A congressional investigation into politically-motivated audits
performed by the Internal Revenue Service at
the behest of the Clinton White House
has concluded after more than three years, and a report of the probe’s
findings is set to be released at the end of next week, WorldNetDaily
was told by congressional staff.
The Joint Committee on Taxation
launched the probe in 1997 after congressional offices were bombarded
with correspondence decrying the suspicious targeting for IRS audits of
non-profit organizations critical of the Clinton administration. One of
the groups thus audited was the Western Journalism Center, founded by
WorldNetDaily Editor and CEO Joseph Farah.
When WJC’s audit began in 1996, Farah filed a Freedom of Information
Act request for documentation related to the audit’s origin. After
numerous delays, the IRS and Treasury Department finally produced nearly
1,000 pages of information, many of which were heavily redacted.
Included in the documents was a letter written by Beverly Hills
resident Paul Venze to the White House questioning the legitimacy of the
center’s non-profit status, since it was leading an investigation into
the circumstances of the controversial death of White House Deputy
Counsel Vincent Foster.
According to the Treasury Department’s report titled, “Questionable
Exempt Organization Examination Activity,” the White House faxed Venze’s
letter to the IRS.
Contradicting IRS officials and their Justice Department lawyers in
two suits pending against the agency by the center and its legal
counsel, Judicial Watch the Treasury
report states unequivocally and repeatedly that the audit began with a
letter forwarded from the White House to the IRS.
“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
Foster’s death,” explained the official Treasury Department report. “The
fax was forwarded to the EO (Exempt Organizations) National Office and
then to the respective Key District Office for appropriate actions.”
After Farah blew the whistle on the case and a pattern of other
seemingly political audits in October 1996 in the Wall Street Journal, a
firestorm of protest ensued, resulting in the congressional
investigation, as well as the resignation of IRS Commissioner Margaret
The IRS eventually closed the case against the Western Journalism
Center, finding no evidence of wrongdoing, and extending the center’s
In a prepared statement sent last year to many who made inquiries
about the status of the probe, Joint Committee Chairman Bill Archer,
R-Texas, explained the delays.
“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,” Archer said. “This investigation has become far more
voluminous than was originally anticipated. As my original letter to the
JCT (Joint Committee on Taxation) makes clear, I take allegations of IRS
harassment of ‘political enemies’ very seriously and follow the JCT’s
investigation with interest. I have forwarded to the committee all
specific information in my possession on the matter, gathered from
personal correspondence and interviews.”
Despite Archer’s commitment to take IRS abuses “seriously,” no member
of Congress, nor any staff member, has asked Farah or the center for the
documents obtained from the Treasury Department — information seemingly
critical to the investigation.
The Western Journalism Center had been on Clinton’s “hit list” long
before the IRS audit of 1996. A White House counsel’s memo, written by
Jane Sherburne in December 1994, lists the center as a major concern
with regard to its coverage of the Vincent Foster death story. In 1995,
the White House counsel’s office, in conjunction with the Democratic
National Committee, produced and distributed at taxpayer expense a
331-page report called “Communication Stream of Conspiracy
in which the White House alleges the center has directed a vast,
international media plot to discredit President Clinton.
Staff in the joint committee told WorldNetDaily the report is being
held up by committee members who requested to review the document before
it is released to the public. Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, who chairs the committee, and Rep.
Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., ranking Democrat
of the House Ways and Committee, have yet to read the report.
Senators Bill Roth, R-Del. and
Daniel Moynihan, D-N.Y. also
asked to review the committee report.
According to committee staff, the report should be made public on or
about March 17.