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You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.

IRS-Fire-ROH

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service has paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with recent disciplinary problems, including $1 million to workers who owed back taxes, a government investigator said Tuesday.

More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012.

Well, at least it was something “minor” like not paying taxes instead of something more serious……

Other examples of misconduct by workers getting bonuses included misusing government credit cards for travel, drug use, violent threats and fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits.

If these are some of the people that received bonuses, doesn’t it make you wonder what kind of employee didn’t receive a bonus?

Oh well. All is not lost.
IRS-Teddy-Bear

The IRS said it has developed a new policy linking conduct and performance bonuses for executives and senior level employees.

“Even without a formal policy in place over the past four years, the IRS has not issued awards to any executives that were subject to a disciplinary action,” the IRS said in a statement. “We are also considering a similar policy for the entire IRS workforce, which would be subject to negotiations with the National Treasury Employees Union.”

In response to the report and to boost their image, the IRS announced has announced a new “officially licensed” product – the IRS teddy bear.

Gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling, doesn’t it?



Lerner-ing To Plead The Fifth.

lerner-ROH This past week, former Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division Lois Lerner again appeared in front of the House Ways and Means Committee to answer questions on her role and what she knew in the IRS scandal dealing with 501(c)(3) groups.

After being warned by Chairman Issa that the Committee would consider holding her in contempt of Congress is she declined to testify, Lerner again invoked her Fifth Amendment rights under the Constitution.

Frankly, the investigation into the IRS saga has been a mess. If there is one issue that should unite the country, it is discovering whether the IRS targeted groups based on their political ideology. This go round it is Republicans saying that Tea Party groups were targeted. The next time it may very well be groups that lean to the left side of the political spectrum.

No matter what or who the IRS is targeting, if it is because of a group’s political leanings, it is wrong – morally, ethically and legally wrong.

However, Lerner’s refusal to testify is troubling on many fronts. First, there is the issue that in her opening statement at a similar hearing, Lerner said she was “innocent any wrong doing.” There are lawyers who have opined that once Lerner read that statement, she opened herself up to questions and could no longer invoke her rights under the Fifth Amendment.

The issue is further clouded by Lerner’s being interviewed by the Department of Justice:

A former Internal Revenue Service official who declined to answer questions at a congressional hearing, citing the Fifth Amendment, gave a full interview to the Justice Department, her lawyer said.

…..

In a press conference Wednesday, lawyer William Taylor III said Ms. Lerner had given a lengthy interview to Justice Department prosecutors within the last six months, as part of the agency’s investigation into IRS targeting of conservative tea-party groups for burdensome special scrutiny as they sought tax-exempt status.

Some legal experts said it can be risky to expose a client to Justice Department interviews without a grant of immunity. Ms. Lerner’s lawyers said she got no immunity from DOJ.

Why Lerner would talk to one part of the government investigating the allegations but not another part of the government is fodder for much speculation. Yet once again, the question is raised “once Lerner spoke to investigators, had she waived her Fifth Amendment rights?”
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New Week, New Scandals.

Exploding-head-ROH Its a new week and right off the bat there are two new scandals rocking the news world.

First, CBS is reporting the State Department may have deliberately covered up inappropriate and illegal behavior within the department.

CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks.

The Diplomatic Security Service, or the DSS, is the State Department’s security force, charged with protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide.

CBS News’ John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General’s memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults”

on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” — a problem the report says was “endemic.”

The memo also reveals details about an “underground drug ring” was operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and supplied State Department security contractors with drugs.

Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator with the State Department’s internal watchdog agency, the Inspector General, told Miller, “We also uncovered several allegations of criminal wrongdoing in cases, some of which never became cases.”

In such cases, DSS agents told the Inspector General’s investigators that senior State Department officials told them to back off, a charge that Fedenisn says is “very” upsetting.

“Upsetting” may qualify for the “Understatement of the Year Award.”

It is more than upsetting when the people we send out into other nations to represent us act in such a manner that bring shame on the country and its laws.

In one specific and striking cover-up, State Department agents told the Inspector General they were told to stop investigating the case of a U.S. Ambassador who held a sensitive diplomatic post and was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park.

The State Department Inspector General’s memo refers to the 2011 investigation into an ambassador who “routinely ditched … his protective security detai” and inspectors suspect this was in order to “solicit sexual favors from prostitutes.”

On another front, the Washington Post is reporting that government employees were given advance notice of a decision by Medicare that would benefit private insurers. Private insurance companies began to trade at a higher than normal rate giving rise to speculation that employees had used to information to trade stocks in those companies.
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The NSA And Phone Records.

NSA-HeadphonesUnless you have been sleeping under a rock, you know there has been much discussion this week concerning the revelation by the government that it was using data from phone carriers to analyze patterns in communications. This pattern analysis is ostensibly used to fight terrorism and we can see some benefit in it.

Many Americans are upset by this data analysis. Even though the data itself doesn’t list customer’s names, addresses, etc, the fact of the matter is that the NSA can combine that data with other data to see who is behind the calls.

That too is disturbing.

What is even more disturbing is the data mining went beyond phone calls. According to the Wall Street Journal:

NSA also obtains access to data from Internet service providers on Internet use such as data about email or website visits, several former officials said. NSA has established similar relationships with credit-card companies, three former officials said.

The revelation of this program comes on the heels of the IRS saying it has a right to read emails of Americans:

IRS attorneys have asserted in internal documents that the Fourth Amendment does not protect email and that a warrant is not needed to plant a GPS location tracker on a car in its owner’s driveway.

In documents obtained from the IRS by the ACLU under the federal Freedom of Information Act and posted on the website Wednesday, the agency’s attorneys adopt an extremely aggressive posture toward the requirements the Fourth Amendment might place on its criminal investigators who want to read email or text messages, or use GPS location tracking.

“The Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because Internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications,” states a 2009 “Search Warrant Handbook” from the IRS Criminal Tax Division’s Office of Chief Counsel.

We haven’t talked to anyone that doesn’t feel these actions are an egregious violation of American’s privacy.

Or at least “privacy” as most Americans understand it.

The problem is that courts don’t see it that way.
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Even More On The IRS Scandal.

IRS-Brickwall-ROH Remember those “two or three rogue” employees at the Internal Revenue Service which the IRS claimed were responsible for the illegal targeting of groups based upon ideology?

Turns out the IRS may have lied about that as well.

Washington (CNN) – The Internal Revenue Service has told House GOP investigators they have identified 88 IRS employees who may have documents relevant to the congressional investigation into targeting of conservative groups, according to a congressional source familiar with the investigation.

The IRS asked these employees to preserve all the “responsive documents” on their computers, and it has been in the process of collecting it all to comply with congressional requests for information. The IRS missed its May 21st deadline to turn over documents to the House Ways and Means Committee.

No matter how you slice it, 88 people with knowledge of the situation is a long way away from a few “rogue agents.”

The documents that the IRS is asking their employees for is part of an investigation launched by the Senate Finance Committee headed by Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and his GOP ranking member, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah. If you are following along, Congress’ looking into this has jumped the divide from simply being in the House to the Senate. It is easy to try and dismiss the House investigation as partisan, but it is difficult to say the same thing when a parallel investigation is being run by the Democrat controlled Senate.

In a letter dated May 20, 2012, the Finance Committee asked the IRS for documents relating to the Committee’s investigation and required the IRS produce the documents by May 31, 2013.

The IRS has failed to comply with the letter and produce the documents in the required time frame.

Senators Baccus and Hatch were not too thrilled with the IRS’s lack of compliance:
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IRS Scandal – Where Will This End?

IRS-Logo-on-Table-ROH The Daily Mail is reporting that instead of those “two rogue agents” in Cincinnati causing the targeting of groups by the IRS, some of the targeting was directed by the IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Transcripts provided to the Daily Mail seem to show what was happening:

The interviews, which are still ongoing, are being conducted by oversight committee staff in conjunction with House Ways and Means committee staff, and include both Republicans and Democrats.

The employee told those congressional investigators that IRS headquarters had also requested two specific cases for review.

Another employee, that witness said, ‘wanted to have two cases that she couldn’t — Washington, D.C. wanted them, but she couldn’t find the paper. So she requested me, through an email, to find these cases for her and to send them to Washington, D.C.’

‘[The] allegation has been made, I think as you have seen in lots of press reports, that there were two rogue agents in Cincinnati that are sort of responsible for all of the issues that we have been talking about today.,’ the investigator noted. ‘What do you think about those allegations?’

‘It’s impossible.,’ the employee replied. ‘As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen.’

Asked whether the problem ‘was originated in and contained in the Cincinnati office,’ as some Obama administration officials in Washington have claimed, the agent replied that ‘I still hear people saying we were low level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C. So, take it for what it is.’

‘They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.’

‘[W]e didn’t do anything wrong,’ the agent said, according to the partial transcript. ‘We followed directions based on other people telling us what to do.’

Did those directions came from Washington, D.C.? the investigator wanted to know.
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More News In The IRS Scandal.

The hits just keep piling up in this mess.

The Daily Caller analyzed the data in the number of public visits former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman had to the White House. The numbers are not pretty.

Obama-admin-visitors

Publicly released records show that embattled former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House at least 157 times during the Obama administration, more recorded visits than even the most trusted members of the president’s Cabinet.

Shulman’s extensive access to the White House first came to light during his testimony last week before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Shulman gave assorted answers when asked why he had visited the White House 118 times during the period that the IRS was targeting tea party and conservative nonprofits for extra scrutiny and delays on their tax-exempt applications.

By contrast, Shulman’s predecessor Mark Everson only visited the White House once during four years of service in the George W. Bush administration and compared the IRS’s remoteness from the president to “Siberia.” But the scope of Shulman’s White House visits — which strongly suggests coordination by White House officials in the campaign against the president’s political opponents — is even more striking in comparison to the publicly recorded access of Cabinet members.

To be fair, there are visits to the White House by Cabinet members that the logs do not record. Yet it is the sheer number of visits as compared to previous IRS heads that is troubling. Why would the head of a government agency that is supposed to be non-political be visiting the White House that much?

It is a question that is being asked, and as usual, the White House is not answering.

In addition, one of those “rogue” agents in the Cincinnati IRS office has been promoted.
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Looks Like The IRS Wasn’t Exactly Being Truthful. We Are Shocked.

IRS-Electric-ROH“It was a few rogue agents.”

That is the meme put forth by many people concerning the IRS targeting groups for their political beliefs.

That is what we were told and on some level, we had hoped was the truth. We hate the thought of the government targeting people for their political beliefs. That is simply not what this country is founded upon nor believes. We care to some extent that these were conservative groups which were targeted, but out outrage would extend to non-conservative / liberal groups if they were targeted at some point as well.

Despite people trying to desperately cling to the notion that the targeting was done by those “few rogue agents” in the Cincinnati IRS office, that position seems to be crumbling like a house of cards in a tornado.

NBC has the story:

Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.

“We’ve dealt with 15 agents, including tax law specialists — that’s lawyers — from four different offices, including (the) Treasury (Department) in Washington, D.C.,” Sekulow said. “So the idea that this is a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati is not correct.”

Among the letters were several that bore return IRS addresses other than Cincinnati, including “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.,” and the signatures of IRS officials higher up the chain. Two letters with “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.” letterhead were signed by “Tax Law Specialist(s)” from Exempt Organizations Technical Group 1 and Technical Group 2. Lerner’s signature, which appeared to be a stamp rather than an actual signature, appeared on a letter requesting additional information from the Ohio Liberty Council Corp. (letter below)

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