The IRS and Obama’s Enemies List

LiLo Should have Laid Low
Lindsay Lohan is not someone I’m very fond of. She’s an immoral publicity hound, who will do almost anything to be in the news. So I didn’t pay much attention when she came out in support of Mitt Romney’s presidential bid. [ref]

I think someone — or something — else did. The something I’m referring to is the Internal Revenue Service. Lohan seems to routinely have run-ins with the law, but this time she’s got trouble with the tax man. Allegedly she’s been lax in reporting income on cash appearance fees. [ref]
Is it a coincidence that Lohan is being audited by the IRS? Or did she get on someone’s short list? We may never know. But it wasn’t the first time, and probably won’t be the last, that a prominent individual who backed Mitt Romney — and therefore opposed Obama — ended up in the IRS’ sights.

Enemy Number One?
Idaho businessman and Romney super PAC donor Frank VanderSloot knows what it’s like to be targeted.

In 2011 VanderSloot gave $1 million dollars to the Romney-backing “Restore our Future” super PAC. In April of 2012 the Obama campaign website’s “enemies list” identified VanderSloot as a wealthy individual “with less-than-reputable records”. (What on earth the Obama campaign was doing publishing such a list?) VanderSloot publicly objected to the Obama campaign targeting him. That was his second big mistake. Less than two weeks later, a for-hire investigator was digging around the local courthouse for dirt on VanderSloot. Two months later he got an audit notification from the IRS. Two weeks after that, the Labor Department informed him they would be investigating employment records at his Idaho Falls cattle ranch. [ref, ref, ref]

Coincidence? VanderSloot took the high road and said “it seems coincidental, but who knows?” He wouldn’t come out and say that Obama was directly responsible for the audits.

Yet Obama allowed a list of Romney donors to appear on his campaign web site. To what end? Why else would he do it, except to encourage other people to go after them? That kind of evil tactic has no place in politics.

In the Wall Street Journal Kimberly Strassel had this to say about VanderSloot’s audits:

Perhaps all this is coincidence. Perhaps something in Mr. VanderSloot’s finances or on his ranch raised a flag. Americans want to believe the federal government performs its duties without fear or favor.

Only in this case, Americans can have no such confidence. Did Mr. Obama pick up the phone and order the screws put to Mr. VanderSloot? Or—more likely—did a pro-Obama appointee or political hire or career staffer see that the boss had an issue with this donor, and decide to do the president an unasked-for election favor? Or did he or she simply think this was a duty, given that the president had declared Mr. VanderSloot and fellow donors “less than reputable”?

…We don’t know what happened, and that’s the problem. Entrusted with extraordinary powers, Mr. Obama has the duty to protect and defend all Americans—regardless of political ideology. By having his campaign target a private citizen for his politics, the president forswore those obligations. He both undermined public faith in federal institutions and put his employees in an impossible situation.

Every thinking American must henceforth wonder if Mr. VanderSloot has been targeted for inquiry because of his political leanings. And every federal servant must wonder if his inquiries into an Obama enemy will bring suspicion or disgrace on the agency—even if the inquiry is legitimate.

…If this isn’t a chilling glimpse of a society Americans reject, it is hard to know what is. It’s why presidents are held to different rules, and should not keep lists. And it’s why Mr. Obama has some explaining to do. [ref]

Are these audits a coincidence? I wish I could believe they were. Unfortunately there is a lot more evidence that they may not have been. Lohan and VanderSloot aren’t alone.

It’s an Honor to Audit You
Like VanderSloot, Wayne Allyn Root was also on Obama’s enemies list. Why? A long time vocal Obama opponent, and the 2008 Libertarian Party’s nominee for vice-president, Root announced that he would join the Republican party and back Mitt Romney. Subsequently, starting in January 2011, Root was audited by the IRS. [ref, ref]

According to Root, instead of an audit letter, he received a direct call from an IRS agent who claimed to be a fan of Root’s, that he read his political commentaries, visited his web site and listened to him on the radio. The agent said it would be “an honor” to audit Root. Strange. Even more strange, this supposed fan subjected Root to an unreasonable audit.

Here is some of Root’s experience in his own words:

Not too long ago an IRS agent called my home and left a message. Without waiting for a response, he immediately called my accountant. We were both shocked at how eager and excited he sounded to get started. My accountant told the IRS agent that he had my “power of attorney” and he was to speak only with the accountant from this point forward. Guess what this overzealous IRS agent did next? He immediately called me again.

My accountant remarked that in 30 years of dealing with IRS audits, he’d never heard of an IRS agent starting an investigation with a phone call to the taxpayer, then the taxpayer’s accountant, and then the taxpayer again. The IRS always sends a letter asking the taxpayer to call them. That was the tipoff something was out of the ordinary. My conversation with the IRS agent seemed odd as well.

The agent let me know that he understood that my accountant had the power of attorney and he was not allowed to speak to me. But he said he just wanted to speak with me once- because he was “my biggest fan.” He told me how he read all of my political columns (in the Las Vegas newspaper), and often listened to me on the radio (on CBS Radio, Las Vegas). Then he commented that he agreed with my politics and agreed with most everything I said. He said that he personally requested to be my auditor…and it was a great “honor” to be auditing me.

I hung up the phone and felt a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was an unsettling conversation. It was clear to me that the IRS agent was trying to imitate “Columbo” (the detective from the 1970’s hit TV show). He was playing a game, trying to win my confidence, let my guard down, to hide a more sinister motive. I immediately thought to myself, “This agent is telling a story to try to throw me off the scent of what’s really happening- an attempt to persecute and intimidate a critic of President Obama, ordered by the Obama administration.”

Soon my gut instinct was verified. My accountant called to say he’d had several conversations with the IRS agent and something seemed very different from any IRS audit he’d ever handled. This agent clearly had an agenda. He was unreasonable. He disregarded facts. He simply disallowed virtually all of my legal deductions. There was even a debate over my mortgage deduction. Soon he was auditing a second year. It got worse with each conversation.

My accountant called and said, “Wayne, it is so clear that this IRS agent is out to badly damage you. You must hire a top tax lawyer. This is like nothing I’ve ever dealt with. This not an ordinary IRS audit. You need legal representation right now.”

… Soon thereafter I found out that my accountant of 25 years–one of the finest, nicest, men I’ve ever met in my life–had also just received an IRS audit notice. For himself. Only weeks after mine. [ref]

Root did hire a lawyer. Eighteen terribly stressful months later Root emerged from tax court completely victorious. He didn’t owe a single red cent. Nothing the IRS attempted to pin on him stuck. The end? Nope. Five days later the IRS began another audit, on Root’s 2009 and 2010 tax years. The previous audit had been for 2007 and 2008. Root was stunned. Here is what he had to say:

In all his many years of practicing tax law, my tax attorney has never heard of such a situation… The new IRS agent treated my attorney the same way- with disdain. He disallowed every legal deduction- again. Same treatment all over again.

I have a perfect tax history. Not a single blemish. Thirty years of filing taxes without a problem. I was chosen at random for two audits in my life- and came out of both owing nothing, not one dollar. I’ve never been late with a tax bill in my life. I’ve never owed money on a payment plan to the IRS. Nothing. I’m a model citizen and taxpayer.

The odds of this being some random occurrence are zero. People with perfect tax records for 30 years don’t suddenly become an IRS tax target. And certainly not after winning a complete 100 percent victory in tax court only 5 days before. There is no such thing- EVER.

And I’m not a billionaire. I’m not wealthy at all. There’s nothing big to go after. This is not just a witch hunt, but a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money. Why would the IRS be persecuting (twice) a small businessman, who happens to be a vocal critic of President Obama?

The answer is my media megaphone.

That’s why this story is so chilling. If this is allowed to stand, then anyone who has an opinion that government or a politician doesn’t like, is at risk of being persecuted, harassed, intimidated, and ruined. Free speech is at risk. Today it’s me, tomorrow it could be you. Even if you’re just a small business owner. [ref]

A Laughing Matter?
In 2009, during a commencement speech at Arizona State University, referring to a controversy surrounding ASU not awarding him an honorary degree, and speaking about how he’d incorrectly picked against the Sun Devils basketball team in his NCAA bracket, Obama deadpanned that “It won’t happen again. President Crow and the board of regents will soon learn about being audited by the IRS.” [ref, ref, ref]

Obama was joking, wasn’t he? In context, yes (although his facial expression appeared serious). But government abuse of power is a disturbing thing for a person in his position to joke about. At the very least, it shows that the use of government power to intimidate, suppress or punish opponents is something that he thinks about. Maybe he thinks about it in the back of the mind, and discards the notion as something he would never do. I wish I could give him the benefit of the doubt and say I believed that was the case. I cannot. The cases of VanderSloot, Root, and even Lindsay Lohan all cast doubt on any benefit of the doubt. And these cases aren’t alone. For me the preponderance of evidence entirely wipes out any doubt.

Tax Exempt Enough Already
on June 30th, 2010, the Ohio Liberty Coalition applied for Federal Tax Exempt Status. On January 30, 2012 — 18 months later — they finally received a response from the IRS, in which the IRS requested an absurdly onerous Orwellian list of information, with a two week deadline to deliver it. You can read the IRS letter here:

Here is what Tom Zawistowski, President of the Ohio Liberty Council, had to say about the IRS request:

We have been told by people in Washington that the IRS is under specific instructions to delay and scrutinize any applications having to do with TEA Party or Liberty Groups. I ask our “representatives”, and you should be asking yours, when they are going to call the IRS in front of a Congressional Committee and demand to know if this is true, who has implemented this policy, and why?

It’s not just the absurd requests like “provide a hard copy printout of your organization’s website” and “list the social media outlets (you use to promote and publicize your organization) and provide hardcopy printouts of those outlets.” Take a look at how many pieces of paper that takes. They don’t just want the URL of our website, they want a hard copy, and yes they want us to fax it to them, not email a PDF – I am not kidding. How about asking us to provide a list of anyone we invite to speak to our groups, including their “qualification” and contact information, and provide hard copies of everything that was handed out, and a list of everyone who attends those events? You like that one?

How about wanting the “name, address, and corporate federal ID of all organizations that are members of our organization” or who attend one of our events? What does that have to do with our organization being classified as being not-for-profit? Do you think that is not government overreaching? Best of all, in the cover letter, they inform us that once we provide this information, they will then make it all public!!! Does this sound more to you like something the KGB would want to determine if you are a threat to the “cause” Comrade? You haven’t gotten the half of it. Print out the PDF. Then read it carefully, because it will scare you and then it will make you VERY angry. [ref]

The IRS letter demands are indeed absurd, and it absolutely overreaches. Two years to get that response? Then two weeks to reply? It is clear that the IRS is being used to impede the formation and progress of organizations that would oppose Obama’s liberal agenda.

Another example comes from The Kentucky 9/12 Project, a group promoting “self-governing leadership”, and teaching that “to impact the restoration and long lasting preservation of our republic, citizens must be men and women of virtue”. On February 27, 2012, they released a press release accusing the IRS of using its power to harm them and other groups like them. Here are some excerpts from their press release:

On February 14, 2012 the Kentucky 9/12 Project joined close to 80 liberty groups from around the country the IRS has targeted and is attempting to regulate out of existence. Even though many of these groups have filed for Not-for-Profit status at various times (over the past three years) all have received IRS inquiries and responses in just the last three months.

The Kentucky 9/12 Project filed for a 501(c)(4) status in December of 2010. They received their first correspondence almost immediately back from their application saying there would be a determination within 90 days. Since then all of their activities, relations, and dealings have fallen well within the bonds of that which defines this status. Despite this and with no reference to any issues with its original application or specific concerns almost 14 months later they received a letter (dated February 14) requesting detailed documentation to answer 30 questions with sub-bullets (88 total separate inquiries) and only a two-week period to comply. Even more alarming to directors of the group were the personal information the IRS were requesting and overreaching questions.

Various Tea Parties, 9/12 Project, and Liberty groups around the country are coming forward with very similar oppressive demands being sent to them from the IRS as well. [ref].

The Richmond Tea Party issued a similar press release on February 16, 2012:

On December 28, 2009, RTP applied to become a 501(c)(4) organization. After nearly ten months, the IRS finally responded with a letter (dated September 17, 2010), requesting detailed documentation to satisfy 17 questions, giving RTP only a two-week window in which to finish… We fully complied, providing over 500 pages of documentation. We received no response for over a year. Eventually the IRS sent a letter dated January 9, 2012, thanking us for our “complete and thorough responses” from the first request, but then asking us to answer 12 additional questions in 53 separate parts, including the totally inappropriate request for a full list of our donors and volunteers. We were given the same two-week timeframe for completion. It should be noted that this most recent letter was issued on the same day that the IRS issued a new 45-section bulletin regarding applications for tax-exempt status.

This illustrates everything the American people find unacceptable from their government. A simple request for tax-exempt status should not take years to complete, involve hundreds of pages of documentation, require hundreds of volunteer hours, and request private information we should never have to disclose. This grants the Federal Government the dangerous power to selectively stymie those voices with which they disagree, bogging them down in endless paperwork and compliance costs so that they are unable to spend time serving the principles they founded their organization to advance. [ref]

The Ohio Liberty Coalition, The Kentucky 9/12 Project and The Richmond Tea Party had the courage to publicly expose their politically-motivated abuse at the hands of the IRS. Many more were silenced, which is exactly what the Obama administration intends.

Roger Hedgecock of Human Events ties the IRS treatment of these liberty and Tea Party groups to their opposition to Obamacare, and predicts that the thousands of additional IRS agents mandated by Obamacare will be politically and financially motivated to go after ObamaCare’s opponents:

Tea Party and other grassroots patriot groups are intimidated by the IRS letters, whatever bluster to the contrary you read on their websites.  The purpose of these IRS letters is plainly to silence the opposition voices as the ObamaCare regulations roll out.

Who in these groups is really ready to stand up to an IRS audit as the price of speaking out in opposition to ObamaCare?  Even if the audit finds nothing amiss, the cost of defending against it could bankrupt an individual or small business.

Compliance with ObamaCare is policed by the IRS.  Last month, Obama’s proposed federal budget added $1.1 Billion to the IRS budget to hire over 5000 new IRS agents to oversee the implementation of ObamaCare.

These new unionized IRS agents are the front wave of suppression of opposition to ObamaCare. If ObamaCare were repealed, they would be out of a job.

Ronald Reagan warned that a government agency is the nearest thing on earth to eternal life. Before this gargantuan new government bureaucracy is established beyond citizen control, and before we are all on the enemies list, ObamaCare must be repealed. [ref]

I think Hedgecock is right, although I’ll bet that the audits carried out by the additional 5,000 IRS agents won’t be limited to just opponents of ObamaCare.

Don’t Bet Against Obama
Two big names in Vegas, both critics of Obama, and Republican donors, bet against Obama and lost big. Yes, they lost big when Obama won reelection. But that isn’t the loss I’m talking about. Both of these Obama opponents ended up being targeted by the feds, in different ways.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson donated around $70 million to Republican candidates, and this past summer confidential information about federal investigations into his Las Vegas Sands Corp. began appearing in the mainstream media.

Adelson accused the Obama administration of leaking the information to the media. “The aim is making me toxic so that they can make the argument to the Republicans, ‘This guy is toxic. Don’t do business with him. Don’t take his money.'” [ref]

Whether Adelson is guilty of the charges is not an issue here. The question is whether, as Adelson claims, the leaks were politically motivated, intended to damage his reputation, hinder his influence, and sully Republican recipients of his donations. I think they were, but you must judge for yourself. So I submit bet-against-Obama exhibit number two, Steve Wynn.

Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, Steve Wynn was for several years a vocal critic of the Obama administration, and a deep-pocketed Republican donor. But two months before the 2012 election, Wynn disappeared from the political airwaves. What happened? Nobody knows for sure, but a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into Wynn Resorts just might have had something to do with it. What would you do if you were in Wynn’s shoes? [ref]

Nixon Has Company
Joseph Farah is another Obama critic who was recently subjected to an IRS audit, which he predicted would happen [ref]. Yes, I suppose the audit could have been coincidental, but there is a pattern here, and Obama wouldn’t be the only president in recent history to use government power to go after political foes. Nixon was infamous for his enemies list [ref]. More recently, Farah claims that the Clinton administration targeted the news organization he works at:

During Bill Clinton’s administration, my news organization was singled out for a nine-month-long IRS proctological investigation, suggested in a memo from the White House and signed by Clinton personally. The agent who conducted the investigation admitted it was “political” and asked matter-of-factly in one meeting before witnesses, “What do you expect to happen when you go after the president of the United States in an election year?” [ref]

What should happen to a person or organization that opposes the POTUS during an election year? Absolutely nothing. There should be no harassment, intimidation or retribution. It is a God-given and Constitutionally protected right to speak out against those in public office, to oppose their policies and election, regardless of who they are, or what race they are, or how many people voted for them. In fact, it is good for democracy to have public debate and disagreement, whereas it is an affront to democracy for a sitting president, or even a presidential candidate, to have and publish an enemies list. Actually going after political enemies using taxpayer funded institutions is an absolute atrocity.

No, I don’t know for sure that Obama is behind the audits, investigations and stonewalling chronicled in this article. I do know that reason and logic tell me that he is. I also know that any such behavior violates the Rule of Law, and threatens our freedom.