- Scandals are dominating the headlines in Washington and in the music of the Capitol Steps. This week, a double feature from Washington's premiere musical satirists. They target the IRS targeting of conservative groups in "When IRS Guys are Smiling" and the Benghazi scandal in "Lie,Lie,Lie." Our guest is Steps star and co-founder Elaina Newport.
- The Justice Department continues its promotion of the homosexual agenda and now commands managers to publicly affirm that agenda because "silence will be interpreted as disapproval."
A DOJ employee forwarded written and electronic communication from the department that spell out the pro-homosexual expectations of all employees.
"The brochure is a list, a series of dos and don'ts for managers in dealing with homosexuals and cross-dressing employees," said Matt Barber, vice president for Liberty Counsel Action and director of cultural affairs at Liberty Counsel. Barber wrote about this development in his most recent weekly column.
In an email and brochure entitled, "LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers," employees are warned to verbally affirm homosexuality.
"DON'T judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval," the email reads. It also quotes a homosexual DOJ employee who says, ""Silence seems like disapproval. There's still an atmosphere of LGBT issues not being appropriate for the workplace (particularly for transgender people), or that people who bring it up are trying to rock the boat."
"It's a complete violation of the first amendment. Why should we be surprised? This is a Department of Justice and indeed an Obama administration that has shown nothing but disdain for the first amendment," said Barber.
In addition, managers are urged to display pro-homosexual materials in their office, such as a DOJ Pride sticker, in order to let homosexuals know that office is a "safe space". They are also urged to attend LGBT events. Using terms like husband or wife is also discouraged in favor of terms like spouse, partner or significant other.
As for transgenders, affirmation is demanded for them as well. A transgender worker in the email is quoted as saying, "I want people to understand that I'm real. I want to be recognized as the gender I really am. . . . Just imagine if people were constantly debating YOUR bathroom privileges. Imagine how humiliating that would be."
"So this is the DOJ picking sides, choosing sides, in a highly controversial, highly polarizing cultural debate and essentially threatening without proscribing specific punitive measures," said Barber. "This is how clever they are. They know they can indirectly threaten any managers but if the included any specific threats the lawsuits would fly.
"It's out position this is enough. This creates a chilling effect, not in the sense that it silences managers. This is even worse. This is a chilling effect in the sense that it bullies and intimidates managers to violate their conscience and speak positively about aberrant sexual behavior within the Department of Justice. It's Orwellian that they would even think they would get away with doing this," said Barber.
Barber says this is an even more extreme example of how the homosexual lobby is not content with getting what they want but their intention to demonize anyone who disagrees with them.
"This just illustrates the homosexual activist lobby's insatiable appetite for absolute affirmation of something that I believe intuitively and they know in their hearts is wrong. It's sin," said Barber. "It's immoral behavior. It's unnatural behavior and I believe they know that intuitively, so they have to compel others to affirm, even if they don't agree with, their lifestyle choices.
"So this is really 'The Emperor's New Clothes' in the sense that they have to affirm a delusion. I mean a man dressed as a woman, a woman dressed as a man, that that is actually a third or fourth or ninth or whatever kind of gender. It's 'The Emperor's New Clothes' meets George Orwell," said Barber.
Liberty Counsel is urging any Justice Department employees to share their stories of intimidation on this front. The group can be reached by phone at 800-671-1776 or by email at email@example.com.
- Famed constitutional attorney Floyd Abrams is deeply troubled by the Justice Department's controversial seizure of Associated Press phone records and the targeting of a Fox News reporter as a criminal and he says the White House reaction to the stories is woefully insufficient.
In his lengthy career of trying first amendment cases, Abrams defended the publishers of the Pentagon Papers, Al Franken against the Fox News Channel and tobacco companies against the Food and Drug Administration.
The Justice Department is under heavy scrutiny for seizing phone records for more than 20 phone lines connected to Associated Press reporters without trying to secure cooperation from AP in the first place. Days later it was revealed that James Rosen of Fox News was branded a criminal and a co-conspirator in a State Department leak over a story on North Korea.
Abrams says there is always a tension between the prying role of the press and the protecting role of the government, but he believes the recently revealed actions of the Justice Department go beyond previous federal attempts to limit information seen by the public.
"The notion that in the name of finding out who leaked information that more or less anything goes in an effort to find that out. That's something new. That sort of breaches the wall that has historically existed," said Abrams. "It's a new and troubling development."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded to both the Associated Press and Rosen stories by saying the administration respects the right of an unfettered press to pursue stories but that there needs to be a balance with national security concerns. While optimistic that federal officials will shape up as a result of these controversies, Abrams says the reaction from the White House is less than reassuring.
"Yeah, I mean that's true that you need a balance and it's true, of course national security matters a lot, a lot, a lot. The fact is it's just not an answer to what they've done. They can protect national security by giving AP notice in advance and letting them go to court and fight it out. They can protect national security without defaming and branding journalists as criminals," said Abrams. "I think they've got to lighten up a little bit and be a little more realistic about the proposition that leak investigations are not the single greatest priority of any administration, or they shouldn't be."
According to Abrams, leak investigations are often justified but the Justice Department made a big mistake is never trying to solicit cooperation from the AP.
"As a general proposition, you've got to tell the press organization. You've got to talk to them. You have to try to come to some sort of agreement," said Abrams. "If you can't, and I don't think they could have here, that gives the press organization a chance to go to court and have a judge decide how to weight this factor and that factor, you know how much does the government need it as against what is the intrusion into the freedom of the press.
"I do fault the Justice Department for not giving them notice, for not giving them a chance to go to court. The only possible justification that I can think of, certainly on the record here, is that the department said they were doing it because it would interfere with the investigation. I don't know how. I'm not persuaded of that at all," he said.
His skepticism was bolstered by subsequent reporting that the Associated Press honored CIA requests to hold the story on a terrorist plot to bomb an airliner out of Yemen near the one-year anniversary of the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. The AP honored that request and held the story until the CIA confirmed the security threat had passed. The Obama administration then requested a delay of another day so it could break the news. The organization rejected that request and ran the story ahead of the White House announcement.
"The AP really played by the rules and by the rules I mean the responsible rule of journalists behaving the way we would like them to," said Abrams, who says the AP was fully justified in rejecting the White House request and publishing the story whenever it wanted once the CIA gave clearance.
"Whether any of this after that was in retribution is hard to tell but it just makes the whole thing even more suspicious in terms of whether there was that sort of national security need to behave as the department did. It's not a little thing for them to go to the telephone company and gather records of a news organization without permission," said Abrams.
As alarmed as Abrams is by the Justice Department's treatment of the Associated Press, he's even more uneasy about the department declaring Rosen a criminal and getting a warrant for his phone and email records and those of Fox News executives and even Rosen's parents.
"I think this one's even worse than the AP story. I've read the redacted version that is available of the application that the Department of Justice made in court. They basically accused the journalist of being a criminal, literally a criminal, for doing the interviewing that they did and trying to persuade someone to give them a story," said Abrams. "Journalists at their best are prying, are asking questions, are trying to get information. Treating them like criminals, branding them as criminals is absolutely unacceptable."
- Washington Rep. Dave Reichert says outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller failed to honor his oath before the House Ways & Means Committee last week and that the congressional investigation into the government targeting and harassing conservative organizations is just getting started.
Reichert was one of several committee members who grilled Miller on Friday and came away frustrated by Miller 19s chronic memory lapses. In one exchange, Miller could remember who he spoke with about where responsibility lies for this scandal but couldn 19t remember who that person believed was ultimately responsible for the policy.
1cI think that Mr. Miller was not abiding by the oath that he took right before his testimony began. He was asked to stand and hold his right hand in the air and testify to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Mr. Miller, I believe, was not true to that oath, 1d said Reichert. 1dI don 19t know if his attorneys were advising him to be vague in his answers and answer 18I don 19t know 19 because of some concern there may be some future implications legally for Mr. Miller, but that 19s my guess. 1d
1cIt was really a disservice to the American people and shows an arrogance. In fact, when I asked Mr. Miller if he felt any duty on his part to share the information he knew with Congress, he said that he saw absolutely none. He also mentioned that he really didn 19t feel any compulsion or any responsibility in going to his boss, 1d said Reichert, who says that same attitude seems to be rampant in the White House as well.
1cI think that the unfolding events of the White House timeline shows, if not deception, at least a great amount of confusion that leads one to suspect that there may be some lack of memory purposefully from some of the persons representing what the White House knew when, 1d he said.
Reichert says we are just seeing the early stages of this investigation since one hasn 19t been done yet - even by the IRS. He says it 19s important to note that the IRS inspector general 19s report was not at all exhaustive.
1cThe IG has only done an audit and that audit is still in the process. The actual investigation of who knew what and when is really just beginning, 1d said Reichert. 1dThere are a number of avenues that this investigation will follow and then determining the outcome of who will lose their jobs, who may be charged with a crime, if anyone. That 19ll all come at the conclusion of these investigations. 1d
In addition to getting to the bottom of the scandal, many members of Congress are urging policy changes such as stripping the IRS of Obamacare enforcement powers or reforming the tax code to minimize the role of the agency. For Reichert, the most important thing is reining in the imperial attitude of the IRS and others in government.
1cThe biggest issue for me is the arrogance of our IRS leadership, that they can do anything they want to do. The issue really boils down to our civil rights as Americans guaranteed by the Constitution. The IRS in my opinion has trampled all over those rights, 1d said Reichert.
- The IRS scandal validates the worst fears of law-abiding Americans, could trigger criminal charges and was likely known about in the White House for an extended time, according to South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice, a former tax attorney and certified public accountant.
The White House has slowly admitted some there knew about the investigation but flatly denies any involvement in the decision to harass Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that also led to targeting of donors and sharing sensitive information with rival activist groups.
Rice believes the administration is much more closely connected to this scandal than it will admit.
"Former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, when he was questioned in March 2012 in Congress, said there was absolutely no targeting. Now he has said that he was aware in Spring 2012 that there was an internal list that included the term Tea Party, so if he knew about that when he testified, that's a lie. That's perjury," said Rice. "We've had admissions here in the last couple of days about the fact that senior White House aides were aware of it at least as far back as a month ago. This only broke last week for goodness sake. I'm sure as this investigation continues we're going to find out more and more and more."
Last Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee held the first congressional hearing into the scandal. Texas Rep. Kevin Brady told the story of a constituent who was targeted for their political donations and their business was subsequently given the third degree by the IRS, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the FBI Domestic Terrorism Unit, the Commission on Environmental Quality and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Rice says that type of government harassment goes beyond the pale.
"If that's true, that goes beyond the realm of unreasonable and into the criminal," said Rice. "That's unconstitutional. There are criminal laws against things like that. That cannot happen and steps need to be taken to make sure it never happens again."
Rice says in all of his years as a tax attorney and accountant, he never saw a client treated like the IRS dealt with these conservative organizations.
"A couple of times I had clients who it felt like there may have been some personal thing between the IRS agent and the client, but I've never seen an organized series of events like this where apparently people within the service and all up the administration, it looks like they targeted these specific groups," said Rice.
He says the irony of this scandal is that the actions of the IRS validate the reasons for establishing these groups in the first place.
"Our framers established our Constitution based on the citizenry cooperating with the government. This simply undermines the trust of the citizenry in the government. Our government can't work if the citizens don't work with the government," he said. "The framers of our Constitution didn't trust big government. They'd just come out of a revolution against the most powerful country on earth and they saw the dangers of big government."
"The tea parties sprang from a mistrust of big government. I ran my campaign on trying to limit the size of government. What you've seen here does nothing but breed further distrust. It shows that their skepticism was well-founded," said Rice.
- A recent military report on sexual assault in the military shocked many in Washington and around the nation, but a leading expert on military personnel says the prevalence of men assaulting other men is one of the major headlines in this study.
The extended analysis of the report first appeared in Monday's edition of the The Washington Times.
The Defense Department survey of sexual assault in the military during Fiscal 2012 estimated 26,000 assaults took place in the Armed Forces. Nearly three thousand of them were formally reported. Just over six percent of women reported being victims of assault and 1.2 percent of men said the same. Given the much larger number of men in the military, those numbers suggest 14,000 of the assaults in the Pentagon study happened to men.
In the assaults formally reported, 88 percent came from women and 12 percent from men. The numbers are getting dramatically worse.
"The number of reports of sexual assaults among military personnel have actually increased by 129 percent since 2004," said Center for Military Readiness President Elaine Donnelly, who points out the number of formal reports of sexual assault jumped from 1,275 to 2,949 in just eight years. She says when factoring in civilians working for or around the military, the increase in that time is 98 percent.
Women are identified as the attacker in just two percent of all assaults, meaning the vast majority of men who suffer assault are targeted by other men.
"So we've got a male-on-male problem here. The Department of Defense doesn't want to comment on this. They know that the numbers are there. They say that they care, but all the attention is usually given to the female members of the military who are subjected to sexual assault," said Donnelly.
The Washington Times article, which also includes analysis from Aaron Belkin, who heads The Palm Center. He says the rise in male-on-male sexual assault does not reflect the increase of homosexuals in the military but rather those assaults are "somewhat similar to prison rape."
"Well, that's a great slogan to use for recruiting young men into the military, isn't it? It's outrageous. And yet, the Department of Defense doesn't quite know what to do with these figures and so they just sort of put them in there and hope nobody notices," said Donnelly, who points out The Palm Center is a gay activist organization.
While Donnelly fiercely opposed repealing the ban on gays in the military, she says we need to keep monitoring the numbers to determine how much that policy change specifically contributes to the problem. She says the increase in sexual assaults against female service members should not be diminished either. Donnelly says a lot of work lies ahead to reverse this trend but the military and the federal government are kidding themselves if they don't think some major policy decisions aren't contributing to the rise in sexual violence.
"I think we have to start with the basics and that means basic training. Back in 1998, unanimously, the Kassebaum-Baker Commission came out with recommendation to separate basic training for Army, Air Force and Navy trainers, (to) do it like the Marines do. The Marines train basic training separately, male and female at Parris Island. That's a good thing to do. It's a good first start," said Donnelly.
"Second, they should stop pretending that sexuality does not matter. You cannot solve a problem by extending it into the combat arms. The big push for women in combat, this argument that we have to have women in the infantry so they'll be respected more and they won't be assaulted," said Donnelly, who says the push for women in combat that started more than a generation ago from then-Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder has been thoroughly discredited.
"Respect for women in the military today is higher than ever, but the sexual assault numbers keep climbing up. I think before we start implementing a theory that's been discredited. The members of the Pentagon and the people who make policy in Congress as well, they need to stop. They need to assess where we are, what has happened in the last two decades and they need to stop pretending that a lot of sensitivity training or highly paid consultants, that that is going to make a difference in the sex problems we're seeing right now," said Donnelly.
- The Interior Department is proposing new federal rules for hydraulic fracturing that the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee says is unnecessary and will only limit energy production and economic growth.
Hydraulic fracturing, known more commonly as fracking, is an increasingly effective method by which oil and gas are extracted from rock formations. Estimates suggest the energy production potential in fracking is massive and states like North Dakota and Pennsylvania have already enjoyed significant economic benefits. And while the concept is somewhat new to many Americans, it has actually been in practice for decades.
That's exactly why Washington Congressman and House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings says new rules from Washington are not needed.
"For a long time, 60-70 years, the states have regulated hydraulic fracturing. So there hasn't been a nationwide rule. Frankly, it's for that reason that I think that this proposed regulation is a solution in search of a problem, because the states have done it very, very successfully for a number of years," said Hastings.
Now, the Interior Department's proposed rule would require compliance with mandates such as "requiring operators to disclose the chemicals they use in fracturing activities on public lands; improving assurances of well-bore integrity to verify that fluids used during fracturing operations are not contaminating groundwater; and confirming that oil and gas operators have a water management plan in place for handling fluids that flow back to the surface." The government would also mandate which type of tools extractors could and could not use.
Hastings says these and other proposals just prove the federal government is meddling needlessly.
"What they're getting at is trying to, at least on federal land, have a nationwide, one-size-fits-all regulation," said Hastings. "All of those three concerns are covered by states with their laws on hydraulic fracturing, so there's nothing new here. The states have been doing it. They've been doing it very well and I think we need to respect that."
While noting that states already have tough environmental standards in place, Hastings says different states have slightly different regulations because the conditions in each state are different - something a sweeping federal rule fails to take into account.
"Not every state is exactly the same," said Hastings. "All states are different as to the make-up of their geology. Each state knows their geology than other states. This is a solution looking for a problem."
Hastings says the Department of the Interior has allowed states to pursue their own regulations in other areas, which makes this decision all the more confusing. But he also believes there are politics involved by some in the administration.
"They don't like the development of the oil and gas industry. In fact, they have said that indirectly with their promotion of green energy. I suspect that eventually this could be some sort of tool to slow the process down. It's slow enough on federal lands already. This could be a way to slow it down even more," said Hastings.
"If this goes into effect, I think it'll probably slow down energy development on federal lands. I can't draw any other conclusions because any time you look at other federal regulations, even in other industries, the end result tends to be a slowdown in production or a slowdown of activity with whatever those regulations are trying to regulate and I suspect that'll be the same in this," said Hastings.
Hastings and other GOP members are also furious that after some three years of putting this new rule for federal lands together, the Interior Department is allowing just 30 days of comment before making a final determination on implementation.
"We will be asking, officially from the committee, that they extend the comment period to 120 days. I suspect there will be other groups asking for the same, because 30 days on a rule or regulation like this that's been three-some years in the making is too short of a time period. There's too much at stake with this," he said.
- The IRS and the entire Obama administration are under scrutiny after revelations last week that hundreds of conservative organizations suffered undue harassment and intrusion by the IRS after applying for tax-exempt status.
Groups with "tea party" or "patriot" were made especially uncomfortable. Larry Nordvig is executive director of the Richmond Tea Party and explains how he first suspected the IRS was going far beyond its normal duties in delaying and demanding information from the group.
"There were two things that tipped us off. Number one was the length of time. Our organization figured it would take maybe six months to a year. We were willing to put up with that. They do need to take a good, hard look to make sure you are who you say you are. That's fine. That's legitimate," said Nordvig. "But after it went past a year, it felt like stonewalling, especially when you're coming up on over two years. The time element was one.
"The second thing that tipped us off was the second round of questions that they sent and that was a 12-group set of a total of about 55 questions. But those questions had sub-questions and those sub-questions had bullets. It was extremely hard information to try to dig up. It produced over 500 pages of documents and they only gave us two weeks to do it. We knew something was wrong right there," said Nordvig.
Many of the questions demanded very personal information, including every piece of literature ever published, background on every speaker and copies of every speech from each event, lists of donors and how much they contributed. Nordvig says there was much more.
"They wanted all of our communications, so any kind of email of Facebook communication with any of our members, which obviously would tip off their identity. They wanted to know who we associated with, who our members associated with. One of the most alarming ones was they wanted pictures of our web pages, including the member log-in only pages, which would have been very private. We did not give that to them," said Nordvig, who says the demand for donor information was also greatly disturbing.
"The entire purpose of us filing for that 501 (c) 4 status is so that our donors can remain anonymous. If they can't remain anonymous, they don't donate money. I think whoever set this up, this was one of their primary goals," said Nordvig.
He says those behind this IRS strategy succeeded in part to limit the impact Tea Party groups could make.
"It knocks you off your mission because instead of doing what we're supposed to be doing, which is political education and advocacy, we're dealing with miles and miles of red tape and stacks of documents of more than 500 pieces," said Nordvig. "We lost a lot of donors because of this whole cloud hanging over us. People either didn't want to touch it or they were afraid their information would be made public. So we literally lost money."
"Now we find out that was on purpose. It definitely impacted our ability to accomplish our mission," he said.
The Richmond Tea Party subsequently sought legal counsel from the American Center for Law and Justice. It didn't take long for the group to learn there were plenty of like-minded organizations dealing with the same IRS meddling.
Thus far, two IRS officials have been asked to resign. President Obama insists he didn't know about the scandal until last Friday. Nordvig isn't buying that explanation and he does not see these early actions as anywhere close to being severe enough in terms of punishment.
"No, we are absolutely not satisfied at this point. That has to be made clear. This is an extremely serious event that every single American should be very, very worried about. What you're talking about is the government knowingly targeting political groups using the second most powerful arm of the government, second only to the military is the IRS. They can destroy your lives," said Nordvig. "All you have to do is replace Tea Party with your individual name or you can put in Green, Justice, Progressive, whatever. Put yourself in our shoes. If the power flip-flopped up in the White House, I don't think you would want this kind of attention."
Nordvig also explained what needs to happen before he is satisfied.
"We need to find out how high this goes, how wide it goes, how deep it goes. The more we find out, it's like peeling back those onion layers. The more we find out, the worse this thing gets. That's why we won't be satisfied until we have a complete, thorough congressional investigation because they're not coming clean otherwise," said Nordvig.
- Just days after the IRS admitted making life miserable for conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status, Georgia Rep. Tom Price says the agency cannot be trusted to enforce the Obama health care laws and is pushing legislation to strip the IRS of any new powers connected to the law.
The "Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013" would bar the IRS from "implementing or enforcing" any components of the health care laws.
"We always opposed utilizing the IRS in this fashion. They have no expertise in that area and we just think that it's inappropriate to have the IRS involved in people's health care," said Price, a physician and member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee that will hold hearings on IRS abuses on Friday.
"When it became clear that the IRS has been abusing it's privilege of gaining information from folks and treating certain Americans differently than other Americans, then that was just an unconscionable bridge too far and we said, 'Well, we've got to do something about this," said Price. "This bill, H.R. 2009 simply says that the IRS may not be involved in any aspect of the president's health care law."
Updated reports on the depth of the IRS scandal suggest the politically motivated activities were far more widespread than the IRS admits. Price says the rampant bullying of Americans based on political beliefs proves the agency should be nowhere near our health care system.
"It was not just targeting groups that were applying for a tax exempt status but that they were asking for information about who were the donors to those entities and then going after the donors themselves. This is much broader than picking an organization or two," said Price. "If you let your mind draw a parallel to health care, then it's wholly possible that the IRS could then determine whether or not the health care you were purchasing or where you were going was the kind of health care they wanted you to have or they wouldn't allow you to have or didn't comply with their dictates or their mandates in something so very, very personal as health care.
"As a physician, I can tell you that is absolutely irresponsible and unconscionable, and we're going to do all that we can to make certain that the IRS doesn't get that power," said Price.
Not surprisingly, many House Republicans are enthusiastically backing Price's bill and the congressman says Texas Sen. John Cornyn intends to introduce the bill on the Senate side. Democrats are not lining up behind the legislation yet, but Price believes some of them might.
"Many of them are also disgusted by what the IRS has done and I think the next step for them is to answer, 'Well, in that case, don't you believe that the IRS ought to be strictly confined to its original mission and do so in a transparent way as opposed to expanding its mission to get into people's health care?'" said Price.
The congressman does not believe that the IRS will suddenly play by the rules just because it was caught in the current scandal. He says a "trust but verify" approach would be needed to determine whether the IRS really cleaned up its act and there's not enough time for it to prove real reforms have taken place before Obamacare is implemented
Price does not believe the explanation that this targeting of conservative groups and individuals was the work of a few rogue, low-level staffers.
"This had to come from somewhere up the chain. Was it the individual in charge of the tax-exempt division? Was it the secretary of the treasury? Or does it go further than that? That's what we need to answer with our oversight," he said.
Price does not buy President Obama's carefully worded denials about what his staff knew about this scandal.
"Call me skeptical, but I believe the White House was involved in this activity," he said.
- Ohio Rep. Michael Turner says the IRS hassling and prying into hundreds of conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status is outrageous but may have actually been legal, so he is introducing legislation to criminalize such activity.
"Unfortunately, it currently isn't a crime if a political appointee or a faceless bureaucrat gets up as a supervisor and walks over and instructs a bunch of employees to begin targeting the American public. That's wrong. It should be a crime," said Turner, who adds this was a crime if the directive to make life miserable for conservative groups came from the White House.
Turner's legislation, the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination and Protection Act of 2013, would make it a crime for anyone else to do it. The bill calls for five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for anyone found to be targeting organizations as a result of their political ideology.
"By making it a crime, we hope to stop it. When that supervisor walks in that employee's office and gives him that direction when they know it's a crime and that they themselves could go to jail for five years and pay a $5,000 penalty, they're going to think twice and hopefully stop," said Turner.
In addition to forbidding the IRS from targeting those of a particular political persuasion, the bill affords the same rights to religious organizations.
"This covers the gamut. Although they have targeted conservatives this time, we want to make sure that it's all inclusive. If that is undertaken, then they have committed a felony," said Turner.
The House Ways and Means Committee will hold the first hearings on the IRS abuses on Friday. Turner says there a lot of questions that still need answers.
"We need to to find out where was this initiated, who started it, who directed it, who participated in it and also who knew about it. Those people are all complicit and bear responsibility," said Turner. "In addition, now we're getting information that some of the confidential information that was solicited from these groups may have been leaked to other political organizations. Now that is a crime and these investigations should include that and people need to be pursued and held accountable."
Turner isn't ready to accuse President Obama of any involvement in the scandal at the this point, but he says Obama's reaction to the IRS scandal was underwhelming.
"The president's reaction is also appalling because we hear from the White House not the the type of outrage that you would hear if these were groups that were supportive of President Obama. So it sort of sets a tone that I think everyone should be very concerned about," said Turner.
The IRS apology did not impress him either.
"When the IRS apologized, I remember thinking, 'That's it? That's all they have to do is apologize?' said Turner. "The fact that they used an investigative arm of the government to target the American people based upon their political beliefs. It is outrageous and it's the type of activity that can weaken our democracy," said Turner.
The congressman does not buy the explanation that just a few rogue IRS staffers got carried away and are responsible.
"This is so systematic and it's not just, 'Let's send somebody a letter.' They had a very systematic process by which they investigated these groups and persecuted these groups and individuals. This doesn't sound to me like a handful or certainly doesn't sound like people who are low down on the chain," said Turner.
Turner says Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is trying to attach Turner's legislation to pending Senate bills. He hopes to see quick House action as well and expects broad bipartisan support whenever the vote comes.
The bad press for the IRS comes at a politically critical time, since it will be the primary enforcer of Obamacare starting next year,
"I think everyone should be concerned about that. Now that you see what has happened with the IRS and their political bias, to trust them now with your medical records certainly would cause everyone to have some concern and a pause," said Turner.
House Republicans recently announced their latest efforts to repeal Obamacare. Turner says this new scandal is a perfect example of why the law has to go.
"I think that goes right to the heart of it. The moment that government steps in between you and your doctor and also between you and private and confidential information, I think we all know that there is a possibility that information could be misused and it shouldn't be in the government's hands," said Turner.