By Victor Thorn
In Washington, D.C., the biggest mystery circulating among congressional committees and mainstream media lapdogs is: who directed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to harass political organizations that are considered conservative?
Few of them, however, are focusing on the possible culprit, Cass R. Sunstein, Barack Obama’s longtime friend and colleague from The University of Chicago Law School, as well as his former regulations czar. As the co-author of a book entitled Nudge, Sunstein advocated “nudging the behavior of associates in a particular direction.”
Rather than smoking gun written memos or direct orders that corroded the president’s plausible deniability, Sunstein said on November 7, 2007: “It’s a very firm part of human nature that if you surround yourself with like-minded people, you’ll end up thinking more extreme versions of what you thought before.” In essence, Sunstein viewed those in the government’s machinery as little more than lab rats that could be urged into following certain paths if the appropriate prompts were provided.
Most importantly, Sunstein’s “nudge” concept became fully apparent in a January 15, 2008, 30-page report entitled “Conspiracy Theories.” Sunstein wrote, “Our main policy claim here is the government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories.”
Since tea party and other conservative groups and individuals questioned Obama’s birth certificate, socialized healthcare, and Fast & Furious gun-running to Mexican drug lords, they perhaps became the perfect “conspiracy theorists” to disrupt and potentially destroy.
So, on October 25, 2010, when Obama said on Mexico’s Univision “we’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,” it’s not surprising that the IRS “nudged” tea party groups—through mountains of Sunstein-like regulatory paperwork—into stifling inactivity.
How precisely could such a scenario unfold? For beginners, IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times from 2009-2012, where he often met with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orzsag, his deputy director Jeffrey Zients, and Sunstein. Conveniently, as Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator, Sunstein worked directly for OMB.
Here is where the incestuous relationship gets even more interesting. Once Orzsag left OMB, he was replaced by Jack Lew, who later became Obama’s Treasury Secretary. Lew acknowledged that he became aware of IRS targeting in the fall of 2012. In a May 17 article, veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler stated that in certain circles, “Lew said what he learned last fall was a ‘matter of public knowledge.’”
Once Lew left OMB, his replacement was none other than Danny Werfel, the current IRS Commissioner following the departures of Shulman and his replacement, Steven Miller. Clearly, a revolving door existed between OMB, the IRS, and Obama’s White House.
In a May 27 article, Larry Klayman, former chairman of the non-profit law firm Judicial Watch, wrote, “The three main actors in the burgeoning IRS scandal, Doug Shulman, the former IRS commissioner, Steven Miller, former acting IRS commissioner, and Lois Lerner, former director of exempt organizations, are all Jewish.”
Moreover, at OMB, Orzsag, Lew and Zients are all Jewish, as is new IRS Commissioner Werfel. Of course, Sunstein is Jewish, while Shulman also met at the White House with health policy advisor Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, also Jewish. Finally, one of the senators that pressured IRS officials into investigating tea party groups was Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer (D-N.Y.), again Jewish.
IRS Victims Speak Out
• Targets of IRS harassment detail blackmail, threats, retribution
On June 4, representatives from six conservative groups that had been discriminated against by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) because of their political beliefs, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee. Often receiving rounds of applause after their statements, these individuals described incidents of blackmail, threats, and leaks by the nation’s most despised federal agency.
Becky Gerritson, president of the Alabama Wetumpka Tea Party set the stage. “In a government culture that has little respect for its citizens, many of the agents and agencies of the federal government do not understand that they are servants of the people,” she said. “They think they are our masters, [but] they are mistaken.”
As for the IRS vendetta against her, Gerritson insisted, “This was not an accident. This was a willful act of intimidation.” She concluded by saying, “I’m telling my government, you’ve forgotten your place.”
Susan Martinek, president of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, told lawmakers that the IRS made her board members swear, under penalty of perjury, that they wouldn’t pray, picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics. Martinek lamented, “We never thought we would have to defend our prayer activities.” She added, “The IRS refused to grant approval until our group agreed to surrender our First Amendment rights of assembly, free speech and religious expression.”
Chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, John Eastman, discussed how IRS officials deliberately leaked his group’s donor information to a pro-gay marriage and pro-Obama organization named Human Rights Campaign. After stressing, “I would call the disclosure of our donor lists by the IRS a felony,” Eastman claimed that computer forensic specialists within his organization traced the source of these leaks. “The original document that was posted originated from within the IRS,” Eastman said.
Another individual, Kevin Kookogey, founder of the education-oriented Linchpins of Liberty, testified that they lost a $30K grant because the IRS delayed approval of their 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status for so long.
Kookogey conveyed how the IRS sought the identities of high school and college students that took courses on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
“Can you imagine the reaction of the student’s parents were I to turn over the names of their children to the IRS?” Kookogey asked.
Incensed by this invasion of privacy, Kookogey revealed another bombshell to the congressional panel. IRS agents in the Cincinnati office that are being used as scapegoats in this scandal told him, “We’ve been waiting on guidance from our superiors [in Washington, D.C.] as to your organization.” In other words, despite IRS tax-exempt division head Lois Lerner’s attempt to blame these discretions on a few rogue agents in Ohio, the trails leads directly to D.C.
On a different note, Dianne Belsom, president of a South Carolina tea party group, told of the traumas inflicted by ruthless inspectors within the IRS. “I honestly have lost sleep in fear of what our government might do next.”
Finally, Dr. Karen Kenney of the San Fernando, California Tea Party Patriots didn’t mince words when addressing legislators. “The voice of the Republic resides in our citizens, not in the tongue of government. More must grasp this self-evident truth. This dialogue is about the jackboot of tyranny.”
Although most everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, on the House Ways and Means Committee commiserated with these testimonials, Representative Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) caused tempers to flare when he appeared to blame the victims of IRS harassment. “If you didn’t come in and ask for this tax break,” McDermott smugly surmised, “you never would have had a question asked of you.”
However, during a June 5 interview, Michael Heeren, co-founder of the Dubuque, Iowa Tea Party, told AFP how they’d been intimidated. “We never even applied for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, yet we still received an IRS letter saying that we owe them more money. Plus, even though our accountants assure us that everything is in order, the IRS keeps tacking on interest penalties every day.”
When asked to what extent he thought this scandal reached, Heeren replied, “I know it goes much higher than just a few pawns. Personally, I think the president knew all about it. You better believe it.”
Heeren added one last thought. “I don’t care if someone’s a Republican or Democrat. We need to start believing in we the people, not we the government.”
Somebody should have given this advice to the IRS. In a June 4 article, Associated Press’s Stephen Ohlemacher and Alan Fram disclosed an unsettling matter. “The IRS held 225 employee conferences from 2010 through 2012 at a total expense of $49M.”
One of these conferences alone held in Anaheim, Calif., cost an astounding $4.1M. Curiously, Christopher Wagner, a commissioner from the same tax-exempt division that badgered tea party groups, pro life organizations and audited campaign donors, spent $3,500 per night at this conference luxuriating in the hotel’s presidential suite.
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 40 books.