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National Review -
A terrorist from Jordan briefly worked as an Obamacare navigator in Illinois while authorities remained unaware of her conviction for involvement in a deadly grocery store bombing and two other attacks.
Rasmieh Yousef Odeh was convicted in Israel for her role in several bombings, including the 1969 attack on an upscale Shufersol grocery store, which killed two Hebrew University students who had stopped in to buy groceries for a hiking trip in the Jerusalem hills. Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe were killed by a bomb hidden in a candy box tucked on a shelf, which also injured nine or 10 others, according to a website maintained by the Israeli government to commemorate terror victims.
The Illinois Department of Insurance quietly revoked Odeh’s certification as a Navigator In-Person Counselor on November 24, explaining in a disciplinary report that the decision was “based on an investigation which revealed that she had been convicted in Israel for her role in the bombings of a supermarket and the British Consulate in Jerusalem and failed to reveal the conviction on her application.”
Illinois Review -
SPRINGFIELD – Speaking about the auditor general’s report of Gov. Pat Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative of the Illinois Violence Prevent Authority, State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) noted, “This is the kind of information that indictments are made out of.”
“Obviously, there has to be an investigation,” said Bivins, a former Lee County sheriff. “There’s more than enough probable cause here, when you use tax dollars to have people march in a parade for you.”
The report alleges more than $50 million in taxpayer-funded, possibly campaign-related waste.
State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), the co-chairman of the legislature’s auditing body, said the audit findings are so serious they need to be submitted to the Executive Inspector and potentially the U.S. Attorney for further investigation of potential criminal actions.
“There are so many problems identified by the Auditor General that it is hard to pick out the most serious charges,” Barickman said. “But one has to be that the Governor broke state law by circumventing the legislature’s authority to appropriate funds.”
By U.S. House Deputy Majority Whip Rep. Peter Roskam -
Asked about the IRS targeting of conservative groups, President Obama recently said there was “not even a smidgen of corruption,” and blamed the controversy on “bone-headed decisions” by low level people in Cincinnati. When it came to appointing a Department of Justice investigator to lead the IRS inquiry, the Administration turned to Barbara Bosserman, a thirteen-time Obama donor who has repeatedly shown her commitment to Democrat causes. And with the criminal investigation of IRS targeting only just beginning, FBI officials have already indicated the agency does not plan to file criminal charges in the case.
The Obama Administration is doing everything they can to deflect and divert attention from the IRS controversy. The Administration is hoping that the longer they drag it out, the more the public will forget about the scandal. But the president and his team underestimate the resolve of our Republican House majority. The idea that institutions of the federal government can be used to silence the political dissent of opponents is antithetical to the very founding principles of our country.
The West Suburban Patriots, from right here in DuPage County, were specifically targeted, having their application process dragged out, their political views scrutinized and being forced by the IRS to change the content of their website during the course of a “routine” review of their tax exempt application. My constituents, and hundreds of groups like them all across the country were unfairly singled out for extensive scrutiny by the IRS, on the basis of their political views. So this week the House is acting to put the breaks on an out of control IRS and protect individual liberties.
Last night the House overwhelmingly passed two of my bills that would ensure taxpayers are not left in the dark about IRS actions against them. Reports of individuals affiliated with tea party organizations having their businesses scrutinized by multiple federal agencies after applying for tax exempt status have raised chilling questions about a coordinated campaign of harassment against conservatives by agencies in Washington.
The Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act goes to the heart of this concern, requiring the IRS to alert taxpayers whenever their information is shared with other federal agencies. The bill also puts the onus on the IRS to correspond with taxpayers substantively within 30 days, playing by the very same rules they forces individual taxpayers to observe. Finally, the bill makes completing an audit within a one-year the goal, removing the dread and uncertainty of audits that can drag on year after year.
My second bill, the Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act is simple: it bars the IRS from the inappropriate big brother like questioning about religious, political or social beliefs that so many conservatives groups were forced to endure at the hands of IRS agents.
The House is also acting to prevent the Department of Treasury from issuing or finalizing regulations governing the political activities of 501(c)(4) organizations. Just before Thanksgiving, the Obama Administration quietly released new rules that would essentially codify the targeting of conservative non-profits, while leaving the political activity of Democrat-leaning labor unions untouched. The Administration was hoping so close to the holidays no one would notice. Again, the Administration miscalculated: the response from the American people was swift, and House Republicans are fighting back.
This week the House will consider the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014, a bill that will prevent the Administration from encroaching on the First Amendment Rights of non-profit groups. It’s shameful that legislation is needed to protect Americans’ basic constitutional rights, but we must do everything we can to stop the Obama Administration’s power grab. The public comment period on these regulations is still open, and I encourage you to add your voice here. A record 77,000 comments have been received so far, and there is still time to speak out against biased regulations that seek to muzzle the speech and political views of conservative organizations.
Our work won’t end with these bills or the end of the comment period. The DOJ investigation into the IRS targeting has just started, and according to reports the conservative groups involved have yet to even be interviewed by Ms. Bosserman and her team. Although her extensive support for the Obama campaign raises questions about her ability to be an impartial investigator, my principle interest is finding out what happened, who is responsible and ultimately achieving justice for my constituents and the hundreds of others harassed by the IRS.
Recently, I sent a letter to Ms. Bosserman, laying out basic standards for the investigation and putting her and the DOJ on notice that the House is following her work closely and plans to hold her and the Department of Justice accountable for a full and fair inquiry that identifies wrongdoing committed and punishes those responsible.
For too long the IRS has had the American people on their heels, coming after individuals based on their political beliefs and bringing the full weight of the federal bureaucracy to bear on people whose only crime was wanting to participate in the debate of ideas we cherish as central to our democratic process.
We must work together to ensure that that instead the IRS is on its heels, strongly rebuked and pushed back from abusing their power and instead working to earn back the trust of a very skeptical public. The Obama Administration is counting on our attention fading so they can turn the page on this shameful chapter without remedying the problem. Well House Republicans aren’t going to fall for that trick, and you can’t either. Let’s stand together and fight back.
President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service today quietly released a series of Obamacare “Health Care Tax Tips” warning Americans that they must obtain “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by the federal government – or face a “shared responsibility payment” when filing their tax returns in 2015. The term “shared responsibility payment” refers to the Obamacare individual mandate tax, one of at least seven tax hikes in the healthcare law that directly hit families making less than $250,000 per year.
In “Four Tax Facts about the Health Care Law for Individuals” the agency writes:
Your 2014 tax return will ask if you had insurance coverage or qualified for an exemption. If not, you may owe a shared responsibility payment when you file in 2015.
In “The Individual Shared Responsibility Payment- An Overview” the agency warns Americans they must prove they were covered each and every month of the year:
For any month in 2014 that you or any of your dependents don’t maintain coverage and don’t qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your 2014 tax return filed in 2015.
CALLS ON IRS TO SCRAP PROPOSED RULES AND RECOMMENDS ALTERNATIVE ACTION
February 25, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today submitted comments to the IRS regarding recently proposed rules that would stifle the free speech of 501(c)(4) political organizations and suggested alternative action that would prevent the agency from entangling itself in politically sensitive judgments and picking political winners and losers.
“It is disturbing that the IRS is proposing new rules that would attempt to further limit the free speech rights of Americans, while the IRS and the Department of Justice still refuse to provide the American people with all the facts surrounding the IRS’s targeting of certain organizations based on their political activity,” Sen. Cruz writes. “The IRS should not be used as a tool for partisan warfare. And the federal government must respect the First Amendment rights of our citizens. The proposed new rules do neither.”
Sen. Cruz suggests in his letter that instead of creating a new set of definitions for political activity, the IRS should use the definitions long established by the bipartisan Federal Election Commission (FEC) that provide clear guidance for speakers without stifling political speech.
He specifically proposes that the IRS adopt a definition of “political organization” that includes only those groups that must register as a political committee with the FEC or equivalent state agency to limit IRS’s discretion in determining what groups count as political organizations.
Additionally, the agency should adopt an interpretation of “promotion of social welfare” that takes into consideration independent expenditures and other political activities like voter education. While direct contributions are coordinated with political candidates, independent expenditures are not. 501(c)(4) groups should be allowed to make independent expenditures and engage in news stories, voter education and nonpartisan get-out-the-vote drives – activities that further our democracy by engaging citizens without a direct coordinated benefit to specific candidates.
Sen. Cruz encourages Americans to submit their comments on the IRS’s proposed rules to limit free speech here. Comments will be accepted through Thursday, February 27.
View the senator’s comment, as submitted the IRS, HERE:
The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Tuesday on a pair of bills which could accurately be called a kind of “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.”
Both measures are sponsored by Congressman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), widely regarded as a rising star both in the House GOP Leadership and the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
H.R. 2530, the “Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act” would prevent “correspondence” with the IRS from becoming a years-long distraction for taxpayers. For one thing, any audit procedure would not be able to last longer than one full year–no more nightmares of IRS letters showing up month after month for years.
Additionally, the IRS would either have to process these claims or drop them with a new “30 day rule”: the IRS must provide a substantive, written response to any taxpayer audit correspondence within 30 days of receiving information from taxpayers. Today, it’s routine for the IRS to send letters saying the equivalent of “thanks for your response. We acknowledge and note it. We will get back to you within 60 (or 90, or 180) business days.”
Finally, the IRS would have to disclose to taxpayers any information sharing of the taxpayer’s data with state and local governments, or to other federal agencies. It’s important for taxpayers to know that when they send information to the IRS, they can at least track what happens to it when it exits the building.
H.R. 2531, the “Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act” is even simpler. It would prohibit the IRS from asking taxpayers about their religious, political, or social beliefs. If the agency believes these questions are vital, the IRS commissioner would have to disclose to Congress the specific questions asked, the class of taxpayers to whom they are asked, and the circumstances in which the questions are asked.
The Chicago Reader -
The first lesson Gerald Vernon shared with his conceal-and-carry class is, to him, the most fundamental: “The only thing that stops bad people with guns is good people with guns.”
His ten students—eight men and two women, all African-Americans—were listening intently. They had gathered in a meeting room at a south-side social service center to learn about gun ownership and self-defense from Vernon, a veteran firearms instructor who was seated at the front of the room next to a table set with an array of revolvers and semiautomatic handguns from his collection.
The students didn’t appear to need any convincing. “I’m interested in protection,” explained Thomas Brandon, 57, when it was his turn to introduce himself. The others said they were there for the same reason.
Vernon, 57, has a full, round face that’s often locked in a look of earnest contemplation, even when he switches to a goofy, higher-pitched voice to make a humorous point. His movements are quick and strong from decades of martial arts, though he jokes about his ample midsection, and he’s walked with a limp and the assistance of a cane since a near-fatal car accident 15 years ago. He is polite and patient but will say exactly what he thinks.
“Over the last 20 years, I’ve been places I don’t think a lot of other black people have been,” he told the class. “I’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money traveling the country and getting this training so I could bring it back to the community.”
He added: “Most of what Americans know about guns they learned from TV and the movies, and 99 percent of it is wrong.”