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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 30, 2014 / 2 Tammuz, 5774

The letter that supposedly led to the crash of Lois Lerner's hard drive

By Glenn Kessler




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "The IRS is not a victim today. And here is fundamental problem. Chairman Camp sent a letter on this whole issue. And then 10 days later - so think about the duration of 10 days. Ten days is the ability to panic at the IRS, reflect, plan, talk and execute. And there was a crash - 10 days after the chairman's letter."

- Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), remarks at House Ways and Means Committee hearing on IRS investigation, June 20, 2014

Despite reader requests, we have not delved into questions about the IRS's explanation for the disappearance of former official Lois Lerner's e-mails after her hard drive crashed. It is suspicious whenever data crucial to an investigation disappears - and certainly the IRS's disclosure of this problem has not been timely. But we do not see a way to prove, to our satisfaction, that the hard drive could have been saved or recovered.

Nevertheless, Roskam's assertion last week caught our attention. It was also highlighted by Chris Wallace of Fox News on June 22, in a question he asked of a Democrat: "Chairman [Dave] Camp, House Ways and Means, asked the IRS about the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. June 13th, just 10 days later, Lerner reports that her hard drive has crashed…. How do you explain this apparent coincidence that it is 10 days after Congress starts asking about the e-mails that Lois Lerner says, oh, the hard drive has crashed?"

But is this really what the letter was about?

The Facts

We have embedded a copy of the letter below. Here is a link to the news release issued at the time by Camp.

Camp Gift Tax Letter by GlennKesslerWP

Recall that the issue involving Lois Lerner was the targeting of conservative advocacy groups applying for 501(c)(4) status. But this letter concerned something different - the IRS's decision to send letters to the donors of such organizations that their contributions might be subject to gift taxes. This issue had first emerged in early May of 2011, when Ofer Lion, a tax adviser, sent a notice to clients about the issue. The New York Times reported on the issue on May 12, suggesting that the IRS effort would target donors to both liberal and conservative groups. Stephanie Kittredge, a spokeswoman for Roskam, and Sarah Swinehart, a spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee, defended the reference to the letter on the grounds that it was the first indication that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, though they conceded the letter does not actually mention conservative groups.

"This letter from Chairman Camp to the IRS is one of the first communications from the committee to the IRS that put the agency on notice that Ways and Means investigators were aware that IRS officials were treating conservative individuals and groups differently," Kittredge said.

"Then-acting Commissioner Steve Miller made the announcement that they were going to audit five donors for gift taxes early May 2011," Swinehart said. "Also in May 2011, we started hearing from conservative groups that they were concerned that their donors were receiving audits/could be audited. We sent the letter and asked to see the files of the five individuals. The IRS and Miller knew who the five individuals were when the information was requested, and after reviewing the files with our 6103 authority we were able to see that these were conservative donors that were audited."


The 6103 authority allows Camp to review tax documents and audit files without disclosing it, and Camp had said in his release he would exercise the authority. Within weeks, the IRS canceled the audits. It appears the early news reporting assuming that liberal donors were also being targeted was, in fact, not correct. Swinehart argued that, within the context of the time, the Camp letter is significant because it put the IRS on notice that any targeting of conservative groups would face scrutiny. "That was the tip of the iceberg," she said.

Kittredge maintained Roskam was simply noting that 10 days had passed from when the letter was sent to the crash of the hard drive. But he still takes a large rhetorical leap. The IRS, after all, had disclosed its plans to audit donors three weeks before Camp's letter was sent. The Treasury inspector general report that led to Lerner's departure from the IRS says that it was not until June 29 - 26 days after the letter was sent - that Lerner learned about the inappropriate screening terms for applicants for 501(C)(4) status. And yet Lerner intentionally trashed her hard drive after the IRS commissioner received one of many letters from Congress requesting documents?

The Pinocchio Test

The timing may seem suspicious, and perhaps Roskam has every right to jump to conclusions. But in claiming that Camp "sent a letter on this whole issue," he went too far in describing the contents of the letter. In fact, at least one person, Chris Wallace, was misled into thinking the letter concerned the applicants; there were probably many other listeners as well. We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios on this. We can appreciate the argument that this was an important letter, but the causal connection to Lerner's hard drive appears far too tenuous for Roskam to make such claims, given that the letter does not mention conservative groups.

Three Pinocchios


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Comment on Glenn Kessler's column by clicking here. >

An award-winning journalism career spanning nearly three decades, Glenn Kessler has covered foreign policy, economic policy, the White House, Congress, politics, airline safety and Wall Street. He was The Washington Post's chief State Department reporter for nine years, traveling around the world with three different Secretaries of State. Before that, he covered tax and budget policy for The Washington Post and also served as the newspaper's national business editor. Kessler has long specialized in digging beyond the conventional wisdom, such as when he earned a "laurel" from the Columbia Journalism Review



Previously:

05/19/14: Obama touts new efficiency rules in 'Year of Action,' after years of delays

05/12/14: Obama busted for false facts on Republicans' filibusters

04/02/14: A Democratic attack ad tries to connect the dots, and earns 4 Pinocchios

03/31/14: Presidential deceptions --- and their consequences (Incl. video)

03/03/14: Harry Reid's claim that the 'vast majority' of AFP’s Obamacare ads are 'lies'

02/25/14: Obama's claim that 7 million got 'access to health care for the first time' because of his Medicaid expansion

02/11/14: Durbin's claim that 10 million now have health insurance because of Obamacare

01/29/14: Fact Checking the 2014 State of the Union address

01/06/14: The White House's claim that 7 million enrolled in Obamacare 'was never our target number'

01/06/14: Schumer's claims about Democratic and GOP efforts to 'fix' Obamacare

12/12/13: Harry Reid's explanation for why not all of his staff is going on 'Obamacare'

09/05/13: History lesson: When the United States looked the other way on chemical weapons

07/09/13: George W. Bush returns as a uniter

06/11/13: Obama's claim of 500,000 manufacturing jobs, month after month

05/15/13: Prez's claim he called Benghazi an 'act of terrorism'

02/21/13: Obama and early childhood education: a rhetorical leap of faith

02/14/13: Fact checking the 2013 State of the Union speech

10/23/11: Fact Checking the Final Debate

07/10/11: Obama's misleading tweet on Romney's taxes

02/21/11: The claim that 98 percent of Catholic women use contraception: a media foul

12/29/11: Ron Paul and Ronald Reagan (Fact Checker biography)

12/08/11: Romney versus Gingrich: a Super PAC's over-the-top ad

12/08/11: Obama's Kansas speech: some suspect facts

11/18/11: The Obama campaign's spin on the Romney tax plan

09/27/11: Obama' strained symbolism at an Ohio River bridge

08/25/11: Obama's claim that GOP is holding up trade deals

08/11/11: Obama's claim that the debt problem can ‘go away’

06/22/11: AARP's misleading ad about balancing the budget

05/24/11: A rare Geppetto for Paul Ryan's assertion on Obama's hidden top marginal tax rate

05/16/11:Obama administration boasting about border security

05/11/11: Kathleen Sebelius's outrageous claim that cancer patients would 'die sooner' under the GOP Medicare plan

05/09/11: A gusher of oil rhetoric

05/04/11: The Obama administration's odd claims on export growth

04/28/11: How effective are sanctions in ‘changing behavior’?

04/14/11: ‘Biggest cuts in U.S. history’? Well, no.

04/08/11: Nancy Pelosi's absurd math on senior citizens losing their meals

04/06/11: Hillary Clinton's uncredible statement on Syria

03/25/11: Libya, Obama and the tragedy in Darfur

03/22/11: Gifts of bogus statistics for the health-care law's birthday

03/21/11: Mitch McConnell's not-so-happy birthday greetings for the health care law

03/10/11: A job-loss statistic produced out of thin air

03/10/17: A budget analogy that earns a Geppetto checkmark

03/10/11: Four pinocchios for the American public on the budget

03/09/11: Obama and the White House's ‘halfway’ fixation with the budget

03/08/11: Foreign policy braggadocio on Libya and AIDS

03/07/11: Democrats keep misleading on claimed budget ‘cuts’

03/01/11: Mike Huckabee is on to something here, but jumped the gun

02/25/11: Harry Reid's illusory $41 billion in budget cuts


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