It is no secret that Senator John McCain’s health has been steadily declining this year. He is not expected back in the Senate. McCain has terminal brain cancer and is wrapping up his affairs and just living each day he has left on his ranch in Arizona with his family surrounding him. But illness, terminal or otherwise, does not excuse previous sins or crimes and Judicial Watch has been digging into transgressions by the Arizona senator regardless of how long he has left. These are things that need to see the light of day and that should be addressed by Congress.
As McCain ponders what comes next in the afterlife on his deathbed, Judicial Watch has released internal IRS documents that include material revealing the shocking truth that McCain’s former staff director and chief counsel on the Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee, Henry Kerner, urged top IRS officials, including then-director of exempt organizations Lois Lerner, to “audit so many that it becomes financially ruinous.” Kerner was appointed by President Trump as Special Counsel for the United States Office of Special Counsel.
McCain has had no use for the Tea Party from its inception. He even described them as ‘Hobbits’ at one inglorious point. Seven years ago, McCain said the movement is “foolish” to think a balanced budget amendment could pass before the deadline. McCain read from an op-ed from the Wall Street Journal on the floor. That article referred to activists as “Tea Party hobbits” – the little people who inhabit Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings series. Since then, conservatives have for the most part shunned John McCain. He is far more of a progressive moderate on the right and actually more in the mold of a leftist Democrat than a Republican.
Kerner’s actions and the explosive exchange that followed are contained in notes taken by IRS employees at a meeting on April 30, 2013, between Kerner, Lerner, and other high-ranking IRS officials. Ten days after that meeting, former IRS director of exempt organizations Lois Lerner admitted that the IRS had a policy of improperly and deliberately delaying applications for tax-exempt status from conservative non-profit groups. That policy was meant to tie up Tea Party groups in red tape and financially strangle them into silence. In many instances, it worked. Those notes look very damning for John McCain as well.
From Judicial Watch:
“Lerner and other IRS officials met with select top staffers from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in a “marathon” meeting to discuss concerns raised by both Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that the IRS was not reining in political advocacy groups in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Senator McCain had been the chief sponsor of the McCain-Feingold Act and called the Citizens United decision, which overturned portions of the Act, one of the “worst decisions I have ever seen.”
“In the full notes of an April 30 meeting, McCain’s high-ranking staffer Kerner recommends harassing non-profit groups until they are unable to continue operating. Kerner tells Lerner, Steve Miller, then chief of staff to IRS commissioner, Nikole Flax, and other IRS officials, “Maybe the solution is to audit so many that it is financially ruinous.” In response, Lerner responded that “it is her job to oversee it all:”
“Henry Kerner asked how to get to the abuse of organizations claiming section 501 (c)(4) but designed to be primarily political. Lois Lerner said the system works, but not in real time. Henry Kerner noted that these organizations don’t disclose donors. Lois Lerner said that if they don’t meet the requirements, we can come in and revoke, but it doesn’t happen timely. Nan Marks said if the concern is that organizations engaging in this activity don’t disclose donors, then the system doesn’t work. Henry Kerner said that maybe the solution is to audit so many that it is financially ruinous. Nikole noted that we have budget constraints. Elise Bean suggested using the list of organizations that made independent expenditures. Lois Lerner said that it is her job to oversee it all, not just political campaign activity.
“Judicial Watch previously reported on the 2013 meeting. Senator McCain then issued a statement decrying “false reports claiming that his office was somehow involved in IRS targeting of conservative groups.” The IRS previously blacked out the notes of the meeting but Judicial Watch found the notes among subsequent documents released by the agency.”
It was also Judicial Watch who outed Lerner as being under tremendous pressure from Democrats in Congress, as well as the Obama DOJ and FBI to prosecute and jail the groups the IRS was already improperly targeting. While discussing undo pressure from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to prosecute these “political groups,” Lerner admitted, “it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity.” The fix was definitely in. It’s funny how that is obvious yet everyone walked away unscathed over it.
More from Judicial Watch:
“The April 30, 2013 meeting came just under two weeks prior to Lerner’s admission during an ABA meeting that the IRS had “inappropriately” targeted conservative groups. In her May 2013 answer to a planted question, in which she admitted to the “absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate” targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, Lerner suggested the IRS targeting occurred due to an “uptick” in 501 (c)(4) applications to the IRS but in actuality, there had been a decrease in such applications in 2010.
“On May 14, 2013, a report by Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed: “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status” (e.g., lists of past and future donors). The illegal IRS reviews continued “for more than 18 months” and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” in advance of the 2012 presidential election.”
Judicial Watch is famous for filing Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuits. They are expensive, time-intensive and effective. They filed one against the IRS after it failed to respond adequately to four FOIA requests sent in May 2013. Obama, McCain and the Democrats weaponized the IRS to take down the Tea Party. And Judicial Watch is not done… they are not going to stop until the truth comes out: “The Obama IRS scandal is not over – as Judicial Watch continues to uncover smoking gun documents that raise questions about how the Obama administration weaponized the IRS, the FEC, FBI, and DOJ to target the First Amendment rights of Americans.” Thank goodness for Judicial Watch… they are the good guys and I am glad they are on our side in all this.