Court Victory in HRC Email Scandal
MAY 15, 2015
Last Friday, a federal court judge did something we had never seen before – U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton reopened a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The lawsuit had sought documents about an advertisement intended to air in Pakistan entitled “A Message from the President of the United States Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
Judge Walton issued the ruling on Friday, May 8, in response to a joint motion by Judicial Watch and the State Department. This is historic. My attorney colleagues at Judicial Watch tell me they are aware of no precedent of another FOIA lawsuit being reopened by a federal court.
Judicial Watch filed suit in December 2012, after the State Department failed to respond to a September 24, 2012, FOIA request for all records concerning the advertisement produced by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad intended to air in Pakistan. The advertisement was an absurd and dishonest “apology” for the Internet video that President Obama, then-Secretary of State Clinton, and other administration officials falsely blamed for inspiring “spontaneous demonstrations” resulting in the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya. The disgusting ad was a misuse of tax dollars and part of the cover-up of the truth about the Benghazi terrorist attack.
That being said, we ended the lawsuit after we were told that the State Department searched Hillary Clinton’s office but found no records. In November 2014, JW agreed to dismiss the suit based, in part, upon the State Department’s claim that its search “of the Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Executive Secretariat, and the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar have been completed and have resulted in the retrieval of no documents responsive to your request.”
We had our suspicions, but at that time we did not know about Clinton’s secret email cache that the State Department was covering up. The least the State Department could do was not to oppose our case to go back to court for justice.
In the compromise joint motion, JW and the State Department asked Judge Walton to reopen the lawsuit under a federal court rule allowing for consideration of “newly discovered evidence:”
In March 2015, media sources reported that former Secretary Clinton, and possibly other senior State Department officials, used non-“state.gov” email account to conduct government business. Thereafter, [Judicial Watch] informed the Department that based on this information, which was previously unknown to [Judicial Watch], it would seek to reopen the case.
Now that the lawsuit is reopened, the State Department has promised the court, at a minimum, to search the email records allegedly turned over by Clinton to the State Department last year.
This court ruling, once again, shows that Judicial Watch’s various litigation is the last, best chance to make public any secret emails of Hillary Clinton and her appointees at the compromised State Department. I told you last week about JW’s massive new court push, which included the filing ofseven new FOIA lawsuits about the Clinton email scandal, including emails of her top aide Huma Abedin and records about the Benghazi and Clinton Foundation scandals. We also just filed a lawsuit for records on Hillary Clinton’s use of an iPad and iPhone.
There are approximately 18 other lawsuits, 10 of which are active in federal court, as well as about 160 Judicial Watch FOIA requests that could be affected by Clinton and her staff’s use of secret email accounts to conduct official government business. In Judicial Watch’s various FOIA lawsuits, lawyers for Judicial Watch have informed attorneys for the Obama administration that Hillary Clinton’s and any other secret accounts used by State employees should be secured, recovered, and searched. Judicial Watch’s litigation against the State Department has already exposed key documents about both the Benghazi and Clinton cash scandals.
While we are opening new avenues inquiry and new lawsuits, we are still awaiting word from another court on a separate bid to reopen a FOIA lawsuit over records about Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s controversial work arrangements.
Our team is asking the court to reopen a case under a rule that allows a party to reopen a case due to “fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party”:
The State Department had an obligation under the Federal Records Act to properly preserve, maintain, and make available for retrieval records of its official functions. In fact, it is the obligation of the head of every federal agency to do so. Secretary Clinton plainly violated her own legal obligations. Doing so was misconduct.
The State Department did not originally oppose the idea that Clinton’s misconduct justified reopening this other case.
This decision by a federal judge to reopen our Clinton-Benghazi lawsuit is an extraordinary legal development that spells real trouble for Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.
There is also no precedent for Hillary Clinton’s stealing, hiding, and destroying State Department records. Rather than defend its and Hillary Clinton’s fraud on the courts overseeing this and other FOIA lawsuits, the State Department stood down and joined Judicial Watch in asking for the lawsuit to be reopened. The Clinton machine may run rings around Congress and much of the media, but I suspect this cover-up effort won’t work as well on federal judges in Judicial Watch’s two dozen lawsuits.
Thanks to your support, JW is able to act and get what you and almost every other American want done –someone, indeed anyone, to do something effective about politicians like Hillary Clinton who think they are above the law. In this case, we are so effective that we even forced the Obama administration to take action!
If you have the courage of your convictions, and you’re inclined to run at the national level as a candidate who is critical of big government schemes, you should expect criticism under the First Amendment from those who may not share your values. But you shouldn’t have to worry about being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the behest of vindictive government officials. Just ask Wayne Allyn Root, who ran as a vice-presidential candidate on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2008. He’s a proponent of constitutional, limited government, a tireless critic of President Barack Obama, and a victim of IRS abuse. Here’s how Root describes his ordeal in an article appearing in TheBlaze:
“I was targeted and persecuted by the IRS in an over-the-top attack coordinated at the highest levels of government and the Democratic Party,” he wrote. “I can now prove it – with FACTS direct from my IRS files obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch…my own IRS tax files not only implicate the IRS, but a leading Democrat U.S. senator in a criminal conspiracy to silence a critic of the president.”
How can he prove it? Your Judicial Watch worked with Mr. Root to obtain his files from a stonewalling Obama IRS that substantiates Root’s suspicions about the audits he received. It took over a year of diligent pursuit by JW expert investigators just to get Mr. Root’s own IRS files! Here are the specifics of our investigative analysis, which we have shared with investigators in Congress. You can see why we conclude it appears likely that the treatment of Mr. Root by the IRS was motivated by his political activities:
1. The IRS re-audited Mr. Root immediately after a Tax Court ruling in his favor. Mr. Root was initially audited by the IRS in 2011. Substantively, the basis for this audit was the agency’s determination to re-classify non-employee compensation earned by Mr. Root as an independent contractor as wage income. This determination resulted in an alleged tax deficiency of $69,217 (inclusive of interest and penalties) for tax years 2007 and 2008. After an expensive battle to dispute this determination, Mr. Root petitioned the U.S. Tax Court on September 15, 2011. On July 31, 2012, Chief Judge Michael B. Thornton found in Mr. Root’s favor, ruling that the re-classification was unjustified and that no deficiency was owed.
Five days later, the IRS notified Mr. Root that he was being audited again for tax years 2009 and 2010.
2. An IRS Revenue Agent conducted research regarding Mr. Root’s political activities and included his findings in the investigative record. The records we obtained include an Examining Officer’s Activity Record documenting the agency’s investigation of Mr. Root between May 27, 2010 and July 11, 2011. This document includes a case log entry dated December 29, 2011, that reads in pertinent part, “RA [Revenue Agent] researched the internet about TP/Wayne Root. Wayne Root is a public figure whose career includes working as a (1) columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal and Newsmax.com (2) guest commentator on Fox News, CNBC, CNN, and MSNBC, and (3) his being a guest host on nationally syndicated radio shows (i.e. – The G. Gordon Liddy Show, The Jerry Doyle Show, etc.).” The tax issues for which Mr. Root was audited are entirely unrelated to any income he may have earned as a result of this media activity.
3. The IRS considered the audit of Mr. Root to be a “sensitive case.” A handwritten notation on an IRS Special Handling Notice for Examination Processing dated May 23, 2013 identifies his as a “Sensitive Case.” Nowhere in the records is it articulated exactly what made his case “sensitive,” but it’s logical to conclude that the reference is to his political activity and public profile.
4. The second audit was closed on May 23, 2013. Notably, the document identifying the audit of Mr. Root as a “sensitive case” is dated May 23, 2013. The document abruptly closed the audit on that date with a finding of “no change” (i.e., that no delinquency was owed). This is the very day that Lois Lerner was suspended from her position as Director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS for her involvement in targeting conservative organizations for disparate treatment by the agency. The day before, former Director Lerner had testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. While the timing of the closing of the agency’s audit of Mr. Root on that date could be unrelated to those events, it strikes us as a remarkable coincidence warranting further investigation. An Examining Officer’s Activity Record documenting the processing of this second audit indicates that investigative activity was being conducted as late as May 20, 2013, just three days before the case was closed.
An entry on a separate IRS worksheet documenting the closing of the case identifies the agency’s final determination as, “No adjustment to contributions for the prior years 2007 and 2008 resulted in no change from appeals division so repetitive audit procedures apply and per manager’s approval this issue was accepted as filed.” In other words, the IRS determined that the audit was unjustified because of the court’s finding in favor of Mr. Root that resolved the earlier audit. This explanation, however, is highly dubious. The agency was certainly aware of its 2007 – 2008 audit when it initiated the second audit. In addition, on August 29, 2012, Mr. Root’s attorney wrote to the IRS advising the agency that, “the taxpayers have just recently completed an audit for the 2007 and 2008 tax years . . . the examination resulted in a ‘No Change.’ As such, a subsequent audit for the 2009 and 2010 tax years may be deemed abusive as the audit issues appear to be largely consistent.” The fact that the IRS justified closing the second audit on May 23, 2013 by citing information of which it was made aware in August 2012 is further supportive of the theory that it was closed in response to the IRS targeting scandal.
5. An unidentified Senator queried IRS officials about the status of the audit of Mr. Root. On November 26, 2012, IRS Senior Operations Advisor Tom Franke e-mailed Senior Program Analyst Ann Underland to inquire whether Mr. Root was under examination. The e-mail notes that the request for that information originated from the office of a Senator representing Oregon. The subsequent e-mail conversation, some of which has been redacted pursuant to FOIA exemption (b)(5), indicates that the effort to respond to this inquiry involved a number of senior IRS officials in California, including Los Angeles Territory Manager Anna Hom and California Examination Area Director Linda J. Petrillo. There is no indication what prompted the inquiry, nor did we receive a record documenting the agency’s response to the Senator’s office. Mr. Root is not a resident of Oregon and has no knowledge of why the inquiry was made.
According to Fox News, the IRS files obtained through the JW FOIA request implicate not just the Obama IRS, but also a U.S. senator. Mr. Root is outraged:
“An IRS audit that required researching my political views clearly wasn’t a “normal random audit.” I was targeted for my political views. My civil rights were clearly violated.
The reason it may have taken the IRS fourteen months to turn my IRS files over to Judicial Watch is that they state a United States senator from Oregon was involved. At the time both senators from Oregon were Democrats. But only one, Ron Wyden, was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee with oversight over … the IRS. Could Ron Wyden have been the Democrat senator involved in my case?
If so, why was a U.S. senator involved in a “normal random audit?” Why was an Oregon Senator involved in the audit of a Nevada small businessman? Since when do United States Senators get involved in IRS audits?
Could someone have asked the Oregon Senator to get involved? The dots are not hard to connect. Was he asked by someone in the White House to initiate an IRS attack on Wayne Root? After all, I’m not just any conservative critic of President Obama. I’m the former Columbia college classmate of Obama. With about 6,000 media appearances on Fox News and conservative talk radio and other outlets since Obama became president, it’s not a stretch to think I caught the attention of the Obama White House.”
I think you would agree that the Obama gang would have noticed one of two men (even from a “third” party) opposing Obama’s election in 2008! But unlike many Republicans, Root is also someone who favors putting the federal government back inside a constitutional box and that’s a no-no in Obama’s America. The coordinated assault against Root began with a phone call in 2011 that an IRS official claimed in a Wall Street Journal article could never have taken place. Why? Because the IRS supposedly never directly calls taxpayers.
“The IRS agent left a voicemail, and then took another unheard-of step and called my accountant, who had my power of attorney and told the agent he was forbidden to ever contact me again,” Root wrote in his piece for Fox News. “Yet the IRS agent called me again, only minutes later, telling me all about my political views. How did an IRS agent know about my political views? Why was he telling me my political views? I felt like I was being stalked.”
The Obama IRS obstructed the release of Wayne Root’s tax documents. The abuse of process Judicial Watch and Wayne suffered through to get these documents is scandalous. Now we know why the Obama IRS was hesitant to give Wayne his own IRS files. These documents show the Obama IRS scandal was more than just suppressing the Tea Party, it was also about auditing critics of President Obama. Richard Nixon had to resign from office for less. The first order of business for United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch should be to appoint a special counsel who can convene a grand jury to look into the Obama IRS outrages.
We’re not finished here yet, not by a long shot. The Obama IRS scandal continues. Stay tuned….
If you thought that the agent with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was getting a little too close and personal, and even a little offensive, it may not have been your imagination running wild. After obtaining 58 pages of records from the TSA that detail alleged sexually-related assaults on passengers by TSA personnel at three major U.S. international airports, we can tell you that it is well past time for reform. The documents were released in response to a July 2014 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that was filed after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wouldn’t turn over documents to our investigators who were looking into passenger complaints for the year 2013 at Dulles International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Miami International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport.
The TSA documents show that passengers strenuously objected to the alleged sexually-related assaults, repeatedly saying they were “shocked,” “violated,” and “humiliated.” In one incident, a passenger reported that TSA officers, and “even the Supervisor … began to roar with laughter at the alleged sexual assault.” In other incidents, a breast cancer survivor reported she felt as if she had been raped. And an elderly passenger with a colostomy bag said she felt violated after being informed by a TSA agent that she had to “touch her bag so I could then touch her hands.”
That we had to fight and sue in court to get the TSA to disclose these shocking complaints demonstrates that the agency is more interested in a cover-up than in addressing the problem that its employees violate innocent travelers too often, sexually or otherwise. With more than 56,000 employees and a $7.7 billion budget, the TSA can’t be trusted to do its job of securing air travel. American simply trying to board a plane should not have to worry about being assaulted by federal employees working for the TSA.
To quote the TSA:
At approximately 14:10 hours on the South Checkpoint, near lane 4 a passenger complained that he sustained an injury resulting from the aggressive actions of the the [sic] TSO [Transportation Security Officer] conducting a pat down search…The passenger stated during the pat-down search he was struck very hard in the groin area, which caused him pain to his left testical [sic].
She [TSA agent] then placed full palms squarely on my breasts and then moved around my breasts again. She then placed both palms against my breasts and I was shocked, humiliated, alarmed and assaulted and said ‘Stop! What are you doing? That’s not ok.’… I reported this to TSA Supervisor … She got the manager [redacted] and he said he would look at the video and TSA would send me a letter but it would not tell me the resolution and that I did not have a right to view the video… I will not be sexually assaulted at the airport. As a taxpayer, I pay for the TSA.”
The female TSO then proceeded to roughly feel of [sic] her breast including her nipples. The TSO didn’t go under her arms or along her sides. She indicated that she did not receive a proper pat down. The search was limited to her breast… Two other individuals came over to where the supervisor and gentleman were and they began laughing. The caller indicated that the incident was not the business of the other two officers and not a show for them. The caller indicated that even the Supervisor, along with the others, began to roar with laughter.
Caller indicates that her mother feels as though she was singled out because she was a breast cancer survivor and the caller feels as though this is extremely discriminatory. Caller indicates that the breast is an extremely intimate place that should not be rubbed in the manner that it was. Caller expressed that her mother feels extremely violated and the caller feels that being violated in this manner is on the same level as rape. Caller has indicated that her mother will never travel again because of the pat down that she received.
The person began to tell me how TSO [redacted] stuck his hands down his pants and grabbed the top of his penis and placed his fingers in his butt crack… The person was sure that he was violated and wanted to talk to a supervisor…. He said he is going to file a police report with Chicago Police Department and file a lawsuit against TSA and Officer [redacted] and walked away.”
Though not a sexually related complaint, included in the records is a document with the subject line “Likely Passenger Complaint – Discrimination because of Medical Condition:”
I led the way and the passenger followed, stating all the while that she was no terrorist; she was a woman of (68? – I do not remember precisely but it was an age in the 60s which pinpointed for me that she was not eligible for a modified pat down) and a U.S. citizen…. I then asked if there were any medical devices other than the bag – she interrupted me to say ‘It’s only poop. I can’t blow up a plane with poop! … I managed to clear her legs and feet and then [redacted]. [Redacted] I needed her to touch her bag so I could then test her hands.
Last month, CBS4 in Denver reported “that two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers.”
I can’t find much evidence that we are made safer by the all the hassle and extra costs imposed on us by the TSA “security” bureaucracy. In fact, it is in dispute whether the TSA ever has stopped a terrorist attack – or is competent to do so. Just this month, the DHS inspector general testified to Congress about the TSA’s potentially catastrophic failures. The Washington Times summed up the IG’s warnings:
The Transportation Security Administration has vulnerabilities that continue to put airline travelers at risk, despite being notified of its shortcomings through more than 100 federal audit and inspection reports…
The above parade of horribles tells you why the TSA only released the information about sexually-related assault issues after we forced them into federal court. Our investigations will continue.
Until next week…