Whether it’s tapping into journalists e-mail accounts and phone lines, coverups in Benghazi, or shaking down insurance companies to force contributions to Obamacare, this administration has certainly run into a fair share of damaging scandals over the last several weeks.
But there is one scandal in particular that will have a devastating impact on the Democrat party as a brand, and will negatively impact their party’s performance in 2014 – the IRS investigations.
Here are five reasons why…
Example of Out of Control Government
Perhaps there is no bigger demonstration of a government agency so out of control that they no longer adhere to fundamental democratic values, than in the following clip involving former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman.
The clip shows Ohio Republican Mike Turner repeatedly asking Shulman if he agrees that targeting groups based on their political beliefs fails to “represent our democratic values”.
Shulman, despite Turner’s best efforts and multiple attempts, is unable to answer the question.
Mr. Shulman is unable or unwilling to admit that asking a group what books they are reading, what their members were thinking, or the content of their member’s prayers, and subsequently making tax decisions based on that line of questioning, is wholly un-Democratic.
Who else finds this overreach of government, perhaps reflected in the IRS scandal itself, to be out of control? Pretty much everybody.
A recent Fox News poll indicates that over two-thirds of voters feel that the government is uncontrollable and threatening their civil liberties. The political breakdown includes a wide spectrum of respondents, and not just the usual suspects. Nearly a full 50% of Democrats agree with that sentiment, meaning half of Democrat voters are in tune with the very basic premise of the Tea Party itself – that the government has become too big, and too powerful, to properly adhere to and maintain Democratic values.
So if a plurality of Americans believe that targeting conservatives because of their political beliefs is an example of sprawling government, who exactly thought this would be a good idea?
Democrat Senators Requested Tea Party Investigations
Shortly after the scandal had been revealed, the Daily Caller reported that a group of Democratic senators led by New York’s Chuck Schumer, had urged the IRS to target the Tea Party in 2012.
… many prominent Democrats — including Montana Sen. Max Baucus, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the New York Times editorial board — had been publicly calling for tighter restrictions on 501(c)(4) groups affiliated with the tea party and conservatives.
Last year, Schumer, along with Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken, penned a letter calling on the agency to cap the amount of the political spending by groups masquerading as “social welfare organizations.”
Of those senators, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Al Franken of Minnesota are all up for reelection in 2014. With the exception of Udall, many of these senators endured a tight campaign in 2008, and have aligned themselves on the wrong side of an issue that two-thirds of Americans disagree with.
Additionally, some Democrats seem to understand that they are on the wrong side of this issue,distancing themselves from any mention of the White House, drilling the IRS on the perceived incompetency of low-level agency employees, and criticizing their Republican colleagues for fabricating links to the White House.
Not to mention, they’re partaking in active investigations into the scandal. Of particular note is Max Baucus, the man who specifically asked the IRS to crack down on Tea Party organizations, who is now heading an investigation as to why they might have done so.
Democrats realize they’re on the wrong side of this issue politically, but do they realize they’re on the wrong side of the American public in general?
All Sides Relate
It’s the IRS for crying out loud. It’s death and taxes, the audit, a feared entity to the average American. Or as Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly explains, they are the monster under the bed.
“I have a grandson who’s afraid to get out of bed at night because he thinks there’s someone under the bed that’s going to grab him. And I think most Americans feel that way about the IRS.”
That speech earned Kelly a standing ovation, but it underscores a very underrated fallout from the IRS scandal – that people relate.
Not just Tea Party conservatives, but Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or even people who share little interest in politics. Everyone can relate to being hounded by a government organization such as the IRS, and the fear it elicits.
This scandal has done something that didn’t seem possible just a few short weeks ago. It has created sympathy for the Tea Party, sympathy that threatens to tear down the media and Democrat narrative that has marginalized the group since their powerful impact on the 2010 elections.
Resurgence of the Tea Party
Very recent polling shows that favorability ratings for the victimized Tea Party have increased sharply, up 14 percentage points since January. With 44% of respondents viewing the Tea Party in a positive light, the group enjoys numbers only 7 percentage points below their peak in April of 2009, when they had their greatest impact.
Perhaps more importantly, these conservative groups are seeing an uptick in support from Republicans, from 61 to 80%. Meaning, nearly 20% of Republican voters look at the freedom loving group less as Wacko birds, and more as a legitimate brand.
And with legitimacy and favorability comes…
This is actually a two-pronged consequence of the scandal.
While Democrats have tried to distance themselves from the issue, they will no doubt have to answer for the over $700,000 that their campaigns have taken in from the IRS.
As the NRCC reports, numerous Democrats and their PACs have received campaign contributions from the National Treasury Employees Union which represents IRS employees. This fact prompted NRCC Spokeswoman Andrea Bozek to quip, “No wonder Democrats want higher taxes – their campaigns are funded by the IRS.”
The group has since demanded that House Democrats “give back their tainted IRS cash”.
Aside from possibly (and by possibly, I mean fat chance) having to return IRS contributions, Tea Party organizations have seen sympathy for their plight turn into monetary treasure.
This, from NewsMax:
Tea-party groups are also seeing an increase in donations and support since the IRS scandal broke, Fox News reports.
“We’re definitely seeing a spike in both interest and contributions,” said Sal Russo, co-founder of the California-based Tea Party Express.
Russo added that tea party members are feeling vindicated and energized by IRS scandal.
This is quite the reversal of fortune from what Rush Limbaugh described as a scare tactic designed to “literally frighten people into not donating to Republican or conservative causes”.
All of the above factors have an immediately negative impact for proponents of big government. But, will the stain of the IRS scandal seep into Democrat campaigns in 2014?
Political analyst Stu Rothenberg writes, “… it is undeniable that recent events have altered, at least for now, the trajectory of the 2014 elections.”
He adds, “… the new political narrative increases the risk for Democratic candidates in red states, where Democrats must win independent and, in many cases, Republican voters to be successful.”
Additionally, a senior Democrat strategist recently opined:
“I really do believe that one of the most important factors that caused Republicans to lose the House in 2006 was Hurricane Katrina. It played into what voters felt about Republicans — that they don’t care and that they don’t care about government.”
The IRS scandal “plays into what people think about Democrats, that we like big government. … It makes it harder to play in Republican districts.”
For now, Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all seem to agree that targeting the Tea Party was an example of big government corruption gone wild.
But will any of them remember by 2014?
Big city Democrats are being indicted at what has to be record rates these days, but that’s simply a case of the same ol’ same ol’.
What is truly fascinating however, is watching these corrupt politicians get caught and subsequently wired up to drag down their colleagues with them. And of course, to encourage lighter sentences from the feds.
Welcome to the sad, sad tale of Brooklyn Democrat John Sampson and Queens Democrat Shirley Huntley.
Huntley was arrested this past summer, amidst charges of evidence tampering, conspiracy in the fifth degree, and falsifying business records. Not to mention claims that she used taxpayer money for fancy clothes and spa treatments … for her poodle.
After accepting $1,000 in bribes, Huntley wore a wire and allegedly caught Sampson asking her to wield her influence to the benefit of a powerful businessman. The FBI is also looking into a $100,000 loan from another business man who had already been charged with mortgage fraud.
Via the Daily News:
A prominent Brooklyn state senator is the latest politician snared in a long-running federal corruption probe, with charges expected against him this week, the Daily News has learned.
Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), once among Albany’s most powerful politicians, is the senator identified in court papers as asking ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Queens) to wield her influence on behalf of a businessman holding a Kennedy Airport lease in March 2012.
The businessman wanted to expand his lease, and Huntley arranged for him to meet with Port Authority officials, according to sources familiar with the case.
She allegedly took $1,000 in bribes, court papers state — and then wore a wire to record meetings with seven elected officials while working as a federal informant.
According to the sources, the FBI is examining a $100,000 “loan” to Sampson from one of his legal clients, Queens businessman Edul Ahmad, who is charged with mortgage fraud in an unrelated case.
Ahmad also delivered a $40,000 “loan” to U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) in a deal first exposed by The News.
Sampson turned himself in this morning and will be arraigned in Brooklyn Federal Court later today.
Last month, Bronx Democrat Eric Stevenson was arrested on federal corruption charges when yet another already-indicted Democrat, Nelson Castro, went undercover in an attempt to cooperate with authorities.
Stevenson, perhaps presciently, was caught on tape claiming that, ‘if they were ever caught, half of Albany would be in prison’.
As the sports phrase goes – it’s early yet. We’ve only hit May thus far, and I’m sure more indictments will be handed down before the end of the year.
A few days ago, the Mental Recession had the privilege of taking a brief moment to honor Britain’s Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, upon hearing the news of her passing.
Britain’s first female Prime Minister, a leader who stood alongside President Reagan and Pope John Paul II to bring down the Soviet Union and defeat communism at its peak, has died.
Thatcher led the UK out of economic stagnation by moving away from socialism and toward a more freedom influenced model.
She is considered Britain’s greatest peacetime leader. The world lost a leader among leaders today.
Thatcher, you would think, is the type of transcendent leader that individuals on both sides of the aisle could celebrate.
But nay, defeating communism, leading her country out of economic despair, and celebrating freedom, are not things that Democrats want to rally around.
One would naturally think it impossible that anyone would hesitate – even for an instant – to honor the woman who tackled communism head on as prime minister of Great Britain. Lady Margaret Thatcher was a principled politician who helped to foster the special relationship between Great Britain and the United States that we all benefit from today.
A Senate resolution to honor Lady Thatcher was supposed to pass last night. However, per well placed sources on the Hill, Democrats have a hold on the resolution.
To refuse to honor a woman of such great historical and political significance, who was deeply loyal to the United States, is petty and shameful. One truly has to wonder, what is it about Lady Thatcher that gives them pause? Her unfaltering commitment to freedom? Or perhaps the way she fought for individual liberty and limited government?
The House used traditional bereavement procedures, the same model they used for John F. Kennedy. It’s a simple, solemn means of honoring the individual by passing a resolution and immediately adjourning. Similarly, Great Britain’s House of Commons was recalled, bringing members of Parliament back from vacation to honor Lady Thatcher.
Those actions were a fitting response to the death of one of the world’s greatest post-World War II leaders.
Of course, Democrats are typically a tough sell when it comes to honoring greatness. After all, this is the same party that voted to kick God out of their official party platform three separate times.
The Republican controlled House voted to honor Thatcher yesterday.
And this is what we call a clear majority… If this were an election, it would be a landslide.
Based on a list compiled by Gannett’s Albany Bureau, 20 out of 27 politicians who have found themselves in hot water since 2000 have been Democrats.
As we said in an earlier post today about corruption – it does indeed come from both sides of the aisle – but in New York, there is a clear pattern coming from our friends on the left.
Via Albany Watch:
The list of troubled New York state lawmakers continues to grow, with former state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith charged Tuesday as part of a bribery and extortion scheme to get on the Republican ballot line for the New York City mayoral race.
But Smith is far from the first state legislator to run into legal or ethical troubles. The count, according to a running list kept by Gannett’s Albany Bureau, stands at 27 since 2000.
It should be noted that this list focuses on state level politicians, and does not scratch the surface of things such as the upstate voter fraud scandal, which was carried out solely by Democrats.
Downstate Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez not only leered at a 14-year-old intern and encouraged other women in his office to dress as “sexy” as the teen does, but his remarks were so startling that it prompted another staffer’s mother to call 911, and the police to file a sexual harassment/child abuse report, according to the Daily News.
Remember, this is the same man that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver used hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to shield from sexual harassment charges.
We reported on this incident last month. Here’s a little background…
The uber-creepy story of an Assemblyman who can’t keep his eyes and hands off of his employees, just got a little creepier.
Over the summer, Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) got himself caught up in a sexual harassment scandal involving complaints from two women regarding the Assemblyman’s unwanted advances. The accusations came after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had already paid two other women to keep quiet about similar accusations, using over $103,000 in taxpayer hush money.
The newfound charges resulted in a harsh punishment from the Speaker, apparently feeling slighted for having already covered up the sexual harassment once. Lopez was unanimously rebuked by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance, stripping him of his Housing Committee chairmanship, cutting off funding and resources from the Assembly, and banning him from hiring employees under the age of 21.
Perhaps now we have a better understanding of the specific stipulation to ban Lopez from hiring employees under the age of 21. According to multiple sources, Lopez was even witnessed leering at a 14-year-old female intern, commenting on her “sexy attire”, and saying she should be emulated by the other ladies in his office.
Here is an update testifying to the serious nature of the complaints that led to Lopez downfall.
Via the New York Daily News:
The worried mother of a Vito Lopez staffer was so alarmed by the pervy Brooklyn assemblyman’s sleazy comments about a 14-year-old intern that she called the cops, the Daily News has learned.
Police received a 911 call on July 16 last year from the concerned mom of 24-year-old Chloe Rivera after the staffer said she saw Lopez ogling a young intern — the daughter of a Brooklyn judge.
Rivera also called the cops, who logged the call as a “sex harassment/child abuse” complaint.
“(Lopez) was telling Chloe that he liked the way this girl was dressed and she was dressed in a very sexy way,” said a source with knowledge of the call. “He wanted Chloe to dress like the intern.”
Police declined to press charges, but the incident led to Rivera filing a complaint with the Ethics Commission.
The question now is, what did Silver know about the underage intern, and when did he know it? Specifically punishing Lopez by preventing him from hiring younger employees (under 21) seems to acknowledge that the wandering-hands Assemblyman had a problem in this area. Could Silver have heard of the same accusations?
Despite the scandal, Lopez was re-elected to the Assembly this past November.