Daily Media Links 7/2: Judge Sets Hearing on Group’s Push to Investigate Lost IRS Emails, Americans are more interested in the IRS email scandal than the World Cup, and more…

July 2, 2014   •  By Brennan Mancil   •  
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IRS

Wall Street Journal: Judge Sets Hearing on Group’s Push to Investigate Lost IRS Emails

By John D. McKinnon

A federal judge scheduled a hearing for next week on a grass-roots conservative group’s request to investigate missing emails at the Internal Revenue Service, as part of the group’s lawsuit against the agency.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ordered the hearing on Tuesday, after conservative group True the Vote filed a motion seeking to speed up discovery and “preserve and prevent further destruction” of documents and electronic data. Among other things, the group wants a forensic expert to figure out how the emails were lost and examine whether any of the missing data can be recovered.

The hearing is set for July 11 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

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Washington Examiner: Americans are more interested in the IRS email scandal than the World Cup

By T. Becket Adams

To be specific, Americans are more interested in the disappearance of nearly two years’ worth of emails belonging to Lois Lerner, a disgraced former IRS official at the center of the targeting scandal, than they are in the international soccer tournament.

The Pew survey, which was conducted from June 26-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points, found that 21 percent of respondents say they are following the IRS scandal “very closely,” while only 17 percent of respondents say the same of the World Cup.

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Daily Caller: Lois Lerner And Fellow IRS Official Announced Targeting At 2010 Conference Before Both Of Their Emails Went Missing

By Patrick Howley

Ex-Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner spoke at a 2010 government conference where Lerner’s underling Nikole Flax announced the new IRS program scrutinizing groups applying for tax-exempt status.

Both Lerner and Flax experienced “computer crashes” that led to the permanent deletion of their emails, according to the IRS, which said it cannot hand over their emails to congressional investigators on two House committees.

Both Lerner and Flax briefed fellow government bureaucrats on the new targeting at the conference, where Lerner appeared at a workshop called “Will the IRS Come Knocking?”

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Amending the First Amendment

Columbia Daily Herald: Dems struggle to show anti-Koch amendment is ‘reasonable’

By Byron York

But who decides what is reasonable? “I tell you, I am not content to have your free speech rights protected by the reasonableness of members of Congress, Republicans or Democrats,” Sen. Ted Cruz said to Durbin. “I have more faith in the Bill of Rights than I do in any elected officials.” There was a time, Cruz noted, when the U.S. Congress thought the Alien and Sedition Acts were reasonable.

Cruz also reminded the subcommittee that political speech can involve movies and books, and that corporations — the bad guys in so much Democratic rhetoric — include not only Koch Industries but organizations like the NAACP, the Sierra Club and the Human Rights Campaign.

“Under the text of this amendment, could Congress ban political movies?” Cruz asked Durbin. “Could Congress ban books? And would it be constitutionally permissible for Congress to prohibit the NAACP from speaking about politics?”

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SCOTUS/Judiciary

Washington Post: How Supreme Court justices ‘benchslapped’ each other in the Hobby Lobby case

By Amanda Hollis-Brusky

Episodes of judicial tattling – court members calling one another out in writing – are nothing new. They have, however, become so frequent and visible of late that one blogger has coined a term for them – “benchslapping.” One of the more striking things about Canning and Hobby Lobby, Supreme Court decisions handed down this past week, is that the two factions on the Court are “benchslapping” one another for engaging in virtually identical judicial behavior. These fractured opinions, even when cloaked in the veneer of unanimity, serve as yet another indicator of how polarization has taken root at the branch furthest removed from electoral politics. And with the midterm and presidential elections in sight, the justices are doing their best to convince the highest court in the land – the court of public opinion – that they, not their Supreme Court siblings, are in the right.

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Candidates, Politicians, Campaigns, and Parties

CPI: Republicans continue to capitalize on ‘McCutcheon’ ruling

By Michael Beckel

The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a second super-sized joint fundraising committee — one that wouldn’t have been legal prior to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision — to funnel cash toward GOP candidates running in some of the nation’s most hotly contested House races.

The new jumbo joint fundraising committee, formally known as Young Guns Day II 2014, will serve as a fundraising conduit for the NRCC and 11 GOP candidates who were recently named to the top tier party’s “Young Guns” program, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

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Newsmax: Carly Fiorina Launches Super PAC to Fight Democrats’ ‘War on Women’

By Andrea Billups

Former technology executive Carly Fiorina, who chairs the American Conservative Union Foundation, plans a political assault against Democrats who used a “war on women” narrative to success in 2012 elections.

Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard Co. who ran for U.S. Senate from California in 2010, has launched the UP, or “Unlocking Potential,” Project, a super PAC geared at pushing back on Democrats on the “war on women” theme and win back control of the Senate for Republicans, Breitbart.com reported.

“We need to name and shame Democrats who play the ‘war on women’ game,” Fiorina told Breitbart. The super PAC has set a goal of raising $1 million by July 15.

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Lobbying and Ethics

Free Beacon: Shaheen to Amend Financial Disclosure After Accusations of Shady Stock Deal

By CJ Ciaramella

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) will amend a personal financial disclosure report to correct what her reelection campaign says is an error, after ethical questions were raised over stock she and her husband own.

The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that Shaheen and her husband have a financial stake in a company that received federal stimulus funding. According to the Globe, the Shaheens acquired up to $15,000 in stock options for the company Ultrawave, which also received $78,000 in federal stimulus funds.

Shaheen voted for the $787 billion stimulus, and her husband William Shaheen, who runs a lobbying that briefly had a “stimulus opportunities team” to help clients, advised Ultrawave.

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National Journal: Congress Quietly Deletes a Key Disclosure of Free Trips Lawmakers Take

By Shane Goldmacher

It’s going to be a little more difficult to ferret out which members of Congress are lavished with all-expenses-paid trips around the world after the House has quietly stripped away the requirement that such privately sponsored travel be included on lawmakers’ annual financial-disclosure forms.

The move, made behind closed doors and without a public announcement by the House Ethics Committee, reverses more than three decades of precedent. Gifts of free travel to lawmakers have appeared on the yearly financial form dating back its creation in the late 1970s, after the Watergate scandal. National Journal uncovered the deleted disclosure requirement when analyzing the most recent batch of yearly filings.

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FEC

More Soft Money Hard Law: Not Really a Problem of Agency Discretion

By Bob Bauer

Troubled as always that the government might be dabbling in politics, George Will wrote this last week about the Patent Office cancellation of the “Redskins” trademark registration. His larger point is that once the government has the discretion to jump into political debates, it may choose those occasions that suit its political or ideological preferences. Citing Jonathan Turley, he gives an example from campaign finance: the FEC’s exercise of discretion in approving the financing of Michael Moore’s documentary about George W. Bush, Fahrenheit 911, while disapproving Citizen United’s now-famous documentary about Hillary Clinton.

The situation Will describes was more complicated and the facts considerably more confounding and entertaining. Beginning in 2004, the question before the agency was whether the purchase of pre-election broadcast time for a political documentary and associated advertising constituted a prohibited “electioneering communication.” The law on this point turns in material part, of course, on a mere reference to a candidate: no express advocacy is required. But in the episode cited by George Will, the FEC was, in fact, evenhanded, and the conclusion to be drawn from the story is different from the one that he offers.

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State and Local

South Dakota – Argus Leader: Johnson’s unusual SDDP donation

By David H. Montgomery

On Friday, I wrote a blog post about how Tim Johnson was planning on giving $200,000 to the South Dakota Democratic Party. I assumed this was from his campaign account, which is allowed to make unlimited donations to state and local political parties.

But the Associated Press reported over the weekend that the donation was actually from Johnson’s political action committee, South Dakota First. That committee has about $200,000, which makes sense — except that political action committees aren’t allowed to make unlimited donations to state or local parties. They’re limited to $5,000 gifts. So how could this be true?

The answer turns out to be a lot more complicated — and interesting — than my initial assumption.

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Brennan Mancil

https://www.ifs.org/author/bmancil/

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