June 6: The Hill: House votes to delay bulk ammunition purchases by DHS:
The House late Wednesday voted to stop the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from entering into new contracts to buy millions of rounds of ammunition until the DHS reports to Congress on the need for the ammo, and its cost.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) proposed an amendment to the DHS spending bill for 2014 that would require the report to Congress before it can pursue plans to buy 1.1 billion rounds of ammunition. Meadows said the speed bump is a necessary reaction to news of the huge purchase, which alarmed many Americans and prompted conservative groups to suspect that the government was stocking up on the rounds to fight citizens.
June 5: It's Summertime and Time for the Supreme Court to start announcing its findings on some significant cases:
June 5: Fox News: New wrinkle on Scandals: EPA accused of singling out conservative groups:
It's not just the IRS. A second federal agency is facing a probe and accusations of political bias over its alleged targeting of conservative groups. The allegations concern the EPA, which is being accused of trying to charge conservative groups fees while largely exempting liberal groups. The fees applied to Freedom of Information Act requests -- allegedly, the EPA waived them for liberal groups far more often than it did for conservative ones. The allegations are under investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is also holding hearings on the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups. I think "the American taxpayer should expect and demand that the EPA treat everyone equally in regard to these requests," said Congressman Murphy (R-PA) "This cannot be tolerated. As we see more federal agencies with this kind of bias, it is and should be a concern for all of us."
Research by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative D.C., think tank, claims that the political bias is routine when it comes to deciding which groups are charged fees. Christopher Horner, senior fellow at CEI, said liberal groups have their fees for documents waived about 90 percent of the time, in contrast with conservative groups that it claims are denied fee waivers about 90 percent of the time. "The idea is to throw hurdles in our way," Horner charged. He claimed that in the last year 18 out of 20 requests for fee waivers were denied while 17 out of 19 from Earth Justice were approved and eleven of 15 for the Sierra Club were approved. All together Horner said that 75 out of 82 groups were granted fee waiver requests. The EPA has denied any favoritism.
June 5: The Hill: GOP expands probe of Sebelius fundraising:
Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee solicited information from two more companies Tuesday after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she contacted them with information about a pro-ObamaCare group. Fred Upton (R-MI), the committee chair and his deputies have been investigating reports that Sebelius solicited donations from several major healthcare players on behalf of Enroll America, a group that will encourage consumers to take advantage of ObamaCare's coverage options. The letters sent by the committee ask the groups to summarize their contact with Sebelius, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, Enroll America and former White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle. Republicans say Sebelius's solicitations are illegal and unethical. HHS has defended her actions, saying they have several precedents in the George W. Bush administration. Tuesday's letters bring the total number of enterprises contacted by Energy and Commerce in the probe to 17.
June 5: The Daily Caller | The Hill: Poll shows scandals damaging Obama’s Support:
A new poll finds a trio of controversies raising public concerns about the “honesty” of the Obama administration, even as the president maintains his approval rating. President Barack Obama’s support among political independents has lurched downwards amid a wave of scandals, according to a new poll. The poll shows that among independent voters only 28 percent in swing voters approve of Obama’s performance, while 59 percent oppose his performance, said the poll of 1,000 adults, conducted between May 30 and June 2. That 48 percent approval is down a few points from his plus-50 percent ratings, and may fall further if the large slice of independents decide Obama is responsible for the scandals.
June 5: The Daily Caller: Grassley: Obama hasn’t called in four years, “Most stonewalling president in history”
Senator Chuck Grassley says that despite President Obama’s reported outreach to Republicans, the president hasn’t called the Iowa senator since 2009. “During that period of time, the president would call me on my cell phone and talk to me. I don’t know if it was a half a dozen times or a dozen times, but enough so you remember he called you,” Grassley said. Grassley has jurisdiction over two of the President’s top legislative priorities: gun violence and immigration reform. Grassley also said the president has failed to rise to his promise of running the most transparent administration in history. “Historically in my time in the Senate, I’ve had problems with both Republican and Democratic presidents, but this president is the worst from this standpoint — his own benchmark,” Grassley said. “By his own benchmark this is the most stonewalling president this country has ever had.”
June 5: The Hill: Chaffetz: Generally, those with subpoena power don’t get a two-by-four against the head!
David Plouffe, former White House senior advisor, took on Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA) personally on Sunday. “Generally, those with subpoena power don’t get a two-by-four against the head,” said Issa ally Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), referring to broad authority vested in Issa as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Does the White House really need to out-source the pit bull stuff?” added Chaffetz.
June 5: Politico: IRS-targeted groups cry foul after playing GOP politics:
The conservative groups testifying about overzealous IRS scrutiny during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Tuesday can’t get around a simple fact: All have been involved in the kinds of political activity that’s ripe for red flags.
June 5: The Daily Caller: Shulman met with Werfel two days before the IRS resumed improper targeting:
Former White House budget office controller Danny Werfel, the man President Obama has tapped to lead the scandal-ridden Internal Revenue Service, met with embattled then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman just two days before the agency decided to resume its improper targeting of conservative groups.
June 5: APNews: National Security Advisor Resigns; Rice to replace him:
President Barack Obama's top national security adviser Tom Donilon is resigning effective July and will be replaced by U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, marking a significant shakeup to the White House foreign policy team. Real Clear Politics reports Carville is saying Obama’s Choice of Susan Rice for National Security Advisor is an “In Your Face Appointment”
June 4: The DC Caller: Conservative groups reveal “chilling” information requests from the IRS:
Leaders of conservative groups targeted for extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service testified Tuesday on Capitol Hill about the “chilling” demands from the agency as they sought tax exempt status over the last several years.
June 4: Politico: Pickering Testifies Behind Closed Doors:
Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering gave a lengthy, closed-door deposition on Tuesday, saying he considered his role heading the Benghazi investigation “a debt of honor in memory of Ambassador Stevens who he knew very well,” according to one attendee. Pickering testified for more than three hours, fielding questions from lawmakers and staff in both parties on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
June 4: The Weekly Standard: Repeal of Obamacare verses Implementation:
A big part of Obamacare is its massive expansion of Medicaid. Fortunately, this expansion can’t happen in most states without Republicans freely choosing to make it happen. Unfortunately, far too many Republican governors seem to be confused about the distinction between repealing Obamacare and implementing it.
If Obamacare isn’t repealed, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects it will cost about $1.9 trillion over its real first decade (2014 to 2023) and will still leave 30 million people uninsured. Aside from these 30 million, the CBO projects 11 million people will be dumped into the already failing Medicaid program — where they’ll receive sub-par care at taxpayer expense. Some of these 11 million have employer-sponsored insurance today, but the CBO projects that roughly 4 million of them will lose such coverage under Obamacare. CBO says the cost to federal taxpayers from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion alone will be about $750 billion in its first decade. Nevertheless, some Republican governors want to implement this key aspect of Obamacare in their states. To be clear, they aren’t required to do so by law. Instead, they are actually volunteering to do so.
June 4: The Weekly Standard: Cotton verses Court Packing:
President Obama today nominated three liberals to fill longstanding judicial vacancies on the important Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Will the Senate rubber-stamp the president's nominees—even though the court's fine as it is, with the eight judges currently serving enjoying the lightest caseload in the country? In 2006, Senator Ted Kennedy stressed that “we should consider these caseload declines carefully before we fill the current vacancy. American taxpayers deserve no less.” Since then, the court has only added more judges and heard fewer cases.
Today Congressman Tom Cotton introduced the Stop Court Packing Act, legislation that would reduce the number of judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from eleven to eight. Cotton said, “The Stop Court Packing Act would eliminate three needless judgeships from the D.C. Circuit, saving millions of taxpayer dollars. This court has the lightest caseload of any federal appellate court in the country... moreover, the D.C. Circuit hasn’t had eleven judges since 1999, yet it has managed its shrinking caseload. ... these jobs are no longer needed, and they shouldn’t be filled."
June 4: The Daily Caller: Another Democrat breaks ranks with Obama over EPA Coal Regulations:
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky has called on the Obama administration to axe a pending environmental regulation that would effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants. In a letter to the EPA sent last week, Beshear asked the agency to consider an alternative approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions that would allow power plants to still burn coal, arguing that the economy thrives on cheap, affordable energy. Beshear is not the first Democratic governor to rebel against the Obama administration’s environmental agenda. Last week, the Democratic governors of Montana and West Virginia filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court that challenged proposed federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
June 4: The Weekly Standard: We’d Like to be transparent, but …
High officials in the Obama administration are using "secret e-mail accounts," according to the Associated Press, and stonewalling when asked about them, even by establishment media operations. Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees' email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department even asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.
June 4: The Hill: GOP Smith wins special election for Missouri House Seat:
June 3: The Galveston Daily News:
Mark Mansius, John Gay and Bill Sargent's weekly column:
This weeks column discusses why many Republicans voted for a continuing resolution that fully funded Obamacare while they campaigned for the repeal of this law. It highlights Congressmen Steve Stockman and Louie Gohmert who honored their campaign promises and voted against the Continuing Resolution.
June 3: CNBC:
Two-Thirds of Americans Don’t Know if they will insure under Obamacare:
There's no assurance folks will be buying insurance under Obamacare, and that could spell trouble for the Affordable Care Act. Nearly two-thirds of Americans who currently lack health insurance don't know yet if they will purchase that coverage by the Jan. 1 deadline set by the ACA, a new survey revealed Monday. And less than half of those in the survey released by InsuranceQuotes.com think they'll get better health care after Obamacare takes full effect. Nearly 50 percent believe the ACA will make it more difficult for them to get tests and procedures done in a timely manner, according to the phone survey of 1,001 adult Americans conducted in early May.
Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com, said public uncertainty about Obamacare—particularly a lack of commitment to signing up—could end up driving up health-insurance costs under the program because not enough healthy people will participate to offset benefits payouts.
June 3: APNews: Supreme Court Rules It’s OK to take DNA swabs from arrestees:
A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday said police can routinely take DNA from people they arrest, equating a DNA cheek swab to other common jailhouse procedures like fingerprinting. "Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court's five-justice majority. But the four dissenting justices said that the court was allowing a major change in police powers. "Make no mistake about it: because of today's decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason," conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said in a sharp dissent which he read aloud in the courtroom. Kennedy wrote the decision, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer. Scalia was joined in his dissent by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. [See Related Stories]
June 3: Politico: Supreme Court rejects polling place access case:
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case that limited the ability of the press to cover elections from polling places. In January, a federal appeals court ruled that a Pennsylvania state law requiring all persons aside from select officials, voters and those giving assistance to voters to stay 10 feet away from polling places during voting. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had sued, saying the First Amendment protected the press’s right to enter polling places. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that because voting is traditionally a secret activity, polling places are not considered public forums. The Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in the case, PG Publishing Co. v. Aichele, leaves in place the appeals court decision, which is binding in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
June 3: The Washington Times:
GOP sees reasons for optimism in 2014 for Senate: Retiring or vulnerable Dems Open Door:
It’s early — 17 months early — but Republicans have reason to be optimistic about the way the 2014 Senate races are shaping up around the county, especially in South Dakota and West Virginia, where Democratic incumbents are retiring. Republicans also have solid options emerging in Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina, red states where Democratic incumbents are considered vulnerable.
June 2: The Daily Caller: Bob Woodward advises Obama to admit he “screwed up”
On CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward suggested President Barack Obama take the same tack he took back in 2009 when he withdrew the nomination of former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle as the Health and Human Services secretary. Eventually the nomination was withdrawn and Obama had to admit he “screwed up” when it was revealed Daschle had failed to pay $128,000 in taxes on a limousine and driver lent to him.
Woodward said that when you put all of Obama’s current scandals together — IRS, Benghazi and the probe of journalists — and combine it with the public’s distrust in general, the need for Obama to act becomes evident. “The New York Times this morning was quoting people from the White House saying they would really like [Attorney General Eric Holder] to resign,” Woodward said.
June 2: The Hill: Court Challenges could tear down major pieces of Obamacare:
President Obama’s healthcare law is under attack in the courts even as the administration sprints toward full implementation.
Despite surviving a stiff challenge at the Supreme Court last year, some of the law’s biggest provisions remain at risk from legal challenges.
One set of lawsuits accuses the Internal Revenue Service of illegally implementing new subsidies to help people buy insurance. Separately, more than 60 lawsuits have been filed challenging the law’s mandate for health plans to cover birth control.
A loss for the administration on the contraception mandate would undermine a key selling point for the law that Democrats used to court women in the 2012 elections.
The challenge to the law’s insurance subsidies, while more obscure, poses a far bigger and more dangerous threat to the Affordable Care Act.
Simon Lazarus, senior counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center, has argued that there’s a very real chance the Supreme Court’s conservative majority would strike down the IRS’s approach to insurance subsidies if it gets the chance.
June 2: The Daily Caller:
Cincinnati IRS employee: Washington was “basically throwing us underneath the bus”
In interviews with House Oversight Committee investigators, Cincinnati IRS employees said that they believed that targeting of conservative groups came from Washington, not from a couple of “rogue agents.“ Sunday the House Oversight Committee released partial transcripts of Oversight Committee investigators’ interviews with unnamed Cincinnati IRS employees, which contradicts the line coming from the White House. “It’s impossible,” an IRS employee responded to an investigator’s question about the allegations that the targeting of conservative groups was due to “two ‘rogue agents.” “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.”
June 2: Politico: Issa charges Washington involvement with IRS Scandal:
Issa contends that the interviews show the targeting was not solely done by the Cincinnati office and that officials in Washington requested that searches identifying applications by conservative groups be conducted and then asked to see certain files. “As late as last week, the [Obama] administration was still trying to say there was a few rogue agents from Cincinnati, when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from Washington,” Issa (R-CA) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Oversight panel did not release the full transcripts from the interviews and it did not identify the two IRS employees who spoke with the committee.
June 2: The Daily Caller: Darrell Issa rips Jay Carney on abuses: a “paid liar” [Video]
On Sunday’s broadcast of CNN’s “State of Union,” Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa also took a jab at White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, calling the spokesman a “paid liar.” Issa unveiled a part of his committee’s investigation that included interviews with Internal Revenue Service workers in Cincinnati who maintained the IRS targeting of tea party groups was coordinated out of Washington, D.C. In light of those revelations, Issa took issue with the White House’s claim that a “local rogue” was responsible when the White House knew better.
June 2: Politico: RNC Chair says White House culture led to IRS targeting:
The culture of the Obama administration, which sees conservatives as political foes, led to the IRS targeting scandal, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday. “The culture of the president calling tea party groups terrorists and tea-baggers, and that entire culture has been cultivated by the president and his people, and everyone has been following,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”
June 2: Politico: Members of Congress: Don’t clip our wings:
The nation’s most powerful frequent fliers have a plea for the Obama administration: Don’t mess with our convenient flights home from Reagan National Airport. More than 100 House members are urging the Justice and Transportation departments not to force American Airlines and US Airways to shed flight slots at Reagan National as a condition of their pending merger even though the combined airline would hold the vast majority of slots at the airport closest to the Capitol. At stake, the lawmakers say, is the economic cost of losing nonstop service from Washington to smaller cities.
Of course, members of Congress have a personal interest as well: They shuttle constantly between their districts and Washington, making them some of Reagan National’s most devoted customers.
June 2: The Daily Caller: Judge Jeanine Pirro: “Eric Holder Should Be Indicted”
On her Saturday night Fox News Channel program, “Justice” host Jeanine Pirro said that embattled Attorney General Eric Holder “should be indicted.” According to Pirro, the scandals surrounding Holder are a stain on the U.S. Department of Justice. Holder should lose his job as the department’s head. Pirro outlines 5-6 counts upon which Holder could be indicated.
[follow link for expanded coverage]
June 2: Fox News: Holder under investigation for statements made during Hill testimony:
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday his panel is investigating remarks Attorney General Eric Holder made under oath regarding the Justice Department accessing a Fox News reporter’s phone logs and emails. "It’s fair to say we're investigating the conflict in his remarks, those remarks were made under oath,” Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, told “Fox News Sunday.”
June 1: The Daily Caller:
Former Planned Parenthood Abortionist “immediate danger to the public” Delaware complaint reads:
The Delaware Attorney General’s office has filed an official complaint against a former Planned Parenthood abortionist calling him a “clear and immediate danger to the public,” according to news reports. The complaint issued Thursday cites Timothy Liveright for unprofessional, inappropriate and negligent conduct while working at the Planned Parenthood in Wilmington, Delaware.
The complaint was filed before the Board of Medical Licensure by Attorney General Beau Biden’s office and signed by Deputy Attorney General Katisha D. Fortune and requests that the Board permanently “revoke [Liveright's] license to practice medicine or take such other action as deemed appropriate by the Board.” The complaint comes the same week two former Delaware Planned Parenthood nurses testified before the state senate about unsafe conditions and "meat-market assembly line" abortions at the clinic, including instances of Liveright’s misconduct.
June 1: The Hill: Agreement on Farm Bill Floor Amendments Eludes Senate While Cutting Food Stamps:
Senate Democrats and Republicans were unable to finalize an agreement on floor amendments to the $955 billion farm bill this week, leaving the work to be hashed out at the last minute.
The Senate, by a 59 to 33 vote, passed a reduction in crop insurance subsidies for those making over $750,000 per year before the Memorial Day recess. The amendment passed despite the opposition of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Minority member Cochran. The House draft farm bill does not have such a limitation.
As it stands the Senate bill cuts $23 billion in spending over ten years, with $4 billion coming from food stamps.
Stabenow argues that further cuts would weaken the farm safety net unfairly and she led an effort to defeat a Republican attempt to include deeper cuts to food stamps by converting it to a block grant program. That proposal failed 36 to 60.
The chairwoman also opposed a liberal attempt to restore the $4 billion in food stamp cuts. That effort failed 26 to 70.
June 1: The Hill: Alaska Governor touts Keystone Pipeline, Arctic Refuge in weekly GOP Address:
Delivering the weekly address for Republicans, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell urged Democrats in the Senate to back construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline and pushed the Obama administration to re-evaluate the potential for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Parnell devoted the address to energy independence, arguing that federal regulations are preventing states from utilizing oil and gas reserves that could boost the national economy. “If Washington, D.C. would start working with states to unlock access to federal lands,” Parnell said, “an economic boom would be felt across this nation, lifting wages, and creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs and improving our national security through energy independence. Alaska and many of America’s governors are leading our country’s energy revolution,” he said. “America’s resources belong to Americans. They should be unlocked for our benefit and not locked up by Washington.”
Parnell called on the Democratic-led Senate to follow the Republican-led House in approving the Keystone pipeline, which backers say would create up to 20,000 jobs. “This common sense energy infrastructure project is truly shovel-ready, and yet the White House threatened it with a veto,” he said. “The project could already be well underway, but the State Department has unnecessarily delayed the project for years.”
June 1: The Hill: Report: IRS sought gift tax on conservative group’s donors:
The IRS tried to impose a gift tax on donors to a conservative group formed to support former President George W. Bush’s 2007 troop surge in Iraq, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. The probe centered on a group called Freedom’s Watch and involved five separate audits, the Journal reported. It was halted in 2011 after an outcry from Congress, although the identity of the organization was not revealed at the time. The IRS declined to comment in the story.
May 31: The Hill: Report said to expose lavish spending at 2010 IRS conference:
The House Oversight Committee is holding another hearing on the IRS this one focusing on “excessive spending” at IRS conferences.
May 31: CNN: IRS collects documents from 88 employees in investigation of targeting:
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 missed its May 21st deadline to turn over documents to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The same source said the IRS argues it missed its deadline because of the scope of documents it is collecting.
May 31: The Daily Caller:
Former IRS commissioner Shulman’s wife works for liberal group fighting open campaign spending:
Former Internal Revenue Service commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, a frequent White House guest during the period when the IRS was targeting conservative nonprofits, is married to the senior program advisor for Public Campaign, an “organization dedicated to sweeping campaign reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics.”
May 31: Fox News: Criticism of IRS grows amid allegations of targeting beyond the TEA Party.
What started as a scandal over the IRS's targeting of conservative groups has broadened, with lawmakers and other critics now questioning whether other kinds of organizations were unfairly flagged for additional scrutiny. Rep. Sam Graves, R-MO, chairman of the House Small Business Committee, wrote a letter to Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel on Friday asking a series of questions about the agency's audit practices for small businesses.
May 31: The Daily Caller: White House defense?
Visitor logs are too unreliable to reveal whether Shulman actually visited the White House 157 times:
May 31: The Daily Caller: Democrats rebel against Obama Administration’s environmental Agenda:
Democratic governors of Montana and West Virginia are rebelling against the Obama administration and challenging federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions, opting out of what critics are calling the Environmental Protection Agency’s “war on coal.” “The EPA’s proposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions threaten the livelihood of our coal miners to the point of killing jobs and crippling our state and national economies, while also weakening our country’s efforts toward energy independence,” said West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
West Virginia and Montana are joining Kansas in filing an amicus brief to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to rules that give the federal government the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The states want the court to rule that the EPA misinterpreted its authority under the Clean Air Act and has overreached.
May 31: The LA Times: Recall effort against America’s toughest sheriff fails:
Despite a recent court ruling that the department run by Maricopa County’s top cop used racial profiling in his quest to crack down on illegal immigration, a recall effort against Sheriff Joe Arpaio has failed. On Thursday, members of Respect Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona -- who launched the recall effort against Arpaio -- failed to gather the necessary 335,000 valid voter signatures by the 5 p.m. deadline. The aim was to force a recall election. Activists behind the recall effort would not say how many signatures they were short. Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for Better Arizona, only said the two groups had collected close to 300,000 signatures.
May 31: CNBC News: TSA Eliminates all invasive “Gumby” X-Ray Machines:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it has finished removing from all airports the X-ray technology that produced graphic and controversial images of passengers passing through security screening checkpoints.
In a letter released Thursday, TSA administrator John Pistole told the House Homeland Security committee that as of May 16, all US airports scanners equipped with the ability to produce the penetrating images will now only show a generic outline of a passenger to the operator. A colored box pops up if the full-body scanner detects a potentially forbidden item.
The TSA beat their deadline by two weeks for modifying the scanners. The technology was originally mandated to be removed by June 2012 under the Federal Aviation Administration's Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, but the deadline was extended to May 31, 2013.
May 31: Politico: Cantor promises more hearings on administration scandals:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent a memo to fellow Republicans on Friday afternoon pledging not to let up on the trio of Obama administration scandals that attracted so much attention in May. Republicans held more than 100 hearings in May, Cantor wrote, and he sees no lack of issues to investigate going ahead. “During June and the coming months, the House will continue to hold the Administration accountable,” Cantor wrote. “We will continue our work to determine who directed IRS employees to target conservative groups, why it was done, and who knew about it.”
House panels will also continue to investigate Benghazi and the Justice Department’s efforts to obtain phone records and other information from journalists. “We will follow the facts and continue in our efforts to uncover the truth behind the attacks in Benghazi,” Cantor wrote. “We will explore DOJ’s actions in seizing phone records and emails of the news media. We will also continue our oversight of the implementation of Obamacare and the administration’s energy policy.” The House has already held five hearings on Benghazi. In the last month, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee held hearings on both the Benghazi attacks and the IRS targeting of conservative groups. And Ways and Means got into discussing the IRS scandal as well.
May 31: Fox 5 News/Washington:
Did EPA Regulations have anything to do with DC ambulance break down in emergency situation?
The D.C. fire department is trying to determine why one of its newer diesel ambulances broke down as crews were transporting a patient in cardiac arrest. It happened on I-295 Wednesday afternoon as Ambulance 19 was taking a shooting victim to the hospital. Then it took several minutes for a second ambulance to arrive. The driver of Ambulance 19 is telling investigators the indicator lights on the emission control system suddenly and unexpectedly jumped from a warning to shut down in a matter of seconds, and as the engine died, she was able to pull the rig to the side of the road.
The question now is why? And can these newer rigs be trusted to be there in an emergency?
When the D.C. fire department began buying these diesel engine ambulances a few years ago, officials knew they would have to manage them with a new emission control system that would automatically shut the engine down if it wasn't allowed to what's called "regenerate.”
It was a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency. And until recently, the fire department said it had been able to handle the requirements without any significant incidents.
One of those incidents involved the same new ambulance.
May 31: The Weekly Standard: “Liberal Activist” admits to bugging Senator McConnell’s Office:
Writing for Salon, Curtis Morrison, a self-titled "liberal activist," admits to bugging Mitch McConnell's office. He claims to have been inspired by Julian Assange and claims, "If given another chance to record him, I’d do it again. Earlier this year, I secretly made an audio recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican on the planet, at his campaign headquarters in Kentucky. The released portion of the recording clocks in at less than 12 minutes, but those few minutes changed my life," writes Morrison.
May 30: Reuters: California's Democratic lawmakers push for tighter gun control:
Democratic lawmakers in California, critical of Congress' failure to pass significant gun control legislation after mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut last year, advanced a package of bills on Wednesday that would tighten a ban on semi-automatic firearms and further regulate ammunition sales.
The bills, which passed the state Senate mostly along party lines, would outlaw all new sales of semi-automatic weapons with removable magazines, ban ammunition clips that can fire more than 10 rounds, and make it illegal for people convicted of drug and alcohol felonies to own a gun for 10 years.
May 30: Politico: Cruz: DOJ case “without precedent”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) accused the Department of Justice of an unprecedented disregard for the law and called for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation. “The degree of willingness of this administration to target a reporter for this network as an indicated co conspirator — that is without precedent,” Cruz told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Thursday. “And unfortunately, I think it’s part and parcel of a pattern of this administration of not respecting the bill of rights.”
May 30: Fox News: An assault on freedom of the press:
The firestorm commenced by the revelation of the execution of a search warrant on the personal email server of my Fox News colleague James Rosen continues to rage, and the conflagration engulfing the First Amendment continues to burn; and it is the Department of Justice itself that is fanning the flames. In the spring of 2010, the DOJ submitted an affidavit to a federal judge in Washington, D.C., in which an FBI agent swore under oath that Rosen was involved in a criminal conspiracy to release classified materials, and in the course of that conspiracy, he aided and abetted a State Department vendor in actually releasing them. The precise behavior that the FBI and the DOJ claimed was criminal was Rosen’s use of “flattery” and his appeals to the “vanity” of Stephen Wen-Ho Kim, the vendor who had a security clearance.
May 30: Politico | Fox News | The Hill: Growing boycott of Eric Holder media meetings:
Several news organizations have announced they will not attend this week’s off the record meetings with Attorney General Eric Holder unless the sit-downs are conducted on the record.
CNN, Fox News, CBS News, Reuters, McClatchy and now NBC News on Thursday joined the Associated Press, The New York Times and The Huffington Post in refusing to go to one of the Department of Justice’s off the record sessions about the department’s handling of investigations into journalists. Politico, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Bloomberg News, USA Today and the bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, have announced that they will attend the off the record meetings, which are being held to discuss changes to the Justice Department’s guidelines for subpoenas of reporters.
May 30: Politico: On DOJ meeting, Tom Brokaw puts NBC News in a box:
NBC News has declined to participate in the off-the-record meeting, according to a network spokesperson. As reported earlier NBC News was the last major news organization deliberating over whether or not to attend the Justice Department's off-the-record meeting with the media. But Tom Brokaw, the network's veteran newsman, seems to have already decided that NBC News shouldn't go. In an interview with Huffington Post Live on Thursday, Brokaw said "no news executive should go in there on an off-the-record session." This will put Brokaw and NBC News in a difficult position should they decide to attend.
May 30: The Daily Caller: Republican who ran against Durbin says Lois Lerner told me never to run for office again!
Former Illinois state representative Al Salvi, who ran as a Republican against Democrat Dick Durbin in his state’s 1996 U.S. Senate race, said that embattled IRS official Lois Lerner intimidated him in her then-capacity as a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) official and told him she would drop various complaints against him if he never ran for office again. Lerner is currently on administrative leave from her position at the IRS, where she oversaw groups’ applications for tax-exempt nonprofit status, and where she admittedly targeted conservative nonprofit groups for extra scrutiny.
May 30: Politico: House panels to interview Cincinnati IRS employees:
House investigators will interview four Internal Revenue Service employees over the next two weeks, Politico has learned. The House Ways and Means and Oversight committees hope the four front-line employees from the agency’s Cincinnati office will help lawmakers better understand how the IRS targeting of conservative groups first began. A committee aide declined to name the employees to be interviewed.
May 30: The Daily Caller: Krauthammer: Obama a “fraud,” “What he preaches doesn’t work” [Audio]
On Dennis Miller’s radio show on Thursday, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer reacted to what Miller called “the new normal” — lowered expectations for the American economy — calling President Barack Obama a “fraud” and comparing him to “a Wizard of Oz.” Krauthammer went on to predict Obama's ideology would eventually fail Obama as things unraveled.
“This is the ideology that this wizard (Obama)... has spun over the last four-and-a-half years,” Krauthammer said. “He came in as this sort of messianic guy who was going to reform everything. And his acolytes are so deeply invested in this theology of Obama that they can’t let it go even though, every day, the empirical evidence is that this guy is a fraud; he’s a Wizard of Oz; what he preaches doesn’t work, and it has very little effect. There may be a turn, I think: By the end of his second term, he will be debunked. But it’s taken a hell of a long time.”
May 30: Fox News | The Hill:
Republicans seek IG probe into Sebelius over Obamacare group donations:
Congressional Republicans on Thursday escalated their call for an independent investigation into whether Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius broke the law when she sought donations from private companies for an independent ObamaCare project. Three top Senate Republicans wrote a letter to the HHS inspector general asking his office to launch a probe. It follows a previous GOP call for a review by another internal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office.
At issue is Sebelius' effort to solicit donations and other assistance from various charities and executives for a nonprofit group that is helping sign up people for benefits under the federal health care overhaul. HHS argues the practice was legal, since the Public Health Services Act allows a secretary to seek funding for nonprofits operating in public health. But Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Tom Coburn (R_OK) questioned whether Sebelius had crossed an ethical or legal line.
May 30: Washington Examiner: Cruz: President doesn’t respect First, Second, Fourth or Fifth Amendments:
Sen. Ted Cruz [R-TX] indicated that President Obama should ask for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation. After he was asked by Fox News host Megyn Kelly if Obama should ask for Holder’s resignation he said “Yes. Absolutely.” Cruz cited the “unprecedented” investigations of reporters and Holder’s response to the Fast and Furious scandal as examples of the Justice Department disregarding the law. “Unfortunately, I think it’s part and parcel of a pattern from this administration of not respecting the Bill of Rights,” Cruz added. “Not respecting the First Amendment, not respecting the Second Amendment, not respecting our Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights regarding drone strikes, regarding the IRS.” Cruz added that it was a disturbing pattern of behavior from the White House.
Cruz cited two instances where the Administration has lied to the American people and Congress. The first, when Press Secretary Carney said the White House made no substantive changes to the Benghazi talking points. Now we know that was a lie by the President’s spokesman. The second, when they went before Congress and said that the IRS was not targeting conservative groups when the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, a political appointee, knew full well that this was not true. All this, Kelly added, adds to the credibility gap of this administration.
May 30: The Hill:
If Reid pushes for the “nuclear option” on Obama nominees the Senate vote would be extremely close:
If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) triggers the "nuclear option" to break the logjam of President Obama’s nominees, it would be a very close vote. At the start of the year, Reid did not have the votes to implement the talking filibuster reform, which would have required senators to actively hold the floor to stall action on legislation or nominees. Members of a liberal coalition pushing for filibuster reform believe Reid could garner the 51 votes needed to change the Senate rules on a party-line vote.
May 29: A Report from Breitbart.Com: Blame the President for Benghazi:
When the American mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked on September 11th, 2012, only one person had the positional authority, legal mandate, and communications apparatus to give the order to defend our personnel on the ground: the President of the United States. The President did not give that order, and four Americans died in Benghazi that day.
May 29: Fox News: House Republicans challenge Holder testimony on reporter surveillance:
Top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee openly challenged Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday over his testimony two weeks ago in which he claimed to be unaware of any "potential prosecution" of the press, despite knowing about an investigation that targeted a Fox News reporter. Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., R-WI., voiced "great concern" in a letter to Holder. They asked a litany of questions about the department's dealings with the press, and pointedly alleged that the Fox News case "contradicts" his testimony at a May 15 hearing. "It is imperative that the committee, the Congress, and the American people be provided a full and accurate account of your involvement," they wrote.
May 29: CBS News: House Republicans express "great concern" about possible Holder perjury:
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday expressing "great concern" about the possibility that Holder lied under oath during his testimony earlier this month on the Justice Department's seizing of journalists' records, CBS News has learned.
May 29: Reuters: House Republicans assail Eric Holder on leak testimony:
Two Republican lawmakers asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday to clarify testimony he gave Congress this month about his role in the targeting of journalists in a leak probe. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and colleague James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) sent a letter to Holder saying recent media reports "appear to be at odds with your sworn testimony."
May 29: The Hill: Holder to meet news media chiefs in review of subpoena policy:
Attorney General Eric Holder is planning to meet with the Washington, D.C., bureau chiefs of major news outlets this week as he reviews the Justice Department’s (DOJ) policies for issuing media subpoenas.
May 29: Politico: The New York Times will not attend DOJ Sessions:
New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has announced that her paper will not attend an off-the-record session with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss the Justice Department's monitoring of reporters, due to the fact that the meeting is to be conducted "off the record.
May 29: Associated Press: Congressional Committees Plan More Hearings on IRS Scandal:
At least two congressional panels are planning more hearings next week on the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. Underscoring how the IRS controversy is spreading, 25 tea party and conservative groups filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday against the government, saying the IRS illegally obstructed their efforts. The House Appropriations Committee will hear from the acting IRS Commissioner and the House Ways and Means Committee will hear from witnesses with groups targeted by the IRS.
May 29: The Daily Standard: Mysterious Tweets About Koch Brothers' Taxes
In August 2010, Austan Goolsbee, serving at the time as economic adviser to President Obama, told reporters during an anonymous background briefing that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate income taxes. In a September 2010 Weekly Standard interview, Mark Holden, a lawyer for Koch Industries, disputed Goolsbee's claim and asked how Goolsbee came up with the idea that Koch Industries doesn't pay corporate taxes. Holden raised the question of whether someone in the Obama administration might have looked at Koch Industries' tax returns -- which would be a violation of a federal law that was enacted in 1976 in response to Watergate.
May 29: Associated Press: Developer Found Guilty of Illegal Contributions to Harry Reid:
A Nevada powerbroker who headed a billion-dollar real estate company and pulled the strings of state politics as a prominent lobbyist for more than a decade was convicted Wednesday of making illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. Harvey Whittemore, 59, could face up to 15 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines after a federal jury returned guilty verdicts on three counts tied to nearly $150,000 illegally funneled to Reid's re-election campaign in 2007. Later in the day, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks declared a mistrial on a count of lying to the FBI after jurors said they were deadlocked on that charge.
May 27: The Galveston Daily News:
Learning the difference between Hype and Votes:
Every Monday, Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius, and John Gay -- former candidates for Congressional District 14 in the 2012 primary -- publish an column in the Galveston Daily News about current issues of the day. This one is the first of two that looks at what our elected representatives say and what they do.
May 26: The Hill:
Dems want more time before weighing in on the need for an IRS special prosecutor:
Leading congressional Democrats say they don’t believe the investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups needs a special prosecutor – at least not yet. They have expressed deep anger about how the IRS handled applications from Tea Party groups. Like Republicans, top Democrats also want to give their own probe into the issue more time, two weeks after news first broke and following three hearings left many questions unanswered. “I think it’s too soon,” said Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), whose committee held one of those three hearings.
May 26: The Hill: Senator Durbin: No regrets in calling out "Crossroads" to the IRS:
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Sunday defended his decision to single out a key GOP group in a 2010 letter to the IRS. Durbin said Crossroads GPS, co-founded by Karl Rove, had been boasting about how much money they had been raising, and the role they were playing in the 2010 midterms. “Citizens United really unleashed hundreds, if not thousands of organizations, seeking tax-exempt status to play in political campaigns,” Durbin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
May 26: The Hill: No end to scandals in sight for embattled Obama White House:
Batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to clear. That’s the advice veteran Washington Democrats are urging on a White House that has been embattled for a full two weeks by the triad of controversies revolving around the IRS, Benghazi and the Justice Department’s seizure of reporters’ phone records. No-one expects the pressure to let up anytime soon. “There is blood in the water and the sharks are circling,” said Jim Manley, who spent years as the top communications aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) before moving on to a career at a lobbying firm. “The last thing the White House needs to do is to make any unnecessary quick moves — by making dramatic personnel changes, for example. The temptation, when you have some variety of these feeding frenzies, is only to worry about the churning water and not the longer-term horizon,” he said.
May 26: The Weekly Standard:
Former Obama Intel Officials says “Trend of Leaks Being Set at the ‘Top of this Administration’”
In a videoed interview former Obama intelligence official Dennis Blair, an admiral, blamed leaks on the "trend" being set "at the top of this administration. You've heard the press's side there," said the ABC host. "Admiral Blair, you were in the White House. The leak investigations have been quite intense in the Obama White House."
"Right," said Blair, the former Director of National Intelligence. "And they have been directed, the ones that I knew about, mostly against the U.S. government employees who were talking with reporters which is where I think they should be directed. I know of no institution in America better able to defend itself than the press. So I think that will work out okay. But what I think is that the leaking at the top of this administration ... is what sets the tone for those below. And I think that most of what administration spokesmen should talk about with reporters should be talked about on the record, with their names attached to it. To set an example so that those further down the line don't think that leaking is the way it's done, the way it should be done."
May 25: Fox News: Illinois lawmakers approve plan to allow concealed carry for gun owners:
Gun owners could carry concealed weapons in Illinois, the last state in the nation to prohibit it, under legislation that swept through the House Friday with the backing of the powerful Democratic speaker from Chicago, a city torn by violence despite what critics claim are the nation's toughest firearms restrictions. The historic 85-30 vote would allow the carrying of concealed guns, a legislative task compelled by a federal appeals court ruling and precipitated by House Speaker Michael Madigan's turnabout.
May 25: The Washington Times: House Republicans ask top insurers if Kathleen Sebelius requested donations:
House Republicans who are critical of the federal health care law have written to more than a dozen companies, including top insurers Aetna and BlueCross BlueShield, to ask if President Obama’s top health official tried to solicit funds from them to support the overhaul. The Committee on Energy and Commerce is looking into reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called members of the health care industry to suggest they donate to Enroll America, a nonprofit that is promoting the Affordable Care Act.
Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) signed onto a request from House and Senate leaders that asked the Government Accountability Office to examine if her activities broke any laws, particularly as an end run around congressional appropriations. Mrs. Sebelius recently told lawmakers on Capitol Hill they’ve significantly underfunded efforts to implement Mr. Obama’s health care law, or “Obamacare,” only to criticize the agency for its efforts ahead of key implementation dates. But Republicans say the secretary’s actions, first reported by The Washington Post, may have gone too far.
May 25: Fox News: Sheriff Joe to Appeal Federal Judge Ruling in Profiling Case:
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will appeal a federal judge's ruling that his agency systematically singled out Latinos in its trademark immigration patrols, marking the first finding by a court that the agency racially profiles people. Tim Casey, the lead attorney representing America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in the case, said an appeal of the finding that the agency racially profiles people was planned in the next 30 days.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow in Phoenix backs up years of allegations from Arpaio's critics who say his officers violate the constitutional rights of Latinos in relying on race in their immigration enforcement.
May 24: Breitbart.com: Some Unions Now Angry about Obamacare:
Some labor unions that enthusiastically backed President Barack Obama's health care overhaul are now frustrated and angry, fearful that it will jeopardize benefits for millions of their members.
Union leaders warn that unless the problem is fixed, there could be consequences for Democrats facing re-election next year. "It makes an untruth out of what the president said that if you like your insurance, you could keep it," said Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. "That is not going to be true for millions of workers now."
The problem lies in the unique multiemployer health plans that cover unionized workers in retail, construction, transportation and other industries with seasonal or temporary employment. Known as Taft-Hartley plans, they are jointly administered by unions and smaller employers that pool resources to offer more than 20 million workers and family members continuous coverage, even during times of unemployment.
The union plans were already more costly to run than traditional single-employer health plans. But Obama's Affordable Care Act has added to that cost for the unions' and other plans by requiring health plans to cover dependents up to age 26, eliminate annual or lifetime coverage limits and extend coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. "We're concerned that employers will be increasingly tempted to drop coverage through our plans and let our members fend for themselves on the health exchanges," said David Treanor, director of health care initiatives at the Operating Engineers union.
May 24: Real Clear Politics:
Ted Cruz Summarizes the Reason for objecting to going to conference on the Budget [Video]
The Senate Majority Leader wants to raise the debt ceiling without conditions and without debate and without cutting spending Ted Cruz (R-TX) said. He summarized the issue before the Senate very simply, noting that by agreeing to appoint conferees it would allow the Senate to pass a budget with only 50 votes instead of the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster. That would mean that the 55 Democrat majority could pass a debt ceiling increase without needing to listen to the Republican minority, Cruz said. He also said he would not stand in the way of going to conference if the Democrats would commit to not raising the debt ceiling unless there are 60 votes in favoring of doing so. But they are not willing to do that.
On the Republican side some are saying we ought to have a motion to instruct the conferees. A motion to instruct is non-binding so it is purely a symbolic gesture,” Cruz contended. “And here is the dirty little secret… “ there some who would like to cast a symbolic vote against raising the debt ceiling while allowing the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling. To some that to "some Republicans is the ideal outcome because they can go to their constituents and say they voted against raising the debt ceiling while still allowing it to go through,” Cruz concluded.
May 24: Politico: Furlough Friday: Will anybody notice?
If four federal agencies closed their doors, would anyone notice? This is no philosophical experiment Friday when, thanks to sequestration, the IRS, EPA, HUD and OMB turn a normal workday into an unpaid holiday for nearly all of their employees. Well now, some of us might argue this is a good thing for the government to shutdown, especially the IRS and EPA given their overreaching power in our lives! But if we take all of these agencies into account about 115,000 people — roughly 5 percent of the federal workforce — won’t be on the clock for the day. Staffers for the Labor and Interior departments will also get an extra unpaid day for their Memorial Day weekend.
It’s an important moment for Congress and the Obama administration as they continue to battle over mandatory budget cuts, that the President conceived and the Democrats continue to warn will mean real consequences while most Republicans claim Democrats are just crying wolf. Republicans wanted to permanently close several government agencies during the 2012 presidential campaign. On Friday, they’ll get a partial victory when two departments they despise — the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency — take a timeout. “The more days the IRS is closed, the better our economy will probably do,” Rep. Steve Scalise said. Of EPA, the Louisiana lawmaker who heads the conservative Republican Study Committee added, “I think China will be unhappy if the EPA closes down on Friday. That’s fewer jobs that they’ll be getting from us.”
May 24: The Hill: Congress and Pentagon lack consensus on sequestration fix:
Capitol Hill and the Pentagon are at an impasse on how to fix the dire fiscal situation facing the department under sequestration, with no viable end in sight.
In his last press conference as Air Force secretary, Michael Donley said Friday that he doubts there is any political will on either side of the Potomac to reach a consensus over sequestration's impact. Military leaders are facing "difficult and hot-button issues, if you will, with Congress right now," Donley told reporters at the Pentagon."I don't think we have a consensus with Congress ... on how to do [deal with] that and what the choices will be," he added.
From potential base closures to a reduction in health and retirement benefits, Pentagon leaders are working multiple, politically distasteful options to reduce the impact of those across-the-board budget cuts.
The Defense Department is preparing to cut $41 billion in 2013, and its 2014 budget request could get slashed by another $52 billion if the sequester is not eliminated. For its part, the Air Force has already grounded 17 squadrons and severely cut back on critical training missions to pay for their end of sequestration.
But in the end, if Congress does not grant the Air Force and the rest of the services the fiscal leeway on base closures and benefits, it could deal a crippling blow to the air service.
May 24: WhiteHouseDossier.com: Obama gives Benghazi talking points editor a promotion:
The State Department spokeswoman (Nuland) who played a pivotal role in deleting portions of the Benghazi talking points has been tapped by President Obama for a plum new post, bagging a nomination to become assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. During the process of whittling the original CIA talking points down, Nuland had expressed “serious concerns” about mentioning the terrorists. And she also asserted that including references to previous attacks against foreigners in Benghazi “could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings.”
May 24: Fox News: IRS official who refused to testify signed letters to Tea Party groups under review:
The IRS official who refused to testify this week -- while claiming she had done nothing wrong -- signed letters to Tea Party groups a year ago that asked them to turn over everything from printouts of their Facebook pages to the credentials of speakers who participated in their events. A group representing more than a dozen Tea Party groups now suing the IRS released a sample of one of the letters overnight, after the official Lois Lerner was placed on administrative leave. According to one lawmaker, she was only placed on leave after she refused to resign.
May 24: Politico: What is next for the IRS?
In the two weeks since the news surfaced that the Internal Revenue Service wrongly targeted conservative groups applying for a tax exemption, the debacle has unfolded at a breathless pace — complete with resignations, three congressional hearings and the transformation of civil servants into household names. The GOP — and many Democrats — insist the investigation is only getting started. But where can the saga go from here?
May 24: The Hill: Justice asked the Judge to keep Fox reporter in the dark over tracked email:
The Justice Department pleaded with a federal judge to keep a Fox News reporter indefinitely in the dark as it tracked his email in a national security leaks case. A new set of exhibits unsealed and made public this week show U.S. Attorney Ron Machen argued in 2010 that the traditional 30-day notice period did not apply to Fox News reporter James Rosen. Justice wanted to secretly monitor Rosen’s gmail account. Fox News CEO Roger Ailes in a memo to his employees on Thursday condemned the government’s actions, comparing them to the McCarthy era.
May 24: Fox News:
Justice acknowledges Holder was on board with warrant for Fox News reporter’s emails and phone records:
The Justice Department acknowledged late Friday that Attorney General Eric Holder was on board with a search warrant to obtain the personal emails of a Fox News reporter, as media and civil liberties groups continued to raise concerns about the case.
Following prior reports indicating that Holder had likely signed off on the search warrant, the Justice Department acknowledged Holder's involvement and defended the decision. President Obama directly addressed complaints for the first time on Thursday, announcing a review of DOJ policies on investigations that involve reporters. "I've raised these issues with the attorney general, who shares my concern," Obama said, adding that Holder would report back by July 12. The acknowledgment, however, that Holder was involved in the search warrant decision raised additional questions about whether the attorney general's review of his own actions would be impartial.
May 24: Politico: The Sharyl Attkisson Approach:
Sharyl Attkisson has problems. The Obama administration won’t answer the CBS News correspondent’s questions because her investigations — into Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Solyndra — often reflect negatively on it. Some colleagues at CBS News, where she has worked for two decades and earned multiple Emmy awards, dismiss her work because they perceive a political agenda. And now, she says, someone may have hacked into her computers. Attkisson’s one piece of solace may come from finally gaining some like-minded colleagues in the media.
May 23: NBC News: Holder Approved search warrant for Fox News Reporter’s private emails:
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday. The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists. [Editors Note: Hello, isn’t kind of like letting the fox guard the hen house? And isn’t this the guy who was found in Contempt of Congress over the Operation Fast and Furious documents and the fella who has said he is not going to enforce all the laws (like the DOMA)?]
May 23: The Wall Street Journal: Peggy Noonan: At the IRS A Battering Ram Becomes a Stonewall:
"I don't know." "I don't remember." "I'm not familiar with that detail." "It's not my precise area." "I'm not familiar with that letter." These are quotes from the Internal Revenue Service officials who testified this week before the House and Senate. That is the authentic sound of stonewalling, and from the kind of people who run Washington in the modern age—smooth, highly credentialed and unaccountable. They're surrounded by legal and employment protections, they know how to parse a careful response, they know how to blur the essential point of a question in a blizzard of unconnected factoids. They came across as people arrogant enough to target Americans for abuse and harassment and think they'd get away with it.
May 23: Fox News: The IRS Controversy May have started because of push by Democrat lawmakers:
The 2010 Congressional midterm elections were approaching. Attacks on the Tea Party and groups calling for less government spending and taxation were in full swing. President Barack Obama in his state of the union address in January had attacked the Supreme Court with the justices in attendance for signing off on the Citizens United case, for opening the ”flood gates” for special-interest money in U.S. elections.
And 2010 was the year Democrats went full bore pressuring the IRS to investigate nonprofit politicking, which resulted in the IRS targeting Tea Party and other nonprofit applicants who were ideological opponents. Again, this is when Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who pushed through Obamacare was the Speaker of the House. Letters from 10 high-profile Democrats to then-IRS commissioner Doug Shulman pressured the IRS to investigate nonprofit politicking, even threatening legislation to change IRS standards if the IRS didn’t act. The letters show how elected officials pressured the IRS during an election season, fearing opponents were unfairly using the tax law to raise money to their advantage.
May 23: Fox News: IRS official on leave refused to resign GOP Senator Says:
First she refused to testify. Now Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the tax agency scandal, is refusing to resign, according to a top Republican senator. Sources confirmed to Fox News earlier Thursday that Lerner, the head of the IRS division that oversaw the unit targeting conservative groups, had been placed on administrative leave, with pay. But Sen. Charles Grassley, R-IA, claimed she was only put in that status after refusing to step down.
May 23: The Weekly Standard:
Benghazi Investigation Deepens: Issa’s Committee seeks interviews with 13 officials involved:
As the investigation into the Obama administration’s handling of the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi intensifies, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are seeking to conduct transcribed interviews with thirteen top State Department officials in the coming weeks in order to learn more. Those named in the letter include a wide range of current and former State Department personnel, from senior advisers to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to mid-level career officials with responsibility for diplomatic security.
May 23: The Hill: Issa’s panel inching closer to calling Hillary Clinton to testify about Benghazi:
Members of the House Oversight Committee are getting closer to asking Hillary Clinton to testify on last year's deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) told The Hill that there are “a number of steps” that the panel “will take first” before calling the former secretary of State to the hearing room, but he left the door open to compelling her appearance.
May 22: The Daily Mail:
IRS tea-party bloodbath continues in Congress, as evidence emerges that IRS's own internal probe ended in May 2012, six months before election, but was hidden from legislators:
Tempers flared in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Wednesday, with members on both sides of the aisle castigating the Internal Revenue Service for targeting conservative groups with special scrutiny, and then hiding the practice from Congress. Rep. Darrel Issa, the committee's chairman, said that the committee learned just yesterday that the IRS completed its own investigation a year before a Treasury Department Inspector General report was completed. But despite the IRS recognizing in May 2012 that its employees were treating right-wing groups differently from other organizations, Issa said, IRS personnel withheld those conclusions from legislators.
May 22: The Daily Caller: Head of the IRS, Shulman, never looked into IRS targeting:
Even though 132 congressmen contacted the former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman about the IRS targeting of conservative groups, Shulman reiterated Wednesday that he did not have the full story until the inspector general’s report came out.
May 22: Daily Caller: Former IRS Director Didn’t Discuss Targeting with the White House:Former Internal Revenue Service commissioner Douglas Shulman told members of the House Oversight Committee that he had not discussed the IRS targeting of conservative groups during his numerous visits to the White House.
May 22: Politico: DOJ says We haven’t compromised Attkinsson’s computers:
The Department of Justice says it has never “compromised” computers belonging to Sharyl Attkisson, the CBS News investigative reporter who on Tuesday said that her personal and work computers were under investigation after intrusions by an unspecified entity.
May 22: Fox News: DOJ Fox Hunt: seized phone records of Rosen’s parents:
Newly uncovered court documents reveal the Justice Department seized records of several Fox News phone lines as part of a leak investigation -- even listing a number that, according to one source, matches the home phone number of a reporter's parents. The seizure was ordered in addition to a court-approved search warrant for Fox News correspondent James Rosen's personal emails. In the affidavit seeking that warrant, an FBI agent called Rosen a likely criminal "co-conspirator," citing a wartime law called the Espionage Act.
May 22: Politico: Feds say “We didn’t track James Rosen’s parent’s calls:
The Justice Department is denying that it tracked the phone calls of Fox News reporter James Rosen's parents as part of an investigation into how Rosen got classified information about North Korean nuclear test plans."We did not wiretap the phones of any reporter or news organization. Nor did we monitor or track the phone calls of any reporter’s parents.
May 22: Fox News: Assault on First Amendment needs to stop:
On the heels of the Justice Department’s seizure of telephone records involving AP reporters in four bureaus, now comes the revelation the DOJ had investigated the news-related activities of Fox News reporter James Rosen in another probe of classified leaks. Incredibly, the government suggested that Rosen was a “co-conspirator” for allegedly asking for information about a story involving Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a former State Department employee who is accused of giving Rosen details involving North Korea from a classified report after it had been released to others in the intelligence community.
May 22: The Hill: The House pushes for judicial oversight of DOJ in the wake of Associated Press leaks case:
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers unveiled a bill on Wednesday that would force the Department of Justice (DOJ) to get a federal court’s approval before seizing records from journalists. The move comes in response to growing concerns from both parties on Capitol Hill that the DOJ may have violated the First Amendment rights of Associated Press and Fox News employees by seizing their telephone and email records in a pair of separate investigations into national security leaks.
May 22: The Hill: House votes to override Obama on Keystone Pipeline:
The House passed a bill Wednesday that would approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline by an act of law, and take the decision out of the hands of President Obama. Members voted 241-175 in favor of H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act. Republican supporters were joined by 19 Democrats, much less than the level of Democratic support in the last Congress.
A big reason for the drop in Democratic support is the GOP's new approach to the pipeline, which would move tar sands oil from Canada to the United States to be refined. Legislation in the last Congress set a deadline by which Obama had to decide on approving the project, and passed with 47 Democrats in 2011. Today's bill would remove any need for presidential approval of TransCanada Corp's proposed pipeline and deem it approved, which many Democrats saw as going too far. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WVA), who supports the construction of the pipeline, said Republicans lost his support because of this change. "It waives a permit and it deems a permit application by a foreign company… for a major undertaking in the United States to be approved," he said of the bill. "We don't even do that for our domestic companies."
Congressman Randy Weber (R-TX) offered an amendment to this legislation which added to the findings section a statement that the State Department's scientific and environmental finding conclude the Keystone XL pipeline is a safe and environmentally sound project. The amendment was agreed to by a vote of 246-168.
May 22: The Hill: Ted Cruz: “I don’t trust Republicans”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Wednesday that he doesn’t trust members of his own party to negotiate a budget conference report. Cruz's remark came after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said he thought it was “bizarre” that a member of his own party was objecting to forming a conference committee with the House to work out a budget.
McCain said the objections suggested Senate Republicans didn’t trust House Republicans to hold the party line in negotiations.“The senior senator of Arizona urged senators to trust House Republicans ... and frankly, I don’t trust Republicans,” Cruz said. “It’s the leaders of both parties that got us in this mess. ... A lot of Republicans were complicit in this spending spree.”
May 21: Politico | BreitBart.com: CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson reports her computers may have been compromised:
Sharyl Attkisson, the Emmy-award winning CBS News investigative reporter, says that her personal and work computers have been compromised and are under investigation. "I can confirm that an intrusion of my computers has been under some investigation on my end for some months but I'm not prepared to make an allegation against a specific entity today as I've been patient and methodical about this matter," Attkisson told Politico on Tuesday. "I need to check with my attorney and CBS to get their recommendations on info we make public."
In an earlier interview with WPHT Philadelphia, Attkisson said that though she did not know the full details of the intrusion, "there could be some relationship between these things and what's happened to James [Rosen]," the Fox News reporter who became the subject of a Justice Dept. investigation after reporting on CIA intelligence about North Korea in 2009. Attkisson said the irregular activity on her computer was first identified in Feb. 2011, when she was reporting on the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal and on the Obama administration's green energy spending, which she said "the administration was very sensitive about." Attkisson has also been a persistent investigator of the events surrounding last year's attack in Benghazi, and its aftermath.
May 21: National Review: Issa Warns Hillary (If she is called to testify again, she’d better be ready!)
Since Hillary Clinton last came up to Capitol Hill, we’ve learned senior State Department officials sought to scrub references to terrorism from the infamous Benghazi talking points to insulate Foggy Bottom from political criticism — citing concerns of their “building’s leadership” to justify the demands. The rising temperature of the scandal means it’s possible that Hillary could be asked to return and testify again. If she comes back, she had better be prepared, says House Oversight and Government Reform chairman Darrell Issa.
May 21: PJMedia.com:
Ex-Diplomats Report new Benghazi whistleblowers with info that is devastating to Clinton and Obama:
More whistleblowers will emerge shortly in the escalating Benghazi scandal, according to two former U.S. diplomats who spoke with PJ Media Monday afternoon. These whistleblowers, colleagues of the former diplomats, are currently securing legal counsel because they work in areas not fully protected by the Whistleblower law. According to the diplomats, what these whistleblowers will say will be at least as explosive as what we have already learned about the scandal, including details about what really transpired in Benghazi that are potentially devastating to both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
May 21: BreitBart.com: FBI Identifies Five Benghazi Suspects – No Arrests Yet:
U.S. officials say they have identified five men they believe might be behind the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year. The officials say they have enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists _ but not enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers. So the officials say the men remain at large while the FBI gathers more evidence. The decision not to seize the men militarily underscores the White House's aim to move away from hunting terrorists as enemy combatants and toward trying them as criminals in a civilian justice system. The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss sensitive briefings publicly
May 21: Multiple Updates on the IRS Issue
May 21: The Hill: Unions break ranks on Obamacare:
Labor unions are breaking with President Obama on ObamaCare. Months after the president’s reelection, a variety of unions are publicly balking at how the administration plans to implement the landmark law. They warn that unless there are changes, the results could be catastrophic.
- The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans.
- The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers have called “for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.”
- UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers’ union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes.
Republicans have long attacked Obama’s promise that “nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor.” But the fact that unions are now noting it as well is a clear sign that supporters of the law are growing anxious about the law’s implementation.
May 21: The Hill: Senate GOP seeks to block ObamaCare’s IRS funds:
Republican Sen. Dean Heller (NV) introduced an amendment to the Senate farm bill Tuesday that would prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from receiving funds to implement ObamaCare. Heller previously introduced the measure as a standalone bill. Both moves, in addition to several GOP House bills, seek to impede the IRS's role in enacting the Affordable Care Act given the agency's targeting of conservative groups. "Public distrust in this agency is already at an all-time high, so providing the IRS with more power to enforce this flawed healthcare policy makes no sense," Heller said in a statement. "Simply put, right now, we can't trust the IRS to do its job."
The IRS is tasked with several key functions under ObamaCare, including enforcing the individual mandate to buy health insurance, distributing tax credits and managing the new revenue streams created to fund the law. Republicans argue that the agency cannot be trusted to neutrally carry out its duties because the agency applied additional scrutiny to conservative groups as they applied for tax-exempt status. Health policy experts say the risk of discrimination in enforcing ObamaCare is low because the law provides regulators with black and white decisions.
May 21: The Hill: House Democrats introduce 2-Year sequester replacement bill:
House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a revised bill that would replace the automatic sequestration cuts that took effect in March and avoid further cuts in 2014. The bill, authored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), contains $181 billion in replacement deficit reduction over 10 years. Fifty-four percent of the reduction comes from increased tax revenue and 46 percent comes from spending cuts. A copy of the bill obtained by The Hill shows that the basic outline of deficit reduction remains the same as a previous sequester-replacement bill from Van Hollen. Most of the deeper savings to cover 2013 and 2014 come from lowering defense spending caps in the out years of 2017 to 2021, an aide explained. New revenue would be generated from a minimum tax on millionaires — commonly known as the Buffett Rule — and by eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies.
May 20: Galveston Daily News: Three former CD-14 candidates collaborate on a weekly column on important issues:
This week Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius, and John Gay introduce what will be a weekly column in the Galveston Daily News to be published in each Monday edition.
"My wife and I hosted a 'candidates reunion' a month or so ago. It was really Mark's idea," Sargent said, "and it was a good one! At the meeting we all wanted to give back to our community and to continue the fight for the hearts and minds of our nation," Sargent continued. "We approached the Daily News with an idea for a monthly column. They liked the idea but said it should be published weekly and so it is that today, the 'The Musketeers' start this weekly column."
May 19: The Hill: Extraordinary measures become standard as US hits debt limit again:
Today, May 19th, the debt ceiling was re-instituted after the Congress and the President suspended it for several months in January of this year as part of the "No Budget No Pay" bill. As a result the country bumped up against its borrowing limit Sunday, forcing the Treasury Department to employ “extraordinary measures” to make sure the government keeps paying its bills. The latest numbers from the Treasury Department indicate that the overall debt of the United States swelled by about $300 billion during the period of the suspension, and now totals roughly $16.7 trillion. With the government once again operating under a borrowing cap, the Treasury is back to employing special measures to free up space under the limit.
May 19: Politico: GOP may roll out debt ceiling plan before August:
The House Republican leadership is considering releasing its debt ceiling plan before the August recess so lawmakers can actively sell it to their constituents. The idea gained traction in a closed meeting of the House Republican Conference this week, where the main topic was how the party should craft a plan to raise the nation’s debt cap.
Plans for the legislation are not finalized, but the outlines of a measure are beginning to take shape. In addition to hiking the debt limit, the legislation is likely to have three categories: spending cuts, a framework for tax reform and what will be called a “jobs” element, which will include energy legislation, which would likely be a provision related to the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans are aiming to put the bill on the floor soon after the summer recess.
May 19: The Hill: Despite talks, no effort taken in Congress to change Obamacare’s Employer mandate:
Small businesses looking for a break from President Obama’s healthcare law aren’t getting any help from Congress. The law’s critics spend a lot of time talking about its potential effects on employers, and small businesses in particular. But there hasn’t been a real effort on the Hill to address the provisions that will have the most immediate impact on small businesses.
May 19: The Hill: McConnell: White House “made up a tale” about Benghazi
In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press that was held by an anchorman who attempted to lead Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) into a mine field, the Minority Leader refused to bite! McConnell did say the Obama administration had spun a “tale” about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi that helped them politically before the 2012 election. “It’s very clear that it was inconvenient within six weeks of the election for the administration to, in effect, announce that it was a terrorist attack. I think that’s worth examining. It is going to be examined,” he vowed.
May 19: Politico: Chaffetz: Benghazi cover-up ongoing:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz says the White House should release more documents relating to the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Utah Republican said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that more information is needed and that a cover-up is ongoing. "People deserve the truth and the families deserve the truth," Chaffetz said. "I can't imagine that this administration would say those same things about what happened in Boston where we had four people killed by a terrorist." Chaffetz said that the cover-up has delayed investigating and tracking down who committed the attacks."We weren't able to investigate," he said. "We still have terrorists that committed these attacks that are out there. They are on the loose. We don't know where they are."
May 19: The Daily Caller: Rand Paul likens Benghazi errors’ that led to “Black Hawk Down”
On Sunday’s “State of the Union” on CNN, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul took aim at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the State Department’s handling of the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Last week, Paul had given a speech in the early presidential battleground state of Iowa that was highly critical of Clinton. “State of the Union” host Candy Crowley asked Paul if he stuck by those remarks, to which the Kentucky Republican said he did and likened Benghazi to an incident that occurred during her husband’s first term. “I absolutely stick by them,” Paul said. “You know, in Bill Clinton’s administration, when Les Aspin did not provide security in Mogadishu, the famous Black Hawk Down, he was asked to resign, and he left and admitted he made tragic errors.”
May 19: The Daily Caller: White House aide: Obama’s whereabouts night of Benghazi attack is largely irrelevant.
On Sunday, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer made the talk show rounds in the wake of three scandals involving the Obama administration, but seemed to have the same message: that the details were “irrelevant” and Obama wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again. [More Details on this Story]
May 18: Fox News: Colorado Sheriffs to file federal lawsuit over state's new gun laws:
May 18: The Hill: Senators want to move forward to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
Colorado sheriffs upset with gun restrictions adopted in the aftermath of last year's mass shootings filed a federal lawsuit Friday, challenging the regulations as unconstitutional. The lawsuit involves sheriffs from 54 of Colorado's 64 counties, most representing rural, gun-friendly areas of the state.
A bipartisan group of senators want to largely eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of an overhaul of the mortgage finance market. Although legislation isn't imminent, senators and industry representatives have signaled they are closing in on a broad framework that would wind down and eventually end the government-backed mortgage giants.
While details are still being hashed out, the basic premise is that the government's role in the housing finance market would be reduced in favor of more private capital during a transition that is expected to take several years.
May 18: The Hill: Complaints of IRS targeting of religious groups on the rise:
The number of religious groups reporting they were improperly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is increasing.
At least a half-dozen conservative groups say they received an unusual degree of scrutiny from the IRS, according to the Religion New Service, a non-profit news service operated out of the University of Missouri’s journalism school.
Earlier this week Rev. Billy Graham’s son made headlines with a letter to President Obama accusing the administration of targeting the Samaritan's Purse charity and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in an attempt to intimidate the group.
See Multiple Updates on the IRS Issue
May 17: C-Span: Video coverage of the House Ways and Means hearing on IRS targeting abuses:
Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) describes what happened to the head of a local TEA Party group in his district after she applied for tax exempt status for her TEA Party: how she was audited by the IRS, OSHA and others as well as receiving unannounced visits from the FBI and ATF.
May 17: Politico: Darrell Issa calls top Treasury official to testify on IRS:
The Obama administration will face more questions over its role in the IRS scandal next week when a top Treasury Department official will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin will appear at a panel hearing on Wednesday, a committee aide tells POLITICO. He’ll testify alongside J. Russell George, the IRS inspector general who released a damaging report this week that slammed lax management at the agency.
May 17: The Weekly Standard: Report: IRS Deliberately Chose Not to Fess Up to Scandal Before Election:
NBC's Lisa Myers reported this morning that the IRS deliberately chose not to reveal that it had wrongly targeted conservative groups until after the 2012 presidential election: [video]
May 17: The Daily Caller: Lerner’s admission of IRS’s inappropriate behavior was per-planned public disclosure:
Last week, Lois Lerner, head of the tax exempt division of the Internal Revenue Service dropped a bombshell: The IRS had been applying extra scrutiny to conservative groups claiming tax exempt status.
The revelation came seemingly out of the blue, in response to a question during a panel at an American Bar Association conference, leaving the audience baffled, according to reports.
May 17: Real Clear Politics: GOP Congressman Mike Kelly Receives Standing Ovation After He Rips IRS Commissioner:
May 17: The Washington Times: Rep. Dave Camp accuses White House of ‘cover-up’ in IRS scandal:
This has nothing to do with political parties. This has to do with highly targeted groups. This reconfirms everything the American public believes. This is a huge blow to the faith and trust that the American people have in their government. Is there any limit to the scope where you folks can go?
The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday said the IRS scandal shows a “culture of cover-ups” and “political intimidation” within the Obama Administration.
May 17: Fox News: Tables turn on IRS, lawmakers grill outgoing agency chief at heated hearing:
For the first time in years, the IRS was knocked down a peg or two. In a hearing that escalated into a boisterous public shaming of one of the country's most-feared government agencies, lawmakers took turns Friday calling outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller on the carpet for his department's scandalous practice of targeting conservative groups.
May 17: The Washington Examiner: Senator Baucus warns of more to come in IRS scandal
Senior Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who recently slapped Obamacare as a "train wreck," believes that the IRS scandal is just beginning and that "a lot more" damaging information will be revealed, likely at congressional hearings.
May 17: Fox News: Issa subpoenas Pickering on Benghazi:
Chairman Issa said
This Administration is good at going beyond its authority, bad at getting legislation passed, and the Americans are the losers! We need to know how are we going to keep our people safe and what are we going to do to respond quickly if this every happens again,' he exclaimed. Issa's committee has subpoenaed the co-chairman of the Obama administration's internal review board for the Benghazi attack -- escalating his own inquiry amid a report that showed administration officials expressing regret about their response the night of Sept. 11.
May 17: Fox News: Benghazi emails reveal Obama White House’s obsession with spin control
When it dumped 100 emails related to the Benghazi talking points Wednesday night, the Obama White House showed it hasn’t been telling the truth.
These talking points were not the sole product of the intelligence community, but were in fact edited by State Department officials and White House officials and then decided upon at a White House meeting.
After reading these emails, it’s clear the administration’s principal concern behind the edits was to protect itself from public and Congressional criticism, not to get out the facts of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans died.
May16: The Daily Caller: In a meaningless gesture the House Votes to Repeal Obamacare
The Republican-controlled House voted Thursday to repeal Obamacare in its entirety. With implementation of Obamacare set to begin later this year, the vote is largely symbolic. The Senate is highly unlikely to even take up a vote on repeal. The House voted for repeal 229-195, with votes cast almost entirely down party lines. Two Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of repeal: Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah and Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. This is the third time the House has voted to fully repeal Obamacare, and there have been a number of other votes to repeal parts of it — 37 votes in total. Boehner explained last week that he was holding the vote again because new members had been asking for the opportunity to vote on repeal.
Many of the Republicans who voted for the repeal also voted for fully funding the Affordable Care Act in a vote earlier this year as part of the Continuing Resolution. So are they for repeal, and if so, how come they voted to fully pay for the implementation, administration and enforcement of it? Could it be that they did so, so that they could go back home and tell their constituents that they voted to repeal the measure – even though they know that the vote to do so will have no effect? In the days leading up to the vote, Democrats dismissed the effort as wasteful and unproductive. For once, we would agree with the Democrats! If the House leadership wanted to deal a fatal blow to Obamacare they should have done so as part of the Continuing Resolution, prohibiting the use of any of the funds for this program!
May 16: Fox News: ICE admits hundreds of illegal immigrants with criminal records released
Hundreds of illegal immigrants with criminal records were released earlier this year as the Obama administration prepared for budget cuts, according to newly released data that challenged claims the program involved "low-risk" individuals. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released the figures to two top senators, after a three-month delay and under the threat of congressional subpoenas.
Of the 2,226 detainees that were released in February, the department revealed, "622 have been identified as having some type of criminal conviction." A statement from Sens. John McCain, R-AZ, and Carl Levin, D-MI, who received the stats, said 32 of them had multiple felony convictions. The department then "re-apprehended" 24 of those, the senators said, after realizing the "seriousness" of their crimes.
May 16: Politico: Focus on the Facts not Impeachment, Leaders Caution
Republicans are worried one thing could screw up the political gift of three Obama administration controversies at once: fellow Republicans. Top GOP leaders are privately warning members to put a sock in it when it comes to silly calls for impeachment or over-the-top comparisons to Watergate. They want members to focus on months of fact-finding investigations – not rhetorical fury.
Why the fuss? Well…
“People may be starting to use the I-word before too long,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told a radio host, making plain impeachment was indeed the I-word in mind.
- “You could call #Benghazi Obama’s Watergate, except no one died,” Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter.
- “It harkens back to the days of Richard Nixon and maintaining a political enemies list and treating the federal government as a tool to exact the administration’s retribution,” Sen. Ted Cruz told the National Review.
May 16: WashingtonExaminer.com | Fox News:
IRS “Targeting” Executive Gets $100K+in Bonuses and Promotion to Oversee Obamacare Enforcement!
Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS executive in charge of the tax exempt division in 2010 when it began targeting conservative Tea Party, evangelical and pro-Israel groups for harassment, got more than $100,000 in bonuses between 2009 and 2012. More recently, Ingram was promoted to serve as director of the tax agency's Obamacare program office, a position that put her in charge of the vast expansion of the IRS' regulatory power and staffing in connection with federal health care, ABC reported earlier today. Ingram received a $7,000 bonus in 2009, according to data obtained by The Washington Examiner from the IRS, then a $34,440 bonus in 2010, $35,400 in 2011 and $26,550 last year, for a total of $103,390. Her annual salary went from $172,500 to $177,000 during the same period.
May 16: The Daily Caller: Tea Party Leaders Want Media Apology for failing to take reports of IRS targeting seriously
At least one tea party leader has had employees at a major national newspaper and a major Ohio newspaper apologize to him for failing to take his concerns about the Internal Revenue Service targeting tea party groups seriously last year, though he wouldn’t say who specifically. “I actually have had several [members] of the media apologize to me today and yesterday,” Tom Zawistowski, former leader of the Ohio Liberty Coalition and current president of We the People Convention, Inc. and head of the Portage County Tea Party, said at a FreedomWorks round-table event Thursday.“They said, ‘Tom I want to apologize to you because when this story came out last year it was so over the top I didn’t believe it, and I didn’t believe it and I questioned it and I didn’t really look into it and then when the IRS commissioner came out and testified to Congress and said, ‘There is no targeting of the tea party, I shut it down,’” he said.
I can tell you that when I addressed this issue in March of last year it went absolutely nowhere! See the press release, posted on this Website, which I provided to the media at the time.
May 16: The Daily Caller: Obama evades question on White House knowledge of IRS targeting
President Barack Obama dismissed calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal, and evaded a question asking if White House officials knew of the IRS targeting of conservative political groups. “I can assure that I certainly did not know anything about the [inspector general] report before the IG report had been leaked through the press,” he told reporters during a Thursday lunchtime press conference held in the White House Rose Garden. Obama’s evasion will likely spur public suspicions that White House officials knew about, or even supported, the IRS targeting. When asked about a special prosecutor, Obama said he would work with investigations begun by Congress and the Department of Justice.
May 16: The Hill: Obama Appoints Werfel as New IRS Commissioner
President Obama on Thursday appointed Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Controller Danny Werfel as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.
Steven Miller, the acting IRS commissioner, stepped down on Wednesday amid a growing scandal after it was discovered that the IRS targeted conservative groups based on their politics. Over the last year at OMB, Werfel, who also worked at OMB under President George W. Bush's administration, has been charged with planning out how the sequester would be implemented.
The White House announced President Obama was appointing Werfel, 42, in a press release.m “Throughout his career working in both Democratic and Republican administrations, Danny has proven an effective leader who serves with professionalism, integrity and skill," Obama said. "The American people deserve to have the utmost confidence and trust in their government, and as we work to get to the bottom of what happened and restore confidence in the IRS, Danny has the experience and management ability necessary to lead the agency at this important time.”
May 16: The Daily Caller: Tea party groups speak out against the IRS: ‘Folks, this is bad’
Tea party leaders spoke out Thursday about their experience with the Internal Revenue Service and warned others that it could happen to them too. “We want to make sure every American understands what tyranny looks like and what we can do as citizens to regain our voice, to regain our rights, to ensure that this administration or the next one after it never does this again,” Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks said at a tea party roundtable Thursday afternoon.
Katrina Pierson of the Dallas Tea Party said that the scandal has shed further light on one of the reasons the tea party started: concern about overreach and abuse of government.
The IRS requested the Dallas Tea Party’s campaign contribution lists and membership communications. The group ended up having to compile and send about six inches of documents in two weeks. The group still has yet to receive its tax-exempt status. “How many scandals is it going to take for the American people to stand up and take back what is rightfully theirs?” Pierson asked.
May 16: Fox News Latino: Conservative Hispanic Groups Targeted In IRS Scandal
The Internal Revenue Service scandal involving the apparently unjustified targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups has also hit home with the Hispanic community.
George Rodriguez, former president of the San Antonio Tea Party, said that when the organization applied for non-profit status, leaders were intimidated by IRS workers with excessive paperwork and meddling questions. “They asked us all sorts of things that were out of the norm,” Rodriguez, now head of the conservative South Texas Alliance, told Fox News Latino. “We knew these questions were not the norm and we had our suspicions about them.”
Rodriguez said the group received a questionnaire from the IRS with “well over 50 questions,” including inquiries into who the group met with, where they held their meetings, who was in attendance and what the subject of their internal emails were. “They should have been worried about the numbers, not who we were meeting with,” he added. “It was flat-out dirty politics.”
May 15: The Daily Caller: IRS sued for improperly seizing the medical records of 10 million Americans
Amid a firestorm about the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting conservative groups and wide concern that the tax service will be administering Obamacare, the IRS is also the subject of a class action lawsuit alleging that 15 of its agents improperly seized 10 million Americans’ medical records.
Attorney Robert Barnes filed the lawsuit in mid-March on behalf of a John Doe Company and individuals whose records were seized in California Superior Court, according to a report from the Courthouse News Service. “This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service agents during a raid of John Doe Company, in the southern district of California, on March 11, 2011,” the complaint reads. “In a case involving solely a tax matter involving a former employee of the company, these agents stole more than 60,000,000 medical records of more than 10,000,000 Americans, including at least 1,000,000 Californians.”
May 15: Politico: Holder get grilled on the Hill as both Dems and Reps turn up the heat:
Attorney General Eric Holder, long accustomed to GOP attacks, faced bipartisan ire in the House Wednesday from lawmakers looking for answers on multiple fronts. Most of the Judiciary Committee’s questions during the four-hour session revolved around the Justice Department’s decision to subpoena journalists’ phone records in connection with a leak investigation — but there was little new information in the responses from Holder, who announced Tuesday that he had recused himself from the inquiry.
Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said the Justice Department’s handling of the investigation — which eventually obtained records of phone calls from home, office and cellphone lines used by several Associated Press reporters and editors — “appears to be contrary to the law and standard procedure.” He pressed Holder to explain why the news organization was not given advance notice of the subpoenas.
Holder’s careful framing of his answers Wednesday played into a testy exchange with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) over the ethics of a deal that Labor Secretary nominee Tom Perez constructed to try to avoid a Supreme Court ruling he feared would undermine civil rights enforcement. After Holder declined to offer a “yes or no” response to a question from Issa, and the congressman cut Holder off, the attorney general clearly became irritated.“No, I’m not going to stop talking now,” Holder said, as Issa continued speaking over him. “It’s consistent with the way you conduct yourself as a member of Congress. It’s unacceptable, and it’s shameful.”
May 15: The Hill: Holder Makes it personal – Calls Issa’s Actions “Shameful”
Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday lashed out at Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), calling his conduct “unacceptable and shameful.” In a tense moment at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Holder berated the lawmaker who led the successful effort in the House to hold him in contempt of Congress. Holder said Issa’s questioning at the hearing was “too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of the Congress. It’s unacceptable, and it’s shameful.”
Issa, who seemed to brush off the rebuke, was questioning Holder about a deal the Justice Department’s top civil rights enforcer made with the city of St. Paul, Minn., to drop a False Claims Act case in exchange for the city ditching an unconnected appeal to the Supreme Court.
But the larger backdrop for the hearing was the controversy swirling around the Justice Department’s decision to subpoena phone records from The Associated Press in an investigation of national security leaks. Holder has recused himself from that investigation, but came under fire from members of both parties.
May 15: The Daily Caller: IRS to be sued over targeting
The American Center for Law and Justice expects to file suit in federal court over the targeting of fourteen of its clients by the IRS soon. Jay Sekulow, ACLJ chief counsel, told The Daily Caller Wednesday he expects to file suit next week and has a team of lawyers working on the issue. ACLJ has not decided whether it will file one class action suit on behalf their aggrieved clients or separate suits. “We are looking at the issue of whether it could be certified as a class or whether we would have to bring each claim as an individual claim,” he explained. “Which would mean we would be filing some in Cincinnati or the District Courts in Ohio, some in the district courts in California, some in the District of Columbia. We are looking at all that.” [See more on this story]
May 15: Townhall.com: IRS Spared Liberal Groups as Tea Party Languished – Appears 500 may have been targeted:
Remember what we were told when this explosive story first broke less than a week ago? The IRS official in charge of tax exemptions for organizations said the improper methods employed within her division were executed by "low level workers" in Cincinnati who weren't motivated by "political bias," and impacted roughly 75 organizations? Wrong, wrong and wrong:
"Seventy-five organizations effected" - That number almost immediately swelled to 300. Now it's closer to 500;
"Low Level" - Officials within the highest echelons of the agency were aware of the inappropriate targeting, including the last two commissioners -- at least one of whom appears to have misled Congress on this very question. Now Politico reports that Lerner herself sent at least one of the probing letters to an Ohio-based conservative group.
"No Political Bias" - This claim was laughable on its face from the start, in light of the agency's surreal criteria for added scrutiny and the "red flag" words and phrases that triggered investigations. Now add to the mix this scoop from USA Today
May 15: The Hill | The Daily Caller: First Heads Roll in IRS Scandal
Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Steven Miller resigned on Wednesday over his role in the agency’s controversial singling out of conservative groups. President Obama announced the resignation — which Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked for earlier in the day — at the White House. Miller, a 25-year veteran of the IRS, became the first official to lose his job in the uproar over the agency’s actions, which have consumed Washington and the Obama administration since they were revealed last week. The president said he has urged Lew to quickly implement recommendations from a Treasury audit, and vowed that the White House would work closely with Congress as it investigates the matter. Top Republicans had said that Miller, who found out about the targeting in May of 2012, had misled them about the IRS’s actions.
May 15: The Daily Caller: Krauthammer: Obama IRS scandal statement ‘a holding operation,’ ‘the absolute minimum’
Immediately following President Barack Obama’s remarks on Wednesday about the current scandal embroiling the Internal Revenue Service, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer reacted by downplaying the gesture. “That was a holding operation,” Krauthammer said. “That was the absolute minimum he could have done. He relieves one person. He obviously had to. He had to relieve at least one person. And he chose, of course, the acting commissioner. But, I would have expected more. The other actions he announced are, up to now, meaningless. Obama and this administration have said a hundred times they’re going to hold x, y, z accountable for all kinds of behavior — in Benghazi, regarding a lot of other scandals. It means nothing.”
May 15: Politico: Resignation won’t plug the IRS leadership gap
The resignation of Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller might offer a cathartic moment for an angry tax paying public — but it won’t right the ship at the troubled agency. There are no clear candidates inside the agency who would have the gravitas to overhaul the IRS, rehabilitate it, and bring a sense of moral authority to the job — while effectively dealing with a voracious congressional opposition. But it might also be impossible to get a prominent outside candidate confirmed in a divided Senate. President Barack Obama did not announce a replacement for Miller in his brief remarks Wednesday night announcing the resignation, and it remains unclear whether he’ll tap someone from inside the bureaucracy or look for a high profile outsider to come in and shape up the agency. [See more on this story]
May 15: The Daily Caller:
Holder: We will bring criminal actions -- against whom is yet to be determined -- so this doesn’t happen again:
Attorney General Eric Holder promised criminal action Wednesday in the Internal Revenue Service scandal, but said he does not know who will be targeted. On Tuesday, Holder announced he would launch a criminal investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups for heightened scrutiny. “We have to bring criminal actions so that this kind of activity does not happen again,” Holder said Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee. Against whom those criminal actions would be taken, however, Holder was not yet sure. Was he saying we need to take some kind on action and hang this on somebody? If so, watchout, they are looking for a person other than themseves to pin it on!
May 15: Fox News: Benghazi emails show State Department had heavy hand in watering down account of attack
State Department officials repeatedly objected to -- and tried to water down -- references to Islamic extremist groups and prior security warnings in the administration's initial internal story-line on the Benghazi attack, according to dozens of emails and notes released by the White House late Wednesday. The documents also showed the White House, along with several other departments, played a role in editing the so-called "talking points," despite claims from the White House that it was barely involved. And they showed then-CIA Director David Petraeus objected to the watered-down version that would ultimately be used as the basis for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's flawed comments on several TV shows the Sunday after the attack. [See More on this Story]
May 15: The Hill: White House releases Benghazi emails
The White House on Wednesday released more than 100 pages of inter-agency emails intended to bolster its argument it did not try to hide the fact that last year’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, was terrorism.
The messages — circulated Sept. 14-15 — show that CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell asked that references to al Qaeda and another terrorist groups be removed from official administration talking points hours before State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made a similar request.
One page of talking points dated Sept. 14 includes handwritten notes by Morrell, who scratches out parts of the talking points that say that there were “indications that Islamic extremists participated in the violent demonstrations,” and also that there were “at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British ambassador’s convoy.”
May 15: National Review: Republicans Not Willing to Take Impeachment Off the Table for Benghazi:
“I would say yes — I’m not willing to take it off to take it off the table,” representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said about the possibility of seeking the president’s impeachment in the Benghazi scandal. “Look, it’s not something I’m seeking, it’s not the endgame, it’s not what we’re playing for,” Chaffetz explained in an interview with CNN. “I was simply asked if that’s within the realm of possibilities.” Earlier this week, Chaffetz told the Salt Lake Tribune that impeachment is “certainly a possibility,” which drew attention but added, “that’s not the goal.”
[More on this story from the Salt Lake Tribune]
May 15: OneNewsNow.com: Heritage: Scandals reflect controlling nature of Obama administration:
A conservative political action organization says it remains to seen just what the long-term effect all the current scandals will have on the Obama administration. The administration was already embroiled in the Benghazi scandal and an apparent cover-up about how it was handled. Then last week came the scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service deliberately harassing conservative groups. In the latest scandal, the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.
Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action for America, spoke to OneNewsNow about the plethora of scandals cropping up. "It really shows how controlling the Obama administration is," he offers. "They want to control all aspects of the debate, they want to silence any dissent - and if you talk to reporters, they have stories about really hard pushback coming from the administration anytime they mention anything even remotely critical, whether it's true or not."
Holler expects Congress is going to have a full vetting on all these issues over the next several months. "We're going to have multiple hearings in the House and the Senate, and I don't think anybody can possibly predict what's going to come up," he says. "So I things are only going to get worst for them. And the real question is: How far does it spiral?" The Heritage Action spokesman believes these scandals can only help Republicans gain control of the Senate in next year's mid-term elections.
May 15: The Blaze:‘Very Frightening’: Prominent Catholic Prof. Claims IRS Audited Her After Speaking Out Against Obama and Demanded to Know Who Was Paying Her:
In the midst of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, individuals and groups, alike, are continuing to come forward with ever-startling allegations. On Wednesday, Dr. Anne Hendershott, a devout Catholic and a noted sociologist, professor and author, exclusively told TheBlaze that she believes she may have been one of the IRS’s targets.
According to Hendershott, the IRS audited her in 2010 and demanded to know who was paying her and “what their politics were.” It all started with a phone call she received at her home in May of that year — a call during which Hendershott was told she would be audited. A letter that followed on May 19, 2010 solidified the IRS’s request to meet her in person two months later in July. While IRS investigations are certainly not uncommon occurrences, the professor believes that the situation surrounding hers was more-than-curious. “The IRS calls my house and says … ‘I just wanted to let you know that we’re going to be auditing your business’ and I said ‘My businesses?’ and he said, ‘You know the expenses you take off for writing,” the academic recalls.
May 14: USA Today: Interesting Data on IRS Approvals of Tax Exempt Applications:
In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked. That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn't be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months. In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows. [See more on this story]
May 14: More and More Coverage on IRS Activities:
- The Weekly Standard: Just because the IRS apologized, it doesn't mean they did something wrong! Really?
- The Daily Caller: Reports of IRS sending confidential information on Conservative groups to liberal non-profit organization
- Fox News: Senator Hatch: The IRS purposefully misled me!
- Politico: Scandal and politics sweep Capitol Hill
- CNSNews.com: IRS will not confirm whether it will comply with House Ways and Means Request
May 13: More Reports on the IRS Targeting
- House Ways and Means sets hearing on IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups
- Majority Leader Reid Promises Actions on IRS Scandal
- IRS Scrutiny went beyond TEA Party
- TEA Party Groups Threaten to Sue the IRS
- The White House knew of the allegations in April
- Obama says he has "No Patience" for the "outrageous" IRS mess
May 12: Reports on the IRS Targeting Conservative Groups and those supporting Israel
May 12: Reports on Benghazi:
- Fox News: Republicans call for depositions in Benghazi probe, amid revelation Clinton barely interviewed
- BreitBart.Com: Report: NBC Spiked Story ID’ing Benghazi whistle-blower as Obama/Clinton Voter
- The Hill: McCain Calls Benghazi a “Cover-Up”
May 11: Reports on Benghazi:
- The Hill: Rand Paul: Hillary Clinton does not deserve higher office due to Benghazi
- The Daily Caller: President of CBS News – may drop reporter over Benghazi coverage
- The Daily Caller: Pat Smith to Hillary Clinton – You have your child this Mother’s Day, I don’t because of you!
May 10: Fox News: Tea Party groups, Republicans slam IRS for flagging conservative groups:
In a story I disclosed in March of 2012, the IRS has been targeting conservative groups and threatening their tax exempt status. Now, Tea Party leaders have refused to accept an apology from the IRS Friday in which the agency acknowledged that it inappropriately flagged conservative groups for additional review during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, said she wants to see resignations over what she called the "disturbing, illegal and outrageous abuse of government power." Republican lawmakers also seized on the acknowledgment, after having complained about the suspected harassment more than a year ago. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell called for a "government-wide review" to assure "these thuggish practices" are not in use elsewhere. House Republican Leader Eric Cantor later said the House would investigate.
Reaction was swift and harsh after Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, acknowledged the issue at a conference Friday sponsored by the American Bar Association. She confirmed that organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status. In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, she said. "That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate," Lerner said. "The IRS would like to apologize for that."
May 10: National Review: Grassley says Baucus is Retiring Because He’s Fed Up with Obamacare
Democratic Senator Max Baucus is retiring because he is “fed up” with the Affordable Care Act, according to his Republican colleague Chuck Grassley. Speaking at Friday night’s Lincoln Day dinner in Iowa, Grassley told the audience the Montana senator is leaving office ”because he’s so fed up with the possibility of the implementation of Obamacare being a train wreck.”
Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, played a key role in writing the 2010 law.
Grassley said that dissatisfaction with the health-care bill exists across party lines, describing a “bipartisan coalition in Washington” that considers the implementation of the law a disaster. “It’s a shame that a trainwreck even left the station a couple years ago,” he added, referring to Baucus’s now-infamous statement of frustration.
May 9: The Daily Caller: Immigration: ‘No such thing as a background check on a foreign national’ [VIDEO]
In part four of his exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, National ICE Council President Chris Crane criticized the immigration bill put together by the “Gang of Eight” senators for its reliance on checking the status of immigrants through biographical rather than biometric data. “We already know we... have illegal aliens who are already circumventing that type of system right now.” Crane also weighs in on the terrorist attack in Boston that killed three people at the conclusion of the Boston Marathon. The attack that was carried out by two individuals who had not only immigrated to the United States but been naturalized as well. He points out that there is a finite amount of checking that can be performed on an individual entering the United States. Any system will be hamstrung by the lack of much information held in most countries. ”There is no such thing as background check on a foreign national,” says Crane.
May 9: Benghazi Coverage
- Fox News: Political Motives Don't Change Facts in Benghazi Probe
- The Daily Caller: Clinton Hit by GOP Questions on Benghazi
- Fox News: House Speaker puts pressure on Obama to provide email documents on Benghazi
- The Hill: Sen. Coburn: ‘Glaring omission’ in Benghazi information from State Dept
May 9: The Daily Caller: Sandy Hook parent and Gun Control Lobbyist Faces Five Criminal Charges
May 9: The Hill: Credit Raters Wary of GOP proposal on Debt Limit:
The nation's credit rating agencies are wary of a plan to prioritize payments to U.S. bondholders and Social Security recipients if the debt ceiling is reached. Nikola Swann, the primary analyst for the U.S. rating for Standard & Poor's, pointed out that if a prioritization plan were in place, reaching the $16.4 trillion borrowing limit would still carry potentially huge economic and financial consequences. "But the real issue is not who will go to the head of the line for payments if the debt ceiling is not raised" the editor of "Your Resource for News" pointed out. "The real issue is that we are not cutting spending!" [See more details]
May 8: The Hill: House will vote next week on ObamaCare repeal, Cantor says:
In a largely symbolic gesture that is designed to put Democrats in a position of going on record in support of a measure that many of their constituents are coming to oppose, the House will vote next week to repeal all of President Obama's healthcare law.
Conservatives have clamored for another repeal vote, and some first-term Republicans said they could not vote for a Cantor-backed bill to modify the healthcare law until they had cast a vote to repeal the entire thing.
At the same time, earlier this year many of these same Republicans, including representatives from Texas, voted for the Continuing Resolution that fully funded Obamacare. This vote would also allow them to claim they have voted to repeal the law.
The issue this raises, however, is one of consistency. Next week's vote will be the House's first vote to repeal the law in the 113th Congress, following more than 30 votes in the previous two years to repeal or defund all or part of the healthcare law. It is doubtful that if the measure passes the House that it will go anywhere in the Senate, and even if it did, the President would surely veto it, which is the reason it is seen as largely a politically motivated vote.
May 7: CNBC: When It Comes to ObamaCare Reform, the IRS Rules:
Get ready for the Internal Revenue Service to play a dominant role in health care. When Obamacare takes full effect next year, the agency will enforce most of the laws involved in the reform—even deciding who gets included in the health-care mandate. "The impact of the IRS on health-care reform is huge," said Paul Hamburger, a partner and employee benefits lawyer at Proskauer. "Other agencies like Social Security will be checking for mistakes, but the IRS is the key enforcer," Hamburger said. "It's also going to help manage who might get health care."
In its 5-4 ruling last year, the Supreme Court upheld the law's mandate that Americans have health insurance, saying that Congress can enforce the mandate under its taxing authority and through the IRS. As a result, its the agency that will be administering 47 tax provisions under the health-care reform law. They include the right to levy a penalty against businesses and individuals who don't provide or acquire insurance. Noting that the IRS will collect the penalties, because the Supreme Court decision labeled Obamacare a tax.
The IRS also has to determine how to distribute annual subsidies to 18 million people who make less than $45,000 a year and thus qualify for subsidies in buying health coverage, as well as how to deliver tax credits to small businesses that buy coverage for workers.
May 8: The Hill: Despite Sequester fix, some lawmakers blame flight delays for missed votes:
Lawmakers in the House blamed a series of missed votes on flight delays this week, despite the end of air traffic controller furloughs that Congress addressed last month.
"Mr. Speaker, I missed my connecting flight into Washington yesterday afternoon," Rep. Jim Jordon (R-OH) said in a statement in the Congressional Record. "As a result, I was absent from the House floor during last night's three roll-call votes," Jordan continued. "Had I been present, I would have voted in favor of H.R. 588, H.R. 291, and H.R. 507."
May 8: The Hill: Official holds back tears during emotional Benghazi testimony:
The State Department’s deputy chief of mission in Libya fought back tears on Wednesday as he delivered a lengthy account of the nighttime terrorist attacks last year that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Testifying before a packed hearing room, Gregory Hicks gave an emotional account of his attempt to secure the State Department’s staff in Tripoli as he relayed messages to the Washington, D.C., operation center in real-time about reports of attackers storming the Benghazi facility.
May 8: Real Clear Politics: Democrat Congressman At Benghazi Hearing says: “Death Is A Part of Life”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, tells Benghazi witnesses that "death is a part of life."
May 7: The Hill: Sequestration Cuts Expected to Hit the Job Market over the Summer:
The sequester will take a bigger bite from the economy in the coming months as workers collect more unpaid leave and additional spending cuts are triggered, several economic experts predicted Monday. A strong employment report in April that found the economy added 165,000 jobs underlined the sense that the labor market is improving, but observers warn it’s too early to declare the economy is safe from sequestration. “People who think the sequester debate’s over, it’s not nearly as bad as they thought it was — to me that’s declaring victory way too soon,” said political and economic strategist Andrew Busch.
May 4: RedState.com: Eagle Scout trying to do the right thing faces felony charges from local authorities:
A North Carolina Eagle Scout who was expelled and arrested for accidentally leaving a shotgun in his pickup truck in the school parking lot has been offered a scholarship to attend Liberty University. Cole Withrow was just a few weeks from graduating with honors from Princeton High School when he was arrested on Monday and slapped with a felony weapons charge. Withrow had been skeet shooting with friends a day before and had only noticed he had left his shotgun in his truck as he reached to grab his book bag. When he realized his mistake, he went to the front office and called his mother. An administrator overheard the conversation and called police.
May 4: The Daily Caller: Gun Business Exodus from Colorado Begins:
HiViz Shooting Systems, a gun-parts manufacturer in Fort Collins, Colo., will move its operations up the road to Laramie, Wyo., making good on its threat to pull up its Colorado roots after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law several controversial gun control measures earlier this year.
May 4: The Hill: Attorney General Holder and Kansas may be heading to court over Kansas Gun Law:
The Obama administration is on a collision course with the state of Kansas over a new law that claims to nullify federal gun controls.
Attorney General Eric Holder has threatened litigation against Kansas over the law in what could the opening salvo of a blockbuster legal battle with national ramifications. “This is definitely a case that could make it to the Supreme Court,” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Friday afternoon. “There is nothing symbolic about this law.” Kobach, a former constitutional law professor, helped craft the statute, which bars the federal government from regulating guns and ammunition manufactured and stored within Kansas state lines.
May 4: Fox News: States: 'Blindsided' by plan to shift costs of 'uninsurables' to them under ObamaCare:
Thousands of people with serious medical problems are in danger of losing coverage under President Obama's health care overhaul because of cost overruns, state officials say. At risk is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, a transition program that's become a lifeline for the so-called uninsurables -- people with serious medical conditions who can't get coverage elsewhere. The program helps bridge the gap for those patients until next year, when under the new law insurance companies will be required to accept people regardless of their medical problems.
May 4: The Hill: Vacancies, furloughs piling up at OMB:
President Obama’s new director of the powerful Office of Management and Budget is now on duty, but OMB's executive suite has become a virtual ghost town. Many of the top posts in the Office of Management and Budget have gone vacant for almost a year. The top vacancies come on top of furloughs due to sequestration. OMB issued furloughs on March 7 to 480 employees. They will be furloughed for 10 days between the week of April 21 and the end of September.
May 4: The Hill: Three State Department 'whistleblowers' to testify next week on Benghazi:
Three State Department officials described by Republicans as “whistleblowers” with damning insider knowledge about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi will testify next week. The House Oversight Committee identified the three witnesses as Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli during the attack; Mark Thompson, the deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s Counterterrorism Bureau; and Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic security officer who was the top security officer in the country in the months leading up to the attacks.
May 4: NewsMax.com: What You are about to hear will make you mad, Senator Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Saturday that once Americans hear the testimony of three State Department survivors of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya next week, “it’s going to make you mad. It’s going to make you upset.”
May 2: Politico: The next sequester victors?
Congress and President Barack Obama spared the FAA from the full brunt of sequester, sending a clear message: We’re willing to cave. Now advocates for other agencies and programs are lining up by the newly opened door, looking for fixes to their own across-the-board budget cut woes. Some are better positioned than others to come out ahead, especially causes with a powerful story: Think of long waits, terrorism threats or deadly disease outbreaks. [See expanded coverage]
May 2: Fox News: Special Ops Called for Military Backup During Benghazi Attack:
On the night of the Benghazi terror attack, special operations put out multiple calls for all available military and other assets to be moved into position to help -- but the State Department and White House never gave the military permission to cross into Libya, sources told Fox News.
The disconnect was one example of what sources described as a communication breakdown that left those on the ground without outside help. [See expanded coverage]
May 2: Fox News: State Department's Benghazi review panel under investigation, Fox News confirms:
The State Department's Office of Inspector General is investigating the special internal panel that probed the Benghazi terror attack for the State Department, Fox News has confirmed. The IG's office is said to be seeking to determine whether the Accountability Review Board, or ARB -- led by former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen -- failed to interview key witnesses who had asked to provide their accounts of the Benghazi attacks to the panel. The IG's office notified the department of the "special review" on March 28, according to Doug Welty, the congressional and public affairs officer of the IG's office. This disclosure marks a significant turn in the ongoing Benghazi case, as it calls into question the reliability of the blue-ribbon panel that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convened to review the entire matter. [See expanded coverage]
May 2: The Hill: Obama: This was just the first round of gun control measures:
As the man under whom Operation Fast and Furious was carried out, President Obama vowed Thursday during a press conference in Mexico City that the White House would continue pushing for an expansion of background checks to cover firearms purchases online and at gun shows.
"Things happen somewhat slowly in Washington. But this was just the first round," Obama said. "I believe we'll eventually get that done. We'll keep on trying." He went on to argue that gun control was also important to prevent the trafficking of firearms across the border, where American-bought arms helped fuel Mexico's bloody drug wars. [See expanded coverage]
May 2: Fox News: California Governor "Moon Beam" Brown Signs Legislation to Speed Up Gun Seizures:
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday that he has signed legislation expanding the ability of state agents to seize firearms from nearly 20,000 Californians who are not allowed to have them. [See expanded coverage]
May 2: The Hill: The Price for a Debt Ceiling Increase will be a balanced budget, conservatives say:
Conservative groups are vowing to force lawmakers to adopt a balanced budget plan before passing any increase in the nation’s debt ceiling. The Club for Growth and Heritage Action said that establishing a path to a balanced budget within 10 years will be their demand in the looming fight between congressional Republicans and President Obama. [Editor's Note: Why wait for ten years to balance the budget?] The nation hits its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on May 19. The Treasury Department, however, should be able to take extraordinary measures to avoid immediately defaulting on payment obligations.
The new pressure from conservative groups comes as House GOP leaders are discussing measures that would tie a hike in the debt limit to tax reform legislation and additional spending cuts. President Obama, however, has said he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, urging Republicans to raise the limit without preconditions. In 2011, Obama was forced by congressional Republicans to accept dollar-for-dollar cuts to the federal budget over ten years for a $2.1 billion increase in the debt ceiling, a move he has said was a mistake. [See expanded coverage]
May 2: The Hill: Small Businesses Sue the IRS for "Illegal" implementation of Obamacare:
A group of small businesses filed a new legal challenge Thursday to the insurance subsidies in President Obama's healthcare law. The businesses said they shouldn't have to provide health insurance to their employees — and that their employees also shouldn't be able to get a subsidy from the government to help afford coverage on their own.
The suit accuses the IRS of illegally implementing subsidies to help people buy private insurance. It all starts with the law's insurance exchanges — new marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can buy private insurance. The law sets up an exchange in each state, and authorizes the federal government to build the exchange in any state that doesn't build its own. And that's the catch — the law specifically refers to subsidies flowing through exchanges "established by the state." The law's critics say subsidies should therefore only be available in state-run exchanges — not in the federal version. “The IRS rule we are challenging is at war with the act’s plain language and completely rewrites the deal that Congress made with the states on running these insurance exchanges," Carvin said. [See expanded coverage]
May 1: Fox News:
Iraqi War Vet Acts: Couldn’t Have Done this in New York or Colorado under their new gun control laws!
Police say an Iraq War veteran thwarted two would-be burglars at his northern Michigan gas station by kicking one of them and ordering them away with an AR-15 rifle. [See Detailed Report]
May 1: Politico: A House Divided Against Itself?
Speaker John Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy are plagued by a Republican conference split into two groups. In one camp are stiff ideologues who didn’t extract any lesson from Mitt Romney’s loss and are only looking to slash spending and defund President Barack Obama’s health care law at every turn. In the other are lawmakers who are aligned with Cantor, who is almost singularly driving an agenda which is zeroed in on family issues.
Boehner seems more focused on passing big pieces of legislation like hiking the debt ceiling and extending government funding, sometimes drawing flak for having to rely on Democrats to move these bills over the finish line. The House simply isn’t interested in the agendas being pushed by the president and Democratic Senate. Most Republicans aren’t looking for a big legislative push on gun control. GOP leaders are skeptical that they can arrive at a framework to negotiate a budget agreement with Senate Democrats. And tax reform and an immigration overhaul, while broadly supported, are still seen as long shots.
May 1: The Hill: IRS proposes health law's tax credit rules:
The Obama administration on Wednesday published a set of proposed regulations to guide the allocation of federal tax credits for some Americans under the president’s Affordable Care Act.
People who don’t receive adequate health insurance through their employers would be eligible for premium tax credits of varying amounts, based on their income. The draft Internal Revenue Services (IRS) rules, published in the Federal Register for public consideration, detail the parameters of the program. The action follows the administration’s move to simplify application forms to apply for the tax credits and join health exchanges created by the landmark law. As currently drafted, the credits would apply to taxpayers whose household income is between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line, calibrated to the size of the individual’s family.
May 1: The Hill: Botched ObamaCare rollout tops Democratic fears for 2014 election:
Anxious Democrats fear a botched implementation of ObamaCare could dash their hopes of controlling the House and Senate for President Obama’s last two years in office. At his press conference Tuesday, Obama acknowledged “glitches and bumps” in the law’s rollout, but some congressional Democrats fear much worse. One high-ranking Democrat told The Hill that it is his leading concern. “The White House is going to have to step up its game,” the lawmaker said. “The Republicans are doing everything they can to prevent success … The White House is going to need to understand that.” The Obama administration will enlist “navigators” starting this summer to help people understand their new healthcare options. There has been speculation that implementation dates might have to be pushed back, but Democratic sources say that the White House is forging ahead and there is no talk of such a move.
ObamaCare helped Republicans gain control of the House in 2010, and the GOP is hoping the law will bolster its chances of wresting the Senate from Democratic control in 2014. To win back the House, Democrats must pick up 17 seats. That will be all but impossible if the implementation of ObamaCare is rocky. The administration faces a major test in preparation for Jan. 1, 2014, when the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, Medicaid expansion and consumer protections are scheduled to take effect.
May 1: The Hill: GOP says Benghazi whistleblowers will 'expose new facts’
Eyewitnesses with potentially damaging information on the Obama administration’s handling of last year's terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi will testify at a hearing next week, Republicans said. [See more details about this story]
May 1: Fox News: FBI Posts Photos of Individuals Wanted for Questioning on Benghazi:
The FBI has posted images of three people wanted for questioning regarding the terror attack last year on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, as investigators continue to search for suspects more than seven months after the deadly assault. [See more details on this story]
May 1: Money Morning: Schiff: 2/3 of America to Lose Everything Because of This Crisis:
A record breaking stock market is distorting a frightening reality: The U.S. is being eaten alive by a horrific cancer that will ultimately destroy the economy and impoverish the vast majority of its citizens. That's according to Peter Schiff, the best-selling author and CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, who delivered his harsh warning to investors in a recent interview on Fox Business. "I think we are heading for a worse economic crisis than we had in 2007," Schiff said. "You're going to have a collapse in the dollar... a huge spike in interest rates... and our whole economy, which is built on the foundation of cheap money, is going to topple when you pull the rug out from under it."
Schiff says that, despite "phony" signs of an economic recovery, the cancer destroying America, stems from a lethal concoction of our $16 trillion federal debt and the Fed's never ending money printing. Currently, Bernanke and company is buying $1 trillion of Treasury and mortgage bonds a year. That's about $85 billion per month against a budget deficit that is about the same level. According to Schiff, these numbers are unsustainable. And the Fed has no credible "exit strategy." Eventually interest rates will rise... and when they do, Schiff says, stocks will tank and bonds dip to nothing. Massive new tax hikes will be imposed and programs and entitlements will be cut to the bone.
May 1: The Hill: President Obama signs bill to ease flight delays from FAA furloughs:President Obama signed legislation on Wednesday to end the air traffic controller furloughs from sequestration that were blamed for hundreds of flight delays last week. The White House said Obama signed the measure, the Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 (H.R. 1765). The bill allows the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to move money around in its budget to eliminate furloughs for air traffic controllers. The money would come from a grant program used for airport improvements.
Obama has criticized the measure as a short-term solution that does not fix the problems caused by the spending cuts from sequestration. "Congress responded to the short-term problem of flight delays by giving us the option of shifting money that's designed to repair and improve airports over the long term to fix the short-term problem," he said during a press conference on Tuesday. "Well that's not a solution. Essentially what we've done is, we've said, in order to avoid delays this summer, we're going to ensure delays for the next two or three decades." Conveniently omitted was the fact that sequestration was the idea of the Obama Administration.
May 1: Fox News: Americans find ways to soften sequester; saving tourist seasons, programs for needy:
Americans cannot cover the entire $85 billion in federal budget cuts this year known as sequester, but they’re pulling together to make up the losses for important matters like helping local economies and salvaging federal programs that serve needy children. When the Navy decided to deal with sequester by pulling its popular Blue Angels fighter jet team from air shows and other events, organizers of Seattle’s annual Seafair festival dug into their general fund to pay for a replacement – the Patriots Jet Team. Seafair President Beth Knox said the Blue Angels had performed at the festival over the past four decades so spending $80,000 was important to the community and worth the money."We've had to look outside the box and find ways that we can fill the gaps where our government is not able to provide those services," she told Fox News. In addition to hiring the California-based group of retired fighter pilots, festival organizers also are bringing in a ship from the Canadian Navy to replace a U.S. warship that won’t be coming to this summer’s events.
May 1: The Hill: Federal Reserve: Fiscal policy 'restraining' economic rebound:
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday said the nation's fiscal policy is holding back its economy and signaled it may be prepared to do more to boost growth. The central bank announced Wednesday that it was continuing its ongoing efforts to stimulate the economy, keeping interest rates near zero and buying up $85 billion of bonds every month in a bid to further spur the economy.
In its latest statement, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said the U.S. economy was growing at a "moderate pace," no thanks to its fiscal course. "Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth," the FOMC said. As sequestration continues to take effect, the Fed said it was sticking to its "quantitative easing" plan, buying up $40 billion of housing bonds and another $45 billion of Treasury bonds. It added, for the first time, the Fed could potentially increase the size of those purchases, as well as decrease, depending on what happens with the economy or the Fed's handle on inflation.
Go to the News Coverage from November 2012 through April 2013