Editor’s note: This article originally ran as a four part series in the Lake Geneva Regional News in April 2016.
Washington Times March 25, 2016, headline reads: “Court rebukes IRS for tea party targeting, order release of secret list.”
Do I have your attention? After all these months of quiet — really not — litigation is in U.S. Federal Courts over the alleged targeting by the IRS of conservative groups during the last round of presidential elections won by Democrat Barrack Obama.
In their piece the Washington Times says, “A federal appeals court spanked the IRS Tuesday saying it has taken laws designed to protect taxpayers from the government and turned them on their head.”
The three judge panel in a unanimous decision “. . . accused the Justice Department lawyers, who are representing the IRS in the case, of acting in bad faith,” and “the judges ordered the IRS to quickly turn over the full list of names of groups targeted.”
The case in question before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit according the Washington Times “ stems from the IRS decision in 2010 to begin subjecting tea party and conservative groups to intrusive scrutiny when they applied for nonprofit status. An inspector general found several hundred groups were asked inappropriate questions about their members’ activities, their fundraising and their political leanings.”
According to a FOX News piece dated March 24, 2016, “a lower district court has twice ordered the IRS to produce the documents. In response, the IRS sought a ‘writ of mandamus’ to block the court order.” So why is the IRS so defiant of two court orders? Fox News went on to say: “Tuesday’s angry reprimand by the federal appeals court is in response to the IRS’ writ of mandamus.”
So if you’re like me and not a lawyer, what is a “writ of mandamus”? I have it on good authority that in our We the People terms a writ of mandamus means: “We think this is an emergency and we want the appellate court to block what has been ordered.” By denying the Writ, the appellate court says in effect that there is no justification for blocking the order.
But what’s all that got to do with us here in Wisconsin? The horrifying obvious response in my mind and hopefully in the minds of We the People is: if in fact the IRS, a federal agency with incredible powers to intrude into your personal life, acted as a political operative and targeted one group over another — we now may very well have the federal government targeting citizens. That should make the hair on the back of every American’s neck stand up.
The federal government targeting its citizens for political beliefs and then not complying with court orders!
Even more frightening here at home, what if you learned that during the unconstitutional Wisconsin John Doe investigations 1 and 2, Kevin Kennedy at the Wisconsin GAB corresponded and coordinated with Lois Lerner the head of the IRS agency responsible for the alleged targeting during the John Does?
According to the MacIver Institute in a piece dated July 10, 2015, “the Wall Street Journal uncovered the secret professional relationship between former IRS Director Lois Lerner and GAB Director Kevin Kennedy.” The WSJ’s discovery comes from the U.S. Senate review of 6,000 of Lerner emails once thought to be lost. Some of those emails were correspondence between Lerner and Kennedy discussing donor disclosure, Wisconsin’s recall elections and even coordinating dinner appointments.”
So why is a director at the IRS emailing someone at the Wisconsin GAB about donor disclosures, Wisconsin’s recall elections and making dinner appointments?
In subsequent columns I hope to provide you enough information so that a “reasonable person” test may be applied by every reader to what has been going on against Wisconsin citizens. Until next time — We The People.
In the previous column, I wrote that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit “rebukes IRS for tea party targeting, orders release of secret list,” in March.
We also learned the IRS had twice refused to comply with a lower court order to release the “secret list,” and that there was a relationship between the Wisconsin GAB and the IRS during the unconstitutional John Doe investigations.
Up next Lois Lerner.
Lois Lerner is the former director of the tax exempt and government entities division at the IRS.
Lerner, according to Wikipedia, is a “former career federal employee.”
After graduating with her law degree, she became a staff attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division and then joined the general counsel’s office at the Federal Elections Commission in 1981, where she spent 20 years.
“I’ve known Lois since 1985,” said Craig Engle, a Washington, D.C., attorney who from 1986 to 1995 served as the executive assistant to one of the FEC’s commissioners. “I’m probably one of the few people in Washington who really knows her whole career as opposed to those who have come across her lately.”
Engle describes Lerner as pro-regulation and as seeking to limit the influence of money in politics.
The natural companion to those views, he says, is her belief that “Republicans take the other side” and that conservative groups should be subjected to more rigorous investigations. According to Engle, Lerner harbors a “suspicion” that conservative groups are intentionally flouting the law.
Mark Hemingway at The Weekly Standard has documented what he calls Lerner’s “politically motivated harassment” of the Christian Coalition. At her direction, the FEC in 1994 sued the group in the largest enforcement action in history, accusing it of “expressly advocating” the election of Republican candidates. In a deposition, FEC lawyers asked Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North whether and why the former Southern Baptist minister Pat Robertson was praying for him and why he thanked Robertson in a letter for his “kind regards.” Five years later, in 1999, the group was cleared of any wrongdoing.
According to a piece by Hans von Spaklovsky published July 13, 2015, “documents reveal that Lois Lerner met with attorneys from the Public Integrity Section (including its chief) of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and a representative from the FBI in 2010 to discuss using campaign-finance laws to bring criminal charges against conservative non-profit organizations” and that “a tax law specialist who worked for Lerner, summarizing the meeting talks about the possibility of a three- way partnership among DOJ, the FEC, and the IRS to prohibit activity by these (conservative) organizations.”
Lois Lerner’s activities at the IRS prompted congressional hearings resulting in an April 9, 2014, letter to then Attorney General Eric Holder in which the House Ways and Means Committee said in part, “information suggests willful misconduct by an IRS official, and also suggests that she may have violated multiple federal criminal statutes.”
That 14 page letter to then Attorney General Holder is public record and is openly available online.
Is anyone surprised the Obama/Holder Justice Department declined to file criminal charges against Lerner? Though they said there was “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment, and institutional inertia.”
Lerner resigned her position at the IRS, and according to the National Taxpayers Union “calculations show that Lerner could qualify for a starting pension at the annual equivalent of as much as $102,600 and up to $3.96 million over her lifetime.”
This particular column barely scratches the surface of Lerner. After all, she pleaded the Fifth in hearings before Congress.
In my next column, I’ll look at Wisconsin’s GAB Director Kevin Kennedy and Lerner.
A parting thought, according to RedState.com, “emails we’ve seen show that between 2011 and 2013 the two were in contact on multiple occasions.”
Until next time – We the People
This is the third of my columns on this topic – but it certainly is not the end of the story. Neither is it “The Rest of the Story” as the Norman Rockwell of AM radio Paul Harvey might have said.
The actions of officials at the IRS and Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board and their possible collaboration to target and stifle conservative groups are still playing out in federal court.
In the previous two columns readers were presented information so that you could apply the “reasonable person” test about the IRS targeting conservative groups, the U.S. Court of Appeals orders to the IRS, and some information in regards to Lois Lerner at the IRS and her involvement and alleged connection with Wisconsin’s GAB Director Kevin Kennedy.
This column will focus on our very own GAB Director Kevin Kennedy and his alleged role as the “nonpartisan” head of the GAB in the unconstitutional John Doe 1 and 2 and his ties to Lois Lerner at the IRS.
Kevin Kennedy was born in Madison, went to school in Madison, and began his tenure with the State Elections Board and the now GAB 37 years ago.
It was the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in July 2015, who apparently broke the story about some sort of a professional and or personal relationship between Lois Lerner and Kevin Kennedy. It also reported that John Doe investigators asked the IRS to look into a conservative group that was a primary target of the probe.
In a piece by Michael Bates on December 29, 2015, he said: “In testimony for a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, agency director Kevin Kennedy testified he contacted his personal friend, Lois Lerner, for help investigating state conservative groups as part of a search for evidence that would support allegations political organizations violated campaign finance laws.
Kennedy testified he reached out to Lerner for help in January and February 2013.”
In an Oct. 26, 2015, piece by Wisconsinwatchdog.org they presented an email dated February 2013, sent from GAB staff counsel Shane Falk to Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Robles. Falk emails Roble the following:
“As you may know, things are really heating up here. Kevin (Kennedy) and Jon (Becker, GAB Ethics Division administrator) would like a status on what is happening with Badger Doe and update you on communications Kevin had with the IRS.”
That same email according to Watchdog included 182 pages of court documents related to a lawsuit against the GAB.
In a piece published in BALLOTPEDIA.org they say: “The GAB fought to keep the documents related to the suit from the public eye, but the judge ordered portions to be unsealed in December 2014. The document showed that GAB staff continued to investigate conservative groups even after the board voted to shut down the investigation.”
Mediatrackers Brian Sykma on August 26, 2015, is one source that told us of a second private email account used for official business by Lerner. That “private” email address it appears was also known by and used by Kevin Kennedy to communicate with Lerner while she was at the IRS. One of those emails obtained by Mediatrackers showed Lerner and Kennedy were scheduling dinner arrangements in Washington, D.C. during the peak of the 2012 recall attempt of Gov. Walker.
In testimony before the Wisconsin State Senate, Sen. Chris Kapenga questioned Kevin Kennedy to the extent of his relation with Lois Lerner.
According to host.madison.com on October 14, 2015: “A visibly riled Kennedy accusing the lawmaker of using McCarhty-like tactics.”
When Kapenga asked Kennedy “What is your relationship with Lois Lerner?” Kennedy replied: “Seriously? Have you no decency? I owe you no explanation about my friendships.”
Doesn’t the verbose outraged response: “Seriously? Have you no decency?” sound a lot like the lefts shout over “Shame, Shame, Shame” effort to squash dialogue and avoid a factual response?
According to host.madison.com, Kennedy did eventually offer this, “He befriended Lerner after crossing paths with her in a professional setting over the course of more than 20 years.”
“Reasonable person” test time — we have the GAB involved in a John Doe investigation that were told to shut down but continued. John Doe 1 showed that a couple Milwaukee County staffers had two email and server accounts. And low and behold we find out the GAB director was emailing a director at the IRS via a second email account all while they were investigating the same thing here in Wisconsin. How about those Hillary email accounts with classified information? “Have you no decency”!
Kennedy and Lerner’s connections and efforts appear to have gone much further than the IRS and Wisconsin GAB. Those connections and contacts ended up as one more chapter I had not anticipated when I started this research.
So until next time — We the People.
Last week the third column ended with:
“But Kennedy and Lerner’s connections and efforts appear to have gone much further than the IRS and Wisconsin.
That connection ended up being one more chapter I had not anticipated when I started this research.
So until next time – We the People.”
Well it’s next time. One of the things that appears to me in all my research on this series of columns is there is a much larger network working in multiple states and the IRS.
In this the fourth and final column on this topic we’ll take a look at an uncovered tentacle and how interwoven roads appear to lead to Lois Lerner and the heads of state government agencies responsible for “ethics.”
In an email obtained by M.D. Kittle of Wisconsin’s Watchdog.org — dated Nov. 16, 2010, at 6:53 p.m. — the sender identified as [email protected]…. And signed “Jeff,” sent an email to Kevin Kennedy at the GAB included were Lois Lerner at the IRS, a Michael Sullivan with a state of Massachusetts government email address, a David Freel with a State of Ohio Ethics email account, and an individual “jcontino” with a state of Pennsylvania government email address to list a few – we learned:
“Subject: RE: AHHH! To be the CEO in Wisconsin!
Hey buddy, I was accused of much worse in CT. And not anonymously. It’s the new politics we live in under Citizens’ United! LOL!
Stay cool, but then I don’t have to tell you that.
I could say a lot more but I will do so to your face and not to your state email.
Can’t wait to see all of you in DC,
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry”
That email is followed up by one from Freel, from the state of Ohio. That email was dated Monday, Nov. 22, 2010, 11:13 a.m. and was sent to Kevin Kennedy and others.
“SUBJECT: RE: AHHH! To Be CEO in Wisconsin!
Now you know why I am retiring
“Reasonable person” test time.
What does it mean and who is referred to as the: “AHHH! To be the CEO in Wisconsin!” Is that how people in other state’s government ethics agencies viewed Kevin Kennedy – as “ the CEO in Wisconsin?” Did Kevin Kennedy view himself as “the CEO in Wisconsin”?
What does that possibly tell you about the mentality of the addressees on this email chain — let alone that of Kennedy for not correcting or addressing it in the emails I saw.
Another aspect in that email, the author acknowledges: “I could say a lot more but I will do so to your face and not to your state e-mail.” Does that statement reflect that individuals involved in this exchange are knowingly using taxpayer funded email service for personal conversations and political agendas?
It appears to me from the information by multiple sources I’ve found in compiling these last four columns that the Lois Lerner — Kevin Kennedy alleged targeting collaboration goes beyond you and me here in Wisconsin. It appears there may be a network of state and federal workers trusted to ensure ethics in government, who may be using the “do as I say – not as I do” in enforcing ethics.
I am closing out this series with an email quote from a Lois Lerner email published by The Federalist Staff August 6, 2015, Ms. Lerner is responding to Mark Tornwall in Texas:
“As you can see, the Lone Star State is just pathetic as far as political attitudes are concerned,” Lerner’s friend Mark Tornwall wrote in 2014.
Lois Lerner’s emailed reply: “Look my view is that Lincoln was our worst president not our best,” Lerner responded, according to USA Today. “He should’ve let the south go. We really do seem to have 2 totally different mindsets.”
I believe Lerner’s comments don’t need any comments by me — they stand on their own.
For a very detailed chronology and accounting of events in regards to Wisconsin’s John Doe 1 and 2 and the Lerner and Kennedy emails I encourage readers to go to Watchdog.org where M.D. Kittle has published almost 400 pieces on the topic.
Thank you for following over these last four weeks.
Until next time – God bless – We the People
Chris Goebel is the Chairman of the Republican Party of Walworth County.