The former Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate who has claimed Barack Obama was unknown to him and his fellow Columbia University classmates charges the president is using the Internal Revenue Service to punish and silence him.
Wayne Allyn Root – a pre-law and political science major in the class of 1983, like the president – told WND that despite a spotless tax record, he became the target of an audit in January 2011 when he received an "unsettling" call from an IRS agent who called himself a fan of his and considered it "an honor" to audit him.
Root won a complete victory three months ago in tax court, which found no taxes owed in his 2007 and 2008 filings. But then, he said, something shocking happened – something his tax attorney has never heard of in his entire career. Root was hit with a new audit just five days later, for 2009 and 2010.
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"That order had to come from the highest levels of government," he asserted.
"Obama is using the power of the IRS and other government agencies to punish his political opposition and intimidate and silence his critics," Root charged.
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Root has been a relentless critic of Obama in more than 4,000 appearances on political talk shows on TV and radio over the past four years, focusing on what he calls the president's anti-business and anti-capitalist policies. He also writes columns and commentaries for many of the most popular conservative websites.
Root is now calling for congressional hearings "to determine if the Obama administration is misusing its power to damage or ruin the lives, drain the finances, or just distract Obama’s critics and political opposition."
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"It is time to demand an end to government witch hunts ordered by powerful politicians," he told WND. "It is time to shine the light of day on government attempts to intimidate and silence political opponents. This just isn’t right, but especially to a small businessman who happens to have a media megaphone. I have a wife and four young children. This is just so wrong on so many levels."
The IRS national media office told WND that Section 6103 of the tax code prohibits the agency from discussing matters relating to any taxpayer. An IRS media officer said she also would not be able to comment, in general terms, on accusations that the agency is being used by the administration to punish political enemies.
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Root began his career as network oddsmaker for CNBC, then called Financial News Network. He's one of only 60 people to have a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.
He believes he's not alone, contending there is a pattern of abuse by Obama, targeting foes with IRS audits and government investigations.
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He's had numerous conversations with high-profile friends who contribute to the Republican Party or are GOP bundlers and also have been audited by the IRS.
Root cited, as an example, billionaire Frank VanderSloot, who became the target of investigations by both the IRS and the Labor Department after he gave $1 million to a super PAC that supports Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
VanderSloot, 63, told the Wall Street Journal in July that he has been working since his teens, and neither he nor his accountants recall his being previously subject to a federal tax audit.
The GOP's biggest donor, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, believes a federal criminal investigation into his company's business practices is politically motivated. Another casino giant, Steve Wynn, also is being investigated.
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The D.C. watchdog Judicial Watch obtained IRS documents in 1999 that showed an audit of the non-profit Western Journalism Center – the parent of WND, which now has no affiliation – originated with a complaint forwarded to the IRS by the Bill Clinton White House.
The complaint had been faxed by a California resident directly to Clinton, Judicial Watch found. Once the audit began, an IRS agent told representatives of the Western Journalism Center that the audit was "political" and that decisions on the audit were being made out of the "national office."
The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio reported in the 1990s that under the Clinton IRS, an unusually large number of organizations critical of the Clinton administration had been audited, while no liberal organizations had been examined. A White House document, created by then-White House lawyer Jane Sherburne, showed that the Western Journalism Center was a concern as far back as 1994.
No sign of Obama at Columbia
Root noted he drew wide attention as the Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate in 2008 when he contended that although he and Obama were both pre-law and political science majors in Columbia's class of 1983, he never even heard of Obama during his time at the university. None of the classmates with whom he's spoken, knew of him either, he claimed. A 2008 Wall Street Journal article cited a Fox News survey of 400 people who were Columbia students from 1981 to 1983 and found no one who remembered him.
On the campaign trail, Root predicted Obama would follow the radical, collectivist strategy of former Columbia professors Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven to overwhelm the welfare system for the purpose of collapsing it and replacing it with a system of guaranteed annual income.
Root declared in 2008 that Obama "is going to try to badly damage the economy and bankrupt the business community," sowing doubts about capitalism, by "overwhelming the system with spending, addicting a record number of Americans to entitlements, exploding the debt, demonizing business owners, and then trying to convince the masses to redistribute wealth (with massive tax increases).”
After the election, he published more predictions that Obama would carry out a purposeful plan to overwhelm the system, including a commentary, “The Real Obama Economic Plan: Overwhelming the System to Destroy Capitalism,” that ranked No. two for many months in 2010 on Snopes.com's list of the most popular stories circulating the Internet. Another Root commentary, “Obama The Great Jobs Killer,” was quoted by Time magazine.
He has made frequent appearances on the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, debated a former Clinton White House press secretary on CNBC and appeared on left-leaning media outlets, such as MSNBC and CNN, including "Larry King Live."
On an NBC special, “Inside the Obama White House,” he pointed out, NBC’s cameras showed the entire Obama staff in crisis mode over political pundits criticizing the controversial comments of Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayer. The scene in the special happened to feature a shot of Root criticizing Sotomayer in an appearance on the Fox News Channel.
In a commentary just two months ago, Root repeated his charge that Obama was unknown at Columbia, issuing a call for the president to release his college records. Calling himself "one of the most accurate Las Vegas oddsmakers and prognosticators," Root wrote that it's his "gut instinct" that "Obama has a secret hidden at Columbia." He discussed the column on Fox News, dozens of national radio shows and in numerous commentaries on the Web. Talk host Rush Limbaugh read Root's column on the air.
Last month, Root announced that he was stepping down from his positions in the Libertarian Party to focus on helping elect Republicans to office who share his small-government values. He reasoned that it's not enough to have a "philosophical foundation rooted in liberty" if you can't win as a third-party candidate. He made the formal announcement on the Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends.”
Root told WND he believes the audits were a direct attack from Obama, because "the odds are zero" that the IRS "would be hounding and harassing a small businessman … not a jet setter, not a Fortune 500 CEO, not a billionaire … just a small-businessman who happens to be an outspoken critic of Obama."
"I have a perfect tax history," he emphasized. "Not a single blemish. Thirty years of filing taxes without a problem."
Prior to the January 2011 audit, he said he had been chosen at random for an audit only twice in his life and came away both times owing "not a single dollar."
"I’ve never been late with a tax bill in my life," he argued. "I’ve never owed money on a payment plan to the IRS. Nothing. I’m a model citizen and taxpayer for 30 years. And now this?"
His ordeal began in January 2011, he said, with an "unsettling" call from an IRS agent that became "a highly unusual and intimidating situation."
The IRS agent called his home and left a message, Root said, then, without waiting for a response, immediately called his accountant.
"We were both shocked at how eager and excited he sounded to get started," Root said.
The accountant told the agent to never call Root again, because the accountant had power of attorney. Nevertheless, according to Root, the agent called Root minutes later at his home to tell him he was a big fan, had requested to do the audit and was "honored" to be auditing him.
"He said he read my political columns in the Las Vegas newspaper, listened to me often on the radio, often went to my website," Root said.
The agent said he loved Root's libertarian-conservative politics and agreed with most everything he said.
"I found that very strange, actually chilling," Root told WND. "It did not feel right. I got a sick feeling in pit of my stomach. Why would an IRS agent say such personal things? Why would he disclose that he's a fan of mine and agrees with my politics? Isn’t that a conflict of interest?"
Root said his accountant remarked that in 30 years of dealing with IRS audits, he had never heard of an IRS agent starting an investigation with a phone call to the taxpayer. All audits begin with a letter from the IRS through the mail. The next steps, Root said, were even stranger, as the agent immediately called the accountant then called Root again to tell him he liked his politics and was “honored” to be auditing him? Root's accountant said he found the agent's actions highly unusual.
"That was the tipoff something was out of the ordinary, something just wasn’t right," said Root.
Root said the only conclusion he could draw was that the agent was imitating "Columbo," the famous TV detective from the 1970s, "and trying to throw me off the truth.
The agent, he said may have been "ordered to make my life very difficult, distract me or destroy me, and he decided to play 'Columbo' to try, first, to befriend me and get my guard down."
"I knew then this was no ordinary audit," Root said.
Root's accountant called back a few weeks later, after dealing with the IRS agent, to inform him that it was unlike any audit he had ever experienced. The accountant advised Root to immediately get a tax lawyer to protect himself.
"I knew at that moment that all my gut instincts were correct," Root said.
"This agent clearly had an agenda," Root continued. "He was acting unreasonably. He disregarded facts. He simply disallowed virtually all of my legal deductions. There was even a debate over my mortgage deduction. Something was very wrong here. This was a classic case of government persecution. Soon the agent was auditing a second year. It got worse with each conversation."
Just weeks later, Root said, his accountant, himself, received his own IRS audit notice.
Root researched and interviewed the top tax attorneys in the country, emphasizing he hired "the best." His tax attorney reviewed the audit and concluded that the IRS agent was “taking an unusually aggressive stance,” and Root owed no taxes.
The attorney appealed the case to the IRS tax court in California. Root said that after nearly 18 months of "sleepless nights, lawyer bills I could not afford, accounting bills I could not afford, and damage to my marriage," he won "a full and complete victory."
He added: “Who knows how many years off my life I lost due to stress?”
The tax court, he said, ruled that I did not owe one cent."
"All of the IRS agent’s unreasonable assertions were thrown out," he said. "Case closed. One-hundred-percent vindication. Complete victory."
But five days later, the tax attorney called with bad news.
“Are you sitting down?" Root recalled the attorney saying. "I don’t know what to say, but the IRS just contacted me. You’re being audited again."
Root noted that just five days before he had won a complete victory for the years 2007 and 2008 and now was being audited for the 2009 and 2010 tax years.
His tax attorney said that he had never heard of such a case in all his years practicing law.
Root said the new IRS agent handling the new audit treated his attorney with disdain and, like the previous agent, simply ignored the facts and denied every legal deduction on Root’s tax return.
"It was the same treatment all over again," Root said. "Even though we had just won a complete, 100-percent victory only five days before."
Root said that “as a man who makes his living making predictions and beating the odds,” he is betting 1-million-to-1 that the audits were ordered "by Obama or his henchmen."
Root insists he is not angry with the IRS but blames Obama and "his Chicago style of politics – to persecute, intimidate and destroy the opposition."
"The IRS is filled with good people," he said. "They are just like you and me. They are just trying to do their jobs, as best they can."
However, he said, when "they get a call from high above, perhaps from the office of the president of the United States, then they are fearful for their job."
"My outrage is towards President Obama and his henchmen," Root said.
"This is so wrong on so many levels. Whoever ordered this against me and against many other Obama critics across this country – and against GOP donors across this country and against so many tea parties – should be held accountable."
He said it's "time for congressional hearings."
"The president of the United States has no right to target his political opposition, or to try to freeze free speech," he said. "Our Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves.”