by Tom Fitton –
Revelations this week lead one to wonder not so much whether Hillary Clinton can win the Democratic nomination for president, but whether she can stay out of jail. Last week, we learned about apparent Clinton, Inc. tax fraud, bribery and money laundering to help Putin corner America’s uranium market, and abuse of office to reward funders of the Clinton Cash Machine – not to mention Judicial Watch’s bombshell of untoward Saudi influence and corruption in Hillary Clinton’s State Department. This week, we received more news about apparent money laundering out of India; lies by Clinton, Inc. about more Putin-connected contributions out of Canada; and more cover-up from another Hillary operation that focused on health care.
JW’s chief investigative reporter brought us up to date with more reporting about yet another Clinton front:
Then there is Teneo Holdings, a global consulting firm with deep Clinton connections.
Teneo serves as a kind of private-enterprise satellite to Clinton Inc. Doug Band, Mr. Clinton’s right-hand man for many years, is a Teneo founder. Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s right-hand woman for many years, was a senior advisor to Teneo at the same time she held a top position as part of Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle at the State Department. Bill Clinton was both a paid adviser to Teneo and a client. Secretary of State Clinton’s former Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, is a Teneo co-founder and CEO.
I am not naïve about the difficulty of prosecuting Hillary Clinton over this scandal. The Wall Street Journal had a major story yesterday about how American banks and other corporations are complaining about the Obama Justice Department’s strict interpretation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribes of foreign officials. A Justice Department that would, correctly or incorrectly, ride herd on American companies engaged in alleged bribery of foreign officials has yet to move against Hillary Clinton over series of apparent crimes, including bribes she and her whole family were in on from foreign governments!
Kudos to our friend Peter Schweizer of the Government Accountability Institute whose new book has done so much to hold the Clinton machine accountable (“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich”) Schweizer, I’m told, made smart use of our documents in his soon-to-be released book, which describes how money was funneled through the Clinton Foundation by foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state.
As I told you last week, your JW got the ball rolling on public exposure of this Clinton scandal:
Our dogged work forced the disclosure last year of documents that provided a road map for over 200 conflict-of-interest rulings that led to $48 million for the Clinton Foundation and other Clinton-connected entities during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Previously disclosed documents in this lawsuit, for example, raise questions about funds Clinton accepted from entities linked to Saudi Arabia, China and Iran, among others. This is the story on these documents that got the ball rolling. The headline says it all: “State Department approved 215 Bill Clinton speeches, controversial consulting deal, worth $48m; Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff copied on all decisions.”
And we are keeping the ball rolling. As we note in this week’s Teneo report, the Clinton email cover-up is front and center, as there is “the dawning realization among media types that the Clinton Foundation, Teneo and the disappearing State Dept. emails really do signal that some sort of gigantic sleazy game is afoot.”
Now, we are pressing ahead with a new lawsuit to obtain the release of documents about Hillary Clinton’s “efforts” to gain approval for use of an iPhone or iPad to conduct official business while she was secretary of state. The lawsuit came after the State Department refused to respond to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for:
Any and all records of requests by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or her staff to the State Department Office of Security Technology seeking approval for the use of an iPad or iPhone for official government business; and
Any all communications within or between the Office of the Secretary of State, the Executive Secretariat, and the Office of the Secretary and the Office of Security Technology concerning, regarding, or related to the use of unauthorized electronic devices for official government business.
On March 2, 2015, The New York Times reported then-Secretary Clinton used at least one non-“state.gov” email account to conduct official government business during her entire tenure as the secretary of state. It also was reported that Secretary Clinton stored these records on a non-U.S. government server at her home in Chappaqua, New York.
All told, there are about 18 lawsuits, 10 of which are active in federal court, as well as about 160 Judicial Watch FOIA requests that could be affected by Mrs. Clinton and her staff’s use of secret email accounts to conduct official government business. In our various FOIA lawsuits, our lawyers have informed attorneys for the Obama administration that Hillary Clinton’s account and any other secret accounts used by State employees should be secured, recovered and searched. So far, we have filed over 20 requests about the Clinton email scandal. This new lawsuit seeking iPhone and iPad documents is the first of several we expect to file over the next few weeks, as the State Department and other recalcitrant Obama agencies have failed to comply with the federal transparency law.
JW is pursuing information first reported by our Corruption Chronicles in March:
Besides exclusively using a secret email account to conduct official government business, it’s likely that Hillary Clinton also used unauthorized electronic equipment-an iPad and an iPhone-as Secretary of State after being warned not to, a veteran State Department official told Judicial Watch this week.
On at least half a dozen occasions Clinton’s top aides asked the State Department’s Office of Security Technology to approve the use of an iPad and iPhone, according to JW’s inside source. Each time the request was rejected for security reasons, the source confirms. The only mobile device that meets the agency’s security standards is the BlackBerry, JW’s source said, adding that the Office of Security Technology-Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Directorate of Countermeasures must approve all equipment such as cameras, phones and communication devices for all officials.
Evidently set on using the popular Apple devices, Clinton repeatedly challenged the ban and asked management in the Office of Security Technology to allow their use. The executive secretariat responsible for all communications and information technology always rejected the requests, JW’s source affirms.
“From day one Hillary was trying to get the iPhone and the iPad approved,” the State Department official told JW. “She kept trying and trying to get us to approve the iPhone and the iPad, but we wouldn’t do it. Technology security experts tested the iPhone and the iPad several times because she constantly wanted them approved, but it never happened.”
The longtime State Department employee reveals that it’s common knowledge among government security tech experts that Apple devices don’t meet strict security standards so agency insiders were puzzled that the Secretary of State was hell-bent on using them. “There was a lot of head-scratching,” JW’s source revealed. Every State Department employee goes through a rigorous security training that includes strict warnings about using non approved equipment or personal email like Clinton did throughout her tenure as the president’s chief foreign affairs officer, the agency insider said.
Clinton’s persistent efforts to persuade the State Department’s technology security experts to approve the use of her favorite Apple devices led those in the division to conclude that she did in fact go through with it. “My guess is she did it and wanted approval after the fact,” JW’s source said. “But no waivers were ever issued.” JW reached out to the State Department for a comment on this latest potential scandal surrounding its former leader, but failed to get a response.
Three weeks later, March 31, 2015, The Associated Press also reported that Clinton while secretary of state, had used an iPad to email members of her staff, contradicting her statements that she had used a secret email account so that she could “conveniently” conduct official business on one electronic device alone. None of Hillary Clinton’s email records have been produced to Judicial Watch, or disclosed to the courts as required by law. Reports of Clinton’s use of both a secret email server based at her residence and of an iPad to conduct government business have also raised concerns about the security of Clinton’s communications. That’s a topic that does not get raised often enough.
It is apparent to us that the Obama State Department would rather violate FOIA requirements than give the American people simple facts about Hillary Clinton’s iPad and iPhone. The State Department is engaged in a cover-up, but we are determined to hold this administration and Mrs. Clinton to account for their apparent criminal violations of federal records laws and other laws.
This scandal is fast moving. To keep track of all of JW’s latest efforts, be sure to visit our website often. In the meantime, we’ll keep on shaming other media, Congress, and the Justice Department that don’t want to do the hard work of holding the government and obviously corrupt politicians accountable to the rule of law and the American people.
Obama IRS Targets Churches
The Obama Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal is more than a story about the targeting and suppression of President Obama’s perceived political opposition. It is also about using the awesome powers of the federal tax agency to target the First Amendment generally, including the fundamental protection of our God-given right to freely exercise our religious freedoms. Proof of this can be found in the latest unlawful cover-up that resulted in Judicial Watch filing an important new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Obama IRS on behalf of the Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF).
Through this lawsuit Judicial Watch seeks to obtain the release of documents about the IRS decision to reevaluate criteria for determining whether churches and other nonprofit organizations can claim tax-exempt status. The IRS had also suggested that it may initiate investigations into church activities. This IRS attack on religious freedom is in accordance with a lawsuit filed by the anti-religion group Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). We’re long-time fans and allies of Alliance Defending Freedom, which is an alliance-building legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
The suit was filed after the IRS declined to comply with a FOIA request from ADF back in July 2014 that asked for:
(1) All documents related to any existing, proposed, new, or adopted procedures for church tax inquiries or examinations from January 2009 to the present.
(2) All documents related to proposed or adopted changes to Treasury Regulations §301.7611-1 from January 2009 to the present.
(3) All documents related to new IRS policies or procedures referenced in FFRF’s July 17, 2014 press release.
ADF filed the FOIA request after an announcement by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) that, in settling a FFRF lawsuit, the IRS had promised to begin looking into specific churches and other groups for potential violations of tax law, and to reevaluate IRS’ criteria for when such evaluations should be executed.
The IRS stalled the release of records for months, most recently promising to produce records by March 31. Par for the course, the Obama IRS broke its promise. As the April 9 ADF lawsuit notes, the Obama IRS is a serial violator of the Freedom of Information Act:
As of the date of this complaint, Defendant has failed to: (i) determine whether to comply with the request; (ii) notify Plaintiff of any such determination or the reasons therefor; (iii) advise Plaintiff of the right to appeal any adverse determination; and/or (iv) produce the requested records or otherwise demonstrate that the requested records are exempt from production.
Your JW has been mindful of the assault on religious liberty for some time now, particularly as it relates to the actions of unsavory, anti-First Amendment entities such as the FFRF and their inordinate and inappropriate influence on government agencies.
As we’ve previously reported in 2012, the FFRF filed a lawsuit alleging that the IRS had routinely ignored its complaints about churches promoting political candidates, issues or proposed legislation. In its complaint, FFRF alleged that 1,500 clergy members violated electioneering restrictions on Sunday, October 7, 2012. The atheist group has specifically cited church teachings against abortion and same-sex marriage as being in violation of the law. It also cited what it termed “blatantly political” full-page ads by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association run on the three Sundays leading up to the presidential elections.
But the FFRF abruptly dismissed its IRS lawsuit after a church, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, intervened in the lawsuit to challenge the IRS’ alleged authority to “revoke a house of worship’s tax-exempt status, and levy fines against churches and individual leaders, when religious leaders are deemed to say things that the IRS does not allow.” Alliance Defending Freedom and other religious rights organizations have challenged directly the notion that the federal government can restrict the speech of pastors.
In July 2014, the IRS announced that, according to the terms of an agreement reached with the FFRF, it had been monitoring churches and other houses of worship for electioneering and other political activity. According to June 27, 2014, IRS letter to the Justice Department: the IRS targeted 99 churches it said merited “high priority examination” for allegedly illegal electioneering activities. This church-targeting was determined by an IRS “Political Activities Referral Committee.”
The Wisconsin-based FFRF, which describes itself as “an effective state/church watchdog and voice for … atheism, agnosticism, skepticism,” trumpets the IRS agreement at issue as an “IRS Victory!” on its website homepage. Another victory touted on the atheist group’s homepage is a purported success entitled, “FFRF erases bible [sic] quotes from Mo. school’s whiteboard.”
Given the Obama IRS’ habit of abusing its authority in seeking to intimidate and silence American citizens, and then stonewall investigators lawfully seeking answers, it is no surprise that the IRS is once again seeking to prevent the public from getting answers about a case involving vital First Amendment freedoms. The continued attempt at secrecy and subterfuge by the IRS has forced our client, the Alliance Defending Freedom, to sue in federal court simply to have its lawful inquiry answered. The IRS is using a lot of energy to cover up details of its illicit targeting of churches. Violating FOIA law comes at great taxpayer expense.
If there is any good news to report where the perfidy of the IRS is concerned, it comes from the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which is pursuing at least some of its watchdog oversight duties over the IRS. The IRS scandal was exposed because of TIGTA’s May 2013 audit report confirming that the IRS used “inappropriate” criteria to identify Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that had expressed opposition to the Obama administration’s policy stances during the 2012 election cycle.
JW quickly took the lead in investigating and litigating to get the truth about an abuse of power that almost certainly helped Barack Obama win reelection. Our subsequent FOIA litigation led to the disclosure that Lois Lerner’s emails had been lost, and then to the news that the IRS was lying – Lerner’s “lost” emails had been backed up! TIGGA began trying to recover some of these newly found materials. And now we’ve learned this week that the IRS’ internal watchdog found thousands of Lerner’s emails, as first reported by The Hill:
An inspector general investigating the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups has found thousands of emails from Lois Lerner, the agency official at the center of that controversy, according to committees involved in the probe.
The Treasury inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA) said it found roughly 6,400 emails either to or from Lerner sent between 2004 and 2013 that it didn’t think the IRS had turned over to lawmakers, the panels said. The committees have yet to examine the emails, according to Capitol Hill aides.
The statement from the IRS in response to the email recovery just doesn’t pass the laugh test:
We welcome the Inspector General’s recovery of these Lois Lerner emails. This is an encouraging development that will help resolve remaining questions and dispel uncertainty surrounding the emails.
The IRS has been committed to cooperating fully with the investigations. We understand that, during the course of the past 10 months, the Inspector General found about 650 emails from the period affected by the hard-drive crash. It’s important to note that last summer, the IRS produced 24,000 emails from that period.
It is also important to note that the IRS obstructed the TIGTA investigation and did not lift a finger to help the watchdog recover the emails. Also, the IRS is refusing to review and turn over these new documents to Judicial Watch! The federal courts, thankfully, also have independent oversight of the IRS.
Just a few months ago, President Obama told the country that there was not a smidgen of corruption at the IRS. That is also laughable.
The agency that is obstructing federal courts and other investigations of its abuse of power in of Tea Party and other conservative critics of President Obama is also in cover-up mode on the apparent targeting of religious conservatives and their churches. We are in court on both issues for the First Amendment defenders at ADF and, of course, for you and other concerned citizens.
Tom Fitton – President