Daily Media Links 6/25: “Voxsplaining” the IRS Scandal, IRS Admits Wrongdoing, to Pay $50,000 in Leaking of Marriage Group’s Tax Return, and more…


“Voxsplaining” the IRS Scandal

By Luke Wachob

After misrepresenting the source of confusion in the existing rules, Vox wrongly claims that the IRS proposal would have addressed the problem. What the proposal actually would have done is exacerbate the problem by introducing a new term, “candidate-related political activity,” that would essentially apply a different definition of political activity to (c)(4) groups than the one used for every other (c) group and PAC. In what universe does this make things more clear?

Under the new, ill-crafted definition, everything from publishing nonpartisan voter guides, to hosting meet-the-candidate events, to organizing get-out-the-vote drives would have been restricted. For nonprofits affected by the rule, it would have been a logistical nightmare and a magnet for lawsuits. It should be no surprise the rule attractednear-universal opposition from all sides of the political aisle. The only thing clear about the proposed rule is that it would have shut down a ton of socially beneficial activity.

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Daily Signal: IRS Admits Wrongdoing, to Pay $50,000 in Leaking of Marriage Group’s Tax Return

Two years after activists for same-sex marriage obtained the confidential tax return and donor list of a national group opposed to redefining marriage, the Internal Revenue Service has admitted wrongdoing and agreed to settle the resulting lawsuit.

The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.

“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.”

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Free Beacon: MSNBC Mocks NY Times, Wash Post for Lack of IRS Coverage: Scarborough: ‘This is a scam’

This led Scarborough to erupt even further, “This is why conservatives don’t trust national newspapers. It’s why they don’t trust broadcast news. There’s a double standard and you can see it on every broadcast. You can see it on the front page of every major newspaper. This is why we don’t trust the national news outlets, because they are so biased and slanted. It’s not the news that they run, even though this is a joke of a story to put on the front page here. It’s the stories they don’t run. It’s the omissions, the acts of omissions when Democrats are in power. It’s stunning.”  

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Watch segment…

Washington Post: An arrogant and lawless IRS

By Michael Gerson

It is a mix of arrogance and delusion that seems designed to incense Republicans. Koskinen had delayed informing Congress of the lost e-mails for months, even while assuring members they would be provided. “It was my decision that we complete the investigation,” he said, “so we could fully advise you as to what the situation was.” Translation from management-speak: We wanted to get our story straight before we advised you of anything. Koskinen complained about the breadth of subpoenas and the “piecemealing out” of information. Translation: We will provide you what we want when we want. “Every e-mail,” Koskinen assured the House Ways and Means Committee, “has been preserved that we have.” Except the ones they don’t have — and somehow snuffed out, tied to an anvil and thrown into the ocean.

Democrats were left to complain about a Republican “witch hunt” — while Koskinen set up a caldron, added some eye of newt and toe of frog and hailed theThane of Cawdor.

To review: After President Obama blamed “two Dilberts in Cincinnati,” an inspector general’s report found that high-level IRS officials in Washington were involved in directing additional scrutiny toward tea party groups seeking tax exemptions. Lerner admitted as much, before taking the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before the House oversight committee. The House of Representatives held her in contempt. And now the evidence of possible communications between Lerner and other agencies (including the White House) has gone missing under suspicious circumstances. It could be a regrettable series of rogue operations, IRS management failures and technical glitches. Or they could be taking us for fools.  

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Wall Street Journal: IRS Email Jeopardy


In private white-collar cases, companies facing a lawsuit routinely operate under what is known as a “litigation hold,” instructing employees to affirmatively retain all documents related to the potential litigation. A failure to do that and any resulting document loss amounts to what is called “willful spoliation,” or deliberate destruction of evidence if any of the destroyed documents were potentially relevant to the litigation.

At the IRS, that requirement applied to all correspondence regarding Z Street, as well as to information related to the vetting of conservative groups whose applications for tax-exempt status were delayed during an election season. Instead, and incredibly, the IRS cancelled its contract with email-archiving firm Sonasoft shortly after Ms. Lerner’s computer “crash” in June 2011.

In the federal District of Columbia circuit where Z Street’s case is now pending, the operating legal obligation is that “negligent or reckless spoliation of evidence is an independent and actionable tort.” In a 2011 case a D.C. district court also noted that “Once a party reasonably anticipates litigation, it must suspend its routine document retention/destruction policy and put in place a ‘litigation hold’ to ensure the preservation of relevant documents.”

The government’s duty is equally pressing. “When the United States comes into court as a party in a civil suit, it is subject to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as any other litigant,” the Court of Federal Claims ruled in 2007. The responsibility to preserve evidence should have been a topic of conversation between the IRS chief counsel’s office and the Justice Department lawyers assigned to handle the Z Street case.

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Wall Street Journal: Opinion: Where Are the IRS’s Emails?

Foley & Lardner Partner Cleta Mitchell on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee. 

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Free Beacon: U.S. Archivist: IRS ‘Did Not Follow The Law’ After They Lost Lerner Emails

U.S. Archivist David Ferriero of the National Archives and Records Administration told Rep. Tim Walberg (R., Mich.) that the IRS “did not follow the law” when they failed to notify his administration that they had lost Lois Lerner’s email records.  

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Wall Street Journal: Republicans Turn Up Heat Over Missing IRS Emails

By John D. McKinnon

More broadly, lawmakers still are seeking to understand how the agency—which tracks and stores sensitive information for millions of individuals and businesses—could be unable to keep track of its own officials’ emails.

“I’m sure there will be further hearings,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), a member of the committee. “I’m sure the subpoenas are being cranked and the hearings planned.”

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Independent Groups

Free Beacon: Democracy Alliance Donors Finance and Help Run Obama Advocacy Group

By Lachlan Markay

Members of a major left-wing dark money outfit are providing large chunks of cash for, and serving as top advisers and officers of, President Barack Obama’s personal advocacy group.

Democracy Alliance donors have contributed at least $1.87 million to Organizing for Action (OFA), the 501(c)(4) organization that evolved out of Obama’s reelection campaign, according to data released by OFA.

Democracy Alliance members also have official roles in running OFA. According to Democracy Alliance documents obtained by the WashingtonFree Beacon, OFA’s board of directors includes four Democracy Alliance “partners,” individuals who pay $30,000 in annual dues and contribute at least $200,000 to the left-wing groups that Democracy Alliance supports.

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Corporate Governance 

Wall Street Journal: SEC Settles With Fund Manager Over Political Contributions


The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday said it reached a settlement with a Pennsylvania investment-advisory firm over alleged violations of the regulator’s rules for political contributions.

The SEC said TL Ventures agreed to pay $300,000 to settle claims that it continued to receive fees from city and state pension funds within two years of an associate making a $2,000 campaign contribution in 2011 to the governor of Pennsylvania and a $2,500 contribution to the campaign of a mayoral candidate in Philadelphia.

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TPM: Senate Dems Cite Scalia’s Support In Push For Campaign Money Disclosure


“The debate here is not a legal debate, the debate here is a political debate. And I think that’s made very clear by what Justice Scalia wrote in Doe v. Reed,” said Sen. Michael Bennett, the chairman of Senate Democrats’ electoral arm. The Colorado senator stood with his colleagues at a press briefing with reporters on Tuesday while re-introducing the bill. It has 50 cosponsors.

In Doe, which was decided just five months after the controversial Citizens United ruling, the Court held 8-1 that disclosure of signatures on a referendum does not run afoul of the First Amendment. In a separate opinion agreeing with the outcome, Scalia declared his strong support for public scrutiny in a broader context of those seeking to influence elections.

“Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed,” he wrote. “For my part, I do not look forward to a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously … and even exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.”

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Kochs Obsession

Fox: Networks cover Koch funding of political campaigns 9 times more than liberals Soros, Steyer, Democracy Alliance combined

By Dan Gainor

Things go better with Koch – except, apparently, for good journalism. News divisions at  broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC have set ethics aside and joined a liberal crusade to demonize conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch. Broadcast reports have embraced the Democratic initiative to make elections all about money on the right while largely ignoring top donors on the left.

Since 2012, the big three networks have reported on the Koch brothers and their funding of political campaigns 9 times more often than liberal billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer.

ABC, CBS and NBC have entirely ignored big-monied liberal organizations like the Democracy Alliance, which is spending $200 million to “to boost liberal candidates and causes.” Even on June 23, when Politico reported on a secretive April Democracy Alliance meeting, there was no coverage.  

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

Washington Post: No recent candidate has benefited from outside money as much as Chris McDaniel

By Philip Bump

Chris McDaniel will at this time Wednesday either be the likely next senator from Mississippi or an interesting footnote in American political history. If it’s the latter, that footnote should include a key detail: McDaniel is probably the most significant beneficiary of outside campaign spending in recent political history.  

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(Looks like an interesting footnote in American political history)

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.