Benghazi, the IRS and the Associated Press, oh my! President Obama and the White House are mired in scandal this week–except they aren’t really. Words like “outrage,” “impeachment” and “Nixonian” are being thrown around casually by both TEApublicans and the supposed “liberal media” alike. But what’s really going on and is this “scandal fever” justified?
Benghazi: This horse has been beaten well beyond death, but the Obama administration has just released more emails to pacify the witch hunters–which I guess they need since their last conspiracy theory-proving email turned out to be bogus. What’s next? Demanding Sasha and Malia’s text messages?
It has also been grossly under-reported that Republicans were the ones that voted against overseas embassy security budget increases after Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, requested them.
The IRS/Tea Party: First of all, the Tea Party was not the only group scrutinized. The IRS was targeting political groups of all affiliations. Most notable about this “scandal,” however, is that these groups deserved to be closely examined. The IRS was just doing its job, albeit somewhat sloppily. They are though, after all, a grossly underfunded government agency. Who routinely votes to de-fund government agencies again?
From Crooks and Liars:
The IRS certainly deserves some of the criticism it’s getting, but it’s also worth looking at the groups they were examining a little closer.
I’ve been collecting the IRS filings for these organizations since they dropped off the FEC radar in early 2009. At that time, these political “civic” organizations were springing up like weeds after a spring storm. Let’s take just one subset of the larger group and look more carefully.
American Majority Action is the 501(c)(4) companion to American Majority, the Koch-funded 501(c)(3) organization devoted to “training conservative activists.” It is headed up by Andrew and Net Ryun, sons of former Kansas congressman Jim Ryun. Their initial report to the IRS for the short year ending June 30, 2011 described its program services as “issue advocacy and get out the vote operations in 4 states including 9 liberty headquarters.” Secondary services included “capacity building grants to 32 like-minded organizations,” and tertiary services included “health care policy issue advocacy.” Amounts spent were $1,020,500, $529,000 and $224,000, respectively.
What like-minded organizations received grants? Here is a list of some, not all, since they did not list all 32 grantees:
- Arkansas Conservative United – $45,000
- Citizens Alliance of PA – $5,000
- Tulsa 912 Project Association – $5,000
- WI GrandSons of Liberty – $55,000
- Grassroots Outreach (AZ) – $275,000
- Liberty Restoration Foundation (FL) – $20,000
- Jefferson County Tea Party – $5,000
- Kitchen Table Patriots – $46,500
- Medina County Friends Neighbors (OH) – $5,000
- Ohio Liberty Council – $20,000
- PA Family Council – $5,000
- PA Coalition for Responsible Government – $6,000
- St Louis Tea Party – $22,500
- Tampa 912 – $5,000
Most of these groups are those “small tea party groups” crying out about unfair treatment now. They have billionaires beneath their scattered whines — billionaires who seeded those groups with the intention of building network nodes in key swing states for the 2012 election.
Associated Press: The GOP demanded the Obama administration conduct this investigation to begin with. Did it go too far and did Eric Holder and President Obama overreach? That remains to be seen, but labeling this investigation an “outrage” after the GOP demanded it happen in the first place is laughable.
So, in May 2012 the pressure on the Obama administration to conduct some investigation of national security leaks became impossible to resist. Republicans wanted a special prosecutor to be empowered—something that isn’t really done anymore, post-Ken Starr. Instead, this happened on June 8, 2012:
Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday appointed two U.S. Attorneys to head an investigation into a recent series of national security leaks.
Soon, on June 12, 2012:
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, made the call for Holder’s resignation during a Senate hearing late Tuesday morning. It came in the context of GOP concerns about Holder’s decision to appoint two lawyers from within his department to handle the politically sensitive leak probe — as well as concerns about Fast and Furious.
And we fast-forward to the results of that investigation. May 13, 2013:
Federal investigators secretly seized two months of phone records for reporters and editors of The Associated Press in what the news organization said Monday was a “serious interference with A.P.’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.” … The Justice Department referred questions about the subpoena to a spokesman for Ronald C. Machen Jr., the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, who was assigned by Mr. Holder last June to lead one of two major leak investigations.
And on May 14, 2013:
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to resign in light of the Department of Justice secretly monitoring Associated Press reporters’ and editors’ phone conversations. Priebus is calling the move by the DOJ a direct violation of the First Amendment.
The GOP wanted the investigation in the first place! Yes, it wanted a special prosecutor, so it can safely kick away ownership of this mess, but it was kicking up dirt over the leaks in the first place. Watching the outrage spigot turn on this story will be fascinating.
So, it seems that in reality the GOP is, at least in part, responsible for creating all of these messes and now they’re clutching pitch forks and torches and absolving themselves of any responsibility. Typical.
Watch Lawrence O’Donnell explain why there’s really nothing scandalous about this “scandal” frenzy: