Blog Posts by Chris Moody

  • IRS commissioner says agency practices were ‘absolutely not illegal’

    Outgoing Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service Steven Miller. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

    Outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller apologized Friday on behalf of the federal tax collection agency for unfairly targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. But Miller insisted the practice was "absolutely not illegal."

    The IRS is under fire for placing heavier scrutiny on organizations with words like "tea party" or "patriots" in their name when they applied for nonprofit status between 2010 and 2012, according to a report unveiled this week by the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration.

    "It is absolutely not illegal," Miller said during an exchange with Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price during a four-hour House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

    "Do you believe it is illegal for employees of the IRS to create lists, to target individual groups and citizens in this country?" Price responded.

    "I think the Treasury inspector general indicated it might not be, but others will be able to tell that," Miller said.

    "What do you believe?" Price

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  • House Republicans make repealing Obamacare an annual tradition

    John Boehner walks away from a printed version of Obamacare regulations. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    In what has become an annual tradition, the Republican-led House of Representatives on Thursday voted again to fully repeal the federal health care law passed by Democrats and signed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

    The House first voted for full repeal in January 2011 when Republicans took control of the chamber, and again in July 2012 after the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the law was constitutional. Thursday's vote marks the third time the House has passed full repeal, but the first since members were sworn in to the 113th Congress in January. Like the votes in 2011 and 2012, the measure will die with the House as the Democrat-majority Senate is not expected to take up the repeal bill.

    Republican leaders defended the decision to hold another vote on the bill on Thursday, while Democrats chastised them for holding the same vote repeatedly.

    "Some critics have suggested it's a waste of time," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters at his weekly press briefing on Thursday.

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  • Pelosi: GOP using IRS, Benghazi and DOJ issues as ‘evasion’ tactic

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of using the alleged scandals involving the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Justice and the State Department as an "evasion" from passing bills she said would increase job growth.

    Over the past few weeks, the IRS admitted to targeting conservative groups applying for nonprofit status and the Department of Justice seized AP journalists' phone records. Earlier this week, the White House provided more details about the Obama administration's initial response to last year's attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya.

    Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Pelosi called the IRS and DOJ issues "legitimate"—she condemned the IRS' practices outright—but suggested that Republicans were trying to exploit them for political gain.

    "Any issue that comes up, they will try to exploit," Pelosi said. "And some of them are legitimate issues, but they should not dominate everything. And so, what I think is that they have used talking

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  • MediaTrackers.org

    In May 2011, Drew Ryun, a conservative activist and former Republican National Committee staffer, began filling out the Internal Revenue Service application to achieve nonprofit status for a new conservative watchdog group.

    He submitted the paperwork to the IRS in July 2011 for a research site called Media Trackers, which calls itself a "non-partisan investigative watchdog dedicated to promoting accountability in the media and government." Although the site has investigated Republicans like Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the site's organizers are unapologetically conservative.

    "One thing we don't hide is: 'Yeah, we're conservative—free-market, free-enterprise, full-spectrum conservative,'" Ryun told Mother Jones magazine last year.

    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 nonprofit status as a 501(c)3

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  • Democrats to launch robocall effort against House members who support Obamacare repeal

    House Democrats will begin making robocalls to voters in 10 congressional districts Wednesday that target Republican lawmakers who support a new effort to repeal the 2010 federal health care law.

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is paying for the calls, which according to a script obtained by Yahoo News, will warn voters that Republicans support putting "insurance companies back in charge of your health care."

    “The Republican Congress is scheduled to vote tomorrow to put insurance companies back in charge of your health care and repeal vital consumer protections and benefits that you’ve earned," the voice on the call will say. “And your Congressman might be part of the problem. Tell [your congressman] to stand up for middle class families here in California—and don't help the Republican Congress give insurance companies more control over your life."

    House Republican leaders are planning to vote Thursday on a stand-alone, full-scale repeal of the law, which is expected to

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  • How your tea party group got added to the IRS’ ‘Be On the Look Out’ list

    Screen shot from the inspector general report

    This screen shot is taken from an official review of the Internal Revenue Service's practices for determining which groups were eligible for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012.

    The report, written by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and obtained by Yahoo News on Tuesday, details missteps the IRS took in targeting certain political groups for additional scrutiny.

    The audit confirms previous reports that the IRS flagged applications from organizations that used words like "tea party" and "patriots" in their title. Even groups that said they wanted to advocate for making "America a better place to live" were placed on a "Be On the Look Out," or BOLO, list.

    From the report:

    In May 2010, the Determinations Unit began developing a spreadsheet that would become known as the “Be On the Look Out” listing (hereafter referred to as the BOLO listing), which included the emerging issue of Tea Party applications. In June 2010, the Determinations Unit began training its

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  • Top Senate Democrat: DOJ action against AP ‘inexcusable’

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    While the White House remains quiet about whether the Justice Department was right to seize the phone records of Associated Press reporters, on Capitol Hill the top Democrat in the Senate was unequivocal about his opposition.

    In his weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., blasted the DOJ for its behavior, which included tracking reporters' phone records within the House press gallery over a leak related to an attempted terror plot last year.

    "I have trouble defending what the Justice Department did in looking at the AP," Reid said. "I really believe in the First Amendment. I think it's one of the great things we have as a country. I don't know who did it or why it was done, but it was inexcusable. There is no way to justify this. In my career, I've stood consistently for freedom of the press."

    Reid added that he would make a determination about whether "legislative action" is needed in response.

    Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday defended the

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  • In scandal-plagued Washington, lawmaker struggles to keep track of issues

    Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    With the rumbling of so much scandal ripping through Washington this week—woeful stories about Benghazi, the DOJ subpoena of journalists' phone records and the IRS unfairly targeting conservative groups—it's hard to keep track of all the terrible.

    Even lawmakers sometimes struggle.

    At Rep. Steny Hoyer's weekly meeting with reporters on Tuesday, the Maryland Democrat was asked if he was concerned about the DOJ seizing phone records from Associated Press journalists working in the House press gallery in the Capitol building.

    Hoyer's answer was well-delivered: Articulate, clear, firm and precise.

    One problem: He responded to the wrong scandal.

    "The IRS activity was inappropriate, inconsistent with our policies and practices as a country, very concerning, needs to be reviewed carefully," Hoyer, one of the top-ranking House Democrats, said in response to a question from Fox News' Chad Pergram about the DOJ. "We need to ensure that this does not happen again, and we need to find out how

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  • House panel to formally question IRS commissioner Friday

    House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

    The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a formal hearing Friday to probe the Internal Revenue Service for placing heavier scrutiny on conservative groups that applied for nonprofit status between 2010 and 2012.

    IRS Commissioner Steve Miller and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George are expected to testify Friday morning during the hearing, which committee leaders said would examine the agency's "practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings."

    The IRS last week apologized for targeting groups that advocate for limited government by requiring them to fulfill onerous requirements before receiving tax-exempt status. A report from the inspector general detailing the agency's practices is expected to be published later this week.

    "News that the agency admits it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both astounding and appalling," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, in

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  • IRS commissioner was grilled on targeting conservatives earlier than first thought

    IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Jan. 26, 2012. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    News reports about how the Internal Revenue Service applied heavier scrutiny on conservative political organizations applying for tax-exempt status have pointed to a March 22, 2012, House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee hearing in which IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman denied any wrongdoing. But that wasn't the first time lawmakers grilled him about the IRS' practices.

    During a Financial Services subcommittee hearing the day before, on March 21, 2012, Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves also questioned Shulman about similar concerns. Shulman pushed back against allegations that the IRS was targeting groups that advocated for limited government, just as he did at the subsequent Ways and Means subcommittee hearing.

    At the March 21 hearing, Graves pointed to concerns from tea party groups that the IRS had unfairly scrutinized them with burdensome questions because of their political ideology. Shulman, who was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush and whose five-year term

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