Friday, May 17, 2013

IRS covered up 'tea party' policy in response to FOIA requests

Well, well, well...this gets more interesting day by day...

In 2011, The 1851 Center for Constitution Law made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the IRS asking for any "tea party" related policies. They were told there there no such documents. But the Inspector General's report showed specific policies were in place in 2010.

So they kept the information from Congress and the public.

Oh - and they also closed their FOIA reading room and locked the door..and no one had a key. Apparently "there's nothing worth reading in the FOIA public reading room anyway."

This article from Ben Domenech really goes to the heart of the matter:

The point is that these scandals cut at the core conceit of Obama’s ideology: the healthy and enduring confidence of big government to be good government. As technological capabilities advance and the scope of government expands, the types of domestic scandals we’re seeing here are only going to increase in frequency and invasiveness, with personal information shared more frequently, easier for even low level bureaucrats to acquire and manipulate. At the same time, Americans are becoming increasingly skeptical and cynical about their public institutions, with their trust in the federal government at historic lows. They distrust the agencies and bureaucrats even as the politicians of our age are investing more and more power in them.

Today, the media, the Obama administration, and David Axelrod are undertaking the task that conservatives could not: illustrating with each passing day that the progressive approach to modern governance and policy is inherently flawed and that vast governments are ripe for abuse. What we are seeing from the IRS and the DOJ is not something new, nor does it represent a perverse approach to benign bureaucracy: it is the inevitable consequence of an approach which puts mechanisms in place and then assumes they will not be used for ill. You should expect government to go as far as it can, whenever it can, in any ways that it can, toward the full exploitation of the power made available to it. Expecting government to behave otherwise is to expect the scorpion not to sting the frog.

The progressive answer to this is more rules and regulators, more agencies and safeguards and accountability projects. Republicans should recognize this intervention for the ridiculousness it is – creating more federal entities to watch over federal entities – and focus their arguments instead on the only solution which will actually work: removing power from the federal government and returning it to the states or the people. The only way to ensure that government doesn’t abuse a power is to make sure it doesn’t have this power in the first place.

Here is the press release sent out by the 1851 Center. It's written by Lynn Walsh.

IRS Covered Up "Tea Party" Policy in Response to FOIA Requests

In 2011 FOIA response, IRS denied existence of records that Inspector General found clearly existed at the time

Columbus, OH - The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law today released a 2011 Internal Revenue Service response to its Freedom of Information Act request denying the existence of any "tea party"-related policy - - a policy that the Inspector General for Tax Administration has found to have clearly existed at that time.

Suspicious that the IRS may have been employing an "anti-tea-party" policy, the 1851 Center, through investigative journalist Lynn K. Walsh, submitted a June 2010 Freedom of Information Act request to the IRS for all documents related to this policy. In its 2011 response, the IRS headquarters, through "Disclosure Manager" Marie Twarog states as follows:

You asked for documents relating to any training, memos, letters, policies, etc., that details how the Tax Exempt/Government Entities Division reviews applications for non-profits, 501(c)(3) and other not for profit organizations specifically mentioning "Tea Party", "the Tea Party", "tea party", and "tea parties".

I found no documents specifically responsive to your request.

However, in its May 14 Report, the Inspector General specifically finds that "[t]he first Sensitive Case Report [identifying tea party groups] was prepared by the Technical Unit" in April of 2010 (See Page 32). The Report's Appendix goes on to chronicle the existence of a series of 2010 policies and related documents targeting "tea party" and other conservative organizations.

"Either IRS Headquarters was entirely incompetent in maintaining awareness of prominent policies and documents within the IRS, or it deliberately covered up the existence of anti-conservative IRS policies. Either is terrifying," said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center. "Legal action is necessary to ensure that the IRS does not lie to taxpayers in this manner in the future."

The released documents constitutes the most prominent evidence of either a cover-up or lack of institutional control related to the tea-party policies, and are the only example of the IRS specifically denying the existence of such policies in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Importantly, the IRS did not claim that the requested documents were exempt from FOIA; it instead claimed that the documents did not exist.

Yesterday, the 1851 Center released that in its May 20, 2010 response to the 1851 Center's application for tax-exempt status, the IRS demanded that, in order to receive approval of its application, the 1851 Center must: "Please explain in detail your organization's involvement with the Tea Party."

Read the IRS FOIA Response HERE.

Read the FOIA Request made to the IRS HERE.

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