Skip to comments.IRS Official to Judicial Watch: Clinton Enemies Were Audited
Posted on 04/22/2002 10:00:48 PM PDT by Kay Soze
IRS Official to Judicial Watch: Clinton Enemies Were Audited Carl Limbacher, NewsMax.com
Tuesday, April 23, 2002
An official with the Internal Revenue Service has admitted that legal opponents of former President Bill Clinton were singled out for tax audits, according to court documents made public this week. "What do you expect when you sue the president?" senior IRS official Paul Breslan told Judicial Watch, the Washington-based legal watchdog group that had filed 50-plus legal actions against the Clinton administration and subsequently found itself in the IRS's cross hairs.
Breslan's quote is cited in Judicial Watch's complaint against the tax agency, based on a host of what look to be politically inspired audits that make the worst abuses of the Nixon administration appear puny by comparison.
"There were literally six witnesses in the room when Breslan told us we should have expected an audit," Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman revealed to NewsMax.com. "Four of them were lawyers."
The legal group became the target of an IRS audit in 1998, just four days after it filed an independent impeachment report against Clinton, based on years of investigation into everything from Chinagate to the Paula Jones case.
But Judicial Watch wasn't alone. Witnesses bearing damaging testimony against the president were a favorite target of the Clinton IRS. Those singled out for audits include:
The Jones case, which would eventually lead to Clinton's impeachment, was of particular interest to the IRS, which apparently leaked her confidential tax returns to the late New York Daily News reporter Lars Erik Nelson.
In a September 1997 column Nelson revealed details from Jones' filing to bolster claims that she was profiting from her sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton.
In a subsequent interview with NewsMax.com's Carl Limbacher (then with the Washington Weekly), Nelson insisted somewhat implausibly that a "friend" of Jones had come across her tax return during a visit to her home and decided to go public with the secrets.
Quite an Enemies List
As the Judicial Watch complaint notes, the Clinton IRS also went after organizations and even media companies it perceived as politically hostile, including:
The National Rifle Association, The Heritage Foundation, The National Review, The American Spectator, Freedom Alliance, National Center for Public Policy Research, American Policy Center, American Cause, Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens for Honest Government, Progress and Freedom Foundation, Concerned Women for America and the San Diego Chapter of Christian Coalition.
Fox News Channel analyst Bill O'Reilly, a frequent critic of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has also pointed out how the IRS has repeatedly audited him.
The political nature of the Judicial Watch's audit seems particularly blatant.
"The IRS asked for our political affiliations in the first notice of audit," Klayman told NewsMax.
When he questioned why auditors wanted to know about the group's political ties, an IRS district director said the information had been deemed "relevant."
Worse still, each time Judicial Watch seemed to make legal headway against the White House, the IRS ratcheted up the pressure.
"When we would accomplish something big, like the criminal finding by Judge Royce Lamberth against Clinton in the Kathleen Willey Privacy Act case, our lawyers would get a call saying, 'We just want you to know that Judicial Watch is still on the IRS's radar screen,'" Klayman said.
"The same thing happened when we revealed the White House e-mail scandal," he added.
Shockingly, the IRS's intimidation tactics continue into the Bush administration, which has failed to sack Clinton's IRS Commissioner Charles Rosotti.
After Judicial Watch won the release of thousands of pages of documents from Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force last month, a badge-wearing IRS agent showed up at the group's offices.
A personal meeting between Klayman and Bush Justice Department Criminal Division chief Michael Chertoff, who led the Senate investigation into the Clintons' Whitewater abuses, failed to yield any interest in pursuing IRS abuses, which now threaten to tarnish the Bush administration.
When noted columnist Robert Novak inquired of the Justice Department about Judicial Watch's IRS complaint, he was told by a department official, "I don't know what we are going to do with this Klayman."
"When we were told that we were being audited because we sued Bill Clinton, we had no choice but to stand up and fight in court," Klayman said. "By leaving Charles Rossotti as IRS commissioner, Bush obviously is sending a signal that political audits are fine with him."
Thinking the Unthinkable
By Robert H. Bork
Bill Clinton's political crisis is also, and more important, an American moral crisis. When a plurality first elected him in 1992, we knew, not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Clinton to be a liar, an adulterer and a draft dodger. Only a few years before, that would have been disqualifying. His elevation struck many of us as profoundly disheartening. A foreign observer wrote: "It is hard to avoid the conclusion that a large part of the American people have turned their backs on that old-fashioned quality: virtue -- private and public virtues." Some of his defenders argue that his electoral triumphs in 1992 and 1996 disposed of the virtue issue, granting Mr. Clinton a permanent easement across traditional morality. We must now adopt or reject that deplorable proposition.
This is the subject of Ann Coulter's readable and informative book, "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" (Regnery, 358 pages, $24.95).
Its sprightly style is a welcome relief from the lugubrious, Teutonic language in which Clinton defenders describe the unthinkable disaster of impeachment. But it should not be unthinkable. The framers of the Constitution did not see impeachment as a doomsday scenario; they thought it necessary to remove bad men from offices they were subverting. Mr. Clinton is a poster boy for what they had in mind.
The president's defenders, experts at changing the subject, prefer to debate whether Mr. Clinton committed a felony. Though it is clear that the president repeatedly lied under oath in Paula Jones's lawsuit, they offer arcane disputes about whether that was technically perjury. I think it was perjury, but that is not the point. As Ms. Coulter reminds us, the Rodino Committee staff, gearing up for Richard Nixon, concluded, correctly, that "high crimes and misdemeanors" are not limited to actions that are crimes under federal law. (It is a minor irony of history that Bernard Nussbaum, later Clinton's White House counsel, and Hillary Rodham collaborated on a report that makes these points.)
When the man charged by the Constitution to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" lies under oath in a federal case and knowingly watches Monica Lewinsky lie in the same case, he has clearly subverted a central constitutional duty.
That alone is amply sufficient for impeachment. While impeachment is not to be undertaken lightly, it is also not to be avoided at the cost of sanctioning such behavior. Ms. Coulter tellingly relies on James Madison: "The `first aim´ of the Constitution," she writes, quoting him, "was to ensure that men with the `most virtue´ would become the nation´s rulers. The Constitution´s impeachment power was for `keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.´"
The constitutional framework concisely laid out, the book applies the standards for impeachment to various of Mr. Clinton's political and personal sins. It becomes clear that the White House has never before been occupied by such a reckless and narcissistic adventurer. Sociopath is not too strong a word. Much of what Ms. Coulter recounts will be known to avid followers of the Clinton scandals but is only vaguely apprehended by the majority of Americans. She takes us from Paula Jones, whose story can hardly be doubted now, to the Travel Office firings, the White House's receipt of about 900 raw FBI files on persons considered enemies (mostly Republicans), Whitewater, the removal of documents from Vince Foster's office after his suicide, the refusal of Webb Hubbell to give promised cooperation to Ken Starr after receiving more than a half million dollars in "consulting fees" on his way to prison, and Janet Reno's inexplicable (or all too explicable) delay of over a year in seeking an independent counsel to look into Chinese government donations to Mr. Clinton's 1996 election campaign. The list of scandals and cover-ups goes on.
Ms. Coulter makes a persuasive case that the IRS, headed by a Clinton crony, conducted politically motivated audits of taxpayers. Of the audit of Billy Dale, the fired head of the Travel Office, she says: "The reason was simple: Dale was an enemy of the administration. He had made them look bad by not having engaged in criminal conduct when they said he had."
Paula Jones was audited a few months after the Supreme Court allowed her suit against Mr. Clinton to go forward, and days after settlement negotiations had collapsed because she demanded an apology. These and many other examples lead Ms. Coulter to conclude: "Either President Clinton has abused the most fear-inspiring arm of the federal government, or there has been a mathematically improbable series of coincidences involving IRS audits."
We are regularly lectured about a constitutional crisis if the House goes forward with hearings and ultimately votes a bill of impeachment for trial in the Senate. Consider the alternative. Perhaps American presidents, by and large, have not been a distinguished lot. But if we ratify Bill Clinton's behavior in office, we may expect not merely lack of distinction in the future but aggressively dishonest, even criminal, conduct. The real calamity will not be that we removed a president from office but that we did not.
Mr. Bork, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline" (HarperCollins, 1996).
It's interesting to think that in writing this column, I could be increasing my chance of a federal tax audit. Well, "interesting" is perhaps the wrong word given the near-proctological nature of the modern tax audit, "cold-sweat-inducing" is probably a better description.
Paranoid? Me? Why yes, I am, but that has nothing to do with these fears. Nope, I'm just going by recent news reports that the Internal Revenue Service has once again lent itself to the White House for use as the political equivalent of Murder Inc.
According to the latest reports, an unusual number of political organizations that usually find themselves in opposition to the Clinton administration have been or are being audited by the IRS. These groups include the Heritage Foundation, National Review, Citizens Against Government Waste, the National Rifle Association, the Center for Public Policy Research, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Western Journalism Center, and many more. Some of those who've been put in the hot seat contend that auditors admitted to political motivation.
But maybe the IRS should be given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Clinton's enemies are just really bad bookkeepers. After all, there's no proof that the nation's tax collectors have become enforcers of the president's will, although Congress has launched a probe of the tax agency to see if it really has been acting as a hired gun for Bubba and company. We should be hearing back on that inquiry sometime in September.
Even before a conclusive investigation, though, it doesn't take much of a leap of lack-of-faith to suspect the IRS of dirty doings. The agency's last official historian, Shelly Davis, resigned after allegations that she had leaked documents on past political shenanigans to an outside scholar. She was cleared of the charges, but the supposed beneficiary of those leaks, historian John Andrews, documented the Kennedy administration's use of the IRS against conservative organizations (that's right, Happy Camelot Campers, Saint Jack was as sleazy as the rest). Andrews is now pursuing similar inquiries about Nixon's use of the tax agency against left-wing groups, demonstrating the not necessarily reassuring fact that the IRS has no political agenda of its own other than a willingness to be used as a bludgeon against anybody tagged as an enemy of the state. Nerve-wracking, no? It makes me want to run through my 1040 form just one more time. Whoops! Too late.
Of course, we're talking about a government agency, here, so what's the chance of it keeping its nefarious activities on-target? Not too good, apparently. In February, a federal appeals court overturned a guilty verdict against an IRS-employed Klansman who was caught browsing through tax records. It wasn't that he didn't violate taxpayers privacy, just that there was no proof that he'd shared the information, and therefore no punishable crime.
Isolated incident? Ummmm. No. In 1994 and 1995, the IRS canned 23 snoopers, disciplined 349, and "counseled" 472 others. Counseled them to avoid freelancing, I guess. Remember, gang, if you're going to misuse your vast powers, stay with the program. The reformers are out in swarms, of course. The agency promises renewed commitment to its policy of "zero-tolerance" for tax-record snooping. (And why is everything "zero-tolerance?" Is this in contrast with slack, old-fashioned, a-little-tolerance? Or did they used to encourage such behavior?) IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson claims to be "delighted" with congressional investigations of IRS political hits. Everybody's apparently real serious about proving that the bad stuff didn't happen, or if it did, that it won't happen ever again.
Sounds great, until you remember that this nonsense keeps on happening. Journalist James Bovard reports that as long ago as 1924, Sen. James Couzens launched an investigation of what was then called the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In response, the Internal Revenue commissioner personally handed the senator a bill for $10,860,131.50 in "unpaid taxes." Couzens eventually won the battle, but you can imagine that he was distracted from his original plans. That was seven decades ago. What has changed since then?
Investigations won't solve the problem and "zero tolerance" is useless. The fact is, the IRS is a monstrosity it's a massive repository of personal, and potentially damaging, information on the American people. It's a ready-made weapon for ambitious politicians, and an irresistible temptation for any employee with the normal human complement of curiosity and grievances. Pass all the laws you want, enact endless safeguards; as long as it exists, the IRS will remain as both a peephole into Americans' lives and the semi-official hitman for the party in power.
Now, smile for the nice tax collectors. So you think I'm full of it, eh? Then go to the primary source:
Warning: These IRS Abuse Reports start mildly and slowly. After a while, these reports build into such a crescendo of sickening horror, criminal destructiveness, and unbearable evil that a sedative may be required to read them all:
There is an internal investigation going on, it started when Rick Ramirez brought the matter to light. As soon as the internal investigation is finished, and if Rick is not satisfied with the outcome, the matter can proceed to a civil court. I honestly don't know what his options would be to appeal the decision within the system.
Having said that, I believe that Rick's complaint came to light after this guy's promotion had taken effect. At least, that was the first time that I remember reading anything about it.
Keep in mind what the real case here is, in spite of Larry's National Enquirer promotional tecniques. The real issue here is the fact that Doris Meissner ordered Federal documents destroyed. This guy is guilty of following her instructions, but then again, so is Rick and the INS attorneys that have come forward since.
Larry writes the headline to panhandle for donations from people who hate the Bush administration.
Last thing, other than the fact that there was a great deal of anti-Cuban sentiment in the Miami INS office (like that's news to anyone down here) and that some agents made racist remarks, there is little more that this guy is guilty of.
I don't have a problem discussing the issue (any issue) with you my FRiend, even if in the back of my mind I suspect that there are others encouraging you to continue engaging me in order to keep the thread bumped.
That way, I get to present my case as to why I do not approve of JW's tactics to Chase's "world wide audience".
Simply stated, I didn't like it when the leftist media spun the truth and told half lies to help Clinton. I have a bigger issue when Judicial Watch does the same thing, spin the truith and tell half lies, for financial gains...then they call it "patriotism".
I like my struggle for truth and justice with a lot less of a National Enquirer look to it.
Just as I predicted, I found relief at the third hole yesterday.
And now another spring flower shall bloom.