Category Archives: Democrat Party

Zombie Prosecutors

This operation needs to be “shut down”.
WSJ Aug. 18, 2015 7:02 p.m.

Wisconsin’s prosecutors are starting to remind us of a zombie apocalypse because their rogue investigations never stay dead. That’s the news in a recent court filing in the state’s John Doe investigation that shows prosecutors haven’t accepted the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s July verdict shutting down their pursuit of conservatives.

Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz has filed a motion for reconsideration and stay of decisions and orders with the state court. That motion is sealed but we’ve seen a copy. Mr. Schmitz asks the court for a “stay of the mandates directing the termination of the John Doe proceedings and/or the destruction of evidence obtained by subpoenas and search warrants” pending a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Wisconsin court decided a matter of state law, so an appeal to the U.S. High Court is unlikely to succeed. More troubling is that the Milwaukee Democratic prosecutors office and Mr. Schmitz are pushing to keep indefinitely the information seized in their illegal investigation which included donor names, bank records and personal communications of people who were never charged with a crime.

Why is this a worry? Consider how prosecutors treated similar documents culled from the first John Doe investigation into Scott Walker’s tenure as Milwaukee county executive before he became Governor. In a civil-rights lawsuit filed by former Walker aide Cynthia Archer, John Doe investigators Robert Stelter and David Budde made public facts, names and information that should have been protected by the secrecy order.

Under the John Doe statute, “the record of the proceeding and the testimony taken shall not be open to inspection by anyone except the district attorney unless it is used by the prosecution at the preliminary hearing or the trial of the accused and then only to the extent that it is so used.”

In July Milwaukee Democratic prosecutor John Chisholm petitioned former John Doe judge Neal Nettesheim for permission to release that information publicly, even though the investigation is closed and Mr. Nettesheim had no authority to reopen the proceeding. Prosecutors say they need the information to respond to the lawsuit. But the John Doe secrecy provisions are supposed to protect targets, not the convenience of prosecutors.

The disclosures also went well beyond Ms. Archer, including the names of many people who were never charged and should have been protected by its secrecy order. The public filings also disclosed that Mr. Walker was a target of prosecutors in the first John Doe, which began as an investigation of funds stolen from a veterans fund and expanded to cover a range of issues while Mr. Walker was county executive. Mr. Walker was never charged.

Mr. Schmitz’s motion also asks the court for “an order directing that the John Doe investigation be allowed to continue insofar as it relates to a campaign committee’s coordination with third party groups who produced express advocacy in favor of the candidate.” This amounts to recasting justifications after the fact because prosecutors have pursued many conservative groups who they knew did no express advocacy.

So, having had their theory of illegal campaign coordination rejected by two courts, and having subjected innocent people to public scrutiny in violation of the law, Wisconsin’s prosecutors are eager to abuse the law again. These guys need another judicial slapdown—and legal sanctions.


IRS – not so “Neutral”.

And who is standing up against the IRS??
WSJ Aug. 20, 2015 7:41 p.m. ET

Nancy Pelosi famously said Congress had to pass ObamaCare so Americans could learn what was in it, but that rule applies to other regulatory monsters too. Take Fatca, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which was tucked into a 2010 jobs bill and is wreaking havoc on the finances of millions of Americans overseas. Now it faces an overdue challenge in court.

Fatca’s purpose is to combat tax evasion, but in Obama-era fashion it uses legally dubious means. Foreign banks, insurers and other financial firms must give the U.S. Internal Revenue Service details of any private or commercial account controlled by an American, or risk a 30% withholding tax on their U.S.-dollar business.

Some foreign banks and firms have spent huge sums to comply with Fatca, but others have stopped doing business with American clients. The latter is bad news for the 7.5 million Americans living overseas, most of whom are entrepreneurs, sales reps, lawyers, English teachers, retirees and the like, not billionaires on yachts trying to hide cash.

In a survey last year, the group Democrats Abroad found that 16% of American expatriates had lost bank accounts, mortgages and other basic financial services in their country of residence, while 22.5% were unable to open new savings or retirement funds. Many have lost promotions or startup opportunities because foreign companies don’t want to endure higher compliance costs and expose their books to the IRS because they have an American employee with signature authority over local accounts.

Foreign firms sometimes speak of avoiding “U.S. person pollution,” and some Americans are doing the same: A record 3,415 renounced their U.S. citizenship last year, up from 482 on average during the George W. Bush years. Many cited Fatca’s burdensome requirements and potentially ruinous penalties.

Fatca also violates Americans’ constitutional rights. That’s the claim now before a federal court in Ohio, where expatriates have sued the feds for invading their privacy and discriminating against them as non-U.S. residents.

The plaintiffs charge that by recording details of their financial holdings and transactions, rather than merely scrutinizing interest income via the standard 1099 tax form, Fatca “destroys the presumption of innocence” and without due process treats all overseas account holders as de facto criminal suspects.

Also suing is Republican Senator Rand Paul, who charges that in implementing Fatca the Obama Administration has exceeded its power and ignored Congress. His focus is the more than 70 intergovernmental agreements on Fatca-related information-sharing that the Administration has signed with other countries, none authorized by Congress.

The Justice Department says these agreements lawfully “facilitate the implementation of tax rules previously enacted by Congress.” But, as Mr. Paul’s filing notes, the agreements revise Fatca as much as they implement it, granting countries exemptions from various reporting and waiver requirements.

The Administration’s response is that the plaintiffs lack standing to sue due to insufficient injury, yet that’s hardly the case for the expatriates. Stopping tax cheats is a worthy aim, but Fatca’s guilty-until-proven-innocent approach hurts law-abiding Americans and the rule of law.


Obama’s Lawless Labor Board

I’m sure there is a good reason here, folks.
WSJ Aug. 11, 2015 7:47 p.m. ET

One of President Obama’s legacies will be his abuse of executive authority, and his hits keep coming. On Friday a federal appeals court struck down a ruling of the National Labor Relations Board because, incredibly, its acting general counsel was in the job illegally.

The scofflaw was Lafe Solomon, whom readers may recall for his legal complaints against the likes of Boeing for wanting to build planes in right-to-work South Carolina instead of union-dominated Washington. It turns out Mr. Solomon was the one violating the law.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a 2014 NLRB ruling against an Arizona ambulance company, SW General. The panel found that Messrs. Solomon and Obama had violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which generally holds that a person cannot serve as an “acting” officer of an agency while also nominated for the post.

Mr. Obama directed Mr. Solomon to serve as NLRB acting general counsel in June 2010. Six months later he nominated Mr. Solomon for the post. The Senate refused to confirm him and he left the NLRB in November 2013. Yet before he departed Mr. Solomon issued the complaint against SW General and many other companies.

Congress passed the vacancies reform law to prevent precisely this kind of presidential gambit. In 1997 Republicans blocked the nomination of Bill Lann Lee for assistant attorney general at the Justice Department. President Bill Clinton then named Mr. Lee in an “acting” capacity—a move designed to let him serve the remainder of the Administration without Senate approval. Congress then tightened the rules, which Messrs. Obama and Solomon violated so flagrantly that the Administration barely offered a defense in court.

Judge Karen Henderson, a George H.W. Bush appointee, wrote the opinion and was joined by two Obama appointees. The ruling only applies to the SW General case, but it is an open invitation to Mr. Solomon’s other corporate targets to seek relief as well.

This is the third legal strike against Mr. Obama’s NLRB. The D.C. Circuit ruled against his recess appointees in 2013 and the Supreme Court did the same in 2014. The evidence builds that this is the most lawless Administration since Richard Nixon’s.


Taking on Water

The press doesn’t seem to be getting it yet, but the Democrat party seems to be.
Kimberley A. Strassel
WSJ Aug. 13, 2015 7:09 p.m. ET

The Titanic was a beautiful ship. It was a colossus—the culmination of decades of wisdom and design. It was financed and booked by the world’s rich and famous. It was unstoppable. And because it was, it steamed full ahead. Until it sank.

Democrats are this week beginning to freak out that Hillary Clinton is their Titanic, and to debate whether they might be better off on this 2016 political crossing in a less awesome, but more prudent, boat. The debate is overdue. The Clintons are masters at projecting invincibility and lulling their passengers into blanking the danger signs. But holes in a hull have a way of focusing minds.

It’s never a good sign when your party’s putative nominee feels compelled to send out an everyone-remain-calm memo 15 full months before an election. Campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri’s reassurance to supporters was classic Clinton—the perfect combo of airy dismissal (Server? FBI? It means nothing!), misdirection (this whole “classified” thing is really “complicated”), table-turning (Republicans hide things too, you know), and attack (this is just a “partisan witch-hunt”). Still, you don’t send out 700-word explanatories unless party leaders and donors are lighting you up with panic calls.

When Mrs. Clinton handed over her private email server to the Justice Department, Democrats sniffed vulnerability and took a wider look around. What they see is polls showing more than half of America now holds an unfavorable view of their front-runner, and that a mere one-third of the country trusts her. They see surveys showing her only tied with top-tier Republicans in a general matchup—down from a 10-point advantage in May—and losing head-to-head in key battleground states.

They see an insurgent wing of the Democratic electorate that is unenthused by the old Clinton machine and eager for fresh blood. Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders surged past Mrs. Clinton in New Hampshire primary poll released Tuesday. His recent rally in Los Angeles drew more than 27,000 people—five times the size of any recent Clinton event. They see another part of the electorate that is fine with old blood, so long as it is any type but Clinton blood. Joe Biden—who isn’t even in the race, and who is . . . Joe Biden—is doing as well in general matchups against Republicans as is Mrs. Clinton.

They see a campaign that—if it went by any other name—might be accused of ineptitude. Mrs. Clinton is disciplined and experienced, no doubt. But her operation has stumbled along. It has been buffeted by gaffes, criticized for drifting “listening tours,” beset (as in 2008) by infighting. It was inexcusably late to the Super PAC game.

Democrats also see new weakness in their favorite themes. Here is Mrs. Clinton trying out an inequality argument, as she builds up her personal bank account. Here she is floating the “war on women” theme, as her foundation takes donations from countries that whip rape victims. Here she calls for lower college costs while charging these institutions $250,000 for a speech. Here is a candidate who was in the past for Keystone, and for trade, and for more intervention overseas. And who maybe now is not. Though they don’t really know. Which is also a problem.

And now, they see danger. The party trusted the Clintons to handle the email scandal in their usual way—to ignore it until it faded. But there’s no ignoring stories containing the words “FBI,” “criminal inquiry,” “classified” and “secret”—all in one sentence. On Tuesday, her use of private emails while serving as secretary of state turned from a political problem into a potentially legal problem. Thousands of Democrats woke Wednesday morning from nightmares of landing an “unsinkable” nominee that gets indicted.

For now, no one significant is jumping off the Clinton ship. That’s mostly because the party believes it has no other ship to jump to. Martin O’Malley? Jim Webb? Heck, even Mrs. Clinton’s rivals seem convinced she’s a better bet than they are. Amid all the news this week, not one of them—not even Mr. Sanders—said boo about her ethics.

The Clintons might also trust that Barack Obama still sees her as his best bet to win and preserve his legacy. This administration, of course, exercises influence over the Justice Department (don’t forget that FBI non-probe into the IRS scandal). And so it remains a possibility the feds took Mrs. Clinton’s server as a means of safeguarding it from other prying hands—the courts, inspectors general, Congress—until this election is over. If the FBI now goes quiet, and other agencies start using the FBI probe as an excuse to stop any further action on Clinton emails, that will be the tipoff.

Then again, the Clintons have now reached the point at which all it might take is one, big first-class passenger heading for a lifeboat to inspire an exodus. It might be Mr. Obama, who could signal his view by giving the FBI free rein. Or Sen. Elizabeth Warren might see her moment. Or maybe a respected party elder who calls out the candidate. Let’s hope so. The Democratic Party deserves to steer its own future. Not just lash itself to the RMS Hillary.