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The Real IRS Scandal
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This is a place where we can discuss current events - what happens around the world and is reported in the news. Healthy debates and discussions regarding issues we feel strongly about will be allowed; however, personal attacks will not be tolerated, nor will threads and/or comments that are argumentative, combative, or offensive. You *must* post a link to your source, or indicate if you heard it on TV, read a magazine/newspaper article, and indicate what radio/TV station, magazine/newspaper or your thread will be deleted. Remember, this is "Current Events", not "Current Arguments".

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The Real IRS Scandal

We just had five congressional hearings about the Internal Revenue Service, full of sound and fury, but, we now know, signifying nothing [2].

Despite all the hoopla and headlines about IRS personnel targeting conservative tax-exempt organizations, there is no real scandal here. IRS staffers acted not only legally but, given their impossible task, quite rationally.

[3]They forgot, however, that they not only work in a political fishbowl, they swim in a sea of politics. Faced with internally contradictory regulations laid out in vague terms, and with little guidance from higher-ups, they botched it. Republicans may now finally get the chance to pour unlimited amounts of secret money into elections.

The Internal Revenue Code provides a tax exemption under section 501(c)(4) for nonprofit groups “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare” (emphasis added). In classic oxymoronic bureaucratic doublespeak, however, a 1959 regulation decided “exclusively” really meant “primarily.”

Though the courts have ruled that a tax-exempt group’s political activity must be “insubstantial,” lawyers have argued this means it can be as much as 49 percent – and the IRS has gone along. Even that has been flagrantly violated by both Democratic and Republican 501(c)(4)s.

The regulation also states “direct or indirect participation in political campaigns” to support or oppose political candidates “is not considered ‘promotion of social welfare.’” “Participation” in a political campaign is determined, however, by considering “the facts and circumstances.”

[4]This provides no real guidance. Not surprisingly, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, who investigated the IRS “scandal,” concluded that personnel in the Exempt Organizations Division “lack knowledge [5]” of what 501(c)(4)s are allowed to do.

This division receives about 60,000 applications for nonprofit status each year, largely for 501(c)(3)s that don’t engage in any political campaign activity. With so many applications, the division has a heavy backlog. After the 2010 Citizens United and SpeechNow decisions, the floodgates were further opened to huge amounts of campaign money whose donors wanted secrecy. As one Tea Party leader noted: “It would have a very chilling effect on our donor base if they thought  [their names] would be made public [6].” So 501(c)(4)s became the most-favored campaign vehicle.

To operate as a 501(c)(4), it is not necessary to be officially approved. Nonetheless, the number of these applications, many involving complex questions, almost doubled in less than two years, from 1,741 in 2010 to 3,357 in 2012. All the 2010 applications went to the Cincinnati exempt organization office, which was quickly overwhelmed.

In addition, the IRS budget was cut by 8 percent, or nearly $1 billion. The original EO roster of 946 employees was reduced to 876 [6]. Employee training has been especially hard-hit, falling 83 percent since FY 2010 [7].

[8]To deal with the wave of 501(c)(4) applications, IRS personnel looked for ways to quickly spot groups that might warrant further inquiry. A manager at the Cincinnati EO office, John Shafer, a self-described “conservative Republican,” decided to focus on Tea Party cases. Shafer assigned a subordinate to develop the initial search criteria.

This was revealed in a transcript of a private interview with IRS personnel conducted by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Cal.). Yet this information was not public until Sunday, June 9, when Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) released a video and transcript of the interview.

Shafer’s subordinate, according to the testimony, said “no one” from Washington [9] “said to make such a search.” The division focused on organizational names, including “Tea Party,” “patriots” and “9/12” (a Glenn Beck group). This approach using search terms was similar to IRS practice in other investigations [10].

These groups seeking tax-exempt status had spent most of the previous summer and fall engaged in rough political warfare aimed at Democratic members of Congress. In a well-organized campaign, town hall meetings of Democratic House members were disrupted; the elected official was hanged in effigy; and Democratic programs attacked as “socialistic” and even “Nazi.” All this played out on national television and websites.

The IRS did not only pick on conservative groups. It also flagged liberal groups, using word searches for “progressive” in their names, though fewer. Data just released of 175 approved applications reveals that about 122 were conservative and 48 liberal or simply publicly involved, with six indeterminate. Right-wing or conservative groups, however, were responsible for more than 80 percent [11] of the roughly $260 million spent by 501(c)(4)s on the 2012 election cycle.

Though some of the 300 groups under investigation complained about IRS harassment, tax experts and former IRS officials contacted by the New York Times said the groups’ actions “provide a legitimate basis for flagging them [12] for closer review.”



http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/06/17/the-real-irs-scandal/
34 Comments
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For example, the Wetumpka Tea Party in Alabama sponsored training for a get-out-the-vote initiative dedicated to the “defeat of President Barack Obama”; the Ohio Liberty Coalition organized members to distribute Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign literature; and the CVFC, a conservative veterans group, bought radio ads in San Diego supporting Republican Michael Crimmins for the House of Representatives. Yet all still checked the “No” box when asked about any political activity.

The actions of CVFC were not unique. Five other 501(c)(4)s assured the IRS that they would not spend any money on elections, but then contributed more than $5 million as a group, largely to support Mitt Romney [13], according to two recent ProPublica reports. In 2010, many conservative tax-exempt groups spent much more than that for GOP candidates. Some of these groups disbanded soon after the election [14].

[15]Many conservative big spenders also lied to the IRS. The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity spent $39.4 million on political ads and organizing in 2010, helping Republicans to sweep the midterm elections that year. But before those elections, when the organization applied to the IRS for 501(c)(4) status, it said it would spend nothing [16] on electoral campaigns.

These false statements are probably the only real criminality in this IRS scandal [17]. Yet House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is still insisting that someone must go to jail. He may get his wish – but it may not be to his liking.

To date, no conservative group, flagged or otherwise, has been turned down. This is almost certainly a mistake – and probably an overreaction to the protests from angry Republican members of Congress, who were responsive to the Tea Party complaints. By contrast, several liberal applications were rejected.

Some GOP complaints were justified – though not as many as these organizations claimed. There were indeed some lengthy delays. These resulted from a failure of communication and misunderstandings between Washington and Cincinnati – which led the division to stop processing applications [5] from October 2010 through November 2011. That lengthy a delay was inexcusable and shows an appalling lack of supervision.

The EO staff was justified, however, in asking for more information [18] than was disclosed in the applications. The groups may have deeply resented the repeated requests for donor names, but the Tax Court had already approved this request – not once but several times. But after the outcry, the agency withdrew all its requests.

Liberal groups also faced delays and many follow-up questions. Progress Texas was asked 21 additional questions and had to wait 479 days for approval [19].

On the other hand, a few agents clearly overstepped the bounds. One agent advised a group not to protest against abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic, and there were other excesses. These seem to have been isolated incidents, however, for the IRS-targeted groups who complained at one congressional hearing had virtually all engaged extensively in electoral campaigns [20].

So far there is no evidence that the IRS division has done anything criminal or otherwise unlawful. Nor did the inspector general find any such wrongdoing, only ignorance and mismanagement. He specifically found that the IRS “was not politically biased.” He also found no evidence tying the administration to what happened, despite the almost desperate efforts by Republicans to find such a tie.

Ultimately, the IRS is guilty of not having trained its EO personnel to be politically sensitive, and of a management failure to closely supervise so sensitive a matter.

As rewritten and interpreted by the IRS, the tax-exempt statute cannot be applied in any clear and consistent way – particularly by a shell-shocked, under-staffed and under-trained agency. The agency’s primary purpose is to collect money, yet it was mandated to evaluate partisan political activity.

The only way the IRS can properly apply the law is as Congress wrote it: 501(c)(4)s must limit themselves exclusively to public welfare activity, and not engage in any political activity at all.

Odds are, this won’t happen. Because the IRS has now been condemned so harshly on all sides, it may approve just about anything. Big money will likely be able to continue spending billions of secret dollars – and making a mockery of democracy.

That’s the real scandal.
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Again, they (The IRS) has already admitted Guilt and Apologized. Then there is the question of, why did Learner plead the 5th if there was nothing to hide?
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"Right-wing or conservative groups, however, were responsible for more than 80 percent [11] of the roughly $260 million spent by 501(c)(4)s on the 2012 election cycle......the Wetumpka Tea Party in Alabama sponsored training for a get-out-the-vote initiative dedicated to the “defeat of President Barack Obama”; the Ohio Liberty Coalition organized members to distribute Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign literature; and the CVFC, a conservative veterans group, bought radio ads in San Diego supporting Republican Michael Crimmins for the House of Representatives. ***Yet all still checked the “No” box when asked about any political activity.***

The actions of CVFC were not unique. Five other 501(c)(4)s assured the IRS that they would not spend any money on elections, but then contributed more than $5 million as a group, largely to support Mitt Romney [13], according to two recent ProPublica reports. In 2010, many conservative tax-exempt groups spent much more than that for GOP candidates. Some of these groups disbanded soon after the election...."



If the American people buy the lie that the Koch Bros. and the people behind the 'Tea Party' are victims they deserve to live as their slaves.

Go ahead and work for them without healthcare. Send your kids to fight overseas so Boeing and Halliburton can perpetually bomb and rebuild. If you allow your elections to be bought by the highest bidder you get the gov't you deserve.
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Lerner pled the 5th to keep her job maybe? I mean look at the fallout! Issah was out for blood. By pleading the fifth, she was able to ride the beast and still keep her job maybe? Clearly Issah has been going out making accusations that the white house was behind it all and clearly said on national tv that he would find the proof? Come On people! And do you think it will end there? With the damage it is doing to the pres my guess is they will keep this going like the benghazi thing and milk it for all its worth claiming scandal after scandal.

Clearly Issah has been on a witch hunt to involve the president with nothing to back it up, so where is his head on a stick I ask?

This is not to say that there are clear problems of disorganization and sloppiness but where is the proof of presidential involvement.

Notta, not even a whiff! So how come Issah can get away with this again?

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Yeah nothing up with Benghazi, right.
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Teko, thank you for your post. Unbelievable! Where is the outrage?
They "apologized"? Oh geez, let's all lie down again and pretend we that big money does not run this country.


"If the American people buy the lie that the Koch Bros. and the people behind the 'Tea Party' are victims they deserve to live as their slaves."

"Go ahead and work for them without healthcare. Send your kids to fight overseas so Boeing and Halliburton can perpetually bomb and rebuild. If you allow your elections to be bought by the highest bidder you get the gov't you deserve."

Right on. Thank you.
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Funny because Obama has some of the biggest donors.
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Didn't the President somehow come up with more money?  Kind of embarrassing if we are that concerned with the none profits when big money just gave this President money....
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I never said that they don't have a hold on our President. The very fact that he is considering a pipeline that will finish off our planet after the effects the tar sands have caused cancer and other diseases to the world population demonstrates that he is far from 'innocent'.
Nevertheless, he is at least working with what he has for the country. I do believe he has our interests at heart and will do as much as he can within the limits of his job.
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I was referencing the IRS scandal, who they were going after (?) and why, and the fact that the President outspent the republicans.... hands down.  Democrats aren't complaining because nobody is investigating where that money came from + they got what they wanted.  (And complain every day about the congress of no....)
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When I criticize the extreme right, I know that there are others who share the guilt of their actions to a lesser degree.
The focus of this thread happened to be Koch brothers and big business and their link to the extreme right.
For me, big business as it is, is the enemy. The politicians who sell themselves are a shame and I think there are few if any from either party who are not guilty of this.
But let us not get side tracked from the original post and what it is about.
You can still be a conservative and be outraged, ya know.
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http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/liberal-donors-gave-to-priorities-usa-action-super-pac-at-11th-hour-84731.html?hp=l4


Once-bedraggled, pro-Barack Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action saved its best fundraising efforts for last, reaping riches from liberal donors and labor unions during the presidential election’s final three weeks.

Investor Henry Laufer and Renaissance Technologies Chairman James Simons each gave Priorities USA Action $1.5 million between Oct. 18 and Election Day, federal documents filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night show.

  Media mogul Fred Eychaner, law firm chief Steve Mostyn and Renaissance Technologies Chief Executive Stephen Robert each added $1 million, helping Priorities USA Action raise nearly $15.2 million for the period as it pummeled Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with relentless negative advertisements during the campaign’s final days.

(Also on POLITICO: Obama outspent Romney in final days)

Union entities also ponied up serious eleventh-hour cash, including the Laborers International Union of North America ($1 million on Nov. 5), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($500,000) and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners’s Working for Working Americans super PAC ($500,000).

In all, Priorities USA Action spent nearly $21 million between Oct. 18 and Nov. 26 while ending the period with $4.33 million cash on hand and no debt.

I appreciate your point about the Obama campaign. I looked it up and so far it looks kosher. :) He did outspend in the 11th hour but his donors didn't seem to be manipulating the IRS.
Still, I know that as a politician he too is in the pockets of big business to some degree. And I believe it is not due to greed but more as a part of the negotiating he must do as a Pres.
Just my take, I am no expert.
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Im talking about the IRS scandal here. Im talking about how Issah went on national television and accused the president, with no proof I might add and said he would find the proof! Clearly right there and then it told you what was going on. If you have ears let you hear! There was supposed to be a bi partisan investigation to get to the bottom of this so where did Issah get the privilege of coming out with snippits of a transcript and intentionally leaning them to say what he wanted them to say? Cummings came out and said because of that he was going to release the entire transcript and that is exactly what he did, yesterday I think. The transcript clearly states what did and didnt go on. It was simply people doing their job and there was clearly no big conspiracy to it! So when does the media start reporting this fact? There has been so much damage to the president (because people only hear the drama and dont follow like I do), that this will ruin the entire reputation of the IRS and the president forever? And if you really want to look see behind closed doors it is simply another way to discredit irs so they can block the implementation of obamacare. I didnt post the actual transcript of the interview here, but Im sure with little to no effort it can be found online for anyone wanting to see it.

I personally am outraged! And like I said before, will it end here? Oh come on!

Now they are wasting time trying to vote on abortion issues even tho it doesnt have a rats arse chance of passing when they should be concentrating on the econemy! Who is paying for this? WE ARE! Open your freaking eyeballs, put your partisan hat away and pay freaking attention, not only to the fed level, but do you know what your state passed this week on a local level? OMG wake the hell up people!!!

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Congressman Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, bucked Committee Chairman Darrell Issa Tuesday and released the full transcript of an interview with an IRS employee. His goal was to stop “conspiracy theories” that claim the White House directed the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.

“This interview transcript provides a detailed firsthand account of how these practices first originated, and it debunks conspiracy theories about how the IRS first started reviewing these cases,” Cummings wrote in a public letter addressed to Issa. “Answering questions from Committee staff for more than five hours, this official–who identified himself as a ‘conservative Republican’–denied that he or anyone on his team was directed by the White House to take these actions or that they were politically motivated.”

Cummings blasted his Republican colleagues for making “several serious and unsubstantiated accusations” that “directly contradict” what the IRS employee said in the June 6 interview, pointing to a May 14 statement in which Issa claimed that the scandal ”was the targeting of the president’s political enemies effectively and lies about it during the election year.”

Cummings also took issue with Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, who said on June 12–six days after the interview with the IRS employee–that “we know [the scandal] didn’t originate in Cincinnati.”

“These facts are a far cry from accusations of a conspiracy orchestrated by the White House to target the President’s political enemies,” Cummings wrote. “At this point in the investigation, not one witness who has appeared before the Committee has identified any involvement by any White House officials in the identification or screening of Tea Party applicants for tax exempt status, and the Committee has obtained no documents indicating any such involvement.”

Issa blasted Cummings for releasing the full transcript, complaining it would provide “a roadmap for IRS officials to navigate investigative interviews with Congress.”

“After unsuccessfully trying to convince the American people that IRS officials in Washington did not play a role in inappropriate scrutiny of Tea Party groups and declaring on national television that the case of IRS targeting was ‘solved’ and Congress should ‘move on,’ this looks like flailing,” he wrote in his statement. “Americans who think Congress should investigate IRS misconduct should be outraged by Mr. Cummings’ efforts to obstruct needed oversight.”

The chairman initially supported releasing the full transcripts. On CNN’s State of the Union on June 2, he said “the whole transcript will be put out.” But a few days later he changed his mind, releasing only partial transcripts of interviews with IRS officials involved in the scandal, and saying late last week that releasing the full transcripts would be “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

The full transcripts of the interview is posted on the website of the House Democrats of the Oversight Committee: part one and part two.

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and the truth shall set us free...Well its supposed to anyway but if people don't want to hear it then.....
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Believe me, my distrust of the IRS started long, long before this happened.  I'll blame this president and past presidents for using the IRS as they see fit, pilfering money from everywhere they can.... they all get blame as far as I'm concerned and are no better than big business.  They ARE big business.
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There are plenty of things wrong with the IRS and it kind of starts with them being inefficient and the amount of spending they do.  If this little shake up straightens them out...  (It won't...)

This scandal is exposing all kinds of things.  Personally, I am glad it is happening.  Somebody is doing something.  I may be a diversionary tactic, or someone may actually be questioning the government and its tactics.... (kind of like they're supposed too.)  Checks and balances?  
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A great non-sequitur..
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Thanks Logical Mike....
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No problem at all.
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beginning with a conclusion and then arguing backwards from that, often resulting in some hilariously ridiculous reasoning.=republicans in congress
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If it affects some change, I am all for it and I don't care who gets credit.
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Thank you so much for your posts. I am really learning a lot today. It is true that people often do not want to see what is wrong with "their side" and it just gets down to bickering and veering off the subject (as I often do).

There is important information here for everyone and it really is beyond the silly left and right stuff we trade off with.

There are now documented facts that prove the President did not go after the Tea partiers through the IRS. In fact there are now documented facts that prove some Republicans lied about the Presidential link and some big spenders who supported Romney lied to the IRS.
*That* is news and that is truth and all the talk about Obama's imperfections (sorry I fell into that trap) is just a diversion from what the GOP is doing with their constant campaign against Obama.
I do not understand why they haven't yet lost credibility with the people. 2014 just cannot come quickly enough!
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"I do not understand why they haven't yet lost credibility with the people. 2014 just cannot come quickly enough! "

Its because they make A LOT of noise and are consistent..The Dems and the Pres do not step up and make as much noise to call them out...The more you hear something, the more chances you start to believe it...i;e Obamacare....It's BAD remember..
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..The more you hear something, the more chances you start to believe it..
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Right on Mrs.P, so true.
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And notice how this investigation has been termed from the get go as a scandal? Everyone refers to it as a scandal, yet to date absolutely no information has come forward proving such at all! So now when you think of IRS, you think of scandal, president all in the same context. And I think there are something like 6 investigations going on all at once.

But the thing that galls me is that the so called leader of the ways and means committee who is supposed to provide oversight to aid our country and get to the truth is himself on a witch hunt to involve the pres no matter what he has to do or the extent he has to go thru to prove it!!!! We have seen this same thing before with him and Holder! Truth doesnt matter, but using his voice and his position to ruin these guys with lies and accusations without proof to back it up is I am sure not in keeping with the constitution. So where is all the screaming! The outrage! Crickets? Now let Holder do the same thing and do ya think it would still be crickets?

And yet, he goes on another day in the hunt to come up with proof to back up his allegations instead of following the facts where they may lead.

And as I said before, I wonder how Issah got this position to begin with because the appearance of criminality in his past suggests he is not fit. I guess this is why they gave him the job?

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Its because they make A LOT of noise and are consistent

Truth doesnt matter, but using his voice and his position to ruin these guys with lies and accusations without proof to back it up is I am sure not in keeping with the constitution. So where is all the screaming! The outrage!
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We need to start making a lot of noise consistently. It is the only way to fight this mass programming.
Of course in my corner of the world it is like preaching to the choir. Oakland/Berkeley are not Tea party/GOP strongholds...still there has to be a way to offset some of their propaganda.
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I hear ya, but at a time when the very ones are calling government corrupt and wanting to shrink it are the very ones that are corrupt and passing stupid legislation that is simply a waste of time and instilling new rules against womens issues, and voting to repeal obamacare 36 times to make themselves appear busy and all the while spending godless amounts of the taxpayers money to do it, is just sickness.

There is obviously a strong need for a change of rules for these politicians. They should change the laws to prevent gerrymandering, which most of these teaparty types are already gerrymandered in and cannot be voted out. That needs to change for starters and they need to be held to certain ethics and term limits and we also need to do away with Congress being the only ones that decide their pay without any oversight from any other government entity.

Can you tell Im fired up? lol Now Im rambling! I think what we are seeing is that change needs to happen from the top down. THEM. They are ruining our country. One party rule, dictatorship, all the while trying to convince us that Obama is the enemy. Well I think it has become quite clear where the main problems lie an this is just one example.

So he just gets away with this? No harm no foul? Onto the next scandal....
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And the lack of dems lack of  squalling about this from the rooftops is crazy! Maybe they decided to take the high road I dont know, but like you said, people better start making a stink!
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There is obviously a strong need for a change of rules for these politicians. They should change the laws to prevent gerrymandering, which most of these teaparty types are already gerrymandered in and cannot be voted out. That needs to change for starters and they need to be held to certain ethics and term limits and we also need to do away with Congress being the only ones that decide their pay without any oversight from any other government entity.

Can you tell Im fired up?
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You lead it girl and we will follow. Seriously a grassroots effort to fight the lies and corruption from the 'nobodies' that *are* this country.
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http://www.freewoodpost.com/2013/06/01/jesus-christ-files-lawsuit-against-gop-for-slander/

Jesus Christ files lawsuit against GOP for slander.

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What a cool site. How fun.

One of the attorneys representing Christ had this to say:

“For years Republicans have proclaimed their love for and loyalty to Jesus, yet their actions are highly contradictory to what Mr. Christ preached. Instead of helping the poor and the sick GOP instead punishes the poor and the sickly.

Our client isn’t telling the GOP what their agenda should be, he simply wants them to stop using his name when their actions contradict everything he stood for.

If the GOP would like to continue using his name they have to start making a significant effort to help the poor and the sick, instead of the rich, and start promoting a more peaceful agenda.”

When asked about the lawsuit, House Speaker John Boehner made the following remarks:

“Mr. Christ is entitled to his opinion, however the GOP believes that the underlying message in the Bible is that giving tax cuts to the wealthy is the true path to happiness.
I don’t know where Mr. Christ thinks the Bible says to help the poor and the sick, but that sounds awfully socialistic to me, and we are not a socialist country.”
OMG, Boehner actually said that? Even *I* know the New Testament better than that!

I love this Teko. I just knew there were more than 3 Christians (You, Mrs.P and NYgirl) who remembers that Jesus really cared about the poor...really happy to find this site.(BTW, are those Jewish lawyers ?:) )
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Its just satire, but I thought it was funny. I loved this one posters response to it tho.

Mr pat Robertson was asked to identify Mr Christ said he was not the Christ he knew since his Christ was a red haired blue eyed Caucasian and not a dark skinned middle eastern. Mr Christ then turn Mr Robertson into a goat.

LOL,
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It is very funny. When I read Palin's response I realized it was probably a satire but I could really imagine Boehner saying something like that.

Okay, enough laughing for the day, I have had my humor fix, time to get on with other things.
Have a good day.:)
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