Sunday, May 19, 2013

 What Triggered the IRS Targeting 'Admission'

The surprising admission by a high-ranking Internal Revenue Service official that the agency targeted tea party and other conservative groups could be seen as a tactical move designed to stave off a deeper investigation of the scandal.

Washington insiders said the Obama administration was engaged in a classic tactic called a “modified limited hangout” or MLH — a term that dates back to the Nixon presidency.

An MLH is a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in hopes of ending a probe and preventing exposure of more important or damaging information.

The idea is to admit to some wrongdoing, but not all, in hopes of deflating press and public demands for more investigations.

During a March 1973 discussion between President Nixon and his top advisers, Nixon outlined to John Dean a report that Dean would create, offering a misleading view of the White House staff's role in events surrounding the Watergate burglary.

When Dean said, "It's a limited hangout," John Ehrlichman piped in: "It's a modified limited hangout."

The unfolding IRS scandal has all the earmarks of an MLH.

In March 2010, the IRS began targeting tea party and other conservative groups for closer scrutiny, demanding paperwork and other materials from the groups that delayed their application for tax-exempt status.

A congressional committee last year asked then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman about targeting allegations, but he told the committee the agency wasn't targeting conservative groups. He resigned in late 2012, and Steven Miller became acting IRS commissioner.

Then in early May of this year, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report confirming the targeting to congressional investigators, but not to the public.

Apparently fearing the release of the upcoming Inspector General’s report, IRS officials decided to engage in an MLH.

On May 10, Lois Lerner, head of the IRS tax-exempt-status division, admitted that the targeting had been taking place, but asserted that it had not been centrally planned and was carried out by lower-level "front-line people" in the Cincinnati office.

But the move backfired — the admission by Lerner only served to spark public outrage and encourage investigators to dig deeper.

And, powerful evidence suggests the IRS activities involved high-ranking IRS officials in D.C., and hundreds of conservative organizations — not ones simply with “tea party” or “patriots” in their organization names.

On Tuesday, four days after Lerner's admission, respected elections attorney Cleta Mitchell came forward and claimed that the IRS scandal reaches to the White House.

She said she also is aware of nearly 100 other conservative groups that were being targeted by Washington.

"There were nearly 100 groups across the country that got the very egregious set of letters from the IRS that were almost identical and they came from offices all over the country, so I know of at least 85 to 90, maybe more, organizations," said Mitchell, who represents six groups that say they have been targeted.

She added that she had two clients whose groups’ purpose was to lobby against Obamacare, and both received extra IRS scrutiny.

Mitchell told Newsmax she doesn't believe the president or the White House was uninvolved in the IRS activities, as the administration has claimed.

"They may try to say it was low-level people," she said. "It was not low-level people. They weren't in Cincinnati. It was being directed out of Washington, and I have them on record saying that.

"We know the White House used the Department of Health and Human Services to try to silence critics about Obamacare. So if we know they used HHS, why wouldn't they also use the IRS or other federal agencies to try to silence political critics?"

The next day, Wednesday, May 15 — the day Commissioner Miller was forced to resign — the IRS reported that the Inspector General's office is launching a new investigation.

Insiders say expect more MLHs from the Obama administration.

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