Romney donor bashed by Obama campaign now target of two federal audits By Joseph Weber
May 14, 2012: Businessman Frank VanderSloot speaks to Fox News.FNC
An Idaho businessman singled out by the Obama campaign for giving $1 million in support of Mitt Romney is now the focus of IRS and Labor Department audits.
Frank VanderSloot, in an interview with FoxNews.com on Tuesday, said he received the initial audit notice from the IRS last month. Two weeks later, he got one from the Labor Department stating the agency would be looking into records related to foreign employees working at his Idaho Falls cattle ranch.
It might all be a coincidence, he said -- but the timing was peculiar.
VanderSloot gave the pro-Romney money last year to the super PAC “Restore of Future.” Then in April, he was identified along with seven other donors on an Obama campaign website as “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.”
At the time, VanderSloot spoke out and accused the campaign of targeting him unfairly. Then came the audits.
“It seems coincidental, but who knows,” VanderSloot told FoxNews.com Tuesday. “The problem is the president made the list, and 61 days later I get the first letter. One has to ask: Is the fact I’m being shot at the result of having a target on my back? … Was the list made with that intent?”
VanderSloot expected some scrutiny, considering he is a co-chairman on the Romney campaign, and years of contributing to state and national races had already exposed him to the rough-and-tumble world of politics.
He has also been targeted by liberal bloggers and an opposition research team that directed an investigator to poke around his local courthouse, looking at divorce records and other cases.
Yet VanderSloot, owner of the Melaleuca wellness product company, never expected to be branded on an presidential campaign website as a “litigious, combative and bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”
“I had never heard anybody say that,” said VanderSloot, who speculated the anti-gay claim is largely the result of him about 13 years ago opposing the film “It’s Elementary -- Talking about Gay Issues in School” airing on public TV because it was not suitable for viewing by young children.
“Ninety percent of my gay friends agreed,” he said.
VanderSloot was prescient in his public comments after appearing on the list, musing on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” about whether the list was perhaps a tip-sheet for media critics or federal agencies.
“Am I going to get a call from the FDA … or the IRS?” he said Tuesday, echoing his comments from the show.
Still, the 63-year-old VanderSloot doesn’t think President Obama directly ordered the audits, because simply allowing the so-called "enemy list" to be posted on the original “Keeping GOP Honest” site was enough.
“I doubt he said, ‘Let’s get these guys,’ ” VanderSloot said.
The Obama campaign did not return an email seeking comment. Representatives from the IRS and Labor Department also did not return requests for comment.
The documents requested by the IRS have been turned over to his accountant, VanderSloot said, and the Labor Department audit is just getting started, but he will fully comply and expects no problems.
"I’m not worried,” he said. “We’ll be fine.”
VanderSloot also said the scrutiny has only strengthened his commitment to stay engaged in the political system.
“I am not going to stay away,” he said. “This has given me even more resolve that we need a new president.”
The long line of conservatives targeted by the IRS By John Solomon and Ben Wolfgang
The Washington Times
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Tea party groups, Franklin Graham, Christine O'Donnell, a pro-marriage group. And now Dr. Ben Carson.
The list of conservatives targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for audits, tax-exempt reviews or tax privacy breaches keeps growing, raising fresh questions in Washington about whether a scandal the Obama administration has blamed on bureaucratic incompetence and coincidence may in fact involve something more nefarious.
The latest revelation came Thursday from Dr. Carson, the renowned neurosurgeon who told The Washington Times that he was targeted for an audit just months after he gave a speech in front of President Obama that challenged America's leadership. The agency requested to review his real estate holdings and then conducted a full audit.
In the end, the IRS found no wrongdoing, Dr. Carson said, but it raised his suspicions about being singled out for his speech.
"I guess it could be a coincidence, but I never had been audited before and never really had any encounters with the IRS," Dr. Carson said in an interview. "But it certainly would make one suspicious because we know now the IRS has been used for political purposes and therefore actions like this come under suspicion."
Melanie Sloan, head of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and a former Justice Department prosecutor during the Clinton years, said she had not been that concerned about the IRS reviews of the growing number of tea party groups but the story of Dr. Carson's audit raised red flags.
"I have not been particularly persuaded in the past with the IRS targeting of the tea party groups. But this one seems a little odd. This certainly raises questions that I assume someone will begin to investigate," she said.
Dr. Carson, whose rise from poverty and medical work with pediatric patients were celebrated in the movie "Gifted Hands," is the latest in a growing number of high-profile figures to come forward and claim they were improperly targeted by the IRS.
The Rev. Franklin Graham and others have said either they or their organizations were singled out by the IRS, while former Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell said she was audited and that someone used the IRS system to access her private tax information.
On Wednesday, the National Organization for Marriage announced that it would sue the IRS, saying it has evidence that someone within the agency leaked the group's donor list to its political enemies in 2012.
As in the other instances, the organization claims no one at the IRS has been held responsible.
Calls to the IRS went unanswered Thursday. Much of the agency's staff has been furloughed as a result of the federal government shutdown.
In the past, the IRS has declined to discuss specific audits, citing privacy laws. Such instances typically come to light only when individuals or businesses divulge that they've been targeted.
That was what happened this week. During a speech in Alabama, Dr. Carson made a vague reference to having his first "encounter with the IRS."
The encounter came just four months after his speech in February at the National Prayer Breakfast, an address that brought him into the national spotlight and one in which he decried the "moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility" of the U.S. in recent years.
Since then, he has electrified the conservative world and fueled talk of a presidential run with speeches and other works, including his weekly column for The Times.
Dr. Carson said IRS agents contacted him in June and asked to look at his real estate holdings. After finding nothing that concerned them, the agents informed him that they were conducting a full audit of his finances and asked to go back an additional year to review his records, he said.
They ended the review in August after finding no problems.
"They told me everything was in good standing and left," Dr. Carson said.
Asked whether he thought the audit was a retaliation for his speech, Dr. Carson quipped: "I guess I'm surprised it took them that long."
He said the more serious issue is that the IRS has been politicized — "something that never should have happened" — and that leaves all of its activities open to suspicion.
Indeed, Dr. Carson isn't the first high-profile conservative figure to come under fire from the IRS.
Earlier this year, Ms. O'Donnell — a former Senate candidate from Delaware who rose to prominence amid heavy tea party backing — revealed to The Times that she, too, had been audited and also had her personal tax information breached.
Ms. O'Donnell's tax records were accessed by David Smith, an investigator with Delaware's Division of Revenue.
Revelations about that access, which took place in March 2010, spawned an inquiry by the U.S. Treasury Department and denials by Delaware officials that anything inappropriate had taken place.
It also has spawned a congressional investigation spearheaded by Sen. Chuck Grassley, a powerful Iowa Republican.
Ms. O'Donnell's story, which also includes an erroneous lien placed on a home she no longer owned, broke just as the IRS inspector general acknowledged that at least four politicians or political donors have had their personal tax records improperly accessed since 2006. One of those cases involved a willful violation of federal law.
The Justice Department has declined to prosecute any of the cases.
Also this year, Mr. Graham, son of legendary evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, wrote a letter to Mr. Obama in which he accused the IRS of targeting two of his nonprofit organization for political purposes.
Mr. Graham heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, a worldwide relief group.
In his letter, Mr. Graham said he believes "someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us."
My IRS tax records were breached, misused against me -- and it can happen to you, too By Christine O'Donnell
March 05, 2014 FoxNews.com
Lois Lerner’s appearance on Capitol Hill this week reminds us that, to date, she has become the face of the IRS stonewall: the refusal to tell the American people the truth about the agency’s targeting of groups and individuals as part of a political persecution of conservatives. My story about the IRS is about a stonewall as well, but for something far more serious: the invasion of personal and confidential tax records that are supposed to be protected by law.
When a Treasury Department inspector general (TIGTA) investigator informed me early last year that my confidential IRS records had been “compromised” and “maybe misused,” the pieces of a three-year-old puzzle began to come together.
For two weeks I was attacked publicly – both in local and national media outlets – for this erroneous lien.
He told me that a few hours after I issued a media advisory for a news conference at which I was to announce my candidacy for the U.S. Senate, someone had breached my confidential IRS records. Later that same day the IRS placed an erroneous lien on a home I no longer owned.
The lien was stamped in New Castle County, Delaware. The county executive at that time was Chris Coons, the man who wound up defeating me in the election for the U.S. Senate seat and who sits in that seat today.
For two weeks I was attacked publicly – both in local and national media outlets – for this erroneous lien. The IRS then rescinded the lien claiming it was just a glitch. But the damage had already been done to my campaign and reputation.
As investigators began to look into this case I was fortunate to gain Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) as an ally. He and I were both told last Spring by TIGTA that I deserved to know at least some information about what happened.
Here is where the irony set in and the stonewall went up both in Delaware and Washington. We were told the same law that was supposed to protect the confidentiality of my tax records also protects the identities of the people involved in the records breach, the circumstances surrounding the breach as well as the erroneous lien.
The person who accessed my records was an employee in the Delaware Department of Revenue, David Smith. His boss publicly claimed he did so as part of a “routine” check.
The problem is there are laws that protect taxpayers from government officials who just want to go snooping in your confidential tax records. Someone at the IRS didn’t bother to abide by those laws. If all a government official needs to pry into your tax records is to claim he’s making a routine check, then the law isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and any taxpayer is vulnerable to having their confidential records “compromised” and “misused.”
The routine check turned into an erroneous lien, the lien was supposedly caused by a glitch. The question is if all of this was routine, simple coincidences and harmless glitches, how come neither I nor Senator Grassley have gotten the information promised by TIGTA for the past ten months?
What has happened is that despite genuine bipartisan efforts to get to the bottom of these scandals, despite the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee both probing my particular case, some congressional Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation into TIGTA. They are claiming its work has been pro-Republican.
This is beyond partisan, it’s ridiculous as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp confirmed to Fox News' Megyn Kelly that “100 percent of the groups that were audited were conservative groups.” So the real reason to put the clamps on TIGTA is to keep cases like mine from going forward.
As I was considering the campaign for U.S. Senate I was literally told by a prominent Delaware political figure that if I ran the IRS and others were going to “F with your head.” It would seem given Ms. Lerner’s pleading the Fifth Amendment, the year long stonewall, and President Obama’s assertion to Bill O’Reilly that there’s “not even a smidgen” of corruption, the IRS is really doing that to the entire country.
Christine O’Donnell was the 2010 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Delaware.