May 17, 2013

"It is absolutely not illegal" says IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, testifying today about the targeting of conservatives.



Transcript here.

69 comments:

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Oh well then, if he says so.

I'm satisfied, lets drop the matter completely and move on.

Forward!

edutcher said...

OK, then what Nixon did was OK, too.

Glad we finally cleared that up.

PS But I'll bet it is. Those Amendment thingies again.

I guess Equal Justice Under Law escapes this clown.

rhhardin said...

I recall that the basis on which filing a tax return isn't being forced to testify against yourself is that the tax return isn't used for anything else.

If it's legal to target conservatives with tax matters, it's unconstitutional to require them to file tax returns, if I get the umbras right.

BigFire said...

Always imagine any governmental instrument in the hands of your worse enemies. So the current regime's IRS thug thought it was absolutely ok? Just wait until the next Republican administration using all of the same tools that this administration have kindly left behind.

Rusty said...

Are you absolutely sure, Mr Miller, that this is the hill you want to die on?

James Pawlak said...

A La Parad!

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

MILLER: It is absolutely not illegal.

PRICE: It's not illegal what the IRS has done?

MILLER: Let me understand the question. What is your statement as to what is illegal?

PRICE: Do you beleive it is illegal for employees of the IRS to create lists to target individual groups and citizens in this country?


Horrible question. Politicians really are third rate. He should have asked if targeted for political reasons. If the criteria are reasonable and objective, of course the IRS can target groups and individuals.

Methadras said...

So it's legal to target conservatives or conservative groups?

"It is absolutely not illegal" means just that. Not Illegal. The here is the word, Not. Because if it wasn't there, it would be illegal. So this is going to require either clarification or IRS thuggery is legal. Got it.

AllenS said...

How about it, Mz Law Professor, is it legal, or illegal?

mark said...

BigFire said...
Just wait until the next Republican administration using all of the same tools that this administration have kindly left behind.

Nothing will change. The President changes. The Legislative Branch changes. The unelected mini-dictators in the executive branch? They are there for life.

And they have a Union. And they are Democrats.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Bill, Republic of Texas,

Horrible question. Politicians really are third rate. He should have asked if targeted for political reasons. If the criteria are reasonable and objective, of course the IRS can target groups and individuals.

Exactly. You could hardly enforce tax law otherwise, could you? The question is whether you have any objective grounds for your targeting decisions, and if they appear to be highly partisan, and without actual merit (as in, no Tea Party or Patriot organization whose application was held up was ultimately denied it), it certainly has the look and feel of a campaign of partisan harassment.

Joe Ficklin said...
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cold pizza said...
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Levi Starks said...

I'm trying very hard to not get my hopes up as to what all this might mean come the midterm elections.

I wish I knew how many "not illegal" things the administration will be doing during the 18 months to give the democrats a edge. Of course without Obamas knowledge that is.

Hagar said...

Heard Rep. Price on van Susteren last night. The guy may be clean, but he is not articulate.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

Suddenly, profiling is in fashion? Does this mean that the TSA will stop molesting American seniors, women, and children at the airports? Perhaps we should also review the Department of Justice's actions against Arizona, Texas, etc. which are intended to subvert their Republican Form of Government. All is quiet on the Civil Rights front.

edutcher said...

Levi Starks said...

I'm trying very hard to not get my hopes up as to what all this might mean come the midterm elections.

I wish I knew how many "not illegal" things the administration will be doing during the 18 months to give the democrats a edge. Of course without Obamas knowledge that is.


But there'll be a lot more screaming now.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

BigFire said...

Just wait until the next Republican administration using all of the same tools that this administration have kindly left behind.

mark said...

Nothing will change. The President changes. The Legislative Branch changes. The unelected mini-dictators in the executive branch? They are there for life.

And they have a Union. And they are Democrats.


Aragorn said...

You cannot wield it. None of us can. The IRS answers to the Democrats alone. It has no other master.

The Drill SGT said...

Of course it's legal to target groups and individuals. The Congressman's question was terrible.

By definition, the IRS uses objective audit criteria to target groups and individuals for audits. Things like, fluctations in income, certain occupations, large deductions, etc

The right question is:

Do you think it's legal to target groups and individuals based on their political or religious beliefs, or any other first amendment behavior?



The Drill SGT said...

PS: Do I think what they did rises to the level of criminality? Yes, perhaps

edutcher said...

They knew at Treasury something was amiss last year.

Majorly.

So where's turbo Tax Timmy?

Stan Absher said...

Coleridge: AA man who squares his conscience by the law was a common paraphrase or synonym of a wretch without any conscience at all."

Bryan C said...

Lord. The one constant seems to be that the people who end up asking the questions are fools. It feels like we're throwing the game.

The Drill SGT said...

Bryan C said...
Lord. The one constant seems to be that the people who end up asking the questions are fools. It feels like we're throwing the game.


One thing about Lindsey Graham, he always beats Holder like a drum when he does his questioning. Particularly on The Law of Land Warfare, Geneva, Hague, Gitmo, etc.

When he deployed as a USAFR JAG, it (for the last 10 years) has always been on Enemy Combatant subject matter type tours.


BDNYC said...

Precisely there needs to be a special prosecutor. Congress is too easily fooled.

vnjagvet said...

Price is my Congressman, and a good one. He is also a decent man. But as he is a MD, his questioning skills are suspect:>( This was probably as good as he could do on the fly.

Nomennovum said...

I don't believe it is [illegal for the IRS to target conservatives]. -- Steve Miller

Well, there you go. This will be the adminstration's escape hatch. It will also be our brave new world as Americans.

It's getting near time to go.

Brennan said...

Please list the family members of your current, former, and future board of directors membership.

Legal according to these stooges.

Please include future materials you plan to use at educational conferences.

Legal according to these stooges.

damikesc said...

We need to simply do away with the IRS.

Lock, stock, and barrel.

We're going to trust THESE clowns with MEDICAL records?

Good fucking plan, Lefties.

Brennan said...

If the criteria are reasonable and objective, of course the IRS can target groups and individuals.

Define reasonable.

Define objective.

Really, the best way to comply with the IRS and build your army of activists is through a series of trusts the way all the left wing foundations work. Can't beat em? Join em.

Although, if you could get Austan Goolsbee to teach you the Koch secrets that's probably a better route.

tom scott said...

c'mon, take the money and run - Steve Miller

Icepick said...

Anyone else thinking of Kevin Bacon's character in Animal House? "ALL IS WELL! ALL IS WELL!"

Lem said...

Its legal if they get away with it.

Sam L. said...

Well, then, those saying it is not illegal should be audited themselves.

MB said...

They're not illegal reasons, just undocumented.

bpm4532 said...

When a lawyer is asked a question as to whether something is legal or illegal, the lawyer should be able to answer one or the other, not be allowed to get away with "improper" or "unacceptable".

Astro said...

This kind of targeting was allowed via Directive 10-289. It was needed because - shut up.

bagoh20 said...

"Horrible question. Politicians really are third rate. He should have asked if targeted for political reasons. If the criteria are reasonable and objective, of course the IRS can target groups and individuals. "

True, but everyone knows what he was asking. Otherwise the question would serve no purpose. This should not be considered a game we're playing here. But, if we are playing a game then he just got him to say something damning in the eyes of most non-lawyers that he probably would not have admitted to if the question was more specific.

Dumb like a fox maybe.

The Drill SGT said...

Ultimately their defense of all those inaccurate letters in response to Congressional inquires comes down to this:

Q: Is the IRS trageting Tea Party Groups for extra scrutiny and delays?

A: No, we are not targeting Tea Party Groups

The Accurate Answer:

We were targeting Tea Party Groups for extra scrutiny, but have directed that those policies should be changed and as of yesterday, it is my belief and understanding that we do not target...

watch their "tenses" in all their responses.

Nomennovum said...

This belief that targeting unfavored groups is legal is all an outgrowth of affirmative action. Our government loves discrimination, in reality. They just approach it from its flip side: In order to discriminate against unfavored groups, they call their discrimation "affirmative action" for groups they do favor.

The IRS should have called their policy against the tea party an "affirmative action" policy -- that is, affirmative action for "socially conscious" tax-exempt entities under 26 U.S. Code Section 501(c)(4). In cases of socially conscious Section 501(c)(4)s, they will fast-track the approval and audit processes. For all others, they will employ the Revenuer's equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition. Simple.

The IRS just had a problem of terminology.

sydney said...

When you've lost the NYT commenters....

Nomennovum said...

Good fucking plan, Lefties.

It's a great plan, if you want to control all aspects of your subjects' lives and destroy your enemies -- that is, it's a great plan, if you're a lefty.

tim maguire said...

That's what they say about politics--the real scandal isn't what's illegal, but what's legal.

edutcher said...

The Drill SGT said...

Of course it's legal to target groups and individuals. The Congressman's question was terrible.

By definition, the IRS uses objective audit criteria to target groups and individuals for audits. Things like, fluctations in income, certain occupations, large deductions, etc


He got the point across, which is the main thing.

Get this sack of slime to come across as the arrogant corruptocrat he is and admit, Willie style, out of the idea that it's OK for the Feds to target anyone they want for political reasons.

bpm4532 said...

House members failed follow an important line of questioning.

Mr. Miller, you have said you planned and discussed with Ms Lerner about releasing information to the public about this investigation at the bar meeting via a pre-planned question, is this correct?

Mr. Miller, is this the standard way in which the IRS releases information to the public?

Mr. Miller, can you point to other instances where the IRS, and particularly under your supervision, where information was released in this manner?

Mr. Miller, since this was not standard practice, can you explain to me why you chose this method, why you selected that bar meeting, and why you planned that question?

bpm4532 said...
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bpm4532 said...

Follow up.

Mr Miller, if this information was of such importance to the public, can you explain why you didn't insist on providing this information to the Congressional oversight committee before releasing it to the public?

edutcher said...

This was for the public, not the courts.

FWIW, Kelly was a hit in the hearing.

Æthelflæd said...

The Dems are counting on the Republicans always playing nicer than they do. They are driving us into third world retributive politics. The Republicans won't stay nice forever. Unlike Benghazi, the IRS will make some powerful people feel personally threatened. They may have wakened the sleeping giant.

Pastafarian said...

damikesc: "We need to simply do away with the IRS."

If we can achieve that, thanks to this unconstitutional, tyrannical, clearly criminal violation of our rights, then these 8 horrible years might actually be a net positive.

I'm not going to hold my breath, though.

There's no way to do away with the IRS, and at the same time preserve the absurdly "progressive" (redistrubutionist, socialist) tax system that rewards half the country with the other half's money.

Flat tax, national sales tax, whatever plan you come up with that would do away with the IRS, would cost the unemployable mother-of-6 in Cleveland her Obama Bucks refund she gets through the "earned" "income" "tax" credit.

And that makes it a political non-starter.

Crimso said...

Is lying in response to a FOIA request illegal? Because Lynn Walsh made such a request regarding IRS documents and Tea Party groups and was told there weren't any. In 2011. The FOIA request was received by the IRS on June 10, 2010. The IG timeline begins on Feb 25 2010 with an email (all other info regarding that event was redacted).

AllenS said...

“Instead of referring to the cases as advocacy cases, they actually used case names on this list,” Lerner said, according to a transcript of the meeting. “They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate — that’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review.”

Dave said...
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Dave said...

REALITY CHECK, KIDDIES - The IRS frequently targets groups for scrutiny, and it is perfectly legal.

When the tax law changed regarding tipped employees during (I believe) the 80's, the IRS targeted servers with a focus on unreported income.

Not too many years later the IRS targeted people in the entertainment industry, because most had both 1040 and W-9 (self-employed) income for the same sort of work but listed expenses for all income on Schedule C.

So, if you apply for 501(c)(4) non-profit status which by definition should be "primarily non-political, social welfare" and call yourself a "Party" (meaning a political party) - you invite heightened scrutiny.

After all, candidates in recent years have frequently been called "Tea Party candidates."

That said, whoever decided to target right wing groups was an idiot. They should have gone after the 501(c)(4) classification which has been subject to too much abuse on all sides.

Rialby said...

It was a bad question. It was a terrible answer.

It's the answer an 8 year old gives. after he's pulled his sister's hair "Did you just touch your sister?" "No"

This scumbag was Clintoningly parsing words. He knew exactly what the question was but did not clarify his answer. Because he's a lying sack of shit who needs to be behind bars.

Rialby said...

Wow - just watched this link with Rep. Kelly going after Miller - http://hotair.com/archives/2013/05/17/video-crowd-applauds-as-gop-rep-mike-kelly-lays-into-former-irs-chief-at-hearing/

Miller comes across HORRIBLY here. Really really bad.

Rialby said...

Dave - Great points. "They should have gone after the 501(c)(4) classification which has been subject to too much abuse on all sides."

Can you point me to your blog comments/facebook posts/emails/tweets/etc. where you were calling for 501c4 abuse reform before last Friday? Thanks. I'll wait.

dreams said...

As long as there is a liberal media, the Dems will not be held accountable and I don't see how a Republican can get elected president ever again. The liberal media is just too powerful and totally partisan especially after the last few having realized just how powerful they are.

grackle said...

One chilling aspect of all this is the type of information they were gathering from the conservatives they targeted. It wasn't mere harassment, there were specific categories of info they were after. Provided under threat of perjury, BTW. It's the kind of stuff that goes into the assembling of dossiers:

Donor rolls copies of the groups’ Web pages, blog posts and social media postings(Facebook), future activities, like future donations or endorsements, summaries or copies of all material passed out at meetings, connections to other groups, asking if they had any connection to specific conservative individuals, politicians and named organizations, transcripts of radio shows where political candidates had been mentioned by name by the conservative group members.

With computers all this good info can easily be organized into detailed dossiers on political opponents, from the grassroots all the way up to DC. And used to suppress political dissent, political opposition. At the very least used to plan political strategy. What better organization to use to gather the material for the dossiers than the IRS with all its power to ruin lives if anyone is 'uncooperative.'

http://tinyurl.com/b4h7jkh

Somewhere in DC a shadowy figure pores over his dossiers and plans the President's next move.

Dave said...

"Grackle said...there were specific categories of info they were after..."

Of course, because those are the sorts of questions the IRS asks organizations seeking a non-profit designation. And once the designation is granted, you have to keep providing that information on 990 or 990-EZ reports annually to the IRS - reports which are open to public scrutiny. On top of that some state Attorneys General and state tax agencies also require annual filings. The groups shouldn't have been targeted en masse, but the questions are commonly asked of non-profits.

Oh - and to answer Rialby - I'm very familiar with 501(c)(3) organizations, but only became aware of 501(c)(4) quite recently through the coincidence of filing an 501(c) form for a (c)(3) organization which also covers (c)(4)s - about the same time this business was in the news. As the restrictions on political activity are so absolute for (c)(3)'s, I was amazed that (c)(4) even existed.

tiger said...

His comments are just farking scary.

Smilin' Jack said...

""It is absolutely not illegal" says IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, testifying today about the targeting of conservatives."

It's not illegal if the president does it. Draw the obvious conclusion.

Paul Zrimsek said...

So, if you apply for 501(c)(4) non-profit status which by definition should be "primarily non-political, social welfare"

By whose definition? The phrase "primarily non-political" appears nowhere in IRC 501.

Rob said...

All right, let's address the important issue here: what's that thing on Steve Miller's head?

alwaysfiredup said...

"So, if you apply for 501(c)(4) non-profit status which by definition should be "primarily non-political, social welfare" and call yourself a "Party" (meaning a political party) - you invite heightened scrutiny."

Which explains why Organizing for America is a 501(c)(4), doesn't it. Because they sure don't primarily do politics.

Ambrose said...

The pompitius of love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPOKJikcYMk

Paul Zrimsek said...

Which explains why Organizing for America is a 501(c)(4), doesn't it. Because they sure don't primarily do politics.

The hard part is coming up with any organization devoted to capital-P Politics, other than a political party, that isn't a 501(c)(4). Practically the only one I could think of was the NAACP-- it gets to operate as a 501(c)(3) for some reason.

grackle said...

… the questions are commonly asked of non-profits …

Yeah, that's the MSNBC talking point. Problem is – it's not true.


I shortened the list for brevity in my earlier comment. According to Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice who represents the Tea Party groups that bought the initial lawsuit:

The questions posed by the IRS were extremely intrusive and outside the scope of what the IRS is permitted to do under its own rules and regulations.

http://tinyurl.com/7zag3vp

Especially donor lists. The IRS is definitely not supposed to be asking for donor lists. For a sample, merely a sample, of the unauthorized, intrusive IRS questions go to the URL below and click to page 3:

http://tinyurl.com/a6rd7q6

It's the type of info that rival campaign organizations love to gather about each other to use for selective leaking, devising tactics, planning strategies, political blackmail, so-called "dirty tricks," etc. But political entities are not supposed to be able to use the IRS, a powerful government agency, for their information gatherer. It's also the type of info gained by spying on their own citizens needed to assemble dossiers for extra-legal government agencies under autocratic regimes like the KGB for the Soviets and present-day Russia.

Somewhere in DC a shadowy figure pores over his dossiers and plans the President's next move.