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz Addresses Government Oversight Challenges at JW
If you have not had a chance to watch our special presentation on “Government Oversight Challenges,” let me encourage you to do so. U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was our guest in our DC headquarters for this presentation. He begins with an explanation of why Judicial Watch can often uncover secrets hidden by the government agencies that the Congress can’t get to. You can watch it here.
Until next week,