North Carolina store owner targeted in IRS civil forfeiture case is getting his money back

Lyndon McLellan is getting his money back.

McLellan, a North Carolina convenience store owner, woke up one day to find the IRS had seized his career savings — all $107,000 of it. The agency had flagged McLellan for a practice referred to as structuring or “smurfing” — making multiple bank deposits of less than $10,000 in cash in order to circumvent the legal requirement to fill out a disclosure statement.

McLellan had been making small deposits, incrementally growing his savings. But he wasn’t illegally trying to cram a pile of money, bit by bit, into a savings account, a disclosure-skirting practice the law was ostensibly created to address.

In his case, there never was a pile of money. McLellan had simply been making regular deposits of what he earned at his store — as he was earning it.

The IRS and the U.S. Department of Justice didn’t care about any of that — at least not at first. Despite having changed its civil asset forfeiture policy to end seizures like the one McLellan endured, the agency wouldn’t return the money. It had seized McLellan’s funds only months before the policy change went into effect, and there was no law saying the IRS had to give him any consideration. Notably, McLellan was never charged with any crime throughout his ordeal.

The IRS did offer McLellan a nice insult of a deal: they’d drop their civil forfeiture “case” and return half the money, in exchange for McLellan to drop the campaign to have the full amount — an amount he amassed over 13 years operating a rural convenience store — returned.

The Institute for Justice (IJ), a nonprofit that advocates for people whose civil liberties have been placed in jeopardy at the hands of government, took up McLellan’s case. IJ’s pro bono attorneys understood that public opinion on asset forfeiture had been recently raised by other, similar cases in different parts of the country, so it produced a video telling McLellan’s story. It was widely seen and shared on social media.

Fast forward two weeks: the IRS has backed down, pledging to return all $107,000 of the dollars McLellan earned and saved.

“Yesterday, just two weeks after the Institute for Justice took on the case and brought it to the attention of the nation, the IRS and Department of Justice moved to voluntarily dismiss the case and give Lyndon back 100% of his hard-earned money,” IJ reported May 14.

“… Now, in moving to drop the case almost half a year after the IRS announced its policy change, the government cited the change in policy as its reason for backing down.”

IJ notes that McLellan hasn’t been made completely whole.

He’s “still out tens of thousands of dollars, thanks to the government’s actions,” the report states. “Lyndon paid a $3,000 retainer to a private attorney before IJ took the case on pro bono, and he also paid approximately $19,000 for an accountant to audit his business and to provide other services to help convince the government he did nothing wrong.”

The government isn’t offering to reimburse McLellan those expenses, nor is it offering to pay him interest on the money it stole/borrowed.

McLellan told IJ he was just happy his ordeal was ending, and he expressed a hope that his case would serve as a preventive lesson.

“What’s wrong is wrong, and what the government did here is wrong,” he said. “I just hope that by standing up for what’s right, it means this won’t happen to other people.”

ABC’s Stephanopoulos donated to the Clinton Foundation, did not disclose it and reported on the Clinton Foundation

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds often invokes the phrase “Democratic operatives with bylines” when discussing stories involving the leftist mainstream media and its labor force. In the case of former Bill Clinton adviser and current ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, that’s literally the apt description.

Of course, it’s no secret that Stephanopoulos used to be a Democratic operative, nor that he currently has a byline. That was then, after all; and this is now. A guy can be subjective at a political job, yet objective once he sits behind the anchor’s desk, can’t he?

Heh, maybe. But Politico reported Thursday that Stephanopoulos demonstrably still has skin in the Clintons’ game. He donated at least $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation between 2012 and 2014, yet never heeded the journalistic impulse (surely he had one, didn’t he?) to explicitly disclose the gift to his employer and to his viewers — people who presumably expect him to be disinterested and aloof from the topics on which he reports.

From Politico:

In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Stephanopoulos made $25,000 donations to the 501 nonprofit founded by former President Bill Clinton, the foundation’s records show. Stephanopoulos never disclosed this information to viewers, even when interviewing author Peter Schweizer last month about his book “Clinton Cash,” which alleges that donations to the foundation may have influenced some of Hillary Clinton’s actions as secretary of state.

In a statement to the On Media blog on Thursday, Stephanopoulos apologized and said that he should have disclosed the donations to ABC News and its viewers.

Stephanopoulos has been anything but aloof from stories involving the Clintons. The Schweizer interview took place on April 26, and Stephanopoulos was decidedly adversarial throughout.

“I find it problematic that Stephanopoulos thought it relevant to challenge Schweizer based on the identity of his former employers or funders, but did not disclose his own equal (if not greater) conflict,” The Washington Post’s Jonathan H. Adler wrote on April 28 — well before Stephanopoulos’ Clinton Foundation donations were first reported by the press. Adler was simply peeved that Stephanopoulos didn’t offer a disclaimer, when the interview aired, that he used to work for Bill Clinton, a long time ago.

“If Schweizer’s former funders and employers are relevant to ABC News, George Stephanopoulos’s should be as well,” wrote Adler. “Simple disclosure in the context of a news segment is not too much to ask.”

You don’t say.

Climate change activists petition media to begin using ‘deniers’ instead of ‘skeptics’

A grass-roots offshoot of a progressive, “social changemaker” nonprofit is petitioning newspapers and other media to begin referring to climate change skeptics as “deniers” by default.

Forecast the Facts, a climate change activism project of a larger nonprofit called the Citizen Engagement Laboratory, argues that media types who use the general term “skeptics” are “misleading the public” on climate change:

Some members of the media are still misleading the public by wrongly using the term “skeptic.” The New York Times, for example, recently called Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) a skeptic — even though he believes that climate change is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated.”

Scientists should practice and promote scientific skepticism, and encourage informed citizens do the same. But those who reject the facts on climate change are not skeptics — they’re deniers.

That statement comes attached to an online petition that asks signers to agree with an assortment of North American and European scientists (and Bill Nye the Science Guy) in calling for the change.

From the scientists’ (and Nye’s) open letter:

As scientific skeptics, we are well aware of political efforts to undermine climate science by those who deny reality but do not engage in scientific research or consider evidence that their deeply held opinions are wrong. The most appropriate word to describe the behavior of those individuals is “denial.” Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics. By perpetrating this misnomer, journalists have granted undeserved credibility to those who reject science and scientific inquiry.

As the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard pointed out this week, Forecast the Facts is even petitioning The Associated Press to “Establish a rule in the AP StyleBook ruling out the use of ‘skeptic’ to describe those who deny scientific facts.”

For a variety of reasons, many of the elected officials who have expressed doubt at the efficacy of enacting a costly and aggressive environmental policy would not describe themselves as actual “skeptics” when it comes to the question of whether mankind’s activities have played a role in altering the environment. Some do dismiss manmade climate change outright, while others accept it as a truth.

But what nearly all of them have in common is a shared skepticism of the progressivist rallying cry to get the government involved. A lot of lawmakers who may be “skeptical” of climate change are far more “skeptical” of the politics of climate change, of its policy implications. They’re “skeptical” of whether such change poses the sort of cataclysmic threat that climate eschatologists assure them it does.

They’re “skeptical” of the proposed cost, and the predicted efficacy, of any action mankind might take to curb, or reverse, anthropogenic climate change. They’re “skeptical” of those who seek to mobilize private resources — under the force of law — to solve a “problem” that not everyone agrees is a problem.

Even if there were such a thing as “settled science” when it comes to the phenomenon of manmade climate change, there can be no “settled science” on whether that change is a harbinger only of catastrophe. That part’s interpretive, not empirical.

Except that Forecast the Facts and other climate change activists want to make the interpretive part — especially the interpretive part — empirical. By attempting to draft the concept of scientific skepticism into a service for which it isn’t equipped, Forecast the Facts appears more interested in codifying, once and for all, the ideology of its climate change policy goals into a generally accepted truth.

In other words, it’s about surreptitiously folding opinion into the generally accepted, apolitical definition of a commonly used word — and hoping no one will notice.

Hillary email scandal moves court to reopen lawsuit against State Department

A U.S. district judge has reopened a lawsuit abandoned late last year against the State Department, concluding that the Hillary Clinton email scandal provided the plaintiff in the case with “newly discovered evidence.”

Government watchdog Judicial Watch (JW), the plaintiff, announced the reversal Monday, essentially crediting the revelation that Clinton had secreted her official State Department emails on a private server with reviving the lawsuit.

From JW’s article:

Judicial Watch announced that a U.S. District Court reopened a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking documents regarding the State Department’s production and dissemination of an advertisement intended to air in Pakistan entitled “A Message from the President of the United States Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton” (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:12-cv-02034)). U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton issued the ruling on Friday, May 8, in response to a joint motion by Judicial Watch and the State Department.

In its joint motion, Judicial Watch and the State Department asked that the lawsuit be reopened under a federal court rule allowing a case to be reopened due to “newly discovered evidence”:

In March 2015, media sources reported that former Secretary Clinton, and possibly other senior State Department officials, used non-“state.gov” email account to conduct government business. Thereafter, [Judicial Watch] informed the Department that based on this information, which was previously unknown to [Judicial Watch], it would seek to reopen the case.

Judicial Watch filed suit in December 2012, after the State Department failed to respond to a September 24, 2012, FOIA request for all records concerning the advertisement produced by the U.S. embassy in Islamabad intended to air in Pakistan. The advertisement was seen as an apology for the Internet video that President Obama, then-Secretary of State Clinton, and other administration officials falsely blamed for inspiring “spontaneous demonstrations” resulting in the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya.

It’s interesting to note that the State Department joined JW in calling for the suit to be reopened.

JW filed the original suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get at a Benghazi-related document for which the State Department claimed it had no additional information.

“In November 2014, Judicial Watch agreed to dismiss the suit based in part upon the State Department’s claim that its search ‘of the Office of the Secretary [Clinton], the Office of the Executive Secretariat, and the U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar [Pakistan] have been completed and have resulted in the retrieval of no documents responsive to your request,'” JW explained.

But the possibility that thousands of official documents have been stashed away on, and possibly deleted from, Clinton’s private server persuaded U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to reopen the case. And the post-Clinton State Department evidently agrees.

“Rather than defend its and Hillary Clinton’s fraud on the courts overseeing this and other FOIA lawsuits, the State Department stood down and joined Judicial Watch in asking for the lawsuit to be reopened,” JW president Tom Fitton said in a statement.

If the discovery phase of the revived suit turns out to be robust, the results could yield email documents Clinton has claimed her team deleted from her home server — after first auditing them, without the help of her former employer (the federal government), to determine which were worth keeping or destroying.

Socialism makes inroads on capitalism among millennials

America’s millennial generation has a much more favorable view of socialism than its forebears, even as capitalism is declining in esteem among the young.

That’s the takeaway from a new survey released by YouGov Monday, highlighting an emergent transformation in the way Americans view society’s organizing principles.

“Younger Americans have a much better view of socialism, and worse view of capitalism, than their elders,” reported YouGov, which surveyed 1,000 adults from May 6 to 8. Among all respondents aged 18 to 29, 36 percent said they hold a “favorable” view of socialism, while 39 percent said they hold a “favorable” view of capitalism.

Factor out the generational constraints, though, and capitalism still wins out. Among all the people YouGov surveyed, 52 percent expressed a “favorable” view of capitalism, while 26 percent held a “favorable” view of socialism. That means the young demographic is disproportionately giving socialism the lion’s share of its support — at least in this survey.

“Among younger Americans … attitudes are a lot more divided,” YouGov wrote. “36% of under-30s have a positive view of socialism, while 39% have a positive view of capitalism. Among over-65s, who came of age at the height of the Cold War, only 15% look upon socialism favorably while 59% have a like capitalism.”

If youth is one indicator of a divergence in ideology, political affiliation is even more of one. Among all Democrats surveyed, socialism and capitalism were deadlocked in popularity at 43 percent apiece.

“Democrats (43%) are also much more likely than either independents (22%) or Republicans (9%) to have a favorable view of socialism,” reported YouGov. “Democrats, in fact, are as likely to have a favorable view of capitalism (43%) as socialism. While only 9% of Republicans see socialism in a positive light, 79% have a good view of capitalism.”

The YouGov report came out only a day ahead of a separate Pew study that showed a major, ongoing shift in esteem for another of America’s societal cornerstones: Christianity.

“The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing,” Pew reported. “… While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages.”

The Pew study found an overall 7.8 percent drop, between 2007 and 2014, in the proportion of Americans who identify with a Christian faith. In that brief span, “the Christian share of the population fell from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent, driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics,” Pew observed.

State confiscates ‘off-grid’ couple’s 10 children

A Kentucky couple who lives without electricity and running water is fighting to regain custody of their 10 children following an encounter with law enforcement last week that resulted in the removal of the children from their 27-acre rural homestead.

Joe and Nicole Naugler, who live on a rural patch of land in Breckenridge County, Kentucky, home-school their kids and appear to have made a life for themselves without relying on most modern comforts, including on-property electricity or running water. They aren’t, however, out of touch with forms of technology they find useful. They have a Facebook page, replete with digital photos of a family full of kids that appear to be well-clothed, well-fed and — if appearances are anything to go on — happy.

That page has turned into a sort of nationwide support forum since news of the kids’ removal last Wednesday began spreading across the Internet.

Details of what drew law enforcement to the property have varied, so far, from one report to another. One mentions a water dispute between Joe Naugler and a neighbor that escalated when Joe Naugler allegedly threatened violence; another blames the police visit simply on an anonymous tip reflecting someone’s concern over the family’s “off-grid lifestyle.”

The family’s ongoing decision to live off the grid, and to raise the children by “unschooling” — an informal, experiential type of home-based teaching that opportunistically taps into children’s natural curiosity — certainly seems to have played a role in the kids’ separation from their parents, according to supporters who know the Naugler family.

A complaint issued by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), which Nicole Naugler posted online, obliquely mentions both the dispute and the family’s living arrangement, but appears chiefly preoccupied with the latter:

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The idea that parents are out there raising their children without relying on the state (Nicole Naugler has said the family receives no government assistance) may strike many as unpleasant or uncomfortable, but friends of the family say the kids are happy, healthy and loved.

“They are an extremely happy family,” Pace Ellsworth, a friend of the Nauglers, told Off The Grid News:

“This is the natural way to live,” he said. “It’s actually a growing movement. They want to have a personal education and not a factory education.”

Ellsworth called it “whole-life homeschooling.”

“They are completely open about their life,” he said. “Everyone is learning by living. They are all extremely intelligent.”

For now, the children are in foster care in four separate homes in Kentucky. Joe and Nicole Naugler were scheduled to attend a court hearing Monday to ask for their children’s return; we’ll update with additional posts as their story continues to unfold.

Nicole Naugler, who’s pregnant with an 11th child, is also answering many questions about her family’s ordeal at this FAQ page.

People keep renouncing their U.S. citizenship in record numbers

The Treasury Department has released its listing of people who renounced their U.S. citizenship during the first quarter of 2015, and the numbers are higher than they’ve ever been.

From January through March, 1,335 people gave up their U.S. citizenship or long-term U.S. residency status. During the closing quarter of 2014, that number was 854 — also an all-time high.

The increase continues a general trend that’s seen the number of expatriations jump dramatically since the late 2000s. “The data released today follows two consecutive years where new records were set for the number of expatriates,” the International Tax Blog (ITB) observed May 7. “In 2013, there were 2,999 published expatriates, and in 2014 there were 3,415 published expatriates.”

If the first quarter 2015 trend holds, it would mean 5,340 expatriations by year’s end. That would represent a hefty jump from last year’s record of 3,415.

Taxes are the obvious culprit. “We began tracking expatriations in late 2009 because we anticipated that the number of expatriations would increase as a result of changes in U.S. tax laws and due to ‘saber rattling’ by the IRS about the imposition of potential penalties in the wake of the UBS scandal,” ITB wrote. “Our prediction has been accurate.”

Not that the government is taking a spoonful-of-sugar approach to luring its own citizens back into the fold. Forbes describes the Treasury Department’s practice of publishing the expats’ names as a “naming and shaming” tactic.

“Many Americans living abroad complain about the U.S. tax system requiring worldwide income reporting, plus offshore bank account and financial reporting. The penalties for failing to comply are massive,” Forbes’ Robert W. Wood wrote.

“… With global tax reporting and FATCA [the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act], the list of those who renounce keeps growing … Many now find America’s global income tax compliance and disclosure laws inconvenient, even oppressive. U.S. persons living in foreign countries must report and pay tax where they live.”

Nothing to see here, just Texas winning another pro-business accolade

Texas routinely earns the business community’s approval, at least relatively speaking. It seems that every month, some magazine or website is writing about how terrific a place the Lone Star State is for business.

It’s that time of year for Chief Executive — a magazine aimed at the Chamber of Commerce crowd — to weigh in again, and — no surprise — Texas tops its list of the best U.S. States in which to do business for the 11th year in a row.

Chief Executive credits the resurgent oil and gas industry, as well as the lengthy tenure of former Republican Gov. Rick Perry, for Texas’ continued dominance. “For the entirety of its run atop the Chief Executive Best & Worst States for Business annual rankings, Texas has benefited from high or rising prices for crude oil, and from the savvy and energy of a single, exceptionally growth-minded governor,” the magazine’s Texas feature states.

And, even though abundance has driven oil prices downward and Perry’s no longer the governor, Chief Executive predicts little will change when next year’s best-state list rolls around:

… [I]nternal players and outside observers alike give Texas good odds of finishing No. 1 again in the 2016 Chief Executive index based largely on four factors: only about 4 percent of the state’s workforce is in the oil and gas industry now, a fraction of a generation ago; other industry pillars keep rising; regions outside the oil patch have made their own prosperity; and the [Republican Gov. Greg] Abbott administration has some strengths of its own.

While lists like this one flaunt how pleased the fat cats are with Texas, they don’t appear to be the only ones. Texas finished third (behind South Dakota and Nevada) in the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council’s 2014 ranking of states whose policies favor small businesses. Four Texas cities (five, if you count Dallas-Fort Worth as one entry) placed in the top five of Nerdwallet’s best U.S. cities for small business for 2013. The Kauffman Foundation also loves Texas’ approach to the little man, rating Texas among a small handful of conservative-led states as most “friendly” to small businesses in 2014.

By the way, which states did the fat cats at Chief Executive like the least for business? Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, New York and California — which finished in the same spot as last year: dead last.

Energized by NSA ruling, Rand Paul predicts Supreme Court victory to end mass surveillance

In the immediate aftershock of Thursday’s appeals court ruling against the NSA’s mass data collection program, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) predicted the ruling would withstand further challenges, up to and including a potential appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We initiated a lawsuit on this over a year ago, and we are excited that the appeals court agrees with us,” Paul told Breitbart News.

Paul had joined plaintiffs in a separate class-action lawsuit against the Obama administration last year, challenging the NSA’s authority, on 4th Amendment grounds, to conduct warrantless mass surveillance of Americans’ electronic metadata. A judge put that class action on hold, pending a decision in yet another NSA lawsuit headed by Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman.

Paul called Thursday’s appeals court ruling a “good step,” but insisted the battle to end the NSA’s warrantless spy program isn’t over.

“Now, they’re saying it’s illegal in that Section 215 of the Patriot Act doesn’t authorize that — that the government has gone too far — I think that’s a good first step,” he said. “We want the Supreme Court to eventually rule on whether this is constitutional or not. Our main complaint, or one of our main arguments is, the 4rth Amendment says you have to name the person who you want to get a warrant — but not naming anyone and putting ‘Mr. Verizon’ down and saying you can get the records of millions of people, you’re not writing a specific warrant.

“You’re writing a generalized warrant. This is one of the things that we fought against that the British were doing to us.”

Paul insisted that holding law enforcement to a single, constitutional standard isn’t especially difficult — certainly no more difficult that constructing the behemoth apparatus that underpins the metadata bulk collection program — even in cases involving threats of terrorism, which the Patriot Act was originally crafted to address.

“Yeah, I’m all for it [surveillance] — like recently the shooting in Texas, if you’ve got probable cause and you call the judge and you put that gentleman’s name on it, by all means go get it [his records],” he told Breitbart.

“And if he’s called 100 people and you’re suspicious and you go back to the judge and say, ‘you know what, there is some suspicion that some of these people he called may also be terrorists,’ just keep getting warrants,” he added. “The thing is the warrants are not that difficult to get in our society.”

Arizona town hides license plate readers in fake cacti, tries to hide from the press

A Phoenix-area television news outlet managed to reveal one suburban town’s plan to install license plate reading devices hidden in plain sight along area roadways. But getting municipal officials to own up to the scheme took some arm-twisting.

According to KSAZ Fox 10 News in Phoenix, residents of the posh town of Paradise Valley — located just north of Scottsdale — had begun reporting sightings of mysterious fake cacti. While it’s not unusual for governments and telecommunications companies in desert areas to use phony saguaros to conceal all sorts of electronic devices, people couldn’t identify the camera-like devices housed in these examples.

“FOX 10 asked Paradise Valley Police about the cameras, but they said they were not prepared to make a statement at this time,” the station reported Wednesday. “At City Hall people were also hesitant to talk with FOX 10 about the cameras, saying they wanted to wait until all the cameras were installed, but eventually the Town Manager answered some of the questions.”

The cameras have turned out to be license plate readers, which you may have read about elsewhere on our site.

The readers are capable of imaging motorists’ license plates and matching the information against a “hot list database” that lists the plate numbers of stolen vehicles, according to law enforcement. Of course, that’s one use for license plate readers — but it’s not the only use.

“Photographing a single license plate one time on a public city street may not seem problematic, but when that data is put into a database, combined with other scans of that same plate on other city streets, and stored forever, it can become very revealing,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) wrote in 2013.

That’s because the readers can figure out a whole lot about a motorist (or at least about the assortment of drivers who may take turns sharing a single car) every time a vehicle gets scanned. Over time, a story begins to emerge.

“Information about your location over time can show not only where you live and work, but your political and religious beliefs, your social and sexual habits, your visits to the doctor, and your associations with others,” EFF explained. “And, according to recent research reported in Nature, it’s possible to identify 95% of individuals with as few as four randomly selected geospatial datapoints (location + time), making location data the ultimate biometric identifier.”

Paradise Valley police attempted to elude questions about their installation of plate readers on traffic signal posts earlier this year, Fox 10 reports.

FOX 10 did a story in February about the same technology being installed on traffic lights, the city also declined to talk publicly then too.

So why is the city not being public about this?

“Again, not trying to hide anything, the police department, this was my request of before we get going at these one at a time, let’s get them all together and make sure we understand and everybody is on the same page,” [Paradise Valley town manager Kevin Burke] said.

“Everybody?” Who’s “everybody?” Does he mean all the good roadgoing people of Paradise Valley? Or does he mean all the people who work for the municipal government?

IRS employees evade federal taxes, continue working at IRS

Yet another report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has found incredible abuses within the IRS — this time for allowing nearly 1,000 tax-evading employees to keep their jobs.

The TIGTA’s April report, which was just made public, reveals that 960 IRS employees (out of a total of 1,580) who intentionally dodged their federal tax obligations were spared firing by former IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller and his predecessors dating back to 2003.

Current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s short career heading the agency is not covered by the report, which ends its investigation of cases closed from fiscal year 2004 through fiscal year 2013.

The audit was conducted specifically to determine “whether the IRS had an effective process in place to address willful violations of tax law by employees,” according to TIGTA’s summary.

Of course, TIGTA found the IRS’s process to be ineffective.

Perhaps this should go without saying, but federal law requires the IRS to fire employees who’ve been determined to have “committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful violations of tax law, unless such penalty is mitigated by the IRS Commissioner,” according to the report. “… [T]he IRS must ensure that its employees comply with the tax law in order to maintain the public’s confidence.”

But, 61 percent of the time, the commissioner opted for remedial actions that amounted to job bailouts for the offenders.

From the audit:

TIGTA reviewed records for cases closed in Fiscal Years 2004 through 2013 (prior to the term of the current Commissioner). For this period, IRS records show that 1,580 employees were found to be willfully tax noncompliant. While the RRA 98 states the IRS shall terminate employees who willfully violate tax law, it also gives the IRS Commissioner the sole authority to mitigate cases to a lesser penalty. Over this 10-year period, 620 employees (39 percent) with willful tax noncompliance were terminated, resigned, or retired. For the other 960 employees (61 percent) with willful tax noncompliance, the proposed terminations were mitigated to lesser penalties such as suspensions, reprimands, or counseling.

Who better to finagle his way out of paying taxes than the guy with an insider’s knowledge of how the system works? And the audit suggests that’s exactly what happened in many cases. “These cases,” it reveals, “included willful overstatement of expenses, claiming the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit without buying a home, and repeated failure to timely file required Federal tax returns.”

Lest there be any doubt about where the buck stops in this decade-long trend, TIGTA goes out of its way to single out the commissioner.

“In cases that were mitigated, files included mitigating factors as well as evidence that violations of tax law were willful; however, the basis for the Commissioner’s decision to mitigate was not clearly identified in the case files,” the audit asserts.

Even though some of the cases involved repeat offenders and others with a history of aggravating misconduct, “the proposed terminations were mitigated by the IRS Commissioner.”

Kids may be learning something, but it isn’t U.S. history

A new report gauging how well eighth-graders in the U.S. have learned their history and civics lessons reveals extremely low levels of proficiency across a range of student demographics.

In the latest iteration of its National Report Card, a project of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a scant 18 percent of American eighth-graders demonstrated a basic proficiency with U.S. history in 2014. They fared little better in other citizenship-related academic subjects like civics and geography.

The current version of the NAEP report card considers the performance of more than 29,000 eighth-grade students nationwide on assessment tests covering U.S. history, geography and civics. The NAEP conducts its report card study every four years.

While some demographics performed better or worse than in 2014, students’ overall performance, compared with the 2010 report card, was flat:

Nationally, eighth graders’ average scores on the NAEP U.S. history, geography, and civics assessments showed no significant change in 2014, compared to 2010 — the last assessment year. However, several student groups have made gains. In 2014, eighteen percent of eighth-graders performed at or above the Proficient level in U.S. history, 27 percent performed at or above the Proficient level in geography, and 23 percent performed at or above the Proficient level in civics. Students performing at or above the Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter.

Even the best-performing subset of students, as a group, flunk miserably when it comes to knowing their U.S. history. Students of Asian descent did the best, but still managed only 33 percent proficiency in U.S. history. Black students brought up the rear, scoring 6 percent.

Unsurprisingly, students who attend private schools fared better than their public-school counterparts. Among private-school students, 31 percent demonstrated proficiency with U.S. history; 44 percent with geography and 38 percent with civics. Among public-school students, 17 percent demonstrated proficiency with U.S. history; 25 percent with geography and 22 percent with civics.

Check out the NAEP’s full interactive report card here.

Another poll shows John McCain in ‘trouble’ with 2016 voters

Sen. John McCain’s recent polling doldrums have been well documented. And as 2016 gets nearer, it’s hard to dismiss just how tough it may be for the five-term Arizona lawmaker to earn a sixth trip to Capitol Hill.

McCain has fared poorly in numerous polls, as well as in the eyes of Arizona Republicans, for the duration of his current term. He’s been censured; he’s polled badly; and — at least in one survey — voters have indicated they’d prefer literally anybody else over McCain in 2016.

It’s been easy to dismiss those bad showings because, for one thing, they’re polls. A poll can be fallible, fraught with bias, indicative of a moment instead of a trend and representative of only a small cutout of a much larger picture.

But McCain’s unpopularity in his home state is becoming a trend that’s getting harder to ignore as 2016 draws nearer. A new poll of Arizona voters finds McCain “in a whole lot of trouble for reelection next year,” according to Public Policy Polling, which on Tuesday released the results of its latest Arizona survey.

From the poll summary:

John McCain’s troubles with conservatives have him in a whole lot of trouble for reelection next year. Even among Republican primary voters just 41% approve of the job he’s doing to 50% who disapprove. Only 37% of primary voters say they generally support him for renomination, compared to 51% who say they would prefer someone “more conservative.”

It’s his struggles on the right that have McCain imperiled. He gets narrowly positive reviews from both “somewhat conservative” (51/37) and moderate (50/44) Republicans. But among those who identify themselves as ‘very conservative,’ just 21% approve of the job McCain is doing to 71% who disapprove.

Unlike an earlier poll that found other potential candidates leading McCain across the board, Tuesday’s results show McCain with a slight lead over oft-mentioned GOP primary challengers.

“The good news for McCain is that he does lead all the prospective primary challengers we tested against him in head to head match ups, although some of them would clearly start out as toss ups,” the summary states. “McCain leads David Schweikert 40/39, Matt Salmon 42/40, Kelli Ward 44/31, and Christine Jones 48/27.”

That’s by no means great news for McCain, but it’s at least better than the results of a Citizens United survey last year that showed McCain trailing anyone and everyone.

GOP hits new FEMA policy making climate action a condition for states to receive federal grants

Republican lawmakers are criticizing a new policy at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that forces states to acknowledge climate change in order to receive some federal disaster funds.

The policy, set to take effect next March, requires state governors to address the role of climate change in their disaster-mitigation plans in order to qualify for federal disaster-preparedness grant money.

A group of Republican senators are questioning the change in a letter to FEMA Director Craig Fugate, arguing that the new policy will complicate the bureaucratic process of applying for mitigation assistance and force state leaders to adopt an ideological position in an ongoing and unsettled debate.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, publicized the letter Monday, questioning FEMA’s authority to implement such a wide-ranging policy change and asking Fugate to reconcile the agency’s current position with his past statements concerning the cyclical nature of hurricane-related disasters.

“We are concerned FEMA’s recent decision to require States to address climate change in their mitigation strategies injects unnecessary, ideological-based red tape into the disaster preparedness process,” the letter states. “Planning and preparing for disasters should be focused on strengthening and protecting local communities from inevitable weather events and not about falling in line with the president’s political agenda.”

The senators go on to ask Fugate to “provide the specific statutory authority the agency [FEMA] relied upon to require consideration of climate change as a requisite for receipt of preparedness funds.”

Interestingly, the senators also insinuate that the policy change — like so many policy tweaks in the Obama era — was done without consulting state leaders on the front lines of implementing disaster relief plans.

“Please provide a list of Governors and/or other state officials FEMA consulted to develop the new criteria,” they wrote.

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) all co-signed the letter with Inhofe.

Is Bill Clinton in any position to help Hillary’s campaign?

The rollout of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has followed a sort of unintentional trajectory.

Releasing an announcement video and embarking on a stagey van tour did nothing to avert her critics’ attention from the daily scandals surrounding her conflicts of interest while serving as secretary of state. It didn’t help that the choreography of her populist van tour turned out to be pretty flat. Clinton’s Iowa trip drew plenty of fresh criticism for emphasizing just how isolated, how ensconced in privilege, she appears.

With things going badly, apologists with longtime Clinton family ties came to the rescue. Lanny Davis and James Carville showed up on talk shows, soft-peddling the idea that all the darts aimed at Hillary were coming from the present-day perpetrators of that same-old, bad-old right-wing conspiracy.

None of that has seemed to shift Hillary’s campaign momentum out of neutral. Though her camp had been avoiding it — thanks to a cost-benefit analysis that decided he brought too much early baggage to the table — team Hillary apparently decided at some point that Bill Clinton needed to become a more public evangelist.

Public opinion is comparatively benign when it comes to ex-presidents. And, whatever else he may be, Bill Clinton is amiable, camera-friendly, garrulous and generally better liked by casual TV watchers than is his wife.

In the past, a push from Bill Clinton might have helped more than it seems to be helping today. In the past, a disinterested observer might conclude that, whatever else he was, Bill Clinton was not tone deaf — a requisite quality in an aspiring politician.

In the past. But watch his demeanor and his carelessness with language in this MSNBC clip, which got passed around the Internet a lot Monday:

This doesn’t sound like a guy who is going to wear a yoke very well for the next 18 months. For whatever reason — post-presidential aloofness, extravagant wealth, the self-affirming effects of remaining too long in the company of sycophants, or (this is difficult to state in a delicate way) the incremental toll that age exacts on an otherwise sharp mind — Bill Clinton doesn’t sound like his former self.

Even as he’s justifying his wife’s campaign and his family’s business model, he sounds reckless, dismissive of substantive arguments, slightly unaware of the stakes, and — well, and kind of like Joe Biden.

There may be a better reason than the familiar baggage behind team Hillary’s reluctance to enlist Bill Clinton in the early going. For reasons that are hard to pin down, he just seems like a present-day field liability in his own right. And for someone who’s supposed to bring a dose of charisma to the campaign of a spouse who clearly lacks it, that could spell trouble for Hillary’s campaign — not that she needs any more.

IRS seizes rural convenience store owner’s career savings in another horrible abuse of civil forfeiture

Lyndon McLellan, a rural North Carolina convenience store owner, woke up one day to discover the IRS had seized every penny of the $107,000 in his bank account. It was all the money he had put away over the course of 13 years of assiduous, hard work.

“This is all I’ve ever done. I was raised in the store business; I’m here 12-13 hours a day, seven days a week,” he explains. “To make this kind of money selling soft drinks, cigarettes and hot dogs, somebody’s gotta work, okay? It wasn’t just handed to us. It was taken from us – but it wasn’t handed to us.”

McLellan hasn’t been accused of a crime. The IRS just seized his money. And even though the IRS announced it was changing its civil forfeiture policy in October of last year – a result of growing public outcry in opposition to the practice – it didn’t relent in McLellan’s case, which predated the announcement by a few months.

For years, McLellan had been making periodic cash deposits into his account. The federal government requires that bank customers fill out a currency transaction report to document any single deposit in excess of $10,000. But McLellan had been depositing his earnings in increments beneath that threshold – for more than a decade.

The IRS had, until its policy change last year, exercised its own discretion in invoking its power of civil asset forfeiture against these smaller depositors. The spirit of the forfeiture law, as it applies to McLellan’s case, assumes that he was sitting on a stack of currency but elected to deposit it in small increments to avoid the government’s reporting requirements.

But that’s clearly not what he was doing – he was depositing what he was earning, as he was earning it.

It took McLellan years to accumulate the small nest egg the IRS took away, and each deposit represented a small milestone. There was never a giant stash of cash. And both before and after its policy change, the IRS didn’t care. In the aftermath of a February congressional hearing on forfeiture practices, the IRS’ position revealed itself in pretty cruel fashion.

From The New York Times:

During a congressional hearing in February, Representative George Holding, a Republican from North Carolina, referred to Mr. McLellan’s case, saying no crime other than structuring had been alleged. “If that case exists, then it’s not following the policy,” John Koskinen, the commissioner of the I.R.S., said.

But the prosecutor on the case, Steve West, was unmoved. Notified of the hearing by Mr. McLellan’s lawyer at the time, he responded with concern that the seizure warrant in the case, filed under seal but later given to Mr. McLellan, had been handed over to a congressional committee, according to an email exchange provided to The New York Times by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm that has taken over the case.

“Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it,” Mr. West wrote. “But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency.” He concluded with a settlement offer in which the government would keep half the money.

So, as it stands, the government is offering McLellan the sweet deal of getting back half of his $107,000 in order to make the forfeiture case – a case in which McLellan hasn’t been charged with a crime, but which forces him to bear the burden of proof if he wants all his money returned – go away.

The Institute for Justice, which produced the video above, is advocating on McLellan’s behalf in the ongoing effort to right this injustice and return all of his hard-earned money. You can read more about that effort here.

Obama administration forbids states from asking whether a voter is a citizen

The Obama administration’s insistence that all states must use the same federal voter registration form effectively forbids any state from verifying – or even asking about – the citizenship status of would-be voters.

Details of a pending Supreme Court case, Kobach, et al. v. The United States Election Assistance Commission, reveal that the Obama administration considers states to be in violation of the law if they ask any information of registrants beyond what’s included on the federal form.

An amicus brief submitted April 21 by the American Civil Rights Union argues that the federal form serves as a gateway for non-citizens to register to vote, especially since the federal government doesn’t want the states supplementing the form with additional questions about registrants’ legal status.

Kansas and Arizona, while using the federal form, attempted to adopt some changes that would give those states a better understanding of the kind of people they were registering. The feds didn’t like that.

From the amicus brief:

Kansas’s and Arizona’s requested modifications to their state-specific instructions that implemented qualifications found in state law establishing who may vote in their elections. Only those applicants who present the necessary documentary proof of citizenship along with the Federal Form are registered and qualified to vote. Proof of citizenship is thus, by definition, a “qualification” for voting. Those who cannot establish they are citizens are not qualified to vote.

The States, not Congress (and certainly not the Acting Executive Director of EAC), have the sole authority to establish voter qualifications, including the power to ensure that the franchise is exercised only by citizens. [An earlier lower court’s] decision effectively reads that traditional state power out of the Constitution and hands it to an employee at the EAC, a small, federal commission that was designed primarily to assist the States in producing voter registration forms. This Court should grant the Petition in order to restore power to the States to set qualifications of voters as intended by the Framers.

The “EAC” is the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and its mission is exactly that described in the quote above. But it’s been a great tool for the Obama administration, which has sought new limits on states’ ability to qualify voters.

“Federal law says that states must accept and use a federal form for registering voters. But the federal form doesn’t require any proof that the person submitting the form is a citizen,” PJ Media’s Joseph Vanderhulst – himself an immigrant – wrote in an April 30 piece.

“The form just asks the registrant to check a box.

“…Noncitizens are offered the voter registration forms all over the country and are filling them out, and they are being added to the rolls regardless of which box they check.”

In other words, the Obama policy is exacerbating the very problem the states are attempting, through the verification process, to solve.

Harvard student newspaper finds almost all faculty political donations go to Democrats

A new report in The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University’s student-run daily newspaper, reveals the prestigious institution’s faculty is overwhelmingly one-sided when it comes to politics.

A full 84 percent of all political donations made by Harvard faculty have gone to Democratic candidates or Democratic PACs over the past four years, according to the report.

Within the university’s individual colleges and schools, that number rises as high as 98 percent. Harvard Law was the most pro-Democrat among the schools; the Business School, while still favoring Democrats overall, leaned more heavily Republican than any other.

From the report:

Eighty-four percent of campaign contributions made by a group of 614 Harvard faculty, instructors, and researchers between 2011 and the third quarter of 2014 went to federal Democratic campaigns and political action committees, according to a Crimson analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.

During the three years, the Harvard affiliates represented in analyzed public filings gave nearly $3 million to federal campaigns and candidates. Each of Harvard’s schools leaned to the left in the contributions made by their affiliates, many by wide margins. Ninety-six percent of donations in the data set from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes Harvard College, supported Democratic efforts. That figure was even higher—nearly 98 percent—at Harvard Law School. Harvard Business School was the most Republican, with 37 percent of its contributions supporting Republicans and 62 percent going to Democrats.

The Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) – arguably constituents of what ought to serve as the most intellectually diverse of all the university’s schools – turns out to be “one of Harvard’s most left-leaning faculties or schools, according to the data set,” the report notes.

The results of the Crimson’s analysis even surprised the FAS dean, Michael D. Smith.

From 2011 through October of 2014, the 183 FAS affiliates included in the Crimson analysis contributed $486,452 to federal campaigns and candidates, representing 17 percent of the University’s total.

Of the FAS total, $465,652, or 96 percent, went to Democratic efforts.

“I am amazed at how high that number is,” FAS Dean Michael D. Smith said.

While not coming close to offsetting the disparity between Democratic and Republican faculty donors, those on the Business School faculty who elected to donate to Republicans did so with generosity.

“The Business School was also the kindest to Republicans, with surveyed affiliates giving $334,850 to GOP candidates and campaigns,” the Crimson reports. “That figure was 83 percent of all University contributions to GOP campaigns, but it still was not a majority at the Business School, where surveyed faculty, researchers, and instructors sent 62 percent of their contributions to Democrats.”

 

A visit with Sabo, the artist behind some of the coolest pro-libertarian imagery out there

You may recognize the work of Sabo – the nom de guerre of the street artist who’s given the stolid, starchy conservative side of politics a refreshing blast of irreverence and irony. He’s the guy responsible for those posters that make Ted Cruz look like a tattooed badass and Hillary Clinton supporters look like flying monkeys.

Reason TV followed Sabo around Los Angeles for a discussion of what the conservative side of the political spectrum has been missing when it comes to pop culture, and how he’s hoping to precipitate a movement to change that.

It helps that Sabo’s work is intelligent, topical, and really, really biting. Oh – and that it looks absolutely killer. This isn’t a lame attempt by some conservative upstart who’s punching above his creative weight; nor is it an effort to parrot the perceived edginess of what the Left’s best creative types are doing.

It’s smart and original visual satire that progressive image-makers should (and probably do) envy.

“Art is neither ‘right’ or ‘left,’ and when I look at art today, I see just one voice being heard,” he explains in the clip.

“I believe the Republican Party, or conservatives, or whatever you want to call them – libertarians – have a great message. They just don’t have anyone to tell it. You almost have to take a step back and question why that is. And when you start doing that, you start seeing how all the cogs and wheels turn in such a way to, where, if you decide you want to be a creative, you’re almost pushed into the Left; towards the Left.”

Check out Reason’s article on Sabo for more, and, while you’re at it, visit his website.

Texas governor vows to monitor upcoming military exercise

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has directed the state guard to observe the U.S. military’s planned training exercises in the Lone Star State, slated to unfold over an eight-week period this summer.

In a letter to Major General Gerald “Jake” Betty, Commander of the Texas State Guard, Abbott said Tuesday the move is intended, in part, to allay residents’ concerns over the government’s undeclared intentions in launching “Operation Jade Helm 15.”

Jade Helm is a massive, multi-pronged military training exercise announced to take place from July 15 through Sept. 15. It’ viewed with intense suspicion by those who believe the federal government has been consolidating far too much power vis-à-vis both the states and private citizens.

A public hearing in Bastrop County – one of 12 Texas counties reportedly designated in Jade Helm’s training jargon as “hostile territory” – residents pushed back hard at the idea. “They’re gathering intelligence. That’s what they’re doing,” said resident Bob Wells, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman. “And they’re moving logistics in place for martial law. That’s my feeling. Now I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. I hope I’m a ‘conspiracy theorist.'”

Gov. Abbott’s letter spoke directly to such concerns:

During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed. By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.

…Directing the State Guard to monitor the Operation will allow Texas to be informed of the details of military personnel movements and training exercise schedules, and it will give us the ability to quickly and effectively communicate with local communities, law enforcement, public safety personnel and citizens.

The action I take today comes with the recognition of Texas’ long history of supporting our military forces and our proud tradition of training, deploying and supporting our active-duty troops and returning veterans.

As you can see, the letter doesn’t go overboard with defiant rhetoric or foment additional suspicion over what the feds are up to. Rather, it demonstrates that Abbott is aware of the balance of sovereignty that exists between state and federal government, and that he wants people in Texas to know that he takes that relationship seriously.

Nevertheless, the progressive side of the national press wasted no time attempting to make Abbott appear kooky.

Another state considers getting out of the marriage licensing game

Just more than a month has passed since Oklahoma legislators voted to get out of the marriage licensing business. Now another conservative state is eying a similar measure.

Alabama State Sen. Greg Albritton, a Republican, announced SB 377 recently, bringing before the legislature a proposal that would end any licensing requirement for marriage and removing from probate judges the obligation of sanctioning a union.

By exclusion, same-sex marriage is not legal under Alabama law – even though the state has recently wrestled with conflicting interpretations, across various levels of government, of a court decision that overturned the existing law.

Albritton’s bill is not designed to address the legality of same-sex marriage; in fact, the law it proposes would be valid and applicable regardless of how that question ultimately is resolved. The state’s only openly gay legislator, Democrat Patricia Todd of Birmingham, has told the Associated Press that she is not opposed to the bill.

The law would require Alabama couples to seek whatever cultural sanction for marriage they deem appropriate, and to fill out a contract recording their union and bring it to the probate judge’s office in one of the state’s 67 counties. This step changes the probate judge’s role from one of sanctioning a marriage on the state’s behalf to simply recording that a marriage occurred.

Should same-sex marriage become the law of the land, that’s a distinction that could absolve the consciences of any probate judges whose religious beliefs might otherwise place them in tough moral spot.

Crucially, it also hands the ritual power of marriage back to the private sphere – where many libertarians argue it should have remained all along. The bill would leave to couples the burden of deciding what constitutes a “marriage” – all the state would require is that the couple record their union in probate, using the state-supplied contract form.

“The sanctity of marriage cannot be sanctified by government of men,” Albritton said Wednesday. “That is where we have gotten ourselves in trouble.”

The bill passed through the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday with unanimous approval, according to Yellowhammer News.

Traditional marriage supporters vow civil disobedience if Supreme Court recognizes same-sex marriage

Signers of a pledge of “solidarity” in support of traditional marriage are vowing to not abide by any Supreme Court ruling that imposes the recognition of same-sex marriage on Americans who harbor religious objections to such unions.

The Liberty Council’s Mathew Staver, one of the pledge’s organizers, told Fox News’ Todd Starnes this week that its supporters are unequivocal in their promise to defy a ruling favoring universal recognition of same-sex marriage. Staver said he and other signees are encouraging the type of resistance encouraged by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights era.

“Yes, I’m talking about civil disobedience,” Staver told Starnes. “I’m talking about resistance and I’m talking about peaceful resistance against unjust laws and unjust rulings.

“…I’m calling for people to not recognize the legitimacy of that ruling because it’s not grounded in the Rule of Law…They need to resist that ruling in every way possible. In a peaceful way – they need to resist it as much as Martin Luther King, Jr. resisted unjust laws in his time.”

The group’s statement of solidarity defends marriage by invoking appeals to natural law, divinity and human reason – all of which is to be expected from those who bear conscientious objections to changes in a law that, from their point of view, would subvert a divinely-established set of moral absolutes.

Yet, crucially, the group also emphasizes the practical ramifications of reshaping the law.

“Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State,” the statement asserts. “This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.”

Fox’s Starnes described the pledge’s highest-profile signers as “a who’s who of religious leaders” – Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Tom DeLay, Brent Bozell and  Franklin Graham, among others. You can view a list of other prominent signees at the group’s website.

Inspector General finds more missing Lerner emails

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has disclosed the discovery of a fresh batch of previously-unknown emails tied to former IRS administrator Lois Lerner’s email account.

TIGTA unearthed approximately 6,400 Lerner emails in its ongoing effort to recover Lerner’s allegedly missing computer data. The Inspector General has been collaborating with independent information technology experts to assist in retrieving the data, which Lerner alleged was permanently lost when her computer’s hard drive crashed. Lerner retired from the IRS after the scandal reached a media zenith in 2013.

No criminal charges have ever been filed against IRS officials for the roles they may have played in perpetuating the political discrimination scandal. The House voted to hold Lerner in contempt in May of last year, after she invoked the 5th Amendment and refused to continue testifying.

According to Fox News, roughly 650 of the emails date from 2010 and 2011; the remainder date from 2012.

According to a spokesman for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, congressional investigators do not yet know what the emails contain. But, he said, the new information will receive the same scrutiny that Lerner’s previously-revealed emails have so far received.

“These emails will be carefully examined as part of the committee’s bipartisan IRS investigation,” Hatch’s  spokesman told The Hill. “After TIGTA produces their report regarding the missing data later this year, the Committee hopes to follow suit and move forward with the release of its bipartisan report on this issue.”