Some excellent questions for the #IRS about Lois Lerner’s missing emails

**Posted by Phineas

IRS data recovery techie in action

IRS data recovery techie in action

My blog-buddy ST has already covered the mysterious disappearance of former IRS employee Lois Lerner’s emails. I’m sure the Justice Department, per Congressman Camp’s suggestion, will get right to investigating how this could happen, in apparent violation  of standard IRS protocols. Attorney General Eric Holder, that unquestioned paragon of judicial integrity, will no doubt produce a report that lays bare the unvarnished truth.

And while we’re waiting for a certain hot spot to freeze over, independent investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson has some suggested questions for the IRS about Ms. Lerner’s computers and those vanishing emails:

  • Please provide a timeline of the crash and documentation covering when it was first discovered and by whom; when, how and by whom it was learned that materials were lost; the official documentation reporting the crash and federal data loss; documentation reflecting all attempts to recover the materials; and the remediation records documenting the fix. This material should include the names of all officials and technicians involved, as well as all internal communications about the matter.
  • Please provide all documents and emails that refer to the crash from the time that it happened through the IRS’ disclosure to Congress Friday that it had occurred.
  • Please provide the documents that show the computer crash and lost data were appropriately reported to the required entities including any contractor servicing the IRS. If the incident was not reported, please explain why.
  • Please provide a list summarizing what other data was irretrievably lost in the computer crash. If the loss involved any personal data, was the loss disclosed to those impacted? If not, why?
  • Please provide documentation reflecting any security analyses done to assess the impact of the crash and lost materials. If such analyses were not performed, why not?
  • Please provide documentation showing the steps taken to recover the material, and the names of all technicians who attempted the recovery.
  • Please explain why redundancies required for federal systems were either not used or were not effective in restoring the lost materials, and provide documentation showing how this shortfall has been remediated.
  • Please provide any documents reflecting an investigation into how the crash resulted in the irretrievable loss of federal data and what factors were found to be responsible for the existence of this situation.
  • I would also ask for those who discovered and reported the crash to testify under oath, as well as any officials who reported the materials as having been irretrievably lost.

Also read Attkisson’s earlier report on the missing emails.

Since AG Holder will no doubt be busy with his own line of inquiry (1), I offer my own suggestion: these would be excellent questions to include as part of the investigations by a House Select Committee formed to examine the entire IRS scandal. We already have one for Benghazi; why not another? I’d say it’s more than warranted.

How about it, Mr. Speaker?

PS: Lest anyone harbor any smidgen of doubt that the IRS is lying on this matter, consider this observation from Tax Politix (h/t Rick Moran):

Again, the IRS claims it only “has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame…it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.” The ability for an inbox to lose certain emails during the time frame — but not others — is incredible.

To answer an old question, we at least now know how stupid they think we are.

(1) Stonewalling takes time, you know.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The IRS says it has lost *two years* worth of Lerner emails. Seriously.

Lois Lerner

You can run, Ms. Lerner, but you cannot hide.

Unbelievable. Literally unbelievable:

he Internal Revenue Service claims to have lost two-years worth of emails between former IRS official Lois Lerner, who resigned under pressure for her role in the IRS targeting scandal, and outside agencies and groups.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) announced Friday that the IRS informed the committee it lost the emails, which the committee was seeking as part of its investigation into the targeting scandal, due to a computer crash in 2011.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the IRS said it went to “unprecedented efforts” to reconstruct Lerner’s emails, including searching emails of other officials, resulting in an additional 24,000 emails being provided to lawmakers.

But because of the crash, the IRS said it cannot produce emails between Lerner and the White House, Treasury Department, Justice Department, FEC, or other Democrat offices.

“The IRS has made unprecedented efforts in connection with this effort, producing more than 750,000 pages of documents to help complete the investigations,” the agency said in a statement. “In total, the IRS’s efforts to respond to Congress have involved more than 250 IRS employees working more than 120,000 hours at a direct cost of nearly $10 million.”

In a statement, Camp called the disclosure—more than a year into the committee’s investigation—“completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’ response to congressional inquiries.”

Camp also called for an investigation by the Department of Justice and the IRS Inspector General.

Scott Johnson at Power Line shares an intriguing email a Department of Justice lawyer sent to him in response to the ridiculous claims that the email loss was the result of a “computer crash”:

I’m a DOJ lawyer, so you obviously cannot use my name or any identifying information. But the idea that a “hard drive crash” somehow destroyed all of Ms. Lerner’s intra-government email correspondence during the period in question [2009-2011] is laughable. Government email servers are backed up every night. So if she actually had a hard drive fail, her emails would be recoverable from the backup. If the backup was somehow also compromised, then we are talking about a conspiracy.

Yes, friends, I do believe we have a genuine conspiracy to hide the truth on our hands.  In the “most open, transparent administration evah …”  The various investigations into what happened just got a lot tougher but nevertheless need to continue to be relentless until they get to the bottom of not just the wrongdoing behind the wrongful targeting of Tea Party groups – but the cover-up as well.

Read much more here.

SC Senator Graham garners high praise from Senator Reid

Senators Reid and Graham

Senators Reid (D) and Graham (R)

Via The Hill:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday said Republicans should follow the lead of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Reid said Graham defeated conservative challengers and avoided a runoff after co-authoring immigration reform last year, unlike House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who was defeated in a shocking result the same night.

“I believe the Republicans should follow the lead of Lindsey Graham. Lindsey Graham was part of the Gang of Eight to come up with immigration reform. He never backed down, backed up. He kept going forward on this issue,” Reid said.

“We need more Republicans who are Lindsey Grahams,” he added. “Lindsey Graham is a very conservative man but I’ve worked with him on a number of issues, some of which we don’t even talk about publicly.”

Graham may have easily won his GOP primary fight last night at the top of a crowded field, but it’s still safe to say this endorsement of sorts – especially on the contentious issue of illegal immigration – from the hardcore Nevada liberal who just happens to be the Senate Majority Leader will cause Graham considerable grief among the GOP faithful in South Carolina, from where several local GOP chapters have censured him.

Thanks, by the way, to Senator Reid about the tidbit of information on how he and Graham work together behind the scenes sometimes without anyone knowing publicly.  Nice to know that the senior Senator from SC doesn’t have any issues whatsoever working closely with complete snakes in senior leadership positions in the US Senate who are out to destroy the party for which Graham claims to represent.

.@BarackObama’s political philosophy explained in one tweet – by him

King Obama

Image via

I think this rather says it all, don’t you?

Emphasis on “will do whatever I can without Congress” – which he does an awful lot these days. Who needs a stinkin’ Congress anyways? 8-|

Rand Paul to run for both Senate and President in 2016?

Senator Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

The 1st term Senator from Kentucky hasn’t yet made a decision on a possible 2016 Presidential run, but says if he does it will likely be as he runs for re-election to the US Senate:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday that a state law preventing candidates from having their names appear more than once on the ballot won’t deter him from staging dual campaigns for Senate re-election and president — if he decides to run for the White House in 2016.

As for whether he’ll mount a presidential bid, that’s a weighty subject still being discussed by his family, Paul told The Associated Press.

“I would just say it’s probably not a conclusion yet, but it is something that’s an ongoing discussion,” the first-term Republican senator said.

Paul has indicated he will run for re-election to the Senate in two years. And he insisted Thursday that the Kentucky ballot law won’t be an obstacle if he decides to juggle simultaneous campaigns for the presidency and another Senate term.

“We do think about it, but ultimately it’s not something that will probably deter the process, if we make a decision,” he said.

Kentucky lawmakers considered legislation this year that would have relieved Paul from the potential quandary. The GOP-led state Senate passed a bill that would have revised the ballot law so as not to apply to candidates running for president or vice president. The measure died in the Democratic-run House.

Paul’s camp maintains that states don’t have authority to restrict ballot access for federal elections. A Republican with considerable tea party support, Paul maintains that federal law governs federal elections.

Paul kept open the possibility of mounting a court challenge, if necessary, if he decides to have his name on the Kentucky ballot for both races.

The article goes on to note that Joe Lieberman did the same thing in 2000, Joe Biden did it in 2008 and Paul Ryan did so as well in 2012, which Paul said only strengthened his argument that he, too, should be allowed to do so in Kentucky under “equal application of federal law.”

As to when he’ll make the decision as to whether or not to run, he didn’t note a specific time frame in the interview, but I suspect we’ll know by the end of the year. Hope so, anyway. The curiosity on his possible candidacy and others is starting to get to me, and I know I”m not the only one. ;)

AP: Political climate looks good for GOP to pick up several Senate seats


Sure enjoyed reading this this morning:

WASHINGTON — Contests are set in nearly half the states for November’s elections, and with few contested primary elections remaining on the calendar, Republicans are enjoying clear advantages in their quest for a Senate takeover.

“The environment is really good right now, and the quality of candidates is superior,” said Scott Reed, a veteran GOP strategist and senior political aide at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “These are the best candidates I’ve seen in 32 years. With a good environment and good candidates, it’s a good combination. We like where we are.”

Five months out from Election Day, Republicans have largely avoided the same mistakes of the two previous election cycles in which the party nominated lackluster candidates who cost the party winnable seats in Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Missouri and Nevada.

This year GOP nominees in Democratic-held seats in South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana have consistently led in polls and are favored in November. Victory in the trio of states would provide half of the six seats Republicans need to net gain for a takeover.

The Rothenberg Political Report, a non-partisan election outfit, forecasts Republicans will gain between four and eight seats this November.

Rothenberg analyst Nathan Gonzales shared Reed’s view that the GOP has largely tapped the candidates favored by the establishment but cautioned that many are still untested as the races shift to general election mode. “It seems like we’ve stepped through some of the minefields for Republicans so far, but when you think there’s not a new way to lose a race, Republicans seem to find one,” he said.

The party is also enjoying a three-to-one advantage: Republicans are defending only two Senate seats considered highly competitive — in Kentucky and Georgia — compared to six seats Democrats will be challenged to hold in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and North Carolina.

Now if all the Republican candidates with a real shot at winning would just avoid Akin-style comments, especially in the final months leading to the election … #hoping

To keep in tune to the latest election-year Senate polls, click here.  For fellow NC residents, bookmark this link.  And, as always, stay tuned!

WH apologizes for their “oversight” on Congressional oversight re: prisoner swap

King Obama

Image via


The White House has apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for failing to alert her in advance of a decision to release Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay.

Feinstein told reporters that she received a call from Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken on Monday evening apologizing for what the administration is calling an “oversight.”

“I had a call from the White House last night, from Tony Blinken, apologizing for it,” she said.

 “He apologized and said it was an oversight,” she added.

Feinstein also said leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence panels were almost unanimously against a prisoner trade when it came up in 2011.

She said the chairmen and ranking Republicans of the “connected committees” spent a lot of time in 2011 reviewing the possibility of a prisoner swap and came out firmly opposed to releasing senior militants from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

“There were very strong views and they were virtually unanimous against the trade,” she said.

“I certainly want to know more about whether this man was a deserter,” she said of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released to American special forces in return for the freedom of five senior Taliban commanders.

Administration officials have said in public that they did not have time to inform Congress of the prisoner swap because Bergdahl’s life was in danger and they did not know how long the Taliban would be willing to wait to finalize the deal.

But Senator Harry Reid got a notification – not 30 days in advance, but he still got one:

At least one member of the Senate did have advance notice. “We were notified of the plan to secure Sergeant Bergdahl’s release on Friday,” said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. A spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner, however, told TIME that there was no advance notice given to the leader of the House. Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein was not informed in advance, either, and on Tuesday Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken called her to apologize for the oversight, she told reporters.

Move along here. Nothing to see…

(Hat tip: Memeorandum)

The IRS wants to tax your frequent flyer miles and hotel points

**Posted by Phineas


It’s as if the agency was worried it wasn’t hated enough.

Writing at Reason, Ira Stoll reports that the Internal Revenue Service is looking at taxing rewards points offered by airlines and hotel chains:

Just in time for your summer vacation, the IRS is getting ready to toughen the tax treatment on frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty reward programs.

The IRS announced in 2002 that it wouldn’t try to go after individuals for income taxes on frequent flyer miles or hotel loyalty points earned on company-paid business trips. Yet the temptation to wring some tax revenue out of the vast non-dollar economy of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, Marriott Rewards points, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Delta Skymiles, and so on is apparently so great that that the government just cannot resist.

Sure enough, the Tax Foundation, a research group that tracks tax issues, flags a recent post on the View From the Wing blog that runs under the provocative headline, “The IRS Looks To Be on the Verge of Imposing a Big Tax Burden on Loyalty Points.”

The IRS’s plans are vague, but they have airlines and hotel owners concerned enough about the issue that they reportedly sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. “The IRS’ proposal to alter the tax treatment of loyalty programs will impose a significant new tax on existing and future loyalty points that travel customers enjoy and rely upon,” said the letter, according to a report in Politico. “Any change or clarification of loyalty program accounting should be made through the legislative process, not IRS promulgation.”

Frequent flyer mile fanatics got a wake-up call on the issue back in 2012 when Citibank sent IRS Forms 1099, documenting “miscellaneous income,” at a rate of 2.5 cents a mile, to customers who had signed up for an American Airlines-branded credit card and gotten 40,000 AAdvantage miles as a bonus. It was an unpleasant surprise to cardholders who thought they were getting a free trip, not an unwanted extra tax bill.

I’ll say. I rarely rack up enough points for a free flight or hotel night, but I know plenty of people who fly a lot and who rely on those points to help cover the occasional vacation. Suddenly taxing them not only diminishes their value as a customer-retention tool, but also burdens the consumer by imposing a monetary cost for a non-monetary reward. (Sure, the points have “value,” but it’s not like real income. Just try paying for a meal with airline points…)

Stoll covers several problems with this plan, but I’ll add one of my own: this is another example of the gradual bureaucratic usurpation of legislative power that’s grown to be such a problem since the Progressive Era. Congress writes laws that allow regulatory agencies to create rules for their implementation, but agencies, like bureaucracies everywhere, constantly push the bounds of that authority to accumulate ever-greater power to themselves, to the point whereat they’re no longer writing rules, but actually making law in place of the elected legislature. Which, for progressive ideology, is a feature, not a bug. (1)

Although, perhaps “usurpation” is too strong a word. After all, congresses dominated by both Democrats and Republicans have gone along with this, even if they didn’t agree with progressive ideology, passing vague legislation and letting agencies “fill in the blanks.” It’s a tempting bit of laziness: as Washington accumulated more power to itself, Congress had to deal with more and more, until it became expedient to let someone else deal with the details. And it gives them political cover: It wasn’t your congressman who decided to tax your airline miles, it was the IRS. Left unsaid is how generations of congressmen and senators have enabled this.

Of the many reforms our government needs, congress reclaiming its power to make laws and reining in the bureaucracy —especially the IRS!— is high on the list.

(1) The basic idea is that democratically-elected legislatures are too prone to public passions, too full of unqualified people, to be trusted with governance. Progressives prefer unelected, dispassionate boards of technocrats who would practice scientific management of public affairs. They may be right about the problems of legislatures, but I think the last century has shown their solution is even worse.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

House GOP to pass “#Obamacare replacement bill” before August recess?


Interesting development – via The Hill:

House conservatives will press their leaders this week to move on an ObamaCare replacement bill before the August recess.

But it’s unclear if there are enough votes to pass it.

According to several GOP lawmakers, members of the conservative-leaning Republican Study Committee (RSC) plan to wear lapel pins to the weekly conference meeting that state, “HR 3121, There’s a Better Way” as a sign of support for moving a bill that is co-sponsored by 130 House Republicans.

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) the lead sponsor of H.R. 3121, the “American Health Care Reform Act of 2013,” told The Hill that RSC members will “all wear little pins to conference [this] week … to push our leadership to bring this bill up or [another] bill up.”

The Tennessee doctor said the GOP has two months to move an alternative to the House floor before lawmakers head back to their districts for the month-long recess. Roe noted that several alternatives have been offered by his colleagues, including fellow physician Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).

House GOP members agree on about 80 percent of what should be in a repeal-and-replace bill, Roe said, adding there has been some disagreement on tax provisions.

The Roe measure, strongly backed by RSC Chairman Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), would fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with an expansion of health savings accounts, medical liability reform and the elimination of restrictions on purchasing insurance across state lines.

But time is of the essence.


Some Republicans are wary of tackling such a controversial issue so close to the election. They also point out that offering a bill would give Democrats political ammunition that could be used in campaign ads this fall.

Proponents of an ObamaCare replacement measure counter that President Obama has repeatedly mocked Republican leaders for not keeping their promise to come up with an alternative.

Whatever Republicans put forward, Democrats won’t support it. That means GOP leaders will have to keep defections under 20 in order to get 218 votes. That won’t be easy.

The article goes on to note that there are some Republicans in the House who are not on board with a replacement bill of any kind and who only want to repeal Obamacare entirely, while there are others who believe any attempt to repeal at this point would be futile since many of the bill’s components are already in effect.

Whatever the case may be, even if the House does pass repeal and replace legislation before they recess in July it will be DOA in the US Senate where wacko bird Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would be sure to put the brakes on it rapid fire.  So passage of any such bill on the House side would have to be considered largely symbolic – but perhaps necessary nevertheless for those Republicans in key House districts across the country whose citizens and respective economies have been hit particularly hard by the passage and implementation of the so-called “Affordable Care Act.”

Stay tuned.