by Tom Fitton –
How’s this for a jaw-dropping revelation? One week ago today, Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys for the IRS finally admitted in a phone conversation to Judicial Watch that Lois Lerner’s emails weren’t “missing” after all! No, they were backed up alright. But the government is now saying it’s just too much trouble to go looking for them.
The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system.
We obviously disagree that disclosing the emails as required would be onerous, and plan to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan. As columnist George Will commented on Fox News (the only network covering this major story):
I can just hardly wait until the IRS lawyers go into that courtroom and tell the judge that it would be too onerous to stop obstructing justice in this case. That’s a really interesting defense. You know, Lily Tomlin, the comedian, used to have a character, the Bag Lady, who said, “no matter how cynical you get you, just can’t keep up.” And that’s the way it was with the IRS.
Remember this thing began in deceit with Lois Lerner planting a question to reveal this getting ahead of the Inspector General of the IRS report. Then there were a few rogue agents in Cincinnati.
The IRS is the most intrusive and potentially punitive institution of the federal government and it is a law enforcement institution and it is off the rails and it is now thoroughly corrupted. People are saying, “well, the Justice Department can take care of this.” There is a reason why Jack Kennedy had his brother [as] Attorney General. There is a reason why Richard Nixon had his campaign manager John Mitchell [as] Attorney General. It is an inherently political office and it can’t be trusted in cases like this. This is a jaw-dropping revelation.
So there you have it. The Obama administration has been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails! There are no “missing” Lois Lerner emails – nor missing emails of any of the other top IRS or other government officials whose emails seem to be disappearing at increasingly alarming rate. All the focus on missing hard drives has been a diversion.
The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be – but dishonestly withheld this information. You can bet we are going to ask the court for immediate assistance in cutting through this massive obstruction of justice.
We are going to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan, who is increasingly losing patience with the Obama administration’s gamesmanship. In fact, this latest discovery was precipitated by Judge Sullivan’s independent inquiry into the administration’s bogus claims that the data was unrecoverable.
The Justice Department is putting out anonymous statements saying we “misheard” what its lawyers said and that this is not new information about a back-up system. We didn’t mishear anything and we have no doubt that the back-up system as described exists. But the existence of any back-up system was withheld from the court despite two orders (order 1, order 2) demanding specifically sworn declarations about where Lerner’s emails may be residing and effort to obtain them. We asked if the IRS and DOJ would amend the sworn declarations and finally inform Judge Sullivan directly about this back up system. The answer, repeatedly, has been “no.” Talk about stonewalling!
Now, as you might imagine, our discovery has ignited a media firestorm. Last night I appeared on the Fox News Channel’s Kelly File program to discuss the controversy. Forbes, Fox News, and The Washington Examiner were among the news outlets to jump on the story.
Our stunning discovery has also prompted Congress to take aggressive action, reports Breitbart News:
Monday on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record With Greta Van Susteren,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) discussed today’s news reports that embattled IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails about targeting Tea Party groups do in fact exist, despite IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifying they had been destroyed.
Issa said there is a “cover-up, delay, denial, even now there appears to be a false statement from the new IRS commissioner in which he said he moved heaven and Earth to get Lois Lerner’s logs and e-mails.”
“We’re going to call him back,” Issa said. “This time I intend to call him back for a deposition behind closed doors, where we can ask him extensively what he knew and when he knew it. We can go through day by day, how much time he spent getting briefed for his hearings because he either lied under oath, or he chose not to know a critical fact. When he said heaven and earth was moved, and in fact somebody, many somebody knew that Lois Lerner’s emails apparently do exist, and they simply haven’t bothered to go get them from what they’re calling disaster recovery documents.”
Here’s another revelation from the documents that Rep. Issa is going to want to investigate – Lois Lerner’s destroyed Blackberry. The news of the Blackberry destruction was only disclosed because Judge Sullivan, dissatisfied with prior IRS testimony, demanded more information from the IRS about other computer devices, such as Blackberrys or IPads. As first reported by Sidney Powell, a former DOJ attorney, wring for the New York Observer:
The IRS filing in federal Judge Emmet Sullivan’s court reveals shocking new information. The IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry AFTER it knew her computer had crashed and after a Congressional inquiry was well underway. As an IRS official declared under the penalty of perjury, the destroyed Blackberry would have contained the same emails (both sent and received) as Lois Lerner’s hard drive.
We all know by now that Lois Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011 and was destroyed by IRS. The emails of up to twenty other related IRS officials were missing in remarkably similar “crashes,” leading many to speculate that Lois Lerner’s Blackberry perhaps held the key. Now, the Observer can confirm that a year after the infamous hard drive crash, the IRS destroyed Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry-and without making any effort to retain the emails from it.
Judicial Watch attorney Ramona Cotca attended a court-ordered “meet and confer” related to the formerly “missing,” and now too-tough-to-find emails this past Monday, August 25, in the chambers of Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola, who was appointed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to manage and assist in discussions between Judicial Watch and the IRS about how to obtain any missing records we’re seeking through our FOIA lawsuit. Ramona tells me that the IRS sent five lawyers to this meeting. As for the results, we’ll be seeking relief from Judge Sullivan as soon as we can.
Judge Sullivan encouraged Judicial Watch to submit a request for limited discovery into the missing IRS records if we were dissatisfied with the IRS’s answers. You can bet that limited discovery is certainly one of several options we will be presenting the court.
Again, if you’d like to read the latest Blackberry declarations for yourself, click here to access the second set of sworn declarations by IRS officials in response to Judge Sullivan’s investigation into the missing emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials. The declarations were provided after close of business on Friday, August 22 in an effort to blunt news coverage (about the mysterious Blackberry). That plan certainly failed.
Stay tuned. This JW investigation is as hot as it gets. News in this story is breaking almost daily, so be sure to visit our web site (www.judicialwatch.org) often for any breaking news.
And thank you to everyone who supports our work. Thanks to you, Americans now have the best chance for the truth and accountability for the massive IRS scandal. Judicial Watch is happy to do the work of the Department of Justice, the media, and Congress. But we couldn’t do it without your help. So to reaffirm your support or join our cause, please click here.
Judicial Watch Sues University of California
to End In-State Tuition, Grants for Illegal Aliens
The connection between the chaotic flood of illegal aliens coming across the border and illegal alien sanctuary policies is clear. Providing perks and benefits for illegal aliens is equivalent to extending an open invitation to the world to come across the border and violate our laws. And the more illegal aliens who take us up on this offer, the more expensive it becomes. And more chaotic. And more dangerous.
The only want to stem the flow of illegals is to remove these unlawful incentives put into place by the radical Left to undermine the law. And that’s why we took aggressive court action in California this week to try to put an end to illegal alien tuition benefits at one of California’s largest institutions of higher education.
On August 26, 2014, we filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court for the State of California, Los Angeles County, seeking an end to an estimated annual $19.6 million in non-resident tuition waivers currently being given to illegal alien students by the University of California (UC) Regents.
The suit also seeks an end to approximately $4 million annually being awarded to illegal aliens in taxpayer-funded grants and scholarships. We filed this lawsuit on behalf of California resident Earl De Vries. Under California law, taxpayers have the right to sue government officials to prevent unlawful expenditures of taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources.
Here’s our argument in a nutshell as expressed in our lawsuit:
“Under federal law, unlawfully present aliens generally are ineligible for State or local public benefit.” While federal law allows certain exemptions, according to U.S. Code, it does so “only through the enactment of a State law … which affirmatively provides for such eligibility.” [8 U.S.C. § 1621(d)]. While the State of California passed such a law granting exemptions to California State University schools and California Community Colleges, it did not do so in the case of the University of California, making tuition waivers and grants awarded by the UC Board of Regents unlawful.
Under the California Constitution, the UC Board of Regents is “entirely independent” of the state legislature in policy matters, so there is no lawful way for the California legislature to allow or require the University of California to provide the public benefits for illegal aliens. And so, under the federal law, the UC Board of Regents is prohibited from providing any in-state tuition and public benefits for illegal aliens.
As I say, these policies are not only nonsensical and a violation of the law, they also require California taxpayers to cover a very expensive bill. Our lawsuit alleges these that these illicit public benefits for illegal aliens cost California taxpayers almost $25 million annually. Here’s how these numbers break down:
The UC Office of the President estimates that, as of November 2013, 900 students enrolled at UC schools were unlawfully present aliens, approximately 95 percent of whom were undergraduates. Assuming that all of these students qualified for a tuition exemption, the value of this benefit would be approximately $19.6 million (900 students x 95% x $22,878 per student = $19,560,690).
UC has estimated that some 800 undergraduates will qualify for taxpayer-funded Cal Grants worth about $7 million and that approximately 300 of these undergraduates are unlawfully present aliens. UC also has estimated that some 440 unlawfully present aliens exempted from paying nonresident supplemental tuition at UC schools will qualify for approximately $4.3 million in UC grants and scholarships.
Our taxpayer lawsuit seeks a judgment declaring the expenditures unlawful and an injunction, “permanently prohibiting Defendant from expending or causing the expenditure of taxpayer funds or taxpayer-financed resources” for either tuition waivers or financial aid benefits to illegal aliens.
Unless the courts enforce the law, “The Board of Regents … will continue to expend substantial taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources exempting unlawfully present aliens from paying nonresident supplemental tuition at UC schools and allowing unlawfully present aliens attending UC schools to apply for and participate in state-administered financial aid programs.”
Taxpaying California citizens deserve to have their hard-earned money spent lawfully. What the state is doing is not only illegal, it’s unfair to taxpayers.
Our client Earl De Vries, like all taxpayers in California, has a right to expect that the University of California will follow the law and cease using tax dollars to provide illicit subsidies for illegal aliens. Public officials on the UC Board of Regents need to put immigration politics aside and obey both federal law and the California Constitution.
Judicial Watch, Allied Educational Foundation Challenge Race-Based
University Admissions Policies at the University of Texas
While liberals continue to stoke the flames of discord in Ferguson, Missouri over the shooting death of a young black man, JW is mounting a court challenge against another of the Left’s racially-divisive policies – race based preferences in college admissions.
On August 5, 2014, we joined with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) to file an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in support of Abigail Noel Fisher’s appeal for an en banc hearing to review the court’s July 15 ruling in favor of the University of Texas’ (UT) race-based admission policy.
By way of background, Fisher was denied admission to UT in 2008. She filed suit, alleging that the university had discriminated against her and co-plaintiff Rachel Multer Michalewicz because of their race.
In January 2011, the Fifth Circuit Court ruled in favor of UT, prompting Fisher to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a significant victory for Ms. Fisher, on June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fifth Circuit had failed to apply “strict scrutiny” to the university’s race-based admissions policy, remanding the case to the Circuit Court.
But on July 15, 2014, the Circuit Court again ruled in favor of UT indicating that the race-based government policy might survive court review under this “strict scrutiny” standard if the policy serves a “compelling government interest.” Judicial Watch filed an amicus brief in support of Fisher in advance of the Supreme Court victory.
The Fifth Circuit has not followed the Supreme Court’s instruction. In our amicus brief supporting Fisher’s petition for an en banc hearing, Judicial Watch and AEF contend that the UT admission policy violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. If the Fifth Circuit Court decision is allowed to stand, the Judicial Watch/AEF brief argues, it could “prolong the misconception that a person’s ‘race’ is useful distinction for judging who a person is and what they are entitled to.”
Arguing that the UT admissions policy violates the Supreme Court’s “strict scrutiny” standard, Judicial Watch and AEF contend, “Because race is, in essence, a social construct, it, [the UT race-based admissions policy] is inherently ambiguous. This ambiguity is compounded by the ambiguity of allowing applicants to self-select their race in order to gain a ‘plus’ factor towards admission.”
Here are the key arguments from our brief, which you can read in full here:
• Students must self-identify their race, but it remains unclear what makes one applicant a “Hispanic or Latino,” an “American Indian or Alaska Native,” an “Asian,” “Black or African American,” a “Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander,” or simply “White.” UT does not specify whether an applicant must be a “full-blooded” member of his or her self-identified race or ethnic group, or whether 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, or 1/32 is sufficient to be granted or denied the “plus” factor.
• Also undefined by UT’s policy is whether the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” refer to persons of full or partial Spanish ancestry only, or also to persons of other European ancestry such as the Germans and Italians and persons of Jewish background who immigrated to predominantly Spanish speaking countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean before immigrating to the United States. It also is unclear whether Question 7’s reference to South America “or other Spanish culture or origin” includes Portuguese-speaking Brazil.
• With respect to the “American Indian or Alaska Native” racial category, the Native Americans Rights Fund acknowledges that ‘[t]here exists no universally accepted rule for establishing a person’s identity as an Indian. UT’s policy is completely silent as to who is entitled to a ‘plus factor for being an ‘American Indian or Alaska Native.’
• UT makes no effort whatsoever to define the term ‘Asian,’ which just as commonly refers to the four billion human beings who inhabit the largest and most populous continent on Earth as it does to a single “race” of people … It is unclear whether UT’s use of the term includes applicants who are or whose ancestors were of full or partial Near or Middle Eastern origin, including persons of full or partial Arab, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Kurdish, Persian, or Turkish descent, or whether such applicants are to be considered ‘White.’
• UT makes no effort to define what it means by its use of the term ‘Black or African American’ in its admissions policy… If two applicants are of both European and African ancestry, but one applicant self-identifies as ‘Black’ and the other applicant self-identifies as both ‘Black’ and ‘White,’ do both applicants receive the same ‘plus’ factor?
Can you see how arbitrary the process of awarding race-based preferences can be? How on earth anyone can think race-based preferences are fair or lawful is beyond me.
Race-based preferences in admissions are at odds with the Constitution, subject to abuse, and promote crackpot racial theories that have no basis in science. By repeatedly refusing to uphold the basic right to equal protection under the law, the Fifth Circuit Court is attempting to turn pseudo-science into settled law, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling to the contrary. The University of Texas should focus on educating its students rather than running a divisive and unlawful racial spoils program.
Clearly radical liberals are not concerned at all about racial harmony, or justice, or reason. As we’ve seen from the insane opposition to basic election integrity laws, the DOJ’s refusal to apply civil rights laws in a race-neutral manner, and the histrionic reactions by racial opportunists in Ferguson, MO, division suits the Left (and the Obama administration) just fine.
(Judicial Watch’s partner in the amicus filing, the Allied Educational Foundation, is a charitable and educational foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life through education. You can find out more about them here.)
Tom Fitton – President