Everyone loves a good political scandal!
There are three scandals in Washington -- at the same time -- any one of which Republicans believe could bring down the Obama administration!
Political scandals can fill the news cycle for hours on end. Juicy new details can keep it in the media for days. Fictional facts can drag it out for weeks.
A minor problem, a lapse in judgement, a mistake that can be easily fixed is not exciting. A party filibustering everything introduced by the President isn't, unfortunately, interesting.
But a scandal?
The three storms brewing on Capitol Hill are the Benghazi attack, the IRS improprieties and the AP phone taps. Flames of all three are being fanned by Republicans in an attempt to discredit the president by declaring each a scandal and implying White House involvement.
And Republicans should know a good scandal.
Let's see, there's the Iran Contra scandal under Reagan, and then there was Watergate under Nixon. Oh, and lying about WMD's to get us into the Iraq war. I think that was George W. Bush. Each pursued with direct knowledge and involvement of the president.
And, lest we forget, Scooter Libby, under the direction of the vice president, leaked the identity of a covert operative putting many lives in jeopardy.
Republicans try desperately to link the White House to each of these incidents. They're so desperate that they continue to waste taxpayer money to get at their trumped up truth with new hearings and new revelations including a phony quotation from an -mail regarding Benghazi proffered by Jonathan Karl for ABC News!
GOP congressional members propose that the president had knowledge of each of the misdeeds and is covering them up.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of crazy base-Republicans that believe this hypocrisy even when there is no evidence to back up Republican claims.
For all intents and purposes, though tragic, the Benghazi incident is over. It's run its course despite a few right-wing nutjobs still pounding the drum.
More important, due to the implications of imposing on freedom of the press, is the spying on members of the Associated Press. The Justice Department's secret intrusion needs to be further investigated to make sure the thin line between that freedom and national security isn't breeched by either institution.
But the Internal Revenue Scandal? That, in the minds of Republicans, could have legs because everybody hates the IRS.
Investigations by Rep. Dave Camp and the inscrutable Rep. Darrell Issa have turned up little of value because they're asking the wrong questions.
The predisposition of their investigation misses the more obvious point and egregious problem in the IRS. But they and their colleagues' tunnel-visioned quest for political impropriety will never uncover the 'real' scandal brought out by the alleged targeting.
The 'real' scandal? All the targeted organizations received their 501(c)4 exemption despite the obvious political intent of these 'patriot' organizations.
Tax exemption under 501(c)4 regulations is intended for 'social welfare' groups and though broad in its scope clearly limits political activity.
Many of the organizations applying for 501(c)4 status during the time succeeding the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision were clearly operating as political organizations and their major activities were of a purely political nature.
Despite the ill-conceived and misguided ruling by the Supreme Court, the Citizens United opinion did not change the parameters for qualification as an exempt organization under 501(c)4.
The IRS failed in its responsibility by giving these 'dark money' organizations a tax exemption under the (c)4 designation whether they were separated for additional information or not.
Organizations granted this exemption repeatedly violate the rules of the exemption with impunity, the most egregious of these being Crossroads GPS, the partisan driven political organization run my Karl Rove. Rove spent $70 million of shadowy donor money and distributed $62 million in opposition of liberal candidates and $7 million in support of conservative candidates. Rove's prime activity was, and still is, political!
Many 501(c)4 recipients violated the law, but conservative organizations were by far the biggest offenders. In fact, the six largest, all conservative, spent $204 million either against Democrats or in support of Republicans -- some as much as 76 percent of their income such as the American Action Network.
Including the words 'American' or 'Patriot' in the name doesn't make an organization patriotic. Five of the top seven political activist groups -- 'dark money' organizations --include American in their name: Americans For Prosperity, Koch brothers funded; Americans For Tax Reform; and the aforementioned American Action Network. The third largest purveyor of 'secret money,' the Chamber of Commerce, has U.S. in its name. They spent $28 million opposing Democratic candidates.
None of these organizations, except the Chamber, have a citizen base or membership. All are fed by illusory wealthy donors pumping in millions of dollars to distort elections and buy government.
Citizens United, with the intrusion of PAC's and super PAC's, has been destructive to our electoral process. But the near blanket approval for these 'dark money' organizations by the IRS has further eroded elections and made them woefully less transparent.
If you look at the leadership of these organizations many of the 'operatives' are those that created our current mess: a huge deficit, endless wars, unemployment, poverty, slide in education, wealth disparity, failing infrastructure, loss of freedoms, super disasters, financial crises, and escalating health and education costs.
Everyone hates the IRS so it's easy for uninformed and partisan individuals to get caught up in the hysteria; the right-wing excoriation of the much maligned agency.
Given the circumstances, the IRS' arbitrary decision in Cincinnati to single out 'tea party' and "patriot' for greater scrutiny was, at the most, controversial. But, a scandal?
Only a third of those separated for closer scrutiny were these supposedly target organizations and all of them got their exemption.
There is no scandal here but there is an unseen, unpublicized, and potentially more dangerous failure clouded by Republican histrionics that distracts and affects the American people.
In regulatory parlance, the IRS failed to protect 'the people' those they are obligated to protect from the corruption that permeates this country. But, they aren't the only failure and much of the cause is cronyism, and deregulation and defunding by a callous and uncaring Republican party.
Maybe it's time to clean house by kicking some Republican butt: getting rid of the destructive and corrupt deadwood that has infiltrated and gridlocked Congress.
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