Thursday, May 30, 2013

James Comey and the most riveting 20 minutes of congressional testimony. Maybe ever.

James Comey is an American hero.

Today, President Obama nominated James Comey to be Director of the FBI. Comey was Attorney General John Ashcroft's number two at the DoJ. I think the President should have nominated a Democrat to this important position and disagree with the notion that only Republicans are qualified for such sensitive positions.

But I said James Comey is an American hero and I meant it. Paul Kane at the WaPo reminds us of Comey's riveting 20 minutes of congressional testimony about the night he and a stricken and hospitalized Ashcroft faced down the White House.

If you don't recall this, you have to watch.  It's truly remarkable. 

When the events that took place at the Bush DoJ are finally declassified, I may find many reasons to be troubled by decisions made by Comey, but from what I actually know, James Comey is an outstanding public servant the likes of which we meet too few.

Original Ward Report coverage here

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Some Important Context on the IRS Scandal

As we watch the IRS scandal unfold, some  very important context has been missing from the reporting.

These groups are organizing as educational organizations under Section 501(c)(4) which is for educational organizations and strictly limits political activity. 

It is completely appropriate and in keeping with enforcing the IRS code that the IRS screen applicants for tax exempt status to make sure they are organizing for a permitted tax exempt purpose. 

All these conservative groups and liberal groups are organized as educational groups, many improperly.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that at least 3 liberal groups received the same treatment (including disclosure of donor lists), and unlike the conservative groups, one liberal group had their non-profit status rejected and were forced to pay some taxes. 

There is no question that IRS non-profit status is being abused for political purposes and I think the IRS acted appropriately in screening so called tea party groups.  But the same scrutiny must be applied to liberal or Democratic leaning groups.

Nevertheless, the IRS needs to explain the point of many of it's questions such as asking for the disclosure of donor lists and questioning what issues are important to an applicant group.  There is certainly nothing wrong with a group seeking to educate the public on the bain or virtues of high taxes and I can't see how this is relevant to an IRS investigation into the purpose of an applicant organization.  Likewise, I think everyone will agree that political affiliation of officers and directors is probably not particularly probative of the purpose of the group.