JULY 31, 2015
Federal Judge Threatens To Hold IRS Commissioner, Justice Attorneys In Contempt Over Lerner Emails
Judicial Watch Exposes Key Document in Government-Funded Race-Based Hawaii Separatist Vote
Judicial Watch Partners with TheBlaze On Documentary On Border Narco-Terror Threat: “The Sun City Cell”
This was quite the week for those of us demanding that the Obama IRS be held accountable to the rule of law for its abuse of innocent taxpayers. We received more documents that expose more Obama administration misconduct and lies in the IRS scandal. And a federal court judge threatened to hold the IRS Commissioner personally in contempt over the agency’s violation of his court orders.
U.S District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan threatened to hold the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department attorneys in contempt of court after the IRS failed to produce status reports and newly recovered emails of Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS, as he had ordered on July 1, 2015.
During the a status hearing Wednesday, Sullivan warned that the failure to follow his order was serious and that the IRS and Justice Department’s excuses for not following his July 1 order were “indefensible” ridiculous, and absurd.” He asked the IRS’ Justice Department lawyer Geoffrey Klimas, “Why didn’t the IRS comply” with his court order and “why shouldn’t the court hold the commissioner of the IRS in contempt?” Judge Sullivan referenced his contempt findings against Justice Department prosecutors in the prosecution of late Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and reminded the Justice Department attorney the court has the ability to detain him for contempt. Warning he would tolerate no further disregard of his orders, Judge Sullivan said:
If there is further noncompliance, I will haul into court the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service to show cause why that person should not be personally held in contempt of court. I can’t make that any clearer.”
To read the transcript of the hearing, which I urge you to do, click here.
After the hearing, Judge Sullivan issued the following “minute order”:
At the July 29, 2015 status hearing, the Government agreed that the Court’s July 1, 2015 oral order from the bench was clear and enforceable. Nonetheless, the Government reasoned it inappropriate to file a motion for reconsideration until a written order was issued. As expressed at the hearing, the Government’s reasoning is nonsensical. Officers of the Court who fail to comply with Court orders will be held in contempt. Also, in the event of non-compliance with future Court orders, the Commissioner of the IRS and others shall be directed to show cause as to why they should not be held in contempt of Court. The Court’s July 1, 2015 ruling from the bench stands: (1) the Government shall produce relevant documents every Monday; (2) the Government’s document production shall be accompanied by a status report that indicates (a) whether TIGTA has turned over any new documents to the IRS, (b) if so, the number of documents, and (c) a timeframe for the IRSs production of those documents. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on July 29, 2015.
Back during the July 1, 2015, status conference, Sullivan had ordered the IRS to begin producing, every week, the nearly 1,800 newly recovered Lerner emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Despite the court order, the IRS did not produce any Lerner emails until July 15. The IRS also failed to provide Judicial Watch weekly status reports of the Lerner email production issues, as also ordered by Sullivan. Last week, Judge Sullivan ordered sua sponte the parties to appear for a hearing, after Judicial Watch raised concerns about the IRS’ failure to comply with his orders.
The developments come in Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit seeking documents about the Obama IRS’ targeting and harassment of Tea Party and conservative opponents of President Obama (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:13-cv-01559)). Judicial Watch’s litigation forced the IRS first to claim that Lerner’s emails were supposedly missing and, then, that the emails were on IRS’ back-up systems.
The day before the extraordinary court hearing, Judicial Watch released the first batch (906 pages) of Lerner’s believed-to-be newly recovered emails. The new documents show that Lerner and other top officials in the IRS, including soon-to-be Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, closely monitored and approved the scandalous handling of tax-exempt applications by Tea Party organizations and individuals. The documents also show that at least one group received an inquiry from the IRS in order to buy time and keep the organization from contacting Congress.
We believe these emails were recovered by the agency’s own internal watchdog – the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
Lerner sent a November 3, 2011, email documenting her concerns about the failure to process applications in a timely manner:
I’m getting a little nervous about the amount we have on our plate and how we are handling. I know everyone is working hard and juggling, but I am wondering whether the juggling decisions are being made holistically enough. We have only so many resources and things will probably get worse going forward. I worry that decisions about how to use the resources are being made without all the information…Something that may not seem important in Cincinnati, may be crucial in DC. Similarly, DC may be prioritizing its work based on what is sitting in DC when something sitting in Cincinnati should be the focus of DC work.
IRS Program Manager Cindy Thomas of the Cincinnati Exempt Organization office replied to Lerner a few hours later with an email detailing the pressure caused by the IRS’ Washington headquarters failure to move on the “advocacy cases.” Thomas warned of litigation and admitted that she authorized a letter for more information that was sent to one of the complaining groups to keep it from contacting Congress:
The backlog of work involves advocacy organizations. As of about a month ago, there were 161 of these cases sitting idle and we probably have more by now. The control dates for these cases go back to the end of 2009 and all through 2010. We’ve been waiting for EO in D.C. to get us a guidance/reference document with lessons learned from the c4 and c3 cases they worked and coordinated with Judy Kindell and Counsel. We’re getting calls from POAs wanting to know who has put the halt on working these cases and threatening to contact their Congressional offices. Just today, I instructed one of my managers to get an additional information letter out to one of these organizations — if nothing else to buy time so he didn’t contact his Congressional Office. Soon, we’re going to start getting TAO’s [Taxpayer Assistance Orders] from TAS [Taxpayer Advocate Service] or declaratory judgment cases filed —- then, I guess everyone will decide its time to start moving the cases when we have mounds of additional paperwork to process along with the cases (adding even more work for us to do).
Another IRS lawyer responded to Lerner’s email with an admission that IRS’ Washington headquarters’ legal staff had hundreds of cases backlogged. Michael Seto, who headed the Exempt Organization Technical Unit, acknowledged to Lerner on November 9, 2011, that there were 446 application cases open in the beginning of fiscal year 2012, with many open for more than two years.
The emails also show that Lerner and other top officials of the IRS were aware of complaints about treatment by Tea Party groups. In response to a February 2012 complaint and request for briefing from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about, according to the IRS, a Tea Party organization that applied for exemption about 18 months previously and only “just recently” heard anything about the status of its application: “When it did finally hear from us, [the IRS] apparently asked some fairly detailed questions and gave the organization a short deadline to respond.”
Miller, who was then-IRS Deputy Commissioner for Service and Enforcement, emailed: “let me know if it’s a taxpayer I should know about.” He also complained about the number of emails about the issue, writing: “Will the emails never stop?” Miller became Acting Commissioner for the IRS later in the year and was eventually forced out after the Obama IRS scandal became public in May 2013.
Lerner handled the subsequent briefing of Rep. Jordan, and a statement by the IRS in response did not mention backlogs, Tea Party targeting, or Lerner’s own concerns about the nature of the questions the IRS was sending to Tea Party applicants.
Another email shows that Miller delayed “guidelines” for handling the backlogged applications the very week after Lerner’s briefing of Rep. Jordan. This same email chain, dated February 28, shows that, in a response to a complaint from Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office about Tea Party application delays, Lerner admits: “this is a very sensitive area.”
Just to review, it was back in May 2013, that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released an audit report confirming that the IRS used “inappropriate” criteria to identify Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that had expressed opposition to the Obama administration’s policy agenda during his re-election bid. In May 2014, Lerner was held in contempt of Congress after refusing to testify at a congressional hearing about the agency’s actions. TIGTA has proven to be a real goldmine for the truth that the IRS has worked to conceal. Earlier this month, TIGTA released another report confirming that the IRS failed to timely search its back-up tapes resulting in 24,000 Lerner emails being destroyed. The TIGTA report also confirms that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen delayed informing Congress (and the courts) for months about Lerner’s email issue.
Keep in mind that all of these developments come in response to your JW’s FOIA lawsuit seeking documents about the Obama IRS’ targeting and harassment of Tea Party and conservative opponents of President Obama.
Let’s be clear about what’s happening here. These recovered Lerner emails had to be dragged out of the Obama IRS, which is still resisting a federal court order requiring disclosure of Lerner’s “lost” emails. This material shows that the IRS’ cover-up began years ago. We now have smoking-gun proof that top officials in the Obama IRS unlawfully harassed taxpayers just to keep them from complaining to Congress about IRS’ targeting and abuse. No wonder the Obama IRS has had such little interest in preserving or finding Lerner’s emails.
I am grateful that Judge Sullivan made it clear that he would personally hold accountable IRS Commissioner Koskinen and Justice Department attorneys for any further contempt of his court orders in our FOIA lawsuit. The missing and then-the-not-missing Lerner email saga is a stark example of the Obama administration’s contempt for a federal court and the rule of law. That Obama administration officials would risk jail rather than disclose these Lerner documents shows that the IRS scandal has just gotten a whole lot worse.
Judicial Watch’s legal team, led by Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes, deserves special kudos here. Their legal brilliance and persistence in court, against an army of taxpayer-funded lawyers at the Justice Department and IRS, paid off once again this week.
The liberal uproar over the Confederate flag is ironic in light of an effort, supported by federal tax dollars courtesy of the Obama administration, to allow leftists in Hawaii to conduct a racially discriminatory campaign that could lead to Hawaii actually trying to leave the United States of America.
The liberal media won’t tell you about this pernicious effort, but Judicial Watch is on the case and I can report to you success in our court efforts.
We have just obtained the race-based enrollment list of native Hawaiians created in accordance with the “Kana’iolowalu,” the controversial racial registration campaign run by the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission (NHRC). Your JW obtained the list under a June 3, 2015, court order issued in an open records lawsuit that our legal team filed against the Roll Commission, seeking the release of documents related to the campaign. If you are a Hawaiian, I encourage you are to search the list to see if your name was added.
We began the battle earlier this year when we filed an Application for an Order Allowing Inspection of Public Records to obtain records regarding the campaign. The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a Hawaii-based think tank, partnered with us on this investigation.
On July 20, 2012, using taxpayer funds from the State’s Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission launched the Kana’iolowalu campaign, opening a registration process for native Hawaiians who desired to vote for a new race-based sovereign government.
Upon the registration’s closing in January 2014, only about 40,000 native Hawaiians had registered.
Trying to inflate the list numbers, the Roll Commission then reopened registration in March and again in August of 2014. During this period, the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs transferred government lists of “Native Hawaiians” who had previously registered their “ancestry” with the state agency to the Kana’iolowalu campaign. At least 87,000 names were transferred to the NHRC’s enrollment list in this way. This resulted in registrants placed on the enrollment list without their knowledge or consent. Individuals who object to being added to the race-based voter roll without their permission are compelled to file a form to have their names removed.
This enrollment list was created under Act 195, the 2011 Hawaii law that authorizes the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to create a list of “Native Hawaiians” who would be eligible to vote on issues concerning the sovereignty of the “Native Hawaiian people.” Act 195 defines a “Native Hawaiian” as any person whom the government determines to be a direct descendant of the State’s aboriginal peoples. A person may register for the Kana’iolowalu if, besides meeting the law’s racial requirements, that individual has “maintained a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community” and “wishes to participate” in organizing an anticipated “Native Hawaiian governing entity.”
The Roll Commission defines Kana’iolowalu as “the din that is being created by the mass of people who are coming together and moving forward to strive and achieve and recognize the unrelinquished sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people …”
Again, now that the list is public, any individual concerned that their name is improperly on the list can check the list here, http://www.judicialwatch.org/document-archive/nhrc-list-of-registered-names-combined/ If your name appears on the list (or your minor child’s name) and you wish to have it removed, you should contact: Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, P.O. Box 75331, Honolulu, Hawaii 96836. The NHRC phone number is (808) 973-0099.
Unfortunately, too many Hawaiians will learn that they have been registered, without their permission, on a race-based enrollment list to help radicals in Hawaii tear the state apart and break away from the United States of America. Trying to divide American citizens by race is bad enough, but signing citizens up for this project without even telling them is a particularly nasty abuse of government power. A group of leftist radicals is trying to bring apartheid to Hawaii. Hawaiians should check this “enrollment” list to help make sure they have no part in this plot.
The Obama administration is giving this movement aid and support. It took executive action toward “the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community.” So as liberal pressure has led to the removal of the Confederate flag in South Carolina, liberals push a new race-based secession movement in Hawaii with your tax dollars. There will be more JW action on issue, so stay tuned.
No other media outlet, no congressional committee, and no other non-governmental organization can match Judicial Watch’s successes in ferreting out what the government doesn’t want you know. On the issue of terrorism and the border, JW’s journalism has had an international impact. Our goal is to educate the public about the Islamist terrorist threat from our southern border and the government corruption and incompetence that places all Americans at risk. We’ve exposed ISIS terrorist threats on the border, terrorist arrests on the border, and ISIS camps in Mexico. Just this week, we highlighted how the terrorists are being brought here by the drug cartels:
Mexican drug cartels are smuggling foreigners from countries with terrorist links into a small Texas rural town near El Paso and they’re using remote farm roads—rather than interstates—to elude the Border Patrol and other law enforcement barriers, according to Judicial Watch sources on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border.
JW’s law enforcement sources say that the cartels are exploiting Border Patrol and Texas Department of Public Safety policies to tie the hands of law enforcement by limiting traffic stops and interdiction operations.
Our nation’s unsecured border with Mexico is an existential threat to our nation. The American people see the crimes committed by illegal alien criminals every day. The terrorist threat resulting from the crazed and lawless amnesty and non-security policies are potentially much more dangerous to the public safety.
So Judicial Watch is especially pleased to announce a new documentary, produced in partnership with TheBlaze TV, that chronicles how an al-Qaeda cell in New Mexico plotted a major terrorist attack against Chicago that would have been the most significant domestic terrorist attack since 9/11. Judicial Watch was the first to report this dramatic story, which included a plan to bomb Oprah Winfrey’s studios and the iconic Willis Tower (the renamed Sears Tower) in Chicago.
“The Sun City Cell” is the story of the narco-terror plot that government officials deny and that media outlets have failed to report. The documentary investigates corruption and the dark world of confidential informants in an attempt to expose an escalating threat to the nation. It presents evidence showing how a major U.S. city became an operational base and staging area for a terror cell, and how corruption among high-ranking government officials and law enforcement officers left the United States vulnerable to a major terror strike.
The documentary is the product of a four-year investigation by Judicial Watch. Christopher Farrell, our long-time director of investigations and research (and a former military intelligence officer) has led our investigative and reporting efforts on the narco-terror border threat. The documentary shows how Judicial Watch’s sources inside law enforcement and the government risked their lives to tell the truth to the American people.
Expanding on our groundbreaking investigative reports, this new documentary provides never-before-seen evidence and exclusive interviews that show how Mexican drug cartels are transporting terrorists, drugs and weapons into the United States completely undetected.
As a Judicial Watch Weekly Update subscriber, you can watch “The Sun City Cell” free for a limited time. Until Tuesday, August 4, you can click here, https://vimeo.com/134411651. Be sure to enter the password: Sun City 2015
After Tuesday, the documentary will be available anytime, on demand via TheBlaze TV here: http://www.theblaze.com/judicial-watch-sun-city-cell.
This documentary is an educational milestone for your Judicial Watch, so I encourage you to take advantage of this free offer to view this eye-opening film.