I guess now we know why Lois Lerner took the Fifth. I can’t wait to hear what Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams have to say when they lead with this explosive story!
At yesterday’s latest round of hearings on the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups before Rep. Darryl Issa’s (R-CA) House Oversight Committee, this despicable abuse of the massive power of the federal government, using its most feared agency, Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer for 48 years, testified about interviews had had with investigators for Issa’s committee and Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-MI) Ways and Means Committee. From the Washington Post:
The chief counsel’s office for the Internal Revenue Service, headed by a political appointee of President Obama, helped develop the agency’s problematic guidelines for reviewing “tea party” cases, according to a top IRS attorney.
In interviews with congressional investigators, IRS lawyer Carter Hull said his superiors told him that the chief counsel’s office, led by William Wilkins, would need to review some of the first applications the agency screened for additional scrutiny because of potential political activity.
Mr. Hull wanted to allow the Tea Party groups applications to be processed, approved or denied. He was overruled.
William Wilkins is the IRS’ chief counsel, one of only two of the agencies officials who is a political appointee. By design, because it is so essential that this agency be non-partisan, and enforce the oppressive tax laws in a neutral, non-ideological fashion, there are only two political appointees at the IRS. William Wilkins was one of only two political appointees at the IRS, and he was appointed by Barack Obama, and is a long-time democrat apparatchik.
From the National Review:
Wilkins, who, according to the IRS, heads an office of 1,600 attorneys, has been involved in Democratic politics for over three decades. He joined the Democratic staff on the Senate Finance Committee in 1981 and became the committee’s staff director and chief counsel in 1987, before going on to a career in private practice at the white-shoe law firm WilmerHale. There, he defended pro bono Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s United Church of Christ when the IRS investigated potential violations of its 501(c)(3) status after then-senator Barack Obama delivered a speech there. Wilkins has also donated generously to Democratic causes, contributing over $35,000 to Democratic politicians and party affiliates since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has also contributed to Republican politicians, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, but not nearly as generously.
Whoa! Did you catch that? “[H}e defended pro bono Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s United Church of Christ when the IRS investigated potential violations of its 501(c)(3) status after then-senator Barack Obama delivered a speech there.”
So here’s what we know. We know that the this targeting didn’t start with some “rogue” agents in Cincinnati, as we were told by Obama mouthpiece, who is looking more like Ron Ziegler every day, told us. We know that when democrats tried to defend this outrageous abuse of power by saying that “progressive” groups were also attacked, and Inspector General Russell George said that wasn’t true, they turned on him. We know that the concern was “applicants’ political activities leading up to the 2010 election.” Now, the laughable defense attempted by the designated Obama defender in Issa’s committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) yesterday, was that Barack Obama didn’t directly call the IRS office in Cincinnati and say “target my political enemies.” How did the witness, Elizabeth Hofacre, of the Cincinnati IRS office keep from bursting out laughing?
It’s clear that this was an operation designed to give Barack Obama’s opposition a motivation and activity destroying runaround. Gee, that sounds like “voter suppression,” doesn’t it? And not a word from Eric Holder.
To those who have been critical of Rep. Issa, saying that he has dropped the ball and is letting Barack Obama get away with more Chicago-style bullying, I say you owe him an apology. The GOP is proceeding in the precisely correct way, methodically compiling an airtight legal case by building the record. Keep digging, Mr. Issa. I suggest you consider sending a few investigators over the White House to talk to Valerie Jarrett.
Here is a summary of the key points revealed yesterday in the hearing, from the House Oversight Committee:
- Carter Hull, a tax law specialist and self-described 501(c)(4) expert with 48 years of experience, testified that he sent development letters, and once he received responses, based on his decades of experience, determined he had enough facts to make recommendations whether to approve or deny the applications.
- Mr. Hull’s recommendations were not carried out. Instead, according Michael Seto, the head of Mr. Hull’s unit in Washington D.C., Lois Lerner instructed that the Tea Party applications should go through a multi-layer review that included her senior advisor and the Chief Counsel’s office.
- According to Mr. Hull, sometime in the winter of 2010-2011, the senior advisor to Lois Lerner told him the IRS Chief Counsel’s office would need to review these applications. Mr. Hull also indicated this was the first time in his 48 year career at the IRS he was told to send an application to Ms. Lerner’s senior advisor.
- It was not until August 2011 that the Chief Counsel’s office held a meeting with Mr. Hull, Ms. Lerner’s senior advisor, and other Washington D.C. officials to discuss these test applications. During the intervening months, these applications languished.
- The Chief Counsel’s office instructed Mr. Hull that they needed updated information to evaluate the applications. Since the applications were up-to-date months earlier, when Mr. Hull made his recommendations, Mr. Hull testified that he found this request from the Chief Counsel’s office surprising. The Chief Counsel’s office also discussed the possibility of a template letter to develop all the Tea Party applications, including those being held in Cincinnati. Mr. Hull explained that all the applications were different and that a template was impractical.
- Mr. Hull’s supervisor, Ronald Shoemaker, provided insight on the type of additional information sought by the Chief Counsel’s office—namely, information about the applicants’ political activities leading up to the 2010 election. (emphasis mine)
- The lengthy review of the test applications in Washington created a bottleneck and caused the delay of other Tea Party applications in Cincinnati. Indeed, multiple IRS employees in Cincinnati – including Elizabeth Hofacre — have told the Committee they were waiting on guidance from Washington on how to move the applications forward.
- Mr. Hull explained that he could not provide advice to Ms. Hofacre because his hands were tied by his superiors in Washington. Therefore, none of these applications were approved or denied during the time he worked with Ms. Hofacre on the cases.
- The head of the Cincinnati office, Cindy Thomas, testified that she continuously asked senior Washington officials when guidance was coming, but it was to no avail.
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