GEORGE WILL: I can just hardly wait until the IRS lawyers go into that courtroom and tell the judge that it would be too onerous to stop obstructing justice in this case. That’s a really interesting defense. You know, Lily Tomlin, the comedian, used to have a character, the Bag Lady, who said, ‘no matter how cynical you get you, just can’t keep up.’ And that’s the way it was with the IRS.
EditorialNow Mr. Strelka’s personal knowledge of policies in the Exempt Organizations unit run by Lois Lerner is turning up in emails found by the House Oversight Committee. In March 2010 IRS manager Ronald Shoemaker emailed a group including Mr. Strelka instructing them to “Be on the lookout for a tea party case. If you have received or do receive a case in the future involving an exemption for an organization having to do with tea party, let me know.”
By Jennifer Van LaarDespite IRS officials’ sworn testimony and affidavits to the contrary, a DOJ attorney has learned there is a backup system where Lois Lerner’s emails are stored.
By Ian TuttleLerner’s government-issued laptop reportedly crashed in June 2011, at which time IRS analysts tried but failed to recover data, including e-mail communications, according to previous testimony. In his sworn declaration, Stephen Manning – deputy chief information officer for strategy and modernization with the IRS Information Technology business unit – reports that “there is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this litigation.” This despite the fact that Lerner had been in possession of a government-issued Blackberry since November 2009, according to the statement of Thomas J. Kane – deputy associate chief counsel for procedure and administration within the IRS Office of Chief Counsel – and it would likely have hosted at least some of Lerner’s electronic communications.Moreover, IRS documents provided by Kane show that Lerner’s Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” By that time, a congressional investigation was well under way. In March of that year then-IRS chief Douglas Shulman was questioned by Congress about the targeting of conservative groups, and in April Republican congressman sent questions to Lerner about the targeting. Lerner responded on April 26.
ISSA: This is one of the problems with the IRS. Political employees get embedded there. Quite frankly, my ranking member, Mr. Cummings, his chief lawyer was, in fact, embedded for a number of years at the IRS as a, quote, “technical specialist,” when, in fact, before that time, she worked as a political appointee. Now she works for the minority on the committee. This is a problem at the IRS. No one is allowed to go there that is a political appointee. Certainly, when you find an ideological left or right, they need to leave there, not simply move around to convenient places, which, in this case, includes the Department of Justice. It now has at least three people who very clearly are bad choices for reasons of apparent conflict of interest.
By Walter ShapiroWhat Appel’s campaign illustrates is not cynicism about fighting big money in politics, but rather that candidates and their consultants know what issues work for them politically—and which don’t. A Super PAC, even a well-intentioned one, is guilty of arrogance when it tries to impose its issues on a candidate stressing different campaign themes.Maybe the best way to look at Lessig’s Mayday PAC is not as an $8-million electoral juggernaut, but rather as a piece of political performance art. It is more likely to demonstrate the limited power of Super PAC political spending than it is to galvanize a national crusade for campaign finance reform.
By JULIET LAPIDOSObviously attacking a candidate’s financial backers is nothing new. But in the past political ads generally focused on groups, or types of people, rather than individuals, e.g. elitist billionaires, not Michael Bloomberg, Charles Koch or David Koch. That’s just one of the many unintended consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision to let unlimited outside money flow into political campaigns.
By DAVID MONTGOMERYAt the center of Texas v. Perry is the district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, which was formed in the 1980s to prosecute official corruption here in the capital, as well as insurance fraud and financial crimes. The office has prosecuted more Democrats than Republicans, stemming from an earlier era of Democratic dominance in Texas. But the unit has been in the Republicans’ cross hairs for years after prosecuting Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Representative Tom DeLay, the majority leader, both Republicans.
By Dave LevinthalSenate Democrats have embraced a new big-money fundraising vehicle — after repeatedly blasting the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it possible — that could help candidates, state parties and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tap wealthy donors for even more cash.
By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE and TARINI PARTINone of these side events were on the official public schedule — and they came with strict rules from Biden’s office for the elite group of participants: No emails. No Facebook or Twitter posts, before or after. Phone is best, they tell everyone involved. Nothing written at all — that would complicate security and require approval from the White House.All told, Biden’s done more than two dozen of these unofficial events, tacked on to government and campaign trips, with more under-the-radar appearances already planned, according to people familiar with his activities.The vice president’s office doesn’t even want to call these events fundraisers. But they have a clear purpose: Biden remains a major draw for core members of the Democratic Party — and for a man still holding open the option of a 2016 presidential run, the events give him yet another way of supporting Democrats in the midterms while keeping in touch with important players around the country.
By Benjy SarlinLast week, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced it would commit at least $70 million to Advantage 2020, a program aimed at targeting legislative chambers in key states over the next four election cycles with the specific aim of influencing redistricting. The plan calls on Democrats to invest resources not just in state chambers the party has a shot at winning this November, but in legislatures where they might have a chance at slowly eroding a GOP majority over time thanks to demographic trends.“[Gerrymandering] has led to far right policies in states, far right policies in Congress,” Michael Sargent, executive director of the DLCC, told reporters in announcing the new program. Republicans “don’t feel like they’re accountable to anybody because they feel like they have drawn the lines and the maps in such a way that they don’t have to actually answer to the voters,” Sargent said.
By Megan R. WilsonWith GOP odds of a takeover growing, high-ranking aides are checking in on their value “downtown” at law and lobby firms, where they could command salary offers of up to $500,000 per year.“My phone is ringing, and my inbox is active,” said Rob Smith, the co-chair of Venable’s legislative practice group. “Not just staffers but soon-to-be former members, too.”
By Nicholas ConfessoreThe splits are consistent enough in spelling out the likely direction of enforcement, they say, that they now advise clients that a 3-to-3 split comes close to official commission policy.“If you’ve got a client who is not as risk-averse, then you can sit down with them and say, ‘Here’s the situation, you have three commissioners who say this is lawful, and that is something you can rely on between now and November for your campaign strategy,’ ” said Michael E. Toner, a Republican election lawyer and former commissioner.Some election lawyers have even turned the deadlocks into a kind of marketing spiel. As Anthony Herman, a lawyer at Covington & Burling, put it in an article on the firm’s website: “The F.E.C.: Where a ‘Tie’ Can Be (Almost) a ‘Win.’ ”
EditorialWhy endorse no candidate in a major state primary? Here’s how we see it: Realistically, Governor Cuomo is likely to win the primary, thanks to vastly greater resources and name recognition. And he’ll probably win a second term in November against a conservative Republican opponent. In part, that’s because issues like campaign finance rarely have been a strong motivator for most voters. Nonetheless, those who want to register their disappointment with Mr. Cuomo’s record on changing the culture of Albany may well decide that the best way to do that is to vote for Ms. Teachout. Despite our reservations about her, that impulse could send a powerful message to the governor and the many other entrenched incumbents in Albany that a shake-up is overdue.