At least four investigations are getting under way into the Obama administration’s campaign through the Internal Revenue Service to target and harass conservative organizations, so what’s the best response for a president?
Said the report today about Obama’s plan to visit again the New Jersey shore struck by superstorm Sandy last year, “It’s a respite from controversies that have put his administration on the defensive.”
The strategy apparently worked over the weekend. That’s when he already went to visit the tornado-ravaged Moore, Oka., to console people there and to Arlington National Cemetery to use a speech to mark Memorial Day.
The Journal explained about Obama, “His administration faces a trio of controversies that weighed down the White House’s agenda. The trip comes after a weekend visit to tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla., and offers the president another chance to change the subject from revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted tea-party groups and the Justice Department seized Associated Press phone records and targeted a Fox news reporter, and from Republican investigations into the lethal Benghazi attacks.”
The report from Michael Catalini continued by noting that the president’s approval rating hasn’t changed, yet. “If history is any guide, it may take up to two months for the public to ding the president’s job approval over the scandals,” he wrote.
In the IRS controversy, the agency admitted it harassed people from conservative organizations with unnecessary and probably illegal questions in order to delay their permission to operate, so as to keep them from influencing voters with their critical messages during the 2012 election.
First, the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee has acquired “all communications containing the word ‘tea party,’ ‘patriot,’ or ‘conservative,’” from former IRS acting director Steven Miller.
Chairman Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., also is actively seeking horror stories from Americans to be part of the investigation.
The IRS troubles had been discussed for months, but came suddenly to a head when Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George reported that IRS specialists gathered in April 2010 to “process the tax-exempt nonprofit status of conservative groups that might be ‘potential political operations.’”
Secondly, according to the report, The House Oversight Committee, through Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has been investigating.
Issa turned down a call by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for a special prosecutor, telling reporters, “When I can’t do my job because I lack the authority or cooperation, I’ll seek additional remedies.”
Issa has refused to dismiss the ideas that the Treasury Department and White House are involved.
The Daily Caller said the Senate Finance Committee is looking into the improper targeting of conservatives. Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said such behavior is “intolerable.”
Finally, the new commissioner of the IRS, DannyWerfel, claims that a full investigation will be done to “make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The Hill described Obama’s efforts to bring attention to issues other than the IRS as “one more day of respite.”
“Both weekend occasions (Moore, Okla., and Arlington National Cemetery) permitted Obama to appear above the fray – the commander in chief and consoler in chief, respectively – rather than as a political figure pinned down in the Washington trenches.”
Niall Stanage reported there that in Oklahoma, Obama said, “I’m just a messenger here today, letting everybody here know that you are not alone, that you’ve got folks behind you.”
And at Arlington, Obama even put away “his contempt for the political culture of the nation’s capital” to say it was on that “hallowed ground, where we choose to build a monument to a constant thread in the American character.”
Obama’s staff members took up the charge to deny others’ political questions, even while leveling through own political charges.
The Hill said deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told a reporter, “It’s not a day for politics.”
But then he continued, “That said, I think it is evident to any impartial observer here what an important role the federal government can play in providing assistance to our people at their time of urgent need.”
He took a swipe, too, at the emergency response for which people blame President George W. Bush.
“And you talk about an agency like FEMA that, when this president took office, did not have a very good reputation,” Earnest said.
The Daily Caller reported that Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is of the opinion that the Obama administration won’t get things fixed by itself.
He specifically was referencing the appointment of Werfel, a “White House insider,” to fix the IRS.
“With trust in the federal government at an all-time low, placing a White house insider in charge of an agency whose leadership willfully misled Congress and targeted American people for exercising free speech does absolutely nothing to restore the public’s confidence in Washington,” he said.
It said True the Vote, which was targeted in the campaign, has sued not just the agency, but the individual employees of the IRS who conducted the campaign.
“Those employees could personally be held liable to pay damages that would be established in litigation,” the report said.
True the Vote attorney Cleta Mitchell aid, “Their unlawful actions caused my clients to have to come up with the money to deal with their demands … out of their own personal finances. They didn’t seem to worry/care about that. Government employees never do care about the costs to private citizens of their burdensome demands…”