Few federal agencies are more feared and loathed by Americans than the Internal Revenue Service – especially when corrupt presidents abuse the power of the IRS to harass and exact revenge on political enemies.
Several administrations have purportedly used the IRS to attack their foes, including those of Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Most recently, President Obama’s administration has admitted to using the agency to target conservative organizations filing for tax-exempt status as well as their donors. Obama claimed there is no IRS scandal and insisted there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. WND has also unearthed a major bombshell in connection with Obama’s IRS, revealing that the agency contracts with an avowedly “progressive” organization supported by George Soros to process data filed on Form 990 documentation by smaller tax-exempt groups.
In 2002, Judicial Watch – the watchdog group that had filed more than 50 legal actions against the Clinton administration and afterward found itself in the IRS’ cross-hairs – reported an IRS official admitted that the Clinton administration targeted its legal opponents with tax audits.
“What do you expect when you sue the president?” then-senior IRS official Paul Breslan asked Judicial Watch, which became a target of an audit in 1998 after it filed an impeachment report against Clinton.
In his 1999 column, “Clinton’s IRS gestapo,” WND Editor Joseph Farah wrote, “In a very real way, the IRS has been Clinton’s secret police agency – the go-to guys when no other punishment will do.”
As WND has reported, during Clinton’s term in office, IRS audits were conducted against individuals and groups who caused problems for the administration. Several prominent conservative groups found themselves facing IRS audits following their criticism of the president and his policies. Among the conservative groups targeted for audits were the Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association, Concerned Women of America, Citizens Against Government Waste, National Review, American Spectator (which was burglarized three times), the National Center for Public Policy Research, the American Policy Center, American Cause, Citizens for Honest Government, Progress and Freedom Foundation, David Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture and the Western Journalism Center.
Internal White House memoranda released to congressional investigators showed that as early as December 1994, the Western Journalism Center was targeted by the Clinton administration for some kind of action. An internal memo prepared that month by associate counsel Jane Sherburne, and released to congressional investigators in 1996, listed the group, and one of its reporters, Christopher Ruddy, as subjects of concern. Ruddy and the center had come to national attention because of ground-breaking investigative reporting on the mysterious death of White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster Jr. When an IRS field agent came knocking on the center’s door, he was open about the motivations for the audit: “This is a political case, and the decision is going to be made at the national level,” he reportedly told the organization’s accountant.
Individuals singled out for audits during the administration included Clinton paramours Gennifer Flowers and Liz Ward Gracen, sexual assault accusers Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick, fired White House Travel Office Director Billy Dale and attorney Kent Masterson Brown. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, an outspoken Clinton critic, said he was audited three times during Clinton’s presidency.
Dick Morris, a former Clinton aide, told Matt Drudge on his Fox News TV show in 1999 that Senate impeachment investigators he met with feared retaliation by the Clinton administration – specifically in the form of audits by the Internal Revenue Service. Morris also said three veteran investigators with FBI, IRS and other law-enforcement experience expressed fear for their lives. The investigators asked Morris if he was afraid of testifying against Clinton and whether he knew about the “list of 25 people who have died in mysterious circumstances in connection with this investigation.”
“And one of them said I guarantee you that each of us will have an IRS audit when this is over,” Morris said. “He said, ‘I’m saving my receipts. I know that I am going to have an audit.’ And I said, ‘How does that work?’ And he said, ‘Well, the head of the IRS and Hillary are very good friends.’”
In the case of Paula Jones, the IRS leaked her confidential tax filings to the New York Daily News, which tried to show Jones was making a profit off her sexual harassment claims against Clinton. Jones was targeted for an income tax audit along with her husband, Stephen. The notice from the IRS arrived just five days after Jones rejected a settlement offer from the White House.
And when actress Liz Ward Gracen admitted to having a sexual relationship with Clinton, she revealed she was threatened with an IRS audit if she didn’t stay quiet about the affair.
The Clinton administration didn’t limit the IRS audits to only its most public critics.
In 1997, Californian Margie Gray sent an e-mail to Clinton. It wasn’t “threatening,” she told WND. “I just told him how sad it was that parents today are not able to say to their children, ‘Maybe someday you can be president.’” Why not? “Because he was immoral, unethical and dishonest.” Clinton had dishonored the office, she believed.
Less than a month later, Gray received a letter from the IRS claiming she owed $3,500 in interest since 1991 due to a “mistake” she had made on her personal income tax return for that year. There was just one problem: The Grays didn’t file separate returns; they filed jointly. She and her husband spoke with an accountant and an IRS employee about the matter.
“Neither of them could understand why the IRS would be writing to me since we only file jointly,” she said. “There were no mistakes in our return.” The Grays said they wrote the IRS a response to the notice but didn’t receive a reply.
Gray told WND she believed she was selectively targeted not only for her critical note to Clinton but for other political correspondence as well. After her retirement, the former San Francisco Bay Area businesswoman had become an Internet activist who spent “hours and hours” online every day, contacting public officials and urging their opposition to Clinton administration policies.
Gray’s experience was not unlike that of Patricia Mendoza, who “insulted” Clinton during a campaign stop in Chicago in July of 1996. Mendoza and her husband, Glenn, were attending a food festival when the president arrived.
“You suck, and those boys died,” Patricia Mendoza shouted, referring to a June 1996 truck-bombing at a U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American servicemen.
The Mendozas were escorted away by Secret Service agents. Charges filed against the couple for unruly behavior were later dismissed by a county judge. However, a month following Patricia Mendoza’s protest shout, Glenn received a letter from the regional IRS office in Kansas City saying he owed $200 in back income taxes. The agency demanded immediate payment or his property would be seized.
“We never had any problems with the IRS,” Glenn told the media. “We’re not big executive types. I’m not a millionaire. We don’t make enough money to attract the IRS.”
After the Mendozas’ attorney telephoned the IRS, the agency said there had been a “computer error” and dropped the case.
WND also reported on the case of Chuck Harder, the former talk-radio personality and founder of Peoples Network Inc., a 501c3 tax-exempt foundation, who endured an audit for more than 18 years. Within days of Clinton’s election to the presidency, Harder was slapped with the IRS audit that his accountant called “harassment” and that over nearly two decades of pressure effectively stripped the microphone from Harder’s hands.
“PNI has been fighting a politically motivated IRS audit started by Hillary Clinton in 1993,” Harder told WND in 2010. “They sicced the IRS on us. They couldn’t finish the job in time (for the 1996 election), so in ’96 they sicced [a lawsuit filed by the United Auto Workers labor union] on us. They want to destroy Chuck Harder – and they’re doing a pretty good job.”
In 1992 the Peoples Network Inc. published a newspaper, the News Reporter, which had a circulation of about 40,000. In Harder’s words it was a “feisty little independent paper” that was too feisty for the incoming administration.
“We were doing a lot of muckraking, and I know we hit the radar screen at the DNC,” Harder told WND. “We looked not only into George Bush’s dirty laundry, but Bill Clinton’s. We wrote a series of articles prior to the election about Whitewater and the strange deaths near Mena Airport. We also called attention to his sexual encounters.”
A 1996 survey by the Washington Times could not identify a single liberal public policy organization that had been audited during the entire Clinton administration.