Friday, May 17, 2013
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.
The 2010, 2011 and 2012 bonuses were awarded during the period when IRS harassment of the conservative groups was most intense. The newspaper obtained the data via a Freedom of Information Act request.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., described the Ingram awards as “stunning, just stunning.”
Bonuses as large as those awarded to Ingram typically require presidential approval, according to federal personnel regulations.
Was the White House involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an “independent” agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that’s not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. “He put a target on our backs, and he’s now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?” asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.
Mr. VanderSloot is the Obama target who in 2011 made a sizable donation to a group supporting Mitt Romney. In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a “wealthy individual” with a “less-than-reputable record.” Other donors were described as having been “on the wrong side of the law.”
This was the Obama version of the phone call—put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot’s divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The House voted to repeal ObamaCare on Thursday for the third time since Republicans took over the chamber in 2011.
Only two Democrats sided with Republicans in the party-line 229-195 vote — Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.). All Republicans voted in favor of repeal.
This is the 37th time the House GOP has voted to repeal or defund at least part of the bill, but this latest bill will also not become law given Democrats’ control of the Senate.
Still, many House Republicans had clamored for the bill from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to be considered, while Democrats accused the GOP of wasting the House’s time.
ObamaCare’s implementation is expected to be a major issue in next year’s midterm elections, and some Democrats have expressed worries that the law and its implementation problems could be a problem for their party.
The two Democrats who voted for repeal were part of a group of five Democrats who voted with Republicans in last year’s repeal vote. The other three are no longer in office — Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Larry Kissell (N.C.) and Mike Ross (Ark.).
The vote followed a two-hour debate in which Republicans said ObamaCare repeal is needed more than ever in light of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal, since the IRS will play a key role in enforcing the law.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Senate Democrats have decided that holding the Internal Revenue Service accountable is not a priority right now.
On Tuesday the Democratic leadership in the chamber blocked a resolution by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to investigate the federal agency and fire all people responsible for improperly targeting conservative organizations.
“President Obama should terminate the individuals responsible for targeting and willfully discriminating against Tea Party groups and other conservative groups,” the resolution states.
His resolution also demanded an investigation “to determine if other entities in the administration of President Obama were involved in or were aware of the discrimination and did not take action to stop the actions of the Internal Revenue Service.”
The freshman senator asserted that he introduced the legislation to protect the First Amendment rights of the American people, and not to drive attention to the partisan nature of the scandal.
“This resolution is not about Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal,” Paul said in a statement. “It is about arrogant and unrestrained government vs. the rule of law. The First Amendment cannot and should not be renegotiated depending on which party holds power.”
Given that Bitcoin first broke into mainstream attention when Gawker explained how to use it to buy drugs, perhaps the surprise is that it took federal regulators this long to take action against it.
In the wake of the Gawker story two years ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) described Bitcoin as an “online form of money laundering” and called for the authorities to shutter the Bitcoin-based drug market Silk Road. Yet until recently, the feds have taken a relatively hands-off posture. Agencies have issued guidelines and signaled that they are monitoring the situation, but none have taken active steps to force Bitcoin intermediaries to comply with federal regulations.
That hands-off stance may have started to change this week when the feds took action against Mt. Gox, the world’s leading Bitcoin exchange. Many people use Dwolla, a PayPal-like payment network, to send dollars to their Mt. Gox accounts. They then use those dollars to buy Bitcoins. On Tuesday, Dwolla announced that it had frozen Mt. Gox’s account at the request of federal investigators. It’s the first federal action against the currency.
CNet has confirmed that the asset seizure was initiated by Homeland Security Investigations, a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.