WH Counsel Had Early Warning of IRS Audit

WH Counsel Had Early Warning of IRS Audit

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President Obama’s chief counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, learned weeks ago that an audit of the  Internal Revenue Service would likely show that the agency had inappropriately  targeted conservative groups since late April, a senior White House official disclosed on Sunday.

Treasury Department attorneys  told Ruemmler on April 22 that a forthcoming inspector general's report would show that "a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain…organizations by using words like 'tea party' and 'patriot’,” the Wall Street Journal reported. This disclosure has prompted a debate over whether President Obama should have been notified at the time.
Other White House officials refused to comment on whether anyone else in the administration was aware of the results of the IG’s probe. Obama said he learned about the controversy from  news reports  at the same time as the public on May 10. 

Former White House officials said Ruemmler did the right thing by not informing the president about the advance warning about the findings of the IG report, because it might have  led to a bigger scandal involving White House interference  with an ongoing investigation.

If Ruemmler had "called people over to the White House for a full briefing to know all the details, you know what we'd be talking about now? We'd be talking about whether she had tried to interfere with the IG's investigation," Jack Quinn, former White House counsel under President Bill Clinton.  -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal

MORE PROBES OF IRS SCANDAL    There will be three more congressional hearings into the IRS scandal this week, following last Friday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearings into the agency’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups to obtain tax-exempt status during the last campaign cycle: 

Tuesday: Senate Finance Committee beginning at 10:00 a.m. Witnesses will include outgoing acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, IRS Inspector General J. Russell George and former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.

Senate Banking Committee beginning at 10 a.m. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will testify on the annual Financial Stability Oversight Council report, but will likely get questioned about the IRS scandal.

Wednesday: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform beginning at 10 a.m.    Witnesses will include Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal S. Wolin, Russell George, IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, and Shulman

IS OBAMA’S WHITE HOUSE TOO BIG TO MANAGE?   The Fiscal Times’ Josh Boak writes that Obama “has yet to master his management of the federal government, as shown this month by the disturbing revelations about the IRS targeting Tea Party groups, the Justice Department hunting for leakers by seizing Associated Press phone records, and the talking points written by the administration that may have been edited to hide information about the Benghazi terrorist attack.” -  Read more at The Fiscal Times

U.S HITS DEBT CEILING The Treasury officially hit the nation’s borrowing limit on Sunday and began using "extraordinary measures" to avoid default. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced last week that the Treasury will temporarily suspend selling certain state and local securities and will not invest in federal retirements funds. In a letter sent last week, Lew told House Speaker John Boehner that Congress would now have until at least Labor Day to raise the nation’s debt limit.  -  Read more at RT

BATTLE BREWS OVER CFPB CONFIRMATION    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is planning to call a vote this week to confirm Richard Cordray, the recess appointed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That is the embattled agency created under the Dodd-Frank act, and tasked with protecting consumers from unscrupulous financial industry practices. Unlike other confirmation battles, this showdown is more about the agency itself than the person nominated to run it.

Republicans have threatened to block Cordray’s official confirmation unless “key structural changes are made” to the CFPB. For example, instead of one director, they want to create a bipartisan board of directors to oversee the bureau and they want it subjected to the annual appropriations process, similar to other agencies.
Republicans have blocked both of Obama’s former nominations to head the agency, first now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and then Cordray. But last January, Obama circumvented GOP opposition by installing Cordray as a recess appointment – a move the GOP claims was unconstitutional because the Senate was not formally in recess at the time. -  Read more at The Hill

MOST BIZARRE TAX CHEATS    People do all kinds of crazy things to avoid paying taxes, from hiding hundreds of transactions in frozen octopus boxes to burying gold in their backyards.  - Check out the nine most bizarre tax cheats here http://money.cnn.com/gallery/pf/taxes/2013/05/20/tax-cheats/index.html?iid=HP_LN


Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.