Meanwhile, Up In D.C., There Are Some Problems…

Yes, We’re a website dedicated to Georgia politics. That means our focus is on state and local issues and those that work and play among them. But every so often national political stories invade the news space to the point that our commenting community has to have somewhere to go to get some things out of their system. So, if you want to discuss Benghazi, the IRS, or the Administration’s decision to get phone records from those who work for the Associated Press, we’ll give you the comments from Congressman Tom Price (R-GA-Not Running for Senate) and Congressman John Barrow (D-GA-Not Running for Senate) to get you started.

From Congressman Price:

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) responded to the recent flurry of reports surrounding the Obama Administration, saying:

“In speech after speech, President Obama has bemoaned hyper-partisanship. In his mind, he’s sought to foster trust in government while eroding cynicism. And yet, the very actions of his administration in reaction to recent events has done just the opposite.

“As further details have emerged about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, new questions and concerns have been raised about what role and to what extent the Administration went to deceive the public on a terrorist attack. In the mounting controversy involving the IRS, it has come to light that public resources available to the executive branch were used to intimidate private organizations and American citizens from participating in the public debate. We have learned that the Obama Administration secretly obtained phone records of the Associated Press over a two month-period, including those from reporters’ personal home and mobile phones, as well as lines at the U.S. House of Representatives. And finally, the Obama Administration has begun soliciting funds from private companies and philanthropic organizations to help pay to persuade Americans to sign up for the health care exchanges instituted by President Obama’s health care law.

“In each of these cases, the White House has refused to take any responsibility. Instead, the President and his administration have obfuscated, shifted blame or questioned the motives of those genuinely concerned with seeking resolution to these matters. Absent such leadership, I must ask: Mr. President, how can the American people trust you?”

Rep. Tom Price, M.D. serves as the vice chairman of the House Committee on the Budget. He is also a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, as well as the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

And from Congressman Barrow:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama in response to the recent reports of the Internal Revenue Service specifically targeting conservative organizations for in-depth reviews.  In his letter, Congressman Barrow also called on the White House to fully comply with the investigations into the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi and the Department of Justice tapping the phone lines of Associated Press reporters.

“Folks in the 12th District in Georgia and across the country are demanding answers to the federal government’s recent serious missteps,” said Congressman Barrow.  “It’s important for us to get to the bottom of scandals within the IRS and the DOJ and hold the appropriate personnel responsible for abusing the public’s trust. Four Americans were killed in Benghazi and dozens more in embassies in recent years. This Administration has a duty to fully comply with investigations into each of these matters and to make sure they never happen again.  What’s left of the public’s trust in the federal government is quickly diminishing, and we need to do everything we can to restore confidence in our government.”

The full text of Congressman Barrow’s letter to the President is below:

Dear Mr. President,

I held three town hall meetings this past weekend.  As you might expect, the response to the attacks in Benghazi and admissions of mismanagement at the IRS were among the most fervent topics of conversation.  When I am home this coming weekend, I expect that the Department of Justice’s subpoena of Associated Press journalists’ phone records will, rightly, be added to the list.  These situations are eroding what little confidence many of the people I represent have in their government.

On September 11, 2012, four people died in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, and dozens of people have died at U.S. foreign diplomatic offices over the past several decades.  Despite the politics, these are failures worthy of investigation and reason enough for reforms to make sure this never happens again.  The people in my district in Georgia and all across the country demand answers, and it’s critical that we understand what happened to prevent further attacks.

I’m very concerned about admissions that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) applied heightened scrutiny to the applications for tax exempt status of certain groups based simply on the perceived partisan descriptors in their names.  Nobody loves the IRS, but at least we’ve been able to count on them being independent and non-partisan.  Partisan profiling flies in the face of everything we stand for as a country, and political cherry picking of organizations for in-depth investigation only adds to the public’s distrust of the federal government.

The facts about the Associated Press subpoena are only beginning to come out.  I understand that the government needs to investigate leaks of classified information that put Americans in danger.  But initial reports appear to show an uncommonly expansive investigation without much detail about the justification.

It is fundamental that the government follows and enforces the law without bias, and that we learn from our mistakes so that Americans all over the world are safe.  I urge your Administration to fully comply with current and future Congressional investigations to try to restore our country’s confidence in those principles.

20 comments

  1. Charlie says:

    From Congressman Kingston:

    Washington, D.C. – With new revelations coming out about the Internal Revenue Service targeting groups for harassment based on their ideology, Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) is demanding answers and accountability.

    In a letter to Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller, Kingston called for a full investigation of the incident as well as an accounting of groups based in the State of Georgia that were targeted.

    “The Internal Revenue Service should not be an extension of the Democratic National Committee,” said Kingston. “By targeting groups perceived as opposing the President’s political agenda, those behind this incident sought to trample our constitutional right to free speech. Using the levers of government to intimidate and stifle debate is unacceptable. We need a full review of what took place and for those responsible to be held to account.”

    The scandal dates back to March 2010 when IRS agents at a field office in Cincinnati began using phrases such as “Tea Party” and “patriots” to flag applications for additional scrutiny. Within a year, the unit had subjected more than 100 groups based on their perceived ideology. By that time, the net used to single out groups expanded to those concerned about “government debt,” “taxes,” or even those that “criticize how the country is being run.”

    While the IRS Commissioner testified before Congress in March 2012 that the agency was not targeting conservative groups for political reasons, an Inspector General’s report to be released this week is said to confirm senior officials knew of the practice as early as August 2011.

    Those officials failed to disclose their knowledge of the events when asked by members of Congress specifically about targeting of conservative groups.

    “It is clear that some within the IRS sought to mislead Congress and the American people,” Kingston said. “We will work to hold them accountable and to get the answers we need to ensure this cannot happen again.”

  2. D_in_ATL says:

    In regards to the IRS actions…were they really politically motivated? Going back to the last years election and the way in which these ‘super pacs’ operated it seems to me that the IRS is actually doing its job by going after some of them. That one Haley Barbour ran got him labeled a grifter by someone or other; and of course Carl Roves was pretty much good for nothing.
    I get it that everyone hates the IRS and taxes but why should these guys deserve to be treated any better than the rest of us?

    • Three Jack says:

      Big difference between existing super PACs and tea party groups simply attempting to get 501c4 approval. And the IRS focused specifically on groups with titles that appeared to be right leaning organizations.

      But the IRS director lady did apologize just like we taxpayers are able to do if we make a mistake on our return or fail to pay. So all is well in bureaucracyland again.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        It’s serious abuse, and corrective action is in order.

        The tin foil hat crowd bonus is that the abuses occurred early in the Obama administration when the IRS Commissioner was a Bush appointee.

  3. greencracker says:

    Hm, in England, “journalists” wiretap officials.
    Here, officials wiretap journalists.

    An English reporter once told me they laugh at American reporters, say we’re not nearly aggressive enough.

  4. MattMD says:

    Obama/A.Jackson 2016

    Still, this isn’t even within a country mile as stupid and immoral as the Iraq debacle.

  5. Dave Bearse says:

    It does appear the Obama administration at best didn’t do a very good job communicating in the aftermath of Benghazi.

    The overwhelming, long lasting media attention, and in depth Congressional scrutiny that occurred after each and every one of 11 attacks on consulates and embassies accompanied by loss of life during the Bush administration went to waste.

  6. seekingtounderstand says:

    Move forward to 2014 and watch politicans expose the medical secrets of those they do not like or worse withhold needed treatment.
    Is Obamacare a modern day gas chamber for conservatives with the help of the IRS? What is a ACO’s? Go read “Obamacare’s secret plan: Destroy and Rescue” by Lee Hieb, MD
    Your family needs to know whats going to happen while the systems fail.

    And to think common sense says to offer a high deductable health insurance plan (income based) with a lifetime no tax spending account for which to pay medical expenses would have solved our need for everyone to have coverage.

  7. George Chidi says:

    Holder needs to resign, of course. I’d prefer that he be fired, but plainly no one cares what I want.

    Benghazi and the AP mess are expressions of the same impulse: the administration punishes whistleblowers and leaks with a ruthlessness unmatched in modern political history, exercising obscene and damaging levels of message control when it can. I suspect part of this is to be intellectually consistent after the Valerie Plame affair, but the net effect is the least transparent administration on record.

    Couple this with the madness that has either passed or has been put on the table in the last 12 months: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the Protect IP Act (PIPA), the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, the extension of Patriot Act provisions, the extra-constitutional nonsense in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act and the administration’s legal defense of warrantless wiretapping and other insanity.

    I tire of having to rationalize all of this.

    • Harry says:

      George, we can agree that this reeks, and believe me I’d be just as upset if the tables were turned as to which political party occupies the white house. It’s amazing how many presidents of both parties fail to grasp the Constitution.

  8. pettifogger says:

    I find it stunning Holder has survived this long. But of course he needs to go. Carney too, most likely, but that is a combination of damage control and average shelf life.

    Administration should also be hit with lack of institutional control infraction. What is the political equivalent of a loss of scholarships and bowl bans? Fewer czars and no golf?

    • George Chidi says:

      A pen register — the legal equivalent for getting what they’ve described — requires a judge. The legal bar is low. All that is required by 18 U.S.C. § 3123(a)(1) is a judge to find “that the attorney for the Government has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” That’s it.

      And they didn’t do even that, because it was “national security” on a case where the damage had already been done. They weren’t trying to find terrorists with this information. They were trying to find an American citizen who made a security clearance violation of the law. Holder’s argument is that breaking a security clearance with after-the-fact information is exactly the same thing for legal purposes as an act of international terrorism. I would call that a textbook definition of a slippery slope.

      Fire him.

  9. Scott65 says:

    Holder needs to go…I’ve been saying that for a while. There have been numerous incidents of over reach by DOJ at request of Hollywood. Just look at the Aaron Schwartz fiasco and how DOJ went after him. Also look at the way all these “free trade” agreements are being handled…just try as a concerned citizen to see a draft copy (or for that matter as a journalist). It wont be permitted. If you have concerns…to bad, but if you work for the MPAA…you get invited to all the discussions. Just look at the ACTA debacle. They are trying again with CISPA, TPP and the European Free Trade Agreement will be more of the same…negotiated in secret to remove privacy protections and guilty until proven innocent with criminal penalties for ripping a DVD you bought to a device you want to watch it on.
    Of course, those on the right will over play their hand (they always do)…but there is some shoddy work being done in the WH and they need to make some heads roll

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