The ongoing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal was a big topic on the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington D.C. and a one-time U.S. Senate candidate offered details of how the tax agency targeted her.
Christine O’Donnell, the Republican nominee in the 2010 special election to fill the Delaware U.S. Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden, said the day she announced her candidacy her tax records were illegally accessed by someone inside the IRS. Subsequently, she was accused of having a tax lien on a property she no longer owned. “If it happened to me that means everyone in this room could be a target,” said O’Donnell, who is a political commentator, consultant and author.
The tax agency admitted her private records were illegally accessed but would not reveal who actually obtained them. That’s because, ironically, the same section (6103) of the tax code that says it’s illegal to release a citizen’s private information indirectly protects the perpetrator. This reasoning may seem absurd, but a respected tax attorney collaborated on the same panel. It’s bad enough that the IRS has access to tax records, O’Donnell reminds that Obamacare it will soon give the agency access to our medical records.
“This administration has an arrogance of thinking they’re untouchable and they can use the IRS as a political weapon,” O’Donnell said. The attorney who joined her on the panel, Cleta Mitchell, has represented a number of conservative organizations that have been targeted by the IRS under President Obama. She confirms that right-leaning groups aren’t the only ones on the IRS’s radar. Regular citizens who donate to the groups are also under attack.
At least four conservative organizations that Mitchell has worked with have had their donors’ names released publicly by the Obama IRS, she said. “People that donate to conservative groups are getting audited,” Mitchell confirmed, adding that it’s a consistent and concerted effort to go after conservative donors. That’s a huge part of the scandal that seldom gets reported, the attorney said. “It’s not just the Tea Party groups.”
Judicial Watch has been a leader in investigating the IRS’s illegal scheme against conservative groups and has sued the agency for records. The plot first came to light in an explosive 2013 Treasury Inspector General report that revealed the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as patriot and Tea Party in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status. The questionable reviews continued for more than 18 months, the Treasury report says, and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” preparing for the 2012 presidential election.
JW President Tom Fitton was a panelist in a Thursday CPAC panel sponsored by the Tea Party, that discussed the IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative nonprofits. On Friday, Fitton was a panelist in a discussion about a post-Obama government. He warned that the next administration cannot ignore the corruption left by this one. As an example Fitton offered that George W. Bush did nothing to clean up all the Clinton corruption then it “metastasized during the Obama administration.”
Among the panelists sharing the stage with Fitton was Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who ran as a Republican in California for the U.S. Senate. Fiorina brought up a great point regarding Obamacare. “We blame Obama for Obamacare but we didn’t stand up and offer a solution,” Fiorina said of conservatives. “We must offer a patient centered insurance solution,” Fiorina added, sharing with attendees that she’s a cancer survivor and understands the need for good quality insurance. “Health insurance should be a true free market like auto insurance, but it isn’t.”
The high-profile politicians that addressed the conference on Friday included Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. The civil libertarian has a huge following of young, mostly college-aged fans that filled the ballroom and delivered vigorous applause and standing ovations. Paul focused on NSA spying and other privacy issues, saying that the founding fathers would not have tolerated the spying and instead told the president “we will not trade our freedom for security, not now, not ever.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz kicked off the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with a number of zingers Thursday morning, but they weren’t nearly as entertaining as the Senate Minority Leader packing heat at the annual gathering just outside Washington D.C.
Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, took the stage with a rifle. He explained that it was a parting gift for retiring Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, but the gun was clearly intended to make a statement. “First of all, the president of the United States is treating our constitution worse than a place mat at Denny’s,” McConnell said, undoubtedly referring to the Obama administration’s heavy-handed gun control measures.
Cruz had pumped up the crowd before McConnell, delivering a number of witty one-liners that got posted to his twitter account for those who missed the fiery speech. Among the favorites was this: “We need to repeal every single word of Obamacare.” Another popular line posted on the Cuban-American senator’s twitter account: “We need to stop the lawlessness. This POTUS is the first we’ve had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce.”
Other high-profile speakers on the opener day of the three-day event included Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who was excluded from last year’s conference over his conservative values. Christie is embroiled in a bridge scandal back home and took the opportunity to blast the press, saying “we have to stop letting the media define who we are and what we stand for.” The crowd received the meaty governor with a standing ovation and vigorous applause.
By far the most entertaining of the speakers was real estate mogul Donald Trump, who rambled on about everything from immigration reform to entitlement, the Chinese, the national debt and all things Obama. The highlight of his speech came when he lambasted Obama’s economic record and public opinion rating, asserting the president was “getting into Jimmy Carter territory.” Trump went on: “Maybe by next month we will have surpassed the late, great Jimmy Carter.” For the record Carter is still alive and a few news outlets reported that the former president’s grandson was not amused and responded on social media.
There were also a number of informative panels that addressed issues ranging from, Obama’s takeover of public education and healthcare to illegal immigration, foreign policy, global warming and the scandal-plagued Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton was on a late-morning panel, sponsored by the Tea Party, that discussed the IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative nonprofits.
JW has been a leader in investigating the IRS’s illegal scheme against conservative groups and has sued the agency for records. The plot first came to light in an explosive 2013 Treasury Inspector General report that revealed the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as patriot and Tea Party in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status. The questionable reviews continued for more than 18 months, the Treasury report says, and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” preparing for the 2012 presidential election.
On Friday at 3 p.m. Fitton will speak in a panel titled “After Obama, Day 1: What Are the Big Alternative Ideas Conservatives Should Present as Obama’s Terms End?”
Sarah Palin brought the house down on the last day of the Conservative Political Action (CPAC) conference near Washington D.C. as she mocked not only President Obama and Democrats in general, but Republicans as well.
It was a bipartisan bashing that brought the rowdy crowd to its feet repeatedly. The former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate referred to herself as a “hockey mom from Wasilla” and she let her own political party have it, targeting renowned GOP consultant Karl Rove, who is considered the architect of President George W. Bush’s many political victories.
Rove recently said Republicans need to choose candidates who are more “electable” and less ideologically contentious. Palin fired back in front of the CPAC crowd, which consisted largely of young college students: “The last thing we need is Washington, D.C., vetting our candidates. The architects can head on back to the great Lone Star state and put their names on some ballot.”
She did save the best for President Obama, however, saying that true leadership means “ending the poisonous practice of treating members of different social, ethnic and religious groups as different electorates, pandered to with different promises.” If all men are created equal, as the Declaration of Independence states, Palin said, then there are “no Hispanic issues or African-American issues or women’s issues — there are only American issues.”
Palin said that calling Obama a good politician is like describing convicted Ponzi scheme fraudster Bernard Madoff as “a good salesman.” The difference is “the president is using our money.” She also attacked the president’s failed promise to have the most open administration in history. “Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration ever. Barack Obama, you lied,” Palin said.
When Palin ducked under the podium to retrieve a Big Gulp cup filled with soda the crowd went wild. She sucked on the straw then said: “Oh, Bloomberg’s not around, our Big Gulp’s safe.” Then she said; “Shoot, it’s just pop with low-cal ice cubes in it. I hope that’s OK.” The skit was meant to poke fun at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s call to ban oversized sodas.
It was a fun way to end the three-day conference that mostly featured the typically boring speeches by a variety of politicians, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas’s new Cuban-American Senator Ted Cruz. At a gala dinner on Friday night, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush delivered a mostly uneventful speech after the Oak Ridge Boys rocked the place with their most popular hits.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, best known for taking on the unions and beating a union-driven recall campaign, also delivered a fiery speech on the last day of CPAC, though Palin was by far the most entertaining. Entitlement reform, Walker said, should be cast as “moving people from government dependence to true independence.”
The September 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi seemed to be among the more popular topics on the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C., though a number of prominent politicians, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, also headlined the big event.
An afternoon panel featuring a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin and renowned conservative journalists addressed the Benghazi terrorist attack in which a group of heavily armed Islamist militia members assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi Libya. Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were murdered in the eight-hour assault, marking the first time since 1979 that a U.S. ambassador is killed in the line of duty.
“Maybe someone, someday will come up with the right questions to ask about Benghazi, and maybe we will get the right answers,” said the moderator of Thursday’s panel at CPAC, former Congressman Ernest Istook.
While the discussion was certainly interesting, it didn’t begin to cover what Judicial Watch has already exposed. JW is far and away the leading organization investigating Benghazi and the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the assault, as well as the State Department’s commitment to protect overseas diplomats.
Judicial Watch has filed a dozen public-records requests with various federal agencies involving the tragedy and JW lawyers are in court to compel the government to produce records. Back in January, JW published a special report featuring an in-depth analysis of Benghazi conducted by former State Department Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier.
The report examines the critical time period leading up to the Benghazi attack, when repeated requests for increased security were shunned by top State Department officials. It also looks at the Obama administration’s official claim that “an obscure Internet video” triggered the attacks, as well as apparently false claims that four top State Department officials had resigned in response to the Department’s December 18 Accountability Review Board report on the attack. It also raises questions as to the internal problems within the Department that may continue to leave overseas diplomats without adequate security.
In short, Judicial Watch’s special Benghazi report concludes that the attack resulted from a wide range of strategic and tactical failures by State Department officials. Chief among them was the fateful decision to circumvent established security regulations by designating the diplomatic post in Benghazi a ‘Special Mission Compound,’ ignoring repeated requests for additional security resources by Diplomatic Security personnel on the ground and entrusting the security of the SMC [Special Mission Compound] to a local militia group with suspected ties to radical Islamists.
As Special Agent Fournier notes in his assessment of the tragedy, there were also long-standing cultural problems within the Department of State that hinder the ability of Diplomatic Security agents to adequately protect our diplomats overseas.
On the last day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton offered a refreshing change to the repetitious political rhetoric delivered by every high-profile speaker, most notably all the Republican presidential contenders.
They all took turns bashing President Barack Obama and, like good politicians, vowed to make huge changes if they get elected to the White House. Attendees at the three-day conference heard from Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Their respective messages, delivered in the main ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, were not all that different.
Bolton’s was. On Saturday morning the former George W. Bush diplomat distinguished himself by focusing on foreign policy and emphasizing that Obama’s attempt to court the Muslim Brotherhood could lead to an Islamic dictatorship in Egypt. The president’s approach is “hesitant, inconsistent, confused and just plain wrong,” Bolton said.
He added that National Intelligence Director James Clapper’s recent statement that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular” was the “single most foolish statement any American Intelligence official has ever made.” This earned loud applause, chuckles and sporadic whistling. So did this comment: “I don’t think the president cares much about foreign affairs. We need focused attention on these critical national security issues.”
Bolton also criticized defense cuts, the administration’s policies towards China, Czechoslovakia and Iran. He emphasized that American strength is not provocative to its enemies, but rather American weakness is provocative to its enemies. “This administration specializes in this,” Bolton said, adding that “our desire to protect ourselves is not provocative.” He emphasized that this is especially true when it comes to terrorism.
One comment in particular brought the house down before Bolton left the stage. “Obama claims he killed Osama bin Laden when it was ten years in the making. Obama just got out of the way.”
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Florida Governor Rick Scott also took the stage on Saturday and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin delivered the keynote address after strolling through the lobby with an entourage. It was a crazy scene in which security had to create a path so Palin could get through the mobs of people that quickly surrounded her. The former vice presidential candidate bailed on CPAC at the last minute in 2011 and was abruptly replaced by Florida Congressman Allen West.
Security was extra tight at this year’s event, with a strong Secret Service and local police presence. Outside the conference headquarters Occupy D.C. activists, community groups and union supporters staged boisterous protests. On Saturday they braved the snow to demonstrate and hold signs. Some admitted they were paid as much as $60 to storm the conference and disrupt certain key presentations.
Riding the momentum of three primary victories—in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota—Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was the rock star of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. Friday.
Joined on stage by his wife and children, the former Pennsylvania senator earned various standing ovations from the pumped-up, capacity crowd at the event’s main ballroom. He presented himself as the true conservative in the race and, like the other two candidates who spoke at CPAC on Friday, trashed Obamacare, saying a mission to overturn it motivated him to run for president.
A few hours later Mitt Romney received his biggest applause about half way into his 25-minute speech, when he got around to trashing Obamacare. Otherwise, the former Massachusetts governor received a much colder reception from the crowd than Santorum or Newt Gingrich, who took the stage last. “I will eliminate Obamacare,” Romney said. It’s the only time the crowd cheered loudly and stood up in approval.
About an hour later Gingrich earned waves of applause with many of his witty one-liners, mostly trashing the Obama Administration. The boisterous crowd often broke out chanting “Newt, Newt, Newt” as he revealed his plans for fixing a broken government. “My first executive order is to abolish all White House czars,” he said over thunderous clapping. Gingrich also said that among his first goals as commander-in-chief is to repeal Obamacare.
Speaking of Obama’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system, Judicial Watch held an informative panel on the subject in the main ballroom following Romney’s speech. “Obamacare is an unprecedented power grab,” said JW President Tom Fitton before introducing the panel of experts that discussed how the measure is unconstitutional.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who bailed on CPAC at the last minute in 2011, will wrap the conference up with a Saturday afternoon speech. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Florida Governor Rick Scott will also speak at different times throughout the day. Among the more interesting seminars on the final day appears to be one that addresses state versus federal law involving illegal immigration.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio kicked off the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. with a fiery speech that covered everything from Medicare to taxes and President Barack Obama’s engagement in class warfare.
“Unlike any leader in modern American history, we are led today by a president that has decided to pit Americans against each other,” Rubio said. “The basic argument he is making to our nation is that the reason why some of us are worse off than we used to be is because other people are doing too well. That the only way for some of us to do better is for some people to do worse.”
The popular Cuban-American lawmaker avoided the hot-button political topic of immigration, though an anonymous flyer circulated around the conference insinuating that Rubio is soft on illegal immigration. It read: “Senator Marco Rubio, elected to the Senate with strong conservative support, gave a keynote speech at the Hispanic Leadership Network Conference in Miami on 1/27/2012, in which he made a number of statements, raising questions about whether he’s distancing himself from his previous opposition to amnesty for illegals.”
Three one-time Republican presidential candidates—Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain—also delivered speeches on the first day. Perry, the governor of Texas, said his presidential campaign just ran out of time. Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, said running for president is “one series of humiliations after another.” Cain, a businessman, said “gutter politics” and putting “family first” led him to drop out of the race. On Friday three presidential candidates—Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich—will headline the conference.
Among the more interesting CPAC seminars Thursday was a panel dedicated to the dangerous resurgence of socialism in Latin America. Otto Reich, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, warned that the type of socialism spreading throughout Latin America is a more pernicious Marxist style than in Europe.
“Latin America is the soft underbelly of the United States,” said Reich, who also served as U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela. He noted that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has granted Iran access to the hemisphere while also supporting Marxist guerillas. “I’m concerned about the covert actions and alliance between Iran and Chavez,” Reich said.
Security is heightened at the three-day conference in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, with a strong Secret Service presence and special canine units throughout the premises. Judicial Watch will hold a special panel in the main ballroom Friday afternoon on the unconstitutionality of Obamacare.
The only thing more popular than bashing President Obama on the last day of the Conservative Political Action Conference was national security, especially the hot-button topic of Sharia law, the authoritarian doctrine that inspires Islamists and their jihadism.Several accomplished military, terrorism and national security experts have long asserted that terrorists are covertly using Islamic Sharia law as a non-violent way to destroy the United States. A panel of highly regarded experts reiterated the assessment in a Saturday afternoon CPAC seminar called “The Sharia Challenge in the West.”Former Central Intelligence Agency Director Jim Woolsey, a foreign policy specialist who has worked for both Democratic and Republican administrations, led the intriguing seminar. The United States is, not only at war with terrorists such as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah but also with those who, over the long run, want to impose Sharia law, Woolsey assured.He defined Sharia as a “theocratic dictatorship extremely opposed to democracy” and a movement to “eliminate and destroy western civilization.” The biggest challenge in fighting it is America’s long tradition of tolerance towards all religions, he warned, pointing out that the radical Islamic group Muslim Brotherhood is largely behind the effort to bring Sharia to the U.S.Ironically, Muslim Brotherhood affiliates sponsored a CPAC panel a day earlier to defend Islamic rights, building a mosque at Ground Zero and the overall mission of the group which is known as the parent organization of Hamas and Al Qaeda. Suhail Khan, a controversial figure with connections to Middle Eastern radicals, led the event which at times got heated. A few years ago Khan received an award from an Al Qaeda operative (Abdurahman Alamoudi) and the event was actually recorded in a video.Also on Saturday former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton delivered a scorching afternoon speech on national security, blasting the Obama Administration for not caring about foreign affairs. He spoke mostly of radicalism in the Middle East but also mentioned risks posed by Venezuela’s huge uranium stockpile and close ties to Iran. Minutes after Bolton’s fiery delivery, another panel addressed the threat of nuclear war presented by China and North Korea.Two Judicial Watch seminars tackled the never-ending task to achieve government transparency as a way to root out corruption.An aide to a U.S. Senator offered examples of government waste that were only discovered by scrutinizing public records and a veteran investigative journalist implored attendees to visit the government’s website (usaspending.gov) on spending. “You’ll be amazed at what you find,” he said, suggesting everyone check out “parties” and “alcohol” financed by U.S. taxpayers.CPAC concluded with a keynote address by Florida’s newly elected congressman, Allen West, who was scheduled at the last minute when former Alaska Governor Sara Palin declined the invite. Like many of the conference’s other high-profile speakers—including Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty—he energized the crowd by blasting the Obama Administration.