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More politicization of the IRS

Posted By Joseph Farah On 11/24/1997 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

A retired activist in California got an Internal Revenue Service audit notice one month after writing President Clinton a blistering letter criticizing his character. Coincidence?

The filmmaker who directed “Waco: Rules of Engagement,” a documentary critical of the administration has also been targeted. Coincidence?

Board members, consultants, major donors, advisers and other individuals associated with the my organization, the Western Journalism Center, got audited or otherwise threatened by the IRS after the group was targeted for action in a 1994 White House memo later released to congressional investigators. Coincidence?

Maybe. But then there’s Paula Jones, a homemaker suing President Clinton for sexual harassment who received an audit notice a week after rejecting a settlement offer from the White House. And there’s White House Travel Office Director Billy Dale, fired from his job, replaced by Clinton cronies. When he raised a fuss, he was charged with embezzlement. Though Dale was cleared of all charges, he, too, was audited by the IRS. And don’t forget the story of Kent Masterson Brown, the lawyer who successfully sued to open up Hillary Clinton’s secret health care task force meetings. He not only was audited, but was denied an honorary reappointment as chairman of a National Park Service historical commission. And how about Walter Gazecki, the filmmaker responsible for “Waco: The Rules of Engagement,” a hard-hitting documentary critical of the administration’s handling of the Branch Davidian crisis. He, too, is in receipt of a letter. More coincidences?

Still, the White House sticks to its story that the agency has not been used for political purposes during this administration. At what point will Congress and the press begin seriously investigating this most serious, impeachable offense? How many coincidences does it take?

The Joint Committee on Taxation announced a probe almost a year ago, promising a report last September. The staff has reportedly just begun conducting some interviews. One of those questioned tells me the committee looking for that elusive “smoking gun” that will connect the IRS and direction from the White House. How many hideously obvious acts of abuse of power constitute a smoking gun?

Yet, even this evidence is merely the tip of a Titanic-size iceberg. There has still been no probe of why at least 20 public policy organizations critical of administration policies were audited while none supportive of the administration have been since 1993. Another coincidence?

Patricia Mendoza spontaneously hurled an insult at the president during a 1996 campaign stop. She and her husband were whisked away by Secret Service agents, charged with disorderly conduct — charges later dismissed. A month later, the couple was threatened with seizure of their property for failure to pay back income taxes of $200. Only after the case received a massive amount of publicity on national talk radio did the IRS drop it, chalking up the controversy to a “computer error.”

My independent group of investigative reporters, the Western Journalism Center discovered, and reported in its Internet newspaper WorldNetDaily.com last week, such “mistakes” are all too common among those who even question administration policies. Take the case of Margie Gray, a retired California housewife-activist who, in July, e-mailed Clinton a non-threatening letter accusing him of setting a bad example for today’s young people. A month later, the IRS claimed she owed $3,500 in interest due to an error on her 1991 tax return. Trouble is, Margie Gray never filed a return that year or any other year. She files jointly with her husband. The case is still pending.

After that story appeared, a friend told me a similar anecdote. He e-mailed the White House and requested a list of those who had stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton administration. A month later he received an audit notice.

The center, also subjected to an audit of its 1994 and 1995 returns, has been the focal point of a great deal of IRS activity. One member of the four-person board of directors was audited. Another was threatened with property seizure for a tax debt. Another quit citing the fear of being audited. At least two of the center’s top donors were audited. Some high-profile consultants used in the center’s investigations into White House scandals were targeted by the IRS. Shelly Davis, author of “Unbridled Power,” an expose of IRS policies and actions based on her tenure as the agency’s historian and a recent addition to the center’s board of advisers, has also received a letter demanding back taxes and interest on a home she co-owns.

Still, Congress sits by — or, worse yet, congratulates itself for passing more “reform” legislation and creating more “taxpayer rights.” What about the original Bill of Rights? What about the Constitution? If that document and its “inalienable rights” doesn’t mean anything to government officials anymore, how reliable will these newly created paper “rights” be?


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