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dkf's Journal
dkf's Journal
May 16, 2013

IRS Official in Charge During Tea Party Targeting Now Runs Health Care Office

The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.

Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS' Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.

Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.


Obama really needs to fix this. I don't know who is advising him but he needs more help.

May 16, 2013

The epic inside story of long-term criminal fraud at Ranbaxy, generic Lipitor drug maker

When he stepped into Kumar’s office that morning, Thakur was surprised by his boss’ appearance. He looked weary and uneasy, his eyes puffy and dark. He had returned the previous day from South Africa, where he had met with government regulators. It was clear that the meeting had not gone well.

The two men strolled into the hall to order tea from white-uniformed waiters. As they returned, Kumar said, “We are in big trouble,” and motioned for Thakur to be quiet. Back in his office, Kumar handed him a letter from the World Health Organization. It summarized the results of an inspection that WHO had done at Vimta Laboratories, an Indian company that Ranbaxy hired to administer clinical tests of its AIDS medicine. The inspection had focused on antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that Ranbaxy was selling to the South African government to save the lives of its AIDS-ravaged population.

As Thakur read, his jaw dropped. The WHO had uncovered what seemed to the two men to be astonishing fraud. The Vimta tests appeared to be fabricated. Test results from separate patients, which normally would have differed from one another, were identical, as if xeroxed.

Thakur listened intently. Kumar had not even gotten to the really bad news. On the plane back to India, his traveling companion, another Ranbaxy executive, confided that the problem was not limited to Vimta or to those ARV drugs.

“What do you mean?” asked Thakur, barely able to grasp what Kumar was saying.

The problem, said Kumar, went deeper. He directed Thakur to put aside his other responsibilities and go through the company’s portfolio — ultimately, every drug, every market, every production line — and uncover the truth about Ranbaxy’s testing practices and where the company’s liabilities lay.


May 16, 2013

DOJ Tactics Against AP Raise Concerns For The New York Times

NEW YORK –- When Attorney General Eric Holder took reporters' questions Tuesday afternoon, several asked about the Justice Department’s sweeping seizure of Associated Press phone records, a move condemned by prominent journalists, media outlets and civil liberties advocates.

New York Times reporter Charlie Savage had a different question for Holder, who had just announced he'd recused himself from the AP leak investigation. "Are you also recused from the Stuxnet investigation out of Maryland?" Savage asked. Holder declined to comment, as the Times noted in Tuesday's story. The DOJ also didn't comment on that other leak investigation to the Times for a Monday story on the AP seizure. Times reporters had asked "whether a similar step was taken" in the secretly obtaining journalists records in the Maryland investigation.

The Times has reason to be concerned about whether investigators are using similar tactics. The Maryland case is believed to be focused on Times chief Washington correspondent David Sanger’s reporting on how the U.S. and Israel helped derail Iran’s nuclear program through cyberattacks. Sanger’s June scoop, along with the Times’ front-page article on Obama’s terrorist “kill list,” spurred Congressional calls to investigate the leaks of classified information.

Journalists have long feared a chilling effect resulting from the Obama administration's unprecedented number of prosecutions in leak cases. The seizure of two months worth of AP journalists phone records has only heightened concerns as the Maryland case continues.

May 16, 2013

Second appeals court invalidates Obama's NLRB recess appointments

Second appeals court invalidates Obama's NLRB recess appointments

By TAL KOPAN | 5/16/13 12:10 PM EDT

A second appeals court has joined the D.C. Circuit in ruling that President Barack Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional, concluding that some board actions taken in the wake of those appointments were also invalid.

The issue has far-reaching implications for both the NLRB and other boards, including Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been a frequent target of conservatives and whose director was a recess appointment.

The 2-1 decision Thursday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (posted here) found that the presidential recess appointment power is limited to breaks between sessions of Congress, not breaks within sessions or other adjournments during which the Senate might meet in pro forma sessions. The reasoning mirrors that in a ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court in January.


May 16, 2013

CNN: Witness protection program lost two former “known or suspected terrorists”

The U.S. Marshal Service has been “unable to locate” two former participants in the federal Witness Security Program “identified as known or suspected terrorists,” states the public summary of an interim Justice Department Inspector General’s report obtained by CNN.

The Marshals have concluded that “one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States.”

Read the public summary here.

The news comes from an audit of the Witness Security Program by the IG’s office, which states that “the Department did not definitively know how many known or suspected terrorists were admitted into the WITSEC program,” among other “significant issues concerning national security.” The report makes 16 recommendations.

The “Interim Report on the Department of Justice’s Handling of Known or Suspected Terrorists Admitted Into the Federal Witness Security Program” notes that while in the midst of an audit of the WITSEC program, the Inspector General felt the need to notify the Justice Department of national security vulnerabilities, and the IG’s office “developed the interim report to help ensure that the Department promptly and sufficiently addressed the deficiencies we found.”


May 16, 2013

The Hill: EPA to review claims of bias against conservatives amid fight over IRS

The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general will review claims the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refuses to waive public records fees for conservative groups while granting the waivers for environmental organizations.

Acting Administrator Robert Perciasepe asked the agency’s inspector general to review claims after GOP lawmaker accusations of a double standard.

The charges came up Thursday during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, where Republicans compared the EPA's actions to the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.

Perciasepe told lawmakers he’s asking the inspector general to help conduct a “programmatic audit” of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request fee decisions.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/300167-epas-internal-watchdog-to-probe-bias-claims-amid-gop-comparisons-to-tax-scandal#ixzz2TTSSehsR

May 16, 2013

IRS specifically wanted to reveal mistakes at lawyer meeting

On Monday, an agency statement said the IRS specifically wanted to reveal the information in that forum because it knew a report from the IRS Inspector General was about to be released.

"The ABA Tax Section conference was an important meeting for a key part of the Exempt Organization community" and it was "important" for members to "hear first-hand that we made mistakes in handling the process."

The agency had three press officers on hand to field questions from a handful of reporters who were present.

The question itself came from a long-time professional colleague of Lerner's, Celia Roady, a Washington tax lawyer at the firm of Morgan Lewis who served on the agency's Advisory Committee on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities for a two year term starting in 2010 and has attended numerous professional conferences with Lerner.

In a brief telephone interview Monday, Roady said she was "as stunned as anybody to get a response" to her question.

But she declined to comment when asked how it was she happened to ask the question in the first place, referring Reuters to the IRS, which also declined to elaborate.


May 15, 2013

Conservative group says IRS approved non-profit status after applying with ‘liberal-sounding name’

Eight months passed without word from the agency about the group's application, Ryun said. In February 2012, Ryun's attorney contacted the IRS to ask if it needed more information to secure its non-profit status as a 501(c)3 organization. According to Ryun, the IRS told him that the application was being processed by the agency's office in Cincinnati, Ohio—the same one currently facing scrutiny for targeting conservative groups—and to check back in two months.

As directed, Ryun followed up with the IRS in April 2012, and was told that Media Trackers' application was still under review.

When September 2012 arrived with still no word from the IRS, Ryun determined that Media Trackers would likely never obtain standalone non-profit status, and he tried a new approach: He applied for permanent non-profit status for a separate group called Greenhouse Solutions, a pre-existing organization that was reaching the end of its determination period.

The IRS approved Greenhouse Solutions' request for permanent non-profit status in three weeks.


May 15, 2013

IRS Scandal Crushes Campaign Finance Reformer Dreams

WASHINGTON — Campaign finance watchdogs are feeling a little low these days.

As more details of the IRS scandal emerge, it's become clear to the advocates who have been calling for robust investigations of political spending that not only did IRS agents ignore their pleas — they also did the exact thing that will keep talk of campaign finance off the agenda for the foreseeable future.

Fred Wertheimer, founder of campaign spending watchdog Democracy 21, has been pushing for campaign finance reform for four decades. He told BuzzFeed the IRS scandal is going to be another setback in his quest, but he's not sure how long of one quite yet.

"I don't believe it's years," he said. "That's hard to predict, but I certainly don't believe it's years. I mean, you are not going to be able to brush under the rug the fact that we have a secret money scandal that is undermining our political system. Maybe you can do it for a while, but I don't think you can do it for very long."


May 15, 2013

The IRS wants YOU — to share everything

The Internal Revenue Service asked tea party groups to see donor rolls.

It asked for printouts of Facebook posts.

And it asked what books people were reading.

A POLITICO review of documents from 11 tea party and conservative groups that the IRS scrutinized in 2012 shows the agency wanted to know everything — in some cases, it even seemed curious what members were thinking. The review included interviews with groups or their representatives from Hawaii, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/the-irs-wants-you-to-share-everything-91378.html#ixzz2TNhWjDwc

Obama expects the IRS to enforce certain aspects of the ACA. This is a problem.

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