When House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas,
announced Aug. 2 that the Joint Committee on Taxation was still
conducting an investigation of politically motivated Internal Revenue
Service audits after two-and-a-half years, he evidently forgot to let
his staffers know this.

In response to allegations that the 1996 audit of WorldNetDaily’s
parent company, Western Journalism Center, was politically motivated,
the Internet newspaper’s readers flooded Archer’s office as well as the
offices of their local representatives, with e-mail and letters. One
concerned reader, Bill Vendramin, wrote his congressman, Rep. Peter J.
Visclosky, D-Indiana, asking him to help Archer in the continuing
investigation of IRS procedures. However, the congressman wrote back
saying Archer was not aware of any investigation.

“I have contacted Chairman Archer regarding this investigation, and
have been informed that he is neither conducting one, nor is he aware
of, an ongoing investigation into these allegations,” Visclosky wrote in
a letter dated Aug. 5 to Vendramin.

However, as was reported earlier by WorldNetDaily,
Archer had stated in an Aug. 2 press release from the House Ways and
Means Committee he would continue to “monitor the progress of the JCT’s
(Joint Committee on Taxation’s) investigation.”

The subject of this investigation was explained by Archer earlier in
the press statement: “On March 24, 1997, in coordination with the Senate
Finance Committee, I requested the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT)
investigate allegations the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had targeted
certain tax-exempt organizations with audits for political reasons.”

“Unfortunately, due to the investigation’s complexity, scope, and
because it involved privileged information about individual tax returns,
the committee’s final report has been delayed considerably beyond our
original hopes,” continued Archer. “This investigation has become far
more voluminous than was originally anticipated.”

Archer went on to explain he takes allegations of IRS harassment of
political enemies “very seriously” and will “follow the JCT’s
investigation with interest.”

To verify the letter Visclosky sent to Vendramin, WorldNetDaily
contacted the congressman’s office and spoke with Josh Geise,
Visclosky’s press secretary.

“I called Bill Archer’s personal office. I called House Ways and
Committee and their subcommittee on oversight, and all three told me
that there was no investigation,” said Geise. “All three confirmed
basically what we sent to Mr. Vendramin in the letter.”

WorldNetDaily had earlier attempted to contact Archer’s office in an
attempt to straighten out the confusion about the investigation but were
told no one other than press secretary Sean Rushton could speak on the
issue. Rushton, however, was out of town.

When Geise was asked why WorldNetDaily had not been allowed to speak
with the very people he had talked with, Geise said it was because the
people he talked to were staffers that probably wouldn’t want to talk to
the press.

“The thing is, because you’re press, they probably only want you to
talk to a press secretary,” explained Geise. “We can call people at the
staff level. That’s what’s going on. The people that I’m talking to
unfortunately — and you know how this works — won’t be able to talk to
you for their own internal policy reasons, so that’s why you have to
talk to their press person.”

WorldNetDaily Editor Joseph Farah first made accusations the audit of
Western Journalism Center was politically motivated when Thomas
Cederquist, the Sacramento-based IRS agent in charge of the 1996 audit,
stated the case was a “political case” and “the decisions were being
made at the national level.”

Farah received additional evidence last July through a Freedom of
Information Act request which seems to confirm Cederquist’s remarks.
The evidence comes from a heavily redacted 1997 Treasury Department
Report about the center titled, “Questionable Exempt Organization

The report said, “The audit originated from a taxpayer who faxed a
letter to the White House expressing his concern over a one-page
advertisement paid for by WCJ (Western Center for Journalism) that asked
for contributions to investigate (White House deputy counsel Vincent)
Foster’s death. The fax was forwarded to the EO (Exempt Organizations)
National Office and then to the respective Key District Office for
appropriate actions.”

Earlier stories:

  • IRS, White House mum on audit of reporters
  • Clinton IRS abuse worse than Nixon?
  • IRS buries file in political audit

  • IRS eyed tax records of critical journalist
  • Documents tie Clinton to audit of journalists
  • Journalists fight IRS in new FOIA suit
  • Congress backs off IRS probe
  • Additional background articles

  • Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.