Lake Erie Conservative

thoughtful discussion(s) about issue(s)

… You Call it LawFare …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Saturday,May 25th,2013

one of my favourite blogs in my blogs blogroll

that one is LawFareBlog.com

it is dedicated to the subject and coverage of legal warfare , aimed @ conservatives

and libertarians

this kim strassel column caught my eye , on the web // wsj 05242013

it was a test drive of the ObamaCrap intimidation strategy in the ‘ 08 campaign

it sent a veiled warning to GOP and conservative contributors

speak out and fund , contribute large amounts , you will have trouble w. us in office will use levers of government to get back at you , send message to others

hit on ’12 GOP campaigns , hit their donor streams …

… POTOMAC WATCH May 23rd , 2013 …

Strassel: Conservatives Became Targets in 2008 The Obama campaign played a big role in

a liberal onslaught that far pre-dated Citizens United.By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL   The White House insists President Obama is “outraged” by the “inappropriate” targeting and harassment of conservative groups. If true, it’s a remarkable turnaround for a man  who helped pioneer those tactics.

On Aug. 21, 2008, the conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad—a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.

What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501 (c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”

AIP gave Justice a full explanation as to why it was not in violation. It said that it operated exactly as liberal groups like Naral Pro-Choice did. It noted that it had disclosed its donor, Texas businessman Harold Simmons. Mr. Bauer’s response was a second letter to Justice calling for the prosecution of Mr. Simmons. He sent a third letter on Sept. 8, again smearing the “sham” AIP’s “illegal electoral purpose.”

Also on Sept. 8, Mr. Bauer complained to the Federal Election Commission about AIP and Mr. Simmons. He demanded that AIP turn over certain tax documents to his campaign (his right under IRS law), then sent a letter to AIP further hounding it for confidential information (to which he had no legal right).

The Bauer onslaught was a big part of a new liberal strategy to thwart the rise of conservative groups. In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group (a 501(c)4) called Accountable America. Founded by Obama supporter and liberal activist Tom Mattzie, the group—as the story explained—would start by sending “warning” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.” As Mr. Mattzie told Mother Jones: “We’re going to put them at risk.”

The Bauer letters were the Obama campaign’s high-profile contribution to this effort—though earlier, in the spring of 2008, Mr. Bauer filed a complaint with the FEC against the American Leadership Project, a group backing Hillary Clinton in the primary.

“There’s going to be a reckoning here,” he had warned publicly. “It’s going to be rough—it’s going to be rough on the officers, it’s going to be rough on the employees, it’s going to be rough on the donors. . . Whether it’s at the FEC or in a broader criminal inquiry, those donors will be asked questions.” The campaign similarly attacked a group supporting John Edwards.

American Leadership head (and Democrat) Jason Kinney would rail that Mr. Bauer had gone from “credible legal authority” to “political hatchet man”—but the damage was done. As Politico reported in August 2008, Mr. Bauer’s words had “the effect of scaring [Clinton and Edwards] donors and consultants,” even if they hadn’t yet “result[ed] in any prosecution.”

As general counsel to the Obama re-election campaign, Mr. Bauer used the same tactics on pro-Romney groups. The Obama campaign targeted private citizens who had donated to Romney groups. Democratic senators demanded that the IRS investigate these organizations.

None of this proves that Mr. Obama was involved in the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits. But it does help explain how we got an environment in which the IRS thought this was acceptable.

Related Video   Editorial board member Steve Moore offers a round-up of the news this week on the IRS’s targeting conservative groups. Photo: Getty Images . . The rise of conservative organizations (to match liberal groups that had long played in politics), and their effectiveness in the 2004 election (derided broadly by liberals as “swift boating”), led to a new and organized campaign in 2008 to chill conservative donors and groups via the threat of government investigation and prosecution. The tone in any organization—a charity, a corporation, the U.S. government—is set at the top.

This history also casts light on White House claims that it was clueless about the IRS’s targeting. As Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman wrote this week: “With two winning presidential campaigns built on successful grassroots fundraising, with a former White House counsel (in 2010-11) who is one of the Democrats’ leading experts on campaign law (Bob Bauer), with former top campaign officials having been ensconced as staffers in the White House . . . it’s hard to imagine that the Obama inner circle was oblivious to the issue of what the IRS was doing in Cincinnati.” More like inconceivable.

And this history exposes the left’s hollow claim that the IRS mess rests on Citizens United. The left was targeting conservative groups and donors well before the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling on independent political expenditures by corporations.

If the country wants to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, it must first remember the context for this abuse. That context leads to this White House.   There are many other examples that one can add to Strassel’s analysis. One that I remember with particular bitterness is from September 2008, when the Democratic National Committee and several Obama-aligned organizations pressured the Jewish community to un-invite Sarah Palin from a rally against Iran at the UN.

What happened was that a group of Jewish non-profit organizations had organized the rally and invited both Gov. Palin and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Clinton initially agreed to attend, but the Obama campaign was terrified at the prospect of her sharing a stage with Palin and sending a signal that Democrat women left frustrated by Clinton’s loss might switch parties. So they pressured Clinton to withdraw–and then pressured the Jewish groups to deny Palin a platform, claiming that the rally was now “partisan.”

Jewish members of the Democratic National Committee reportedly made threats to challenge the groups’ IRS non-profit status.

J Street, which had only recently started up as an organization devoted to promoting criticism of Israel and Obama’s Middle East policy, joined in the pressure campaign, circulating a petition addressed to Jewish leader and rally organizer Malcolm Hoenlein.

When Palin was un-invited, J Street celebrated its role in that deplorable display of thuggish intimidation of free speech and assembly: “We Won!” it boasted. (So did Iran, that day.)

The Obama campaign’s tactics weren’t confined to non-profit groups. Indeed, its present practice of trying to intimidate journalists emerged at the same time. In late August 2008, the Obama campaign organized an effort to shut down a radio interview between Chicago journalist Milt Rosenberg and conservative author Stanley Kurtz, who had just done the definitive research exposing the ties between Ayers and Obama. (The campaign declined an invitation to appear on the show itself.) The producer of the show later wrote: “It’s interesting to see what lengths the Obama campaign is willing to reach to stifle dissenting voices.”

Those of us who protested the Obama campaign’s tactics at the time were ignored, as were most who noted what the Obama administration later did to the Tea Party and conservatives. Strassel adds that Bauer came back for the Obama re-election campaign in 2012 and used the same tactics against Romney donors.

“None of this proves that Mr. Obama was involved in the IRS targeting of conservative  nonprofits,” she writes. “But it does help explain how we got an environment in which the IRS thought this was acceptable.”

The important point is that the Obama administration’s behavior in the Benghazi scandal (intimidating whistleblowers), the IRS scandal (targeting conservative nonprofits and donors), and the AP and Rosen scandals (hounding individual journalists and news agencies , and the AP and Rosen scandals (hounding individual journalists and news agencies) is a feature of Obama’s character and leadership, not a bug. He may know well enough to keep himself at arm’s length, to retain the façade of “plausible deniability.” But the pattern of behavior is becoming undeniable, as is Obama’s ultimate responsibility.

[Update]  on Saturday evening

.. I was reviewing another relatively conservative legal blog , one that is also a part of my blogroll , called — Legal Insurrection . com . It is run by Prof . William Jacobson , a law professor at Cornell University ‘ s law school . I came across it a couple of years ago , and it was an immediate hit with me . He also touches on the Kim Strassel column in the Wall Street Journal . I trust that you will find it as informative as I do  …

Team Obama’s dirty war against conservatives

            Posted by                            Friday, May 24, 2013 at 11:39am
Kimberley Strassel makes in important point today at The Wall Street Journal, taking apart the defense that the IRS was warranted in targeting conservative groups seeking 501(c)(4) status because of the Citizens United decision.  Strassel documents how people close to and involved in the Obama campaign sought to pressure the government to target conservatives years before the Citizens United decision.

Conservatives Became Targets in 2008:

The White House insists President Obama is “outraged” by the “inappropriate” targeting and harassment of conservative groups. If true, it’s a remarkable turnaround for a man who helped pioneer those tactics.

On Aug. 21, 2008, the conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad—a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.

What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”

AIP gave Justice a full explanation as to why it was not in violation. It said that it operated exactly as liberal groups like Naral Pro-Choice did. It noted that it had disclosed its donor, Texas businessman Harold Simmons. Mr. Bauer’s response was a second letter to Justice calling for the prosecution of Mr. Simmons. He sent a third letter on Sept. 8, again smearing the “sham” AIP’s “illegal electoral purpose.”

Also on Sept. 8, Mr. Bauer complained to the Federal Election Commission about AIP and Mr. Simmons. He demanded that AIP turn over certain tax documents to his campaign (his right under IRS law), then sent a letter to AIP further hounding it for confidential information (to which he had no legal right).

The Bauer onslaught was a big part of a new liberal strategy to thwart the rise of conservative groups.

Strassel then goes on to document how the new liberal targeting strategy played out in the years prior to Citizens United.

And this history exposes the left’s hollow claim that the IRS mess rests on Citizens United. The left was targeting conservative groups and donors well before the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling on independent political expenditures by corporations.

If the country wants to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, it must first remember the context for this abuse. That context leads to this White House.

That’s certainly part of the dirty war against conservatives.

But the dirty war also has included secondary boycotts of conservative speakers and groups organized by Media Matters, Color of Change and similar well-funded liberal entities.  Those boycotts were not mere expressions of disagreement, but attempts to deprive conservatives of platforms on and through which to express speech, whether a radio show, a cable news station, or a 501(c)(4) organization.

None of these can be viewed in isolation.  For 5 years we have endured wide-ranging attempts to suppress conservative political speech.  The IRS scandal is just one part of it.

Update:  A reader writes:

Note as well that Bob Bauer’s wife is the, ahem, interesting Anita Dunn.

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