IRS Files Chapter Levin
Judicial Watch wasn't too busy exposing the White House on Benghazi to let down its nets on another scandal: the IRS targeting ring. Late yesterday, the organization announced that it may have caught another big fish in its latest expedition. And according to emails, this week's catch comes direct from Lake Michigan: U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D). Based on this new bombshell, the IRS's headquarters for political harassment may have had a satellite office in Congress.
In a series of letters (the first of which came seven months before the 2012 presidential election), Senator Levin openly leaned on the agency to crack down on conservative groups whose nonprofit status he felt was excessively partisan. Not once, not twice, but several times, Senator Levin pressured government officials to punish organizations for being "engaged in political activities more appropriate for political organizations claiming tax-exempt status under 26 U.S.C.&527."
The Senator's correspondence singles out at least nine conservative groups, putting targets on the backs of everyone from Club to Growth to Americans for Prosperity. In messages to then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, Levin suggests full-blown investigations of these groups' activities, followed by the stripping of their tax exempt status. To the New York Times, Levin was clear: "Tax-exempt 501(c)(4)s are not supposed to be engaged in politics. We're going to go after them."
And go after them they did. Although the targeting, led by the disgraced, held-in-congressional-contempt Lois Lerner, was already in full swing, Levin's involvement, as a legislator, shows the breadth of the Left's conspiracy. For the first time, evidence shows the administration didn't act alone, implicating -- not just the executive branch -- but liberal legislators too. (File this under "things you didn't want to hear as a Democratic campaign strategist.") Although nothing else has been confirmed, rumors continue to fly that at least two other Democratic Senators (Max Baucus, Mont., and Dick Durbin, Ill.) may have operated in the shadows with Levin, singling out organizations intent on holding government leaders accountable.
And if organizations associated with "Patriot" or "Constitution" were the first bulls-eye, individual conservatives aren't far behind. Just last week, Judicial Watch exposed how prejudiced the IRS had become -- auditing 10% of tea party donors -- compared to the regular population (1%). Meanwhile, Senator Levin, whose retirement couldn't come at a more convenient time, isn't answering questions about his involvement in quarterbacking the IRS's plot. Even so, reporters are putting two-and-two together, pointing out that Levin also chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (fox, meet henhouse).
When the House returns from recess next week, these latest revelations should keep the new special counsel on the IRS busy. Of course, the irony in all this is that the President's party continues to engage in the same "partisan politics" they accuse these organizations of! And while advocacy groups are created for that purpose -- members of Congress, I think we'd all agree, were not.
SunTrust Shuns Trust of Customers in Benham Attack
SunTrust Bank is making an unexpected withdrawal all right -- from Christian customers. In a mind-blowing announcement, the institution announced that it's dropping religious conservatives and would-be HGTV stars, David and Jason Benham from their list of financial partners. The brothers, who were still recovering from the shock that producers had booted them from their charity show for their biblical views, found out yesterday that their bank unexpectedly cut ties with them, despite their "preferred broker" status.
According to Daily Caller's Alex Pappas, who broke the story, SunTrust "has pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers' bank-owned property business, which includes several franchises across four states." The news came as a total shock to the brothers, without any warning or explanation. "If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it," Jason said in a statement. "We were just caught off guard with this one. Keeping us off television wasn't enough -- now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace."
Pressed for answers, SunTrust refused to explain. "As Americans," the Benhams explained, "we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down. Evidently, SunTrust's longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values." Conservatives have already lost their jobs, shows, businesses, and sense of security simply for exercising the freedom our founders died to give us. Will they be shut out of the marketplace next? Not if the Benhams have anything to say about it. The brothers refuse to give in to the forces of political correctness and are making plans to take their assets elsewhere. And if SunTrust believes they'll be the only ones, they underestimate Americans' disgust for intolerance like this. If SunTrust holds your accounts, maybe it's time to bank on someone else! Contact SunTrust today by calling 800-786-8787 and urge them to respect the religious freedom of their customers.
Obama Admin Raises Minimum Work
Wanna get paid for doing nothing? Apply for an ObamaCare job! In St. Louis, local workers are blowing the whistle on the government's $1.2 billion money pit: Serco's health care processing facilities. At Missouri locations of Serco, one of HHS's largest contractors, employees tell reporters that they were paid to "pretend they were on the phone, helping customers who did not exist."
Paula Bujewski, who shares her view from the inside on this jaw-dropping video, said she was actually an ObamaCare supporter -- until she realized how wasteful the system was. Ultimately, she was so outraged by the scam that she quit and took a lower paying job just to do something that "mattered." Elsewhere, the stories are eerily similar. Inefficiency and abuse reign in Serco, whose primary task is handling the paper applications for enrollees.
One worker explained, "There are some weeks that a data entry person would not even process an application... We have centers in Missouri, Kentucky, and Oklahoma and with everybody that's working, [there are] probably 1,800 people trying to get one of 30 applications that pop up. There's just not enough there." Other former staffers took out their frustrations online and posted on Serco, "This place is a JOKE! There is nothing to do -- NO WORK." Meanwhile, the Obama administration stands by its statement that Serco is a highly-qualified "cost efficient" partner -- which just happens to be getting $1.2 billion to kill time.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.