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Political audits? Everyone does it

A long-awaited report from the Associated Press on
politically motivated audits by the Internal Revenue Service reveals
what the Clinton administration strategy will be as it faces a
near-certain “guilty” verdict in the courtroom.

The strategy should be very familiar to us all after seven years of
White House law-breaking: “Everyone does it.”

What a disappointment was the AP report by Larry Margasak and John
Solomon! And now it becomes obvious why the congressional investigation
into the use of the IRS as a weapon against political enemies has gone
nowhere.

The first official named in the report is not Bill Clinton, it is
Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, the chairman of the Joint Committee on
Taxation, whose committee launched the probe in 1997, following my own
disclosures about the scandal in the Wall Street Journal. Archer’s
investigation quickly resulted in the resignation of Margaret Milner
Richardson, the commissioner of the IRS. But three years later, there’s
still no conclusion to the probe, no reports and no definitive word on
when the public can expect one.

I am convinced this story explains the delay. As soon as Archer stood
up and questioned the propriety and legality of the White House
directing IRS audits of political enemies, someone pointed the finger
right back at him — just as the AP article does.

After all, everyone does it.

And that’s the feel of this AP report. That’s the context. That’s the
obvious conclusion.

It wasn’t that many years ago — during the Watergate era — that the
American public, Congress and the press all agreed that the political
abuse of the IRS was an unacceptable crime, an impeachable offense.
Today we’re being conditioned to accept the fact that everyone does it
— Republicans and Democrats alike, members of Congress and officials in
the White House.

While that is certainly true, there are some distinctions to be made.

Archer’s request for an audit of Al Gore’s favorite Buddhist Temple
was a righteous call — borne out by the fact that the religious group
was named later as an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment of a
Democratic Party fund-raiser. And there is no indication from the AP
report that the IRS actually followed Archer’s call.

On the other hand, we now know with certainty, thanks to a report by
Clinton’s own Treasury Department, that the White House was successful
in launching an audit against my news organization, the Western
Journalism Center, in 1996. Even the AP confirms this fact.

What it fails to mention, however, is the fact that the center has
filed a $10 million lawsuit against IRS and White House officials for
the conduct of that illegal audit. We’ve got the goods. We’ve got the
case. The Western Journalism Center and
Judicial Watch are ready to nail the Clinton
administration on this rap. A little detail conveniently omitted by the
AP, as well, was any interview with me or any reference to the
journalist who raised the issue in the first place.

The AP also mislabels the center as a “conservative” organization. It
is not. It is a news organization and one of the few that has had the
guts to investigate Clinton administration corruption from the
beginning.

And listen to this incredible line from the AP report: “The IRS says
less than 1 percent of the 6,000 to 10,000 audits of tax-exempt groups
each year originate with complaints from lawmakers or the White House.”
I guess we’re supposed to be gratified that ONLY 60 to 100 non-profits
are targeted for political reasons by government officials every year!
If only one group is so targeted, it is a miscarriage of justice and
demands punishment and remedy.

Those numbers also hide the bigger crime. Why is the AP only looking
at abuse of non-profits? That was what I first examined in October 1996
when my group was victimized. But the problem is far more widespread.
For-profit businesses are also audited for political reasons. Is that
any less of a crime? And what about individuals such as Paula Jones,
Billy Dale and Elizabeth Ward Gracen? Is America supposed to accept the
fact that if you cross the president of the United States you are
subject to political harassment by the IRS?

I guess I should be gratified that the AP has confirmed much of what
I have been reporting for the last three years. I am not. I will not be
satisfied until the full truth is known to the American people. I will
not stop hammering on this story until the elected officials and petty
bureaucrats responsible for this kind of police-state activity are
safely locked behind bars.