At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal…
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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

Liberty Update

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Liberal Opponents of Free Speech Suffer Another Humiliating Supreme Court Defeat Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, October 06 2016
While this marks the end of this tawdry episode, prosecutorial and governmental abuses like it are unfortunately becoming all too common.

Imagine the following harrowing scenario. 

In the predawn hours one morning, you and your family are jarred from your sleep by a deafening pounding at your front door.  Naturally disoriented, you peer out your window to the bewildering sight of multiple police vehicles, blinding lights flashing, with your neighbors gawking from their doorsteps at what's taking place at your house. 

When you open your door, armed officers rush into your children's rooms and hold you like some sort of dangerous fugitive.  As you sit helplessly for what seems like hours, police haul off all of your computers, files, phones and other personal belongings from every room in the house. 

As all of this is occurring, you're instructed that you're prohibited from mentioning any of this to family, friends or media under penalty of additional prosecution. 

You immediately ask yourself if this is some terrible case of mistaken identity, confident that neither you nor your spouse or children have committed any recent felonies to justify this frightening and humiliating spectacle.  But after they recite the search warrant, you realize that they do in fact have the correct address. 

They're indeed after you. 

And of what horrible crime are you accused?  Simply exercising your First Amendment freedom of political speech. 

Specifically, a partisan prosecutor has exploited an obscure state ordinance to allege "coordination" between the conservative non-profit organization with which you're associated and the governor of your state.  Not bribery, not embezzlement, not extortion.  Political activity.   

The allegation of misconduct is false, but that's of little comfort to you or your family at the moment. 

If the above scenario appears outlandish, it's exactly what happened in 2013 to Wisconsin Club for Growth Director Eric O'Keefe and others.  In all, 29 conservative and libertarian groups were targeted, including such sinister organizations as Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin. 

Fortunately, some of the targets in this case decided to fight back. 

In addition to challenging the politicized and unconstitutional prosecution itself, O'Keefe and others affirmatively sued the four Milwaukee prosecutors and other officials who orchestrated the scheme in both their personal and official capacities. 

In a particularly harsh rebuke, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ultimately rejected the attempted prosecution and held that such tactics have no place in a democratic republic: 

The special prosecutor has disregarded the vital principle that in our nation and our state political speech is a fundamental right and is afforded the highest level of protection.  The special prosecutor's theories ... would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and  then prosecuted and punished.  In short, the special prosecutor completely ignores the command that, when seeking to regulate issue advocacy groups, such regulation must be done with 'narrow specificity.' 

It is utterly clear that the special prosecutor has employed theories of law that do not exist in order to investigate citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.  In other words, the special prosecutor was the instigator of a 'perfect storm' of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them. 

Undeterred by that humiliating rebuke by the state's highest court, Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  This week, however, the Supreme Court rejected his maniacal attempt to resuscitate his scheme and finally put the prosecution to rest. 

While this marks the end of this tawdry episode, prosecutorial and governmental abuses like it are unfortunately becoming all too common. 

Recall, for instance, the IRS scandal following revelation that it targeted conservative, libertarian and pro-Israel groups for improper treatment.  Or the effort among liberals in Congress and state attorneys general to prosecute scientists and groups that dare refute the global warming alarmism complex with actual evidence and scientific method.  Even elected officials aren't immune, as illustrated by the improper prosecutions of former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Congressman Tom DeLay (R - Texas). 

This week, we at CFIF also achieved victory on behalf of the First Amendment freedoms of speech and association when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied Congressman Christopher Van Hollen's (D - Maryland) appeal of a ruling in our favor in a case involving free speech and compelled disclosures. 

All Americans who value the rights protected by the Constitution and oppose governmental abuse should welcome these victories, but also remain mindful of the critical importance of judicial nominations and court composition as another election day approaches. 

Notable Quote   
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?