Desperation Can Be Expensive

The Washington Examiner posted an article today with the following headline, “Democratic megadonor George Soros launches new super PAC.” Keep in mind that George Soros is not a friend of America. He is a supporter of one-world government and fully intends to be part of the ruling class in that government. There are some very questionable items in his past regarding collapsing currencies and his relationship with the Hitler regime as a teenager.

The article reports:

George Soros is launching a super PAC ahead of the 2020 election and has already written the single biggest check of any megadonor so far this election season.

Soros contributed $5.1 million to the new group, Democracy PAC, according to paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission. He was one of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors in the last presidential election, giving more than $20 million to the party’s candidates and causes, and has already doubled the amount he had donated at this point in the 2016 cycle.

A person familiar with the group told Politico that Soros’ family members may also donate to the PAC. His son, Alexander Soros, has become somewhat of a Democratic megadonor in recent years.

The article continues:

“He has, unlike Tom Steyer or [Michael] Bloomberg, funded things like Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA and EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood and expects to continue to do so,” a person familiar with the PAC said.

Soros has yet to endorse a presidential candidate.

There are some things to consider here. It is very difficult to unseat an incumbent President during good economic times. I suspect some effort will be made in the coming year to make sure those good economic times do not continue. I have no idea what form that effort might take–it could be raising interest rates sometime next year, it could be more civil unrest from domestic terrorist organizations like Antifa, or it could be as simple as telling Americans not to spend money in order to slow down the consumer-driven economic growth. At any rate, in the past four years we have seen a number of efforts to buy election victories fail. If money were the only thing in winning elections, we would currently have either President Hillary Clinton or President Jeb Bush. In local politics if money were the only key to victory, Joan Perry would be running for Congress in the Third U.S. House District in North Carolina. I am hoping that the only thing George Soros’ political PAC is successful at doing is relieving Mr. Soros of some of his wealth.

What Does This Say About The Candidate?

Kamala Harris is currently considered the up-and-coming Democrat candidate for President in 2020. She achieved that status after an attack on Joe Biden that stretched the truth more than a little. Well, Ms. Harris is serious about her campaign. The Washington Examiner is reporting today that the Harris campaign hired Marc Elias, who heads Perkins Coie’s political law group.

The article reports:

…Elias, who held the same position in Clinton’s campaign, is named in two pending Federal Election Commission complaints and in a recent federal lawsuit alleging that the Clinton campaign broke campaign finance laws when it used Perkins Coie to hire Fusion GPS.

Fusion GPS went on to hire British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled an unverified dossier allegedly based on sources close to the Kremlin which was disseminated to the media and used by the FBI to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants targeting former Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is reviewing alleged FISA abuse related to the dossier and Attorney General William Barr launched his “investigation of the investigators” earlier this year.

Clinton’s former presidential campaign manager Robby Mook said in 2017 that he authorized Elias to hire an outside firm to dig up dirt on Trump’s connections with Russia. “I asked our lawyer and I gave him a budget allocation to investigate this, particularly the international aspect,” he said.

Mook said Elias was receiving information from Fusion GPS or directly from Steele himself about the research into Trump and Russia in 2016, and that Elias then periodically briefed the Clinton campaign about the findings.

The article concludes:

Elias is a fixture in Democratic politics. Aside from working for Harris, Clinton, and the DNC, Elias has said that he and his colleagues at Perkins Coie have represented the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Governors Association, various Democratic PACs, the pro-abortion EMILY’s List, dozens of Democratic senators, and more than a hundred Democratic members of the House.

Neither the Harris campaign nor Elias responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.

I wonder if Mr. Elias’ name is going to come up during the release of the Inspector General’s Report or the questioning of Robert Mueller. Stay tuned.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) Fails To Rule

Yesterday The Independent Journal Review posted an article about vacancies on the Federal Election Commission and the consequences of those vacancies.

The article reports:

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is facing a lawsuit for its inaction on a complaint filed against Hillary Clinton‘s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The right-leaning Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed a lawsuit — obtained exclusively by IJR — on Wednesday morning in the hopes of getting a ruling that would force the FEC to address the complaint it filed on August 1, 2018.

Its original complaint with the FEC requested an investigation into Hillary for America — the official name of Clinton’s campaign — and the DNC for their role in obtaining and financing the anti-Donald Trump dossier penned by former British spy Christopher Steele.

By law, if the FEC does not rule on a filed complaint within 120 days, the party that filed the complaint has the authority to sue the commission. Almost 300 days have passed since the Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed that original complaint, and nothing has happened.

The exact incident that caused the Foundation to sue is explained in the article:

The original FEC complaint alleged that Hillary for America and the DNC breached campaign finance law by issuing a false report with the intention of misleading the American people. The complaint notes that campaign expenditure forms show that the DNC and Hillary for American paid their mutual legal advisers at Perkins Coie, LLP for “legal services,” but the law firm turned around and paid Fusion GPS for the Steele dossier.

The Coolidge Reagan Foundation argues that Hillary for America and the DNC used Perkins Coie, LLP as a “strawman” organization to distance themselves from Fusion GPS and Steele and submitted a false FEC complaint in the process:

The FEC is composed of six members. Right now there are two vacant seats on the Commission. The seats on the Commission are supposed to be filled two at a time–one by the President and one by the highest ranking Senator from the opposite party. As of now, Senator Schumer has not submitted a name, so the President cannot proceed with a nominee. Since FEC rules require four votes in order to begin an investigation, unless there is a unanimous vote by the four current commissioners, nothing will happen.

The article further notes:

As IJR previously reported, the Coolidge Reagan Foundation also filed an FEC complaint against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, for their sketchy campaign funding operation and for failing to disclose payments to congresswoman’s boyfriend.

According to Backer, neither of those complaints have received a ruling from the FEC.

It’s a fairly safe bet that if an FEC complaint were filed against a Republican, Senator Schumer would very quickly come up with a name so that the investigation could move forward!

Foreign Interference In An Election

If you follow the mainstream media, you might conclude that foreign interference in an election only matters when Republicans do it.

Meanwhile, BizPacReview reported yesterday that Pras Michel, a rapper for the group ‘The Fugees,’ has been indicted by the U.S. government for funneling millions of dollars of foreign money to Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.

The article explains the charges:

In a DOJ statement, the feds announced Michel and a Malaysian financier were charged with four counts “for conspiring to make and conceal foreign and conduit campaign contributions.”

Michel, 46, and Low Taek Jho, 37, aka”Jho Low,” were charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and for making foreign and conduit campaign contributions. Michel also was charged with one count of a scheme to conceal material facts and two counts of making a false entry in a record in connection with the conspiracy.

The article includes a statement from the Department of Justice:

According to the indictment, between June 2012 and November 2012, Low directed the transfer of approximately $21,600,000 from foreign entities and accounts to Michel for the purpose of funneling significant sums of money into the United States presidential election as purportedly legitimate contributions, all while concealing the true source of the money.  To facilitate the excessive contributions and conceal their true source, Michel paid approximately $865,000 of the money received from Low to about 20 straw donors, or conduits, so that the straw donors could make donations in their names to a presidential joint fundraising committee.  In addition, Michel personally directed more than $1 million of the money received from Low to an independent expenditure committee also involved in the presidential election in 2012.

The indictment also alleges that by funneling campaign contributions through straw donors, Michel caused a presidential joint fundraising committee to submit false reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), including a false amended report in June 2013.  The committee’s reports were false because they identified the straw donors, rather than Low or Michel, as the true source of the contributions.  In addition, the indictment alleges that by contributing more than $1 million of the money he received from Low to an independent expenditure committee, Michel also caused that committee to submit false reports to the FEC, insofar as those reports identified Michel as the source of the contributions when, in fact, it was Low.  The indictment further alleges that in June 2015, Michel submitted a false declaration to the FEC in which he claimed that he had no reason to conceal the true source of his contributions to the independent expenditure committee in 2012, even though Michel knew that the true source of that money was Low and that Michel had funneled the foreign money into the election.

It is good news that the Department of Justice is holding Mr. Michel accountable.

Campaign Finance Violations On Steroids

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about some campaign finance violations by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti. The violations listed are not minor violations, there are some major amounts of money involved here.

The article reports:

Two political action committees founded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s top aide funneled over $1 million in political donations into two of his own private companies, according to a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

…The arrangement skirted reporting requirements and may have violated the $5,000 limit on contributions from federal PACs to candidates, according to the complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.

Campaign finance attorneys described the arrangement as “really weird” and an indication “there’s something amiss.” They said there was no way of telling where the political donations went — meaning they could have been pocketed or used by the company to pay for off-the-books campaign operations.

PACs are required to disclose how and when funds are spent, including for expenditures such as advertisements, fundraising emails, donations to candidates, and payments for events and to vendors.

The private companies to which Chakrabarti transferred the money from the PACs are not subject to these requirements.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article for the details.

This is interesting for a number of reasons. Was it a rookie mistake or was it planned corruption? Is this coming out now because AOC has become a problem for the Democrats–she is so far left that she may cost them votes in 2020?

The article concludes:

Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the FEC, said he has never seen such an arrangement. “It’s a really weird situation,” he said. “I see almost no way that you can do that without it being at least a reporting violation, quite likely a violation of the contribution limits. You might say from a campaign finance angle that the LLC was essentially operating as an unregistered committee.”

Chakrabarti declined to comment on the FEC complaint or provide details about his companies’ financial activities. Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, declined to comment.

Zeynab Day, communications director for the Brand New Congress PAC, said Chakrabarti was not currently affiliated with the group and that it recently went through a “transition period.” She referred questions about the LLC to Chakrabarti. “I’m unable to answer any questions about the LLC … I am not informed about them. We are not an affiliated group,” she said.

A spokesperson for Justice Democrats said he did not know why the PAC paid so much money to Chakrabarti’s LLCs. When asked what the Justice Democrats PAC does on a daily basis, he said, “It’s very clear what we do,” but declined to elaborate.

Chakrabarti founded Brand New Congress PAC, in April 2016. According to a statement released by Justice Democrats PAC last May, Chakrabarti “was the only controlling member” of the company Brand New Congress LLC and “took no salary.” The statement added: “Saikat is lucky to have a small side business that generates him enough income that he is able to do all of this work as a volunteer.”

If this story is accurately reported, it is bound to get more interesting!

H R 1

The Democrats in the House of Representatives are planning to start the new year off with a bang. Hopefully it will turn out to be more of a whimper. H.R. 1 is called the “For the People Act of 2019.” It is actually only for some people who want to make sure that the Democrats win all future elections. It was introduced into the House on January 3rd.

Breitbart posted an article about the bill today. In their article is a link to the Conservative Action Project which is opposing the bill.

The Conservative Action Project lists some problems with the bill:

H.R. 1 undermines the First Amendment. H.R. 1 undoes key Supreme Court cases that protect elections as fundamental to free speech. It would allow the Federal Election Commission to track and catalogue more of what Americans are saying, register even very small political donations, and make public those who donate to different charitable and nonprofit organizations. The legislation will subject private citizens to intimidation and harassment for their private and political beliefs, far broader than what was done in the IRS targeting scandal in 2013.

H.R. 1 yanks election authority away from the states. H.R. 1 reasserts the ability of the federal government to micromanage state elections through a process known as “preclearance.” Preclearance, which was previously overturned by the Supreme Court, requires states to get permission from the federal government for changes as small as modifying the hours of an election office, or moving a voting location from a school gym to the library. Critically, none of these practices would undo any fraud or corruption. Rather, these same practices result in incorrect registrations and inaccurate voter data, while failing to address actual corrupt practices like ballot harvesting. Moreover, they are all designed to eliminate the federalism that keeps elections transparent, local, and fair.

H.R. 1 attacks individual voter integrity. America was founded on the principle of “one person, one vote.” H.R. 1 turns this on its head by weaponizing every aspect of the political regulatory system. The Federal Election Commission, which is currently a neutral body, would be given a 3-2 makeup, guaranteeing a partisan outcome with little accountability toward the actual votes which are cast. H.R. 1 also includes a 600 percent government match for political donations, and authorizes even more public dollars to campaigns. The bill also wants to make Election Day a new paid holiday for government workers, with additional paid vacation given to bureaucrats to oversee the polls. All of these changes are designed to distance the outcome of the election from those casting their votes.

H.R. 1 would also implement the following changes:

• Forces states to implement mandatory voter registration, removing civic participation as a voluntary choice, and increasing chances for error.
• Mandates that states allow all felons to vote.
• Forces states to extend periods of early voting, which has shown to have no effect on turnout.
• Mandates same-day voter registration, which encourages voter fraud.
• Limits the ability of states to cooperate to see who is registered in multiple states at the same time.
• Prohibits election observers from cooperating with election officials to file formal challenges to suspicious voter registrations.
• Criminalizes protected political speech by making it a crime to “discourage” someone from voting
• Bars states from making their own laws about voting by mail.
• Prohibits chief election officials in each state from participating in federal election campaigns.
• Mandates free mailing of absentee ballots.
• Mandates that states adopt new redistricting commissions.

H.R. 1 would cause sweeping and irrevocable damage to the free speech, privacy, and integrity that are central components to free and fair elections in America. We oppose H.R.

Our new House of Representatives has obviously decided to throw out our Constitution wherever possible. This bill is representative of that. It opens the door to massive voter fraud and nationalizes state elections, which is unconstitutional. Nationalizing all elections also greatly increases the vulnerability to hacking. The bill needs to fail miserably or we will be in serious danger of losing our representative republic.

We Might Take Them Seriously If They Practiced What They Preach

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article yesterday about some recent actions by Senator Bernie Sanders. It seems that according to the Federal Election Commission, Senator Sanders spent nearly $300,000 for private jet travel in the final stretch of his campaign for re-election to the Senate.

The article reports:

Air travel is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, with some estimations saying that the aviation industry accounts for about 11 percent of transportation-related emissions in the country. The environmental impact is greatly magnified in cases of private flights, which carry far fewer people per trip than commercial jets.

Sanders claims on his website that “climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet” and puts the blame chiefly on the growing rate of emissions being produced by the transportation sector.

“Global climate change is real, it is caused mainly by emissions released from burning fossil fuels and it poses a catastrophic threat to the long-term longevity of our planet,” he writes. “The transportation sector accounts for about 26 percent of carbon pollution emissions.”

The Sanders campaign told the Washington Free Beacon it purchased “carbon offsets” to balance out emissions produced on the trip.

“The campaign purchased carbon offsets from Native Energy to support renewable energy projects and invest in carbon reduction projects to balance out the emissions produced on this trip,” Jones said in an email.

The Washington Free Beacon was unable to identify payments made by the campaign to the environmental group. Jones says the purchase will appear in the campaign’s next filing.

So let me get this straight–it’s okay to have a ginormous carbon footprint as long as you are rich enough to buy carbon credits. Meanwhile, all of us little people are supposed to go broke paying ever increasing prices for energy caused by regulations to lower carbon emissions put on us by people who have no intention of curtailing their carbon emissions. Seems a little unfair to me.

Free Speech In Danger In America

On Friday, The Washington Examiner reported on efforts by Democrats on the Federal Election Commission to limit political speech on the internet. The latest effort by these Democrats was triggered by the fact that unnamed Russians spent $100,000 for politically themed ads on Facebook. Somehow no Democrats on any committees were concerned when Saudi Arabia was funding anti-fracking movies.

The article reports:

Weintraub (Commissioner Ellen Weintraub) also demanded that the FEC address the issue of “internet political communications” at its next meeting on Sept. 14.

Facebook’s involvement and proof of Russian spending on political ads could give Democratic FEC critics of the freewheeling Internet the case they’ve needed.

Republicans on the FEC have claimed for years that the Democrats have been focused on the Internet in part because they want to silence conservative outlets like the Drudge Report, conservative videos, and even movies.

But the Facebook revelation and huge amount of money involved should give the Democrats a new weapon in their fight to regulate spending on Internet sites beyond paid advocacy. Under current rules, paid online ads that say, for example, “Vote For” or “Vote Against,” are regulated. The so-called Internet freedom rule, however, exempts free Internet posts and advocacy by third parties.

This sort of government intervention into free speech never ends well. I have no problem with anyone posting anything on Facebook as long as the source of the post is obvious. Where were these people when conservative groups were being denied tax-exempt status? This is a political move partially caused by the fact that Democratic election and fund-raising efforts are not going well. This is an attempt to slant the playing field to the Democrats advantage. It needs to be stopped.

We Need To Protect Free Speech

On Thursday, The Washington Examiner reported on a proposal by Democrats on the Federal Election Commission to limit media coverage of the 2016 election. I am sure that fact that their proposal would only limit conservative news outlets is purely coincidental.

The article reports:

In a last-minute submission Wednesday, a top Democrat on the evenly split FEC proposed that the Thursday meeting of the commission begin the process to prohibit companies with foreign ownership as small as 5 percent “from funding expenditures, independent expenditures, or electioneering communications.”

Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said in her submission, “Given everything we have learned this year, it blinks reality to suggest that that there is no risk of foreign nationals taking advantage of current loopholes to intercede invisibly in American elections. This is a risk no member of the Federal Election Commission should be willing to tolerate.”

Under Weintraub’s proposal, entities that reach her foreign ownership target would conceivably be banned from advocating for a candidate’s election or defeat.

Several media giants have at least 5 percent foreign ownership, some with as much as 25 percent. Included is News Corp, which owns Fox, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times also has foreign ownership, as do many politically active firms like Ben & Jerry’s.

That prohibition could include Fox commentator Sean Hannity or Wall Street Journal editorial. And, according to one analysis, because foreign nationals also are prohibited from making electioneering communications, those media would not even be able to mention Donald Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton, even if just covering them.

This needs to be stopped before it even begins. Americans are smart enough to evaluate news sources. The government does not have to censor or filter news in America.

Stealing From The Poor To Enrich The Rich

This is a screenshot taken from the Observer:

bankstatementThe article reports:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is stealing from her poorest supporters by purposefully and repeatedly overcharging them after they make what’s supposed to be a one-time small donation through her official campaign website, multiple sources tell the Observer.

The overcharges are occurring so often that the fraud department at one of the nation’s biggest banks receives up to 100 phone calls a day from Clinton’s small donors asking for refunds for unauthorized charges to their bankcards made by Clinton’s campaign. One elderly Clinton donor, who has been a victim of this fraud scheme, has filed a complaint with her state’s attorney general and a representative from the office told her that they had forwarded her case to the Federal Election Commission.

…“We don’t investigate fraudulent charges unless they are over $100,” the fraud specialist explained. “The Clinton campaign knows this, that’s why we don’t see any charges over the $100 amount, they’ll stop the charges just below $100. We’ll see her campaign overcharge donors by $20, $40 or $60 but never more than $100.” The source, who has worked for Wells Fargo for over 10 years, said that the total amount they refund customers on a daily basis who have been overcharged by Clinton’s campaign “varies” but the bank usually issues refunds that total between $700 and $1,200 per day.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. The repeated charges to Mrs. Mahre are not an isolated incident. It is totally amazing to me that with the amount of money the Clintons have amassed through questionable dealings involving the Clinton Foundation they would feel the need to obtain campaign funds dishonestly. There seems to be a pattern in the actions of the Clinton family.

Holding On To Free Speech By A Thread

The Washington Examiner posted an article today about a recent vote by the Federal Election Commission.

The article reports:

Finally making good on long-harbored anger at conservative media, Democrats on the Federal Election Commission voted in secret to punish Fox News’ sponsorship of a Republican presidential debate, using an obscure law to charge the network with helping those on stage.

It is the first time in history that members of the FEC voted to punish a media outlet’s debate sponsorship, and it follows several years of Democratic threats against conservative media and websites like the Drudge Report.

The punishment, however, was blocked by all three Republicans on the commission, resulting in a 3-3 tie vote and no action.

The article further explains:

One of the candidates left out filed a complaint to the FEC, charging that Fox was essentially making a contribution to the 17 candidates by letting them have a voice in the debate.

CNN did the same thing, but there is no indication that they faced a complaint.

The quote “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Regardless of who made the statement, the quote applies to today. There are Americans who want to take away our First and Second Amendment rights. We need to watch the votes in Congress and the Congressional appointments and remove those people from office at the first opportunity to vote.

 

People In Glass Houses…

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon reported that the Federal Election Commission has sent a letter to Bernie Sanders‘ campaign committee about illegal donations to the campaign.

The article reports:

The campaign’s January financial disclosure filing listed contributions from foreign nationals and unregistered political committees, the FEC said. Other contributions came from donors who exceeded the $2,700 per-election limit.

“Although the Commission may take further legal action concerning the acceptance of [excessive or prohibited] contributions, your prompt action to refund the prohibited amount will be taken into consideration,” the FEC told the campaign.

Sanders’ campaign has relied on small-dollar individual contributions to a far greater extent than any other presidential campaign, including the Super PAC- and dark money-fueled efforts of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The Vermont Senator and self-described socialist is running on a platform of transparency and campaign finance reform, contrasting his grassroots support with Clinton’s high-dollar donors and use of loopholes in federal election laws that allow her campaign to coordinate with outside groups that can accept unlimited contributions.

However, Sanders’ donors have also run afoul of federal campaign finance laws, and his financial disclosure reports have been riddled with errors.

Many of the foreign donations come from people in countries that support socialism and want to help the Sanders’ campaign. However, the campaign needs to follow the law and practice the transparency that it preaches.

Our First Amendment Rights Are In Danger

Yesterday PJ Media reported that the Federal Election Commission is considering a rule which would require non-profit organizations to provide a list of donors. This would mean that pro-life groups, Tea Parties, etc. would have to disclose donors. If this seems innocent to you, I would like to remind you of an incident that happened in California last year.

In April of last year I reported:

The Foundry is reporting today that Mozilla Corp. co-founder Brendan Eich has resigned as CEO after a week of public criticism for his support of Proposition 8 in California. Proposition 8 was the ballot initiative that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Brendan Eich had been at Mozilla for 15 years.

I have a few problems with the forced resignation of Mr. Eich. How does anyone know he contributed to a campaign supporting Proposition 8? Is that public information? Since when did supporting traditional marriage cost you your job? Aren’t Americans allowed to contribute to things they believe in?

The article at PJ Media points out:

Harassment of financial donors to conservative causes has become one of the standard tactics of the militant left. Speech regulations issued by the Federal Election Commission are therefore a necessary component of snuffing out financial support for conservative causes through harassment campaigns.

A half-century ago, liberal groups understood and respected this. The landmark case of NAACP vs. Alabama saw the Supreme Court protect the NAACP from having to disclose supporter information because of the harassment campaigns that would follow.

Now, with perfect hypocrisy, the PAC that issued the petition which triggered the FEC to consider rulemaking which would force disclosure of information does not disclose the full name of its leader. On the page detailing who runs Make Your Laws PAC, Inc., the founder, treasurer, and director is listed merely as “Sai”:

sai

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (of which I am counsel) has already submitted comments to the FEC opposing new federal powers over political freedom. Those comments can be found here. If you also oppose more power for Washington bureaucrats to pry private information from groups who speak out, you can add your own comments at this link.

If you value your First Amendment rights, please leave a comment at the link in the previous paragraph. This is truly a threat to free speech.

Is American Free Speech In Danger?

The Daily Caller posted an article today about a letter written by FEC Vice Chair Ann Ravel about her plans to deal with the issue of internet political advertising. The concern is that her plans will severely limit political speech of any kind on the internet.

The internet has made a significant difference in the political climate in America. People who do not trust the mainstream media have a place they can go to investigate news stories on their own. Since many of the internet news sites lean conservative, there are those in the Democrat party who consider this a threat. The significance of the internet in the political dialogue in America is almost on the level of the significance that talk radio has been in recent years.

The article reports:

The Republican members of the commission cited a 2006 ruling which provided a so-called “Internet exemption” which allows for the publication of free political web videos.

But according to her letter, Ravel, an Obama appointee, hopes to change that.

“A re-examination of the Commission’s approach to the Internet and other emerging technologies is long overdue,” she wrote, adding that “the Commission has not adapted with” a changing world.

Warning against “turning a blind eye to the Internet’s growing force in the political arena,” Ravel said that “this effort to protect individual bloggers and online commentators” has been “stretched to cover slickly-produced ads solely on the Internet.”

The fact that FEC Vice Chair Ann Ravel has written this letter tells us that the Democrats are concerned about the growth of the new media. The new media is doing the job that the traditional media used to do. Hopefully, the FEC will not be successful in shutting down free speech.

Should We Take Up A Collection To Buy The Federal Government New Computers?

The Blaze posted a story today about another federal government agency whose hard drive crashed in the middle of an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. This is getting comical.

The hard drive in question belongs to April Sands, a former employee at the Federal Election Commission who resigned in the spring after admitting to violations of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act limits political activities of federal employees, specifically prohibiting them from engaging in political activity while on the job or from government offices.

The article reports:

Issa (Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)) noted that while Sands admitted to violating the law, the FEC just recently told Congress that it could not recover her hard drive, which made it impossible to seek criminal charges against her.

“Recent information obtained by the committee suggests that the FEC OIG could not pursue criminal prosecution for the misconduct because the attorney’s hard drive had been recycled by the FEC,” Issa’s letter said.

As a result, Issa asked the FEC to provide information to his committee by July 28. That includes all documents related to the hard drive loss, and documents detailing the FEC’s practices for retaining information on computers.

The FEC is an independent agency, but Sands’ emails clearly indicated she favored Obama’s re-election in 2012. Before the election, she tweeted things like:

“Our #POTUS’s birthday is August 4. He’ll be 51. I’m donating at least $51 to give him the best birthday present ever: a second term.” In another tweet, she said anyone supporting Republicans is her “enemy.”

“The bias exhibited in these messages is striking, especially for an attorney charged with the responsibility to enforce federal election laws fairly and dispassionately,” Issa wrote.

The article includes a letter written by Issa to Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman, which shows some of the tweets sent by April Sands during regular work hours. There is also a document showing how and when information requested by the Oversight Committee was to be submitted. Unfortunately, because of the computer crash that information seems to be lost.

The federal government would probably have fewer computer crashes if there were more honest people in the current administration.

Incumbency Over Ethics

National Review Online posted a story today about Mitzi Bickers, who played a major role in Thad Cochran’s primary victory in Mississippi. Ms. Bickers is a Democratic staffer and political strategist. Last year, she left her job as a senior adviser to Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed after news surfaced that she had filed a fraudulent financial-disclosure statement.

The article reports:

In a bizarre turn of events, it seems that Bickers was in the middle of a bitterly contested Republican Senate primary. Two Atlanta-based entities affiliated with Bickers, The Bickers Group and the Pirouette Company, were paid thousands of dollars to make robo-calls on Senator Cochran’s behalf by a super PAC that backed Cochran in his bid for reelection. Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show that Mississippi Conservatives, the political-action committee run by former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour’s nephew Henry, paid the groups a total of $44,000 for get-out-the-vote “phone services.”

It is becoming very clear that some Republicans are as opposed to the Tea Party as the Democrats are. Why? Because some of the Republican establishment has morphed into a Democrat Light party and has lost its way. The Republican establishment no longer adheres to the principle of smaller government and individual freedom. They have joined the Democrats in supporting the status quo and consolidating power in Washington.

The Republican Party needs to get back to its roots and its platform if it intends to be a political force in the future.

The Timeline On The IRS Scandal

On Thursday Kimberley Strassel posted an article at the Wall Street Journal detailing the evolution of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp has sent a letter to the Justice Department requesting a criminal probe of Lois Lerner.

Ms. Strassel points out that Lois Lerner may have felt justified to target conservative groups based on the rhetoric of leader Democrats rather than direct orders from the White House.

The article lists what may be some of the root causes of the IRS attacks:

As the illuminating timeline accompanying the Camp letter shows, Ms. Lerner’s focus on shutting down Crossroads GPS came only after Obama adviser David Axelrod listed Crossroads among “front groups for foreign-controlled companies”; only after Senate Democrats Dick Durbin, Carl Levin, Chuck Schumer and others demanded the IRS investigate Crossroads; only after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a website to “expose donors” of Crossroads; and only after Obama’s campaign lawyer, Bob Bauer, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about Crossroads.

The article goes through a timeline and details various attacks on conservative groups. It also notes the difficulty various investigative committees had in getting the information they requested in the investigation.

The article concludes:

In 2012, both the IRS and Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings were targeting the group True the Vote. We now have email showing contact between a Cummings staffer and the IRS over that organization. How much more contact was there? It’s one thing to write a public letter calling on a regulator to act. It’s another to haul the regulator in front of your committee, or have your staff correspond with or pressure said regulator, with regard to ongoing actions. That’s a no-no.

The final merit of Mr. Camp’s letter is that he’s called out Justice and Democrats. Mr. Camp was careful in laying out the ways Ms. Lerner may have broken the law, with powerful details. Democrats can’t refute the facts, so instead they are howling about all manner of trivia—the release of names, the “secret” vote to release taxpayer information. But it remains that they are putting themselves on record in support of IRS officials who target groups, circumvent rules, and potentially break the law. That ought to go down well with voters.

It may be time to abolish the IRS and institute a consumption tax.

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Somehow The New York Times Missed This

Yesterday The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released its report on Lois Lerner’s role in IRS targeting.

These are the highlights of the report (The link above provides a link to the entire report. The highlights include page numbers):

Key Document Based Highlights (documents and testimony in appendix):

  • Tea Party “itching for a Constitutional challenge:” Lerner and her colleagues, after being under public pressure from President Obama and other Democrats, engaged in an e-mail exchange about how they could showcase their scrutiny of a Tea Party applicant for public disclosure, despite rules protecting the secrecy of unapproved applications.  The conversation turned to the possibility of a court case – if a Tea Party applicant would challenge the IRS ruling.  On this, Ms. Lerner opined, Tea Party groups would litigate because they are “itching for a Constitutional challenge.” – p. 41
  • Lerner discusses political scrutiny that isn’t “per se political:” In one e-mail exchange that began with a discussion of an article noting, “organizations woven by the fabulously rich and hugely influential Koch brothers,” Lerner told colleagues, “we do need a c4 project next year.”  While she initially says, “my object is not to look for political activity,” later in the exchange she acknowledges that it will examine political activity. “We need to be cautious so it isn’t a per se political project.  More a c4 project that will look at levels of lobbying and pol. Activity along with exempt activity.” – p. 17
  • Lerner broke IRS rules by mishandling taxpayer information:  While Lerner told Congress under oath, “I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations,” e-mails show Lerner handled protected 6103 taxpayer information in her nonofficial e-mail account. In a November 2013 letter from Daniel Werfel, Werfel notes, “We do not permit IRS officials to send taxpayer information to their personal email addresses. An IRS employee should not send taxpayer information to his or her personal email address in any form, including redacted.” – p. 33
  • Lerner planned to retire in October all along: While House Democrats have pushed that Lerner was forced out by the IRS as a result of the TIGTA report; new e-mails indicate that Lerner had planned an October retirement long before TIGTA released its report.  Her paid leave amounted to a paid vacation preceding her retirement – it does not appear that the IRS penalized her in any way for her conduct. – p.  40-41
  • Despite knowing about improper scrutiny, Lerner had IRS blame victims: An IRS document bearing Lerner’s signature shows that in March 2012, despite knowing about improper scrutiny at that time, Lerner reviewed and signed off on a response to Congress that blamed applicants for heightened scrutiny.  “[T]he IRS contacts the organization and solicits additional information when the organization does not provide sufficient information in response to the questions on the Form 1024 or if issues are raised by the application …. The revenue agent uses sound reasoning based on tax law training and his or her experience to review the application and identify the additional information needed to make a proper determination of the organization’s exempt status.” – p. 36
  • Concern Citizens United hurting Democrats:  Lerner believed the Executive Branch needed to take steps to undermine the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  A senior advisor to Lerner e-mailed her an article about allegations that unknown conservative donors were influencing U.S. Senate races.  The article explained how outside money was making it increasingly difficult for Democrats to remain in the majority in the Senate.  Lerner replied:  “Perhaps the FEC will save the day.” – p. 21
  • Citizens United created pressure for IRS to “fix the problem”:  According to Lerner: “The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns.  And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it.  The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it. They want the IRS to fix the problem.” – p. 20
  • “Multi-Tier Review”:  Lerner personally directed that Tea Party cases go through a “multi-tier review.” An IRS employee testified that Lerner “sent [him an] e-mail saying that when these cases need to go through multi-tier review and they will eventually have to go to [Judy Kindell, Lerner’s senior technical advisor] and the Chief Counsel’s office.”  A D.C. IRS employee said this level of scrutiny had no precedent. – p. 24-25
  • Head of the IRS Cincinnati office’s testimony refutes Lois Lerner and President Obama’s O’Reilly interview assertion that this was all about a “local office”: “[Y]es, there were mistakes made by folks in Cincinnati as well [as] D.C. but the D.C. office is the one who delayed the processing of the cases.” – p. 44

Unless we are willing to live in a country where the laws are made and changed at will by whichever political party is in charge, Ms. Lerner has to be held accountable for her behavior. There is enough evidence against her to move forward with legal action. It is time to do that. Unfortunately, her behavior is typical of the Obama Administration’s disregard for the U.S. Constitution and the law.

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About That Free Speech Thing

Today’s Wall Street Journal posted an article about a Democrat effort to limit political donations by businesses after those donations were allowed by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision.

The House Oversight Committee is investigating events that occurred under the previous chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Events similar to those at the Internal Revenue Service–senior officials rolling over career staff to politicize the agency–evidently also occurred at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The article reports:

Last year politicians like then-Rep. Barney Frank and liberal tax-exempt groups like Public Citizen were encouraging the SEC to demand more disclosure from public companies about the organizations they support. Staff for Mr. Frank specifically told the SEC that, “There is particular interest in what the authority is for disclosure of 501(c)(4) contributions (political contributions).” Mr. Frank’s staff also noted that the interest was coming from the House Democratic leadership.

A former Democratic Congressman gave the political motive away while lobbying the SEC’s then-chairman Mary Schapiro. The former lawmaker, unnamed in a memorandum accompanying the Issa letter, was asked by Ms. Schapiro why this wasn’t a job for the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The former pol responded, “because the FEC is even more broken than you,” according to a May 2012 email sent by the deputy director of the SEC’s division of corporation finance. Democrats couldn’t get what they wanted out of the Congress or the FEC. So they went to the SEC.

This sort of behavior is unacceptable. Hopefully the House Oversight Committee will be able to hold the people who initiated this sort of illegal political activity accountable.

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When Government Takes Up Bullying

One of the dangers of oversized government is the impact it has on the average citizen. Another danger is that government can become a bully to people it disagrees with. It is becoming very obvious that the current administration has no problem using the government to bully people who do not agree with administration policies.

The National Review posted a story yesterday about emails between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regarding conservative political groups.

The article reports:

The correspondence suggests the discrimination of conservative groups extended beyond the IRS and into the FEC, where an attorney from the agency’s enforcement division in at least one case sought and received tax information about the status of a conservative group, the American Future Fund, before recommending that the commission prosecute it for violations of campaign-finance law. Lerner, the former head of the IRS’s exempt-organizations division, worked at the FEC from 1986 to 1995, and was known for aggressive investigation of conservative groups during her tenure there, too.

Under Rule 6103, the IRS is prohibited from sharing confidential taxpayer information, but the e-mail suggests that Lois Lerner may have shared the information in spite of the law.

There is a pattern to these “:phony scandals.” All of them include an arrogance on the part of the Executive Branch of our government that simply ignores both the law and Congressional oversight. There seems to be an element of corruption that has leaked into a number of areas in the Executive Branch. The Congress needs to hold the people who broke the law accountable.

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Where It Began

Kimberly Strassel posted an article in today’s Wall Street Journal that sheds a lot of light on what has happened at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the past two years. The article reminds us of some of the activities of the Obama campaign and those associated with it during the 2008 primary elections.

The article points out:

On Aug. 21, 2008, the conservative American Issues Project (AIP) ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad—a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.

What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”

After the charges, AIP gave the Justice Department a full explanation of its activities, stating that it was operating in a manner similar to the operations of groups like Naral Pro-Choice. AIP also disclosed its donor, Texas businessman Harold Simmons. Mr. Bauer then sent a second letter to the Justice Department asking that Mr. Simmons be prosecuted. On September 8, Mr. Bauer sent a third letter. On that date Mr. Bauer also complained to the Federal Elections Commission about AIP and Mr. Simmons. He than demanded that AIP turn over certain documents to his campaign–some of those documents they were entitled to and some they were not.

Mr. Bauer set an example soon followed by other left-sing groups:

The Bauer onslaught was a big part of a new liberal strategy to thwart the rise of conservative groups. In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group (a 501(c)4) called Accountable America. Founded by Obama supporter and liberal activist Tom Mattzie, the group—as the story explained—would start by sending “warning” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.” As Mr. Mattzie told Mother Jones: “We’re going to put them at risk.”

In 2008, Mr. Bauer also went after supporters of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards:

American Leadership head (and Democrat) Jason Kinney would rail that Mr. Bauer had gone from “credible legal authority” to “political hatchet man”—but the damage was done. As Politico reported in August 2008, Mr. Bauer’s words had “the effect of scaring [Clinton and Edwards] donors and consultants,” even if they hadn’t yet “result[ed] in any prosecution.”

As general counsel to the Obama re-election campaign, Mr. Bauer used the same tactics on pro-Romney groups. The Obama campaign targeted private citizens who had donated to Romney groups. Democratic senators demanded that the IRS investigate these organizations.

So what have we learned? The targeting of any group opposed to Barack Obama was an everyday event during President Obama’s 2008 campaign. The targeting was not related to the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision–it was related to the way the Obama campaign did business. The same tactics were used in 2012 that were used in 2008–the only thing different were the political opponents.

We may never officially know whether President Obama was directly involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservatives and conservative groups. What we do know is that President Obama does not believe in a level playing field when running for election. During the past five years, America has gotten a not-so-free lesson on how Chicago politics works. I just hope we are paying attention.

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