Agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives employed rogue tactics similar to those used in Milwaukee in every operation, from Portland, Ore., to Pensacola, Fla.
Among the findings:
■ As they did in Milwaukee, agents in other cities offered sky-high prices for guns, leading suspects to buy firearms at stores and turn around and sell them to undercover agents for a quick profit. In other stings, agents ran fake pawnshops and readily bought stolen items, such as electronics and bikes — no questions asked — spurring burglaries and theft. In Atlanta, agents bought guns that had been stolen just hours earlier, several ripped off from police cars.
■ Agents damaged buildings they rented for their operations, tearing out walls and rewiring electricity — then stuck landlords with the repair bills. A property owner in Portland said agents removed a parking lot spotlight, damaging her new $30,000 roof and causing leaks, before they shut down the operation and disappeared without a way for her to contact them.
■ Agents pressed suspects for specific firearms that could fetch tougher penalties in court. They allowed felons to walk out of the stores armed with guns. In Wichita, agents suggested a felon take a shotgun, saw it off and bring it back — and provided instructions on how to do it. The sawed-off gun allowed them to charge the man with a more serious crime.
“To say this is just a few people, a few bad apples, I don’t buy it,” said David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and an expert on law enforcement tactics and regulation. “If your agency is in good shape with policy, training, supervision and accountability, the bad apples will not be able to take things to this level.”
Read the full article at the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Agents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are using Google Maps as part of their tool kit to audit taxpayers and organizations, The Daily Caller has learned.
A redacted IRS letter dated Sept. 8, 2011 reveals that at least in one case the IRS’s examiners used photos of a property, obtained through Google Maps, as evidence to revoke the 501(c)(4) status of a homeowner’s association.
“The road consists of a two-mile loop around the inside of the property. It goes not have any sidewalks or bicycle lanes. The examining agent printed and copied a map from Google Maps (www.google.com) into this report,” states the letter.
501(c)4 is a tax-exempt status that includes certain “social welfare organizations,” “local associations of employees,” “homeowners associations,” “volunteer fire companies,” and certain lobbying organizations.
The IRS became mired in scandal in May 2013 after a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that IRS staffers had singled out tea party groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny.
Read the full story at The Daily Caller.
The Obama administration said Friday it will allow some companies to kill or injure bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years without penalty in an effort to spur development and investment in balancing its environmental consequences. (Balance? I’m guessing the eagles fail to see the “balance,” here.)
The rule authorizes the “non-purposeful” killing of eagles, called “taking,” but also will require wind farms to implement certain guidelines to help with “eagle conservation.” (What – signs hanging from helium balloons for eagles to read: “Warning: You are approaching a wind farm!”?)
Incidentally, the punishment for killing a golden or bald eagle in the United States comes at a hefty price. Simply having eagle feathers or parts in your possession could land you in prison with a hefty fine. Felony killing of eagles comes with a fine of $250,000 and prison time. These penalties fall under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Read the full story at the Independent Journal Review.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says listing the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a resource on its “Hate Crimes” website page and linking to the organization is “not an endorsement” of the group or its research materials on hate crimes.
“The Resource link to SPLC is for informational purposes and not an endorsement of the organization or the information on their website,” an FBI spokesman told CNSNews.com.
On the FBI’s “Hate Crimes” page, it gives a general description of hate crimes and then includes a section headlined “In Depth,” which includes a prominent sub-head, “Resources.” Listed there under the Resources with a hyperlink is “Southern Poverty Law Center.”
CNSNews.com asked about the link to the SPLC because the man convicted of domestic terrorism this year for the shooting attack at the Family Research Council (FRC) told FBI investigators that he targeted the FRC after finding their name on the SPLC’s own “Hate Map,” where the pro-family and Christian organization is labeled as “anti-gay.”
“I find it incredible that a federal agency charged with protecting the American people allows itself to be connected to a group that was certified in court as the source that inspired an act of terrorism,” Lt. Gen Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of FRC, told CNSNews.com.
Read the full story at CNS News.
The Internal Revenue Service quietly proposed new regulations aimed at 501(c)(4) organizations during the Thanksgiving recess that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, called “a crass political effort by the Administration to get what political advantage they can, when they can.”
Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations were apparently singled out by the IRS starting in 2010, and the heavy hand of government suppression of these groups may have greatly attributed to Obama’s re-election, an American Enterprise Institute study revealed in October.
The Washington Post reported last week the Treasury Department said the new rules “may be both more restrictive and more permissive than the current approach.” The new rules focus on organizations known as “social welfare” groups that regulated within section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. Conservative political operations, liberal groups before them, began to organize under the 501 (c)(4) umbrella in the past ten years, and having such a tax status would allow these organizations from disclosing their donors.
A 54-year-old rule says that an organization can become a social welfare organization “if it is primarily engaged in promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community.” The new IRS regulation now says “campaign-related political activity” cannot count towards a group’s social welfare mission. Such a regulation would discount numerous conservative advocacy groups either seeking for or wanting to maintain a 501(c)(4) tax status.
Issa released a statement that, in part, said, “This new effort by the Obama Administration to limit traditional advocacy efforts by social welfare organizations will have a much more profound impact on grassroots and community organizations than on the well-heeled groups it supposedly targets. The fact that the Administration’s new effort only applies to social welfare organizations — and not powerful unions or business groups — underscores that this is a crass political effort by the Administration to get what political advantage they can, when they can.”
An Obamacare regulation issued by the Office of Personnel Management in October treats the U.S. Congress—which employs more than 11,000 staffers and which spent $4,329,000,000 on its own operations and $3,454,253,000,000 to fund the full government in fiscal 2013–as a “small business.”
The regulation treats this federal tax subsidy paid by the U.S. Treasury as if it were an “employer contribution” made by the owner of a small business.
Subsection D of Section 1312 of the 906-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is entitled: “MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE.”
It says: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are—(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).”
Ordinary citizens who buy their Obamacare-mandated health insurance through one of the individual exchanges set up under the law do not get an “employer contribution.” Moreover, such individuals can only qualify for a federal subsidy to buy their insurance on the exchange if they earn less than 400 percent of the poverty level.
Four hundred percent of the poverty level for a family of four is currently $94,200. Members of the House and Senate are paid a base annual salary of $174,000. A congressman would need to have a family of 9—including a spouse and 7 children—in order to qualify for a subsidy in the individual Obamacare exchanges. (So long as the spouse did not earn an income, in which case they would need to have more children to qualify.)
Read the full story at CNS News.
Under a regulation issued by the Office of Personnel Management, members of Congress and their staff will be able to use federal subsidies worth up to $11,378 per year to purchase any of the 103 different health insurance plans that expressly cover elective abortions that are now being offered on the Washington, D.C. Obamacare exchange.
The federal subsidy members of Congress and their staff can now use to buy health-insurance plans that cover elective abortions contradicts a vow Obama made in a nationally televised speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009.
It also contradicts the express purpose of the executive order on abortion funding that Obama promised to issue in March 2010 when the House of Representatives was preparing to take its final vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Obama needed to promise to issue that executive order to secure the votes of a group of Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak (Mich.), who said they would not vote for Obamacare so long as it funded abortion. Without Obama’s executive order, the bill would not have passed.
“Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place,” Obama said in his Sept. 9, 2009 speech to Congress.
Read the full article at CNS News.
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Tuesday asked if President Barack Obama has the “prosecutorial discretion” not to enforce immigration and marijuana laws, what’s to stop him from deciding not to enforce election laws.
“If the president can fail to enforce immigration laws, can the president likewise fail to enforce election laws?” Gowdy asked Simon Lazarus, senior counsel to the Constitutional Accountability Center, one of several legal experts who testified at the hearing titled, “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.”
GOWDY: “If you can dispense with immigration laws or marijuana laws or mandatory minimums, can you also dispense with election laws?”
GOWDY: “Why not? If he can suspend mandatory minimum and immigration laws, why not election laws?”
LAZARUS: “Because we live in a government of laws, and the president is bound to obey them and apply them.”
GOWDY: “Well he’s not applying the ACA, and he’s not applying immigration laws, and he’s not applying marijuana laws, and he’s not applying mandatory minimums. What’s the difference with election laws?”
LAZARUS: “We have a disagreement as to whether in fact he is applying those laws. My view is that he is applying those laws.”
Gowdy then turned to Jonathan Turley, professor at George Washington University Law School.
GOWDY: “Professor Turley, what are the limits of prosecutorial discretion, and if the president can suspend immigration laws, marijuana laws, why not election laws?”
TURLEY: “I think that some of these areas I can’t imagine to be justified through prosecutorial discretion. It’s not prosecutorial discretion to go into a law and say, an entire category of people will no longer be subject to the law. That’s a legislative decision. Prosecutorial discretion is a case-by-case decision that is made by the Department of Justice. When the Department of Justice starts to say we’re going to extend that to whole sections of laws, then they are engaging in a legislative act, not an act of prosecutorial discretion. Wherever the line is drawn has got to be drawn somewhere from here. It can’t include categorical rejections of the application of the law to millions of people.”
People who depend on the government to buy their food using food stamps are boosting the economy, the White House says.
A Thanksgiving message posted on the White House website says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)–AKA food stamps–helps millions of Americans put food on the table and keeps millions out of poverty.
In the last five years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone up 67.7 percent.
“What’s more, SNAP is boosting the economy right now,” the infographic says. “SNAP’s effect extends beyond the food on a family’s table–to the grocery stores, truck drivers, warehouses, processing plants and farmers that helped get it there.”
The White House says every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 in economic activity for participating grocery stores and farmer’s markets.
Read more at CNSNews.com.