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J. ROSS MACBETH ATTORNEY AT LAW LAKEVIEW PROFESSIONAL Bldg. 2543 U.S. Highway 27 South . Sebring, Florida 33870-2125 Bus: (863) 385-7600 . Fax: (863) 385-7911 ross@macbethlaw.com

Judge Sides With IRS, Dismisses Lawsuits by Conservative Groups Over Targeting Scandal

October 24th, 2014

Photo: Chuck Myers/Newscom

From The Daily Signal

Melissa Quinn / @MelissaQuinn97 /

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., sided today with the Internal Revenue Service and dismissed lawsuits by tea party organizations seeking redress for improper delays and scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status.

District Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled that two lawsuits by True the Vote and Linchpins of Liberty, along with 41 other conservative organizations, were moot because the IRS took steps to address the scandal and “publicly suspended its targeting scheme.”’

“It’s a disappointing ruling because it basically leaves targets of bad behavior by the IRS without a remedy,” Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

A federal judge sided with the IRS today and dismissed the case filed by conservative groups targeted by the tax agency.

>>> Commentary: The Wrongdoers at the IRS Get Away With It

Walton, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, decided that because the organizations eventually won tax-exempt status, they had remedied any wrongdoing. (His two rulings are below.)

“We are stunned by today’s judgment,” True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht said. “The notion that the IRS can target Americans for years because of their political beliefs is reprehensible.”

“The notion that the IRS can target Americans for years because of their political beliefs is reprehensible.”–@TrueTheVote founder Catherine Engelbrecht

Engelbrecht also told The Daily Signal:

The court acknowledges in its opinion that the IRS did in fact target True the Vote for our perceived political beliefs, but then it holds that neither the agency nor the individual IRS agents or officers are responsible for this unconstitutional conduct. Right now, we are considering all legal options and will announce our next steps very soon.

>>> Commentary: Politico Found Lois Lerner. So Why Can’t the U.S. Attorney in Washington?

True the Vote and Linchpins of Liberty filed suit on the grounds that IRS officials improperly held up their tax-exempt status for several years.

Texas-based True the Vote, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that seeks to stop voter fraud, waited three years before the IRS awarded it tax-exempt status. It first applied in 2010 and received word in 2013.

Tennessee-based Linchpins of Liberty was created to mentor high school and college students in the continuing relevance of America’s founding principles. The IRS delayed the group’s application for 501(c)3 tax-exempt status for nearly three years, founder Kevin Kookogey recalled in an on-camera interview early this year.

“The court appears to believe that tossing a life-preserver to a swimmer who has already drowned can magically revive the dead.”–Linchpins of Liberty founder Kevin Kookogey

“Obviously, this ruling is stunning, and we intend to appeal,” Kookogey told The Daily Signal today, adding:

The court appears to believe that tossing a life-preserver to a swimmer who has already drowned can magically revive the dead, or that the government’s promise not to hurt anyone in the future releases it from liability for past harms.

Although True the Vote, Linchpins of Liberty and more than three dozen other groups argued there is no guarantee the IRS would not target conservative groups again, Walton ruled that the “prospect of future harm is speculative.”

Von Spakovsky, the Heritage legal fellow, disagreed.

“Given the unapologetic behavior of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials, and their total lack of remorse, I don’t think it’s ‘speculative’ that this could happen again in the future,” he said.

>>> No Apologies: Lois Lerner Breaks 16-Month Silence on IRS Scandal

Kookogey said he was baffled by the judge’s logic.

“My constitutional rights were violated at the moment the IRS first began to unlawfully obstruct and delay my application for tax-exempt status back in 2011,” Kookogey said. “Granting my status three years later — after we filed the complaint and moments before the government was required to file an answer — does not undo that harm or render our claims moot.”

Walton also refused to grant a request from True the Vote to require Lerner and other IRS officials to pay a fine for delaying the group’s tax-exempt status and subjecting it to additional scrutiny.

Lerner was the head of the IRS division that oversaw tax-exempt organizations. She resigned last year and twice has refused to testify before Congress.

Although the groups filed suit before they were granted tax-exempt status, Walton cited a remedy in place from Congress that called for organizations seeking such status to go to court for it. That provision, he said, should have been used.

In addressing True the Vote’s request, Walton said because the IRS eventually granted it tax-exempt status, the group no longer had grounds for the case.

>>> Commentary: More Evidence of Lois Lerner’s Liberal Bias

Kookogey, a Nashville lawyer, told The Daily Signal that Linchpins of Liberty  lost a $30,000 grant, a significant part of his own business and opportunities to mentor students because of the IRS’ actions. The agency’s delay in granting tax-exempt status also prevented Kookogey from fundraising and building the organization, he said:

 If this ruling is permitted to stand, it will embolden a government which has already exceeded its limits to believe that it can violate the natural rights of its citizens until caught, at which point it must only apologize, ‘fix’ the problem, and move on to the next victim.

During Lerner’s  tenure, conservative and tea party groups such as True the Vote waited years for the IRS to rule on their applications. The IRS targeting scandal prompted more than a dozen hearings by congressional investigators.

Congress learned this summer that emails Lerner sent during the time of the targeting had vanished because a computer drive crashed.

True the Vote v. IRS Ruling by The Heritage Foundation

Linchpins of Liberty v. IRS by The Heritage Foundation

Reminder – Monday October 27th 5:30 PM

October 23rd, 2014

You’re Invited!

Join Attorney General Pam Bondi

for a Highlands County Reception

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Pam Bondi, Republican, for Attorney General

For a Highlands County Reception

October 27, 2014

Inn on the Lakes

1301 Golfview Road

Sebring, FL 33870

5:30pm-6:30pm

For more information, please contact Jason Rodriguez at Jason@pambondi.com or (727) 656-4256

In Chicago, Candidate Votes Republican, But His Vote Is Changed to Vote for Democrat

October 23rd, 2014

From The Daily Signal – In Chicago, Candidate Votes Republican, But His Vote Is Changed to Vote for Democrat

Photo: Getty Images

CHICAGO — Early voting in Illinois got off to a controversial start Monday, as votes being cast for Republican candidates were transformed into votes for Democrats.

Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan went to vote Monday at the Schaumburg Public Library.

“I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent,” Moynihan said. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

The conservative website Illinois Review reported that “While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party.

Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race.

Moynihan warned his followers on Twitter: “Be careful when you vote in Illinois. Make sure you take the time to check your votes before submitting.”

Cook County Board of Elections Deputy Communications Director Jim Scalzitti said the machine was taken out of service and tested.

“This was a calibration error of the touch-screen on the machine,” Scalzitti said.

For the rest of this story and others, see:  http://dailysignal.com/2014/10/23/in-chicago-candidate-votes-republican-but-his-vote-is-changed-to-vote-for-democrat/

 

Reception for Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi

October 21st, 2014

You Are Invited to a Reception for Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi

When: Monday, October 27, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM

 Where: Inn on the Lakes on US 27 at corner of Golfview Rd  in Sebring 

The reception will be in the Main Lobby and out around the pool.

Please plan to be there and bring your friends and neighbors.

We would like to have a HUGE Highlands County Welcome for “Our Attorney General”

For additional information or to Volunteer to assist the Get-out-the-vote efforts for Pam Bondi and our other fine Cabinet Officers and our fine Governor Rick Scott, please contact

 

 

A Subpoena for Your Thoughts…

October 19th, 2014

From Tony Perkins’ Washington Update

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has been on quite a fishing expedition — but it’s her power that needs to be reeled in. Americans everywhere are appalled by the lesbian leader, who declared war on the First Amendment by barging into churches and demanding pastors’ private communications. In a country still burning over the IRS’s crackdown, Parker’s missive became the subpoena heard ’round the world. Fed up with this administration’s heavy-handedness, Houston has become a rallying cry for freedom-loving Americans tired of seeing their laws and liberties casually tossed aside in a liberal stampede.

“The city was counting on the fact that (its campaign) would be muddled in the court of public opinion,” said Professor Matthew Wilson. “It wasn’t.” To this day, no one knows what the city is hoping to accomplish with the subpoenas. As Alliance Defending Freedom’s Erik Stanley explained, “any information that is likely to turn up would be irrelevant to the pertinent legal matter — which is that the mayor expressly violated the city charter by refusing to heed a certified referendum petition (on the “bathroom bill” that sparked this whole controversy).”

Obviously, Houston’s leadership has one goal — and information gathering isn’t it. This is about political intimidation. But if the Mayor was hoping to scare off these churches, she’ll have to try harder. Every pastor I’ve spoken to would go to jail before surrendering their God-given rights to preach the Truth. And as far as Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is concerned, imprisonment isn’t a stretch. “I think that is a real risk,” the Senator told CBN. “Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response.” But he adds: “The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.”

Together with Attorney General Greg Abbott, Cruz is leading the Texas push-back to the city’s out-of-control government. At yesterday’s Houston rally, Sen. Cruz — the son of a pastor himself — joined church leaders to demand that Parker call off her attack dogs. “This is country that was formed centuries ago by people fleeing religious oppression and seeking a land where you do not need to seek the permission of a king or queen or president…

The city of Houston has no power, no legal authority to silence the church. Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit.”

Now, almost a week after the story exploded across the web, the Mayor’s office is only digging in deeper. Yesterday, the Mayor tried to elicit sympathy for her cause by tweeting out a hit piece on me and others from the not-so-credible Media Matters site (which, incidentally, called her sermon-grab “basic lawyering”). In a clever move, the city filed a “revised” subpoena this morning that doesn’t include pastors’ sermons. That head-fake might fool some, but the reality is, Houston didn’t need a subpoena to access those sermons in the first place! They were already public.

In this “new” filing, she still insists on seeing speeches (isn’t a sermon a speech?), private emails, texts, and other communications related to the Mayor’s office and the city’s “bathroom bill.”

As ADF fumes, “The city of Houston still doesn’t get it. It thinks that by changing nothing in its subpoenas other than to remove the word ‘sermons’ that it has solved the problem. That solves nothing. Even though the pastors are not parties in this lawsuit, the subpoenas still demand from them 17 different categories of information — information that encompasses speeches made by the pastors and private communications with their church members.”

While tensions boil over on the ground, Houston City Attorney (and lightning rod) David Feldman poured gasoline on the fire. “The fact that you happen to be a pastor and you happen to be at a church doesn’t provide you with protection.” That may be, but the fact that you’re an American living under the First Amendment does.

Join us in defending that freedom — and pastors across the country — in a special iStandSunday simulcast, live from one of the Mayor’s targets, Houston’s Grace Church, on November 2 at 6:00 p.m. (CT), 7:00 p.m. (ET). Governor Mike Huckabee, David and Jason Benham and others will gather to push back against the government’s intimidation campaign in Houston and across America. For more details, click over to iStand website.

Click here to view

Hunting for Voters in South Dakota

Hunters were flocking to South Dakota today for the opening of pheasant season tomorrow. Unfortunately, I was leaving as they were arriving. My mission in South Dakota this time was not to bag birds, but to rouse up more Christian voters who will vote biblical values in the upcoming election.

Last night, I joined former Governor Mike Rounds, the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, as I delivered the keynote address at the Family Heritage Alliance’s Stand Banquet in Sioux Falls. My message to those who packed out the auditorium was to seize this moment. Americans are seeing liberalism in full parade and the wheels are coming off. People are looking for answers — not just any answers, but the right answers.

And we have them. I pointed to the growing intensity of the Left to silence the voice of the Church as evidenced by Houston’s lesbian Mayor Annise Parker. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines or to shrink back from the conflict. Now is the time to stand unapologetically for the truth. Mayor Parker is an example of what happens when Christians don’t vote. She was elected when just 16% of Houston voters turned out for the election.

Kudos to Dale Bartscher, FHA executive director, our good friend Rep. Scott Craig, and the entire team at FHA who are having as significant impact upon South Dakota politics, which was evidenced by the host of elected officials who joined us last night.

** FRC Action PAC has been active this election season. Click here to read more about the efforts in Iowa.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

For the rest of this story and others, see:  http://www.frc.org/washingtonupdate/a-subpoena-for-your-thoughts

In case you missed it, the Tampa Tribune has endorsed the re-election of Governor Rick Scott!

October 14th, 2014

In case you missed it, even the formerly moderate but now far left Tampa Tribune has endorsed the re-election of Governor Rick Scott.  Crist is that bad a choice for Florida that even very liberal publications cannot in good conscience endorse him!  Crist and his boss and financial backer,  the ambulance chasing John Morgan, are on the verge of losing both the Governor’s chair and their push for legalized pot in Florida.  We need to make sure that this does happen. Nothing can be left to chance.  Every vote can be absolutely critical in a very close race.

Please encourage family and friends to request mail-in ballots and then even more importantly encourage them to get them in the mail as soon as possible.  See the following message:

On November 5th, the election will be over and Florida’s   future will be decided. If you don’t vote, Democrats will undo everything we   have worked to build the last four years.

There’s no reset button. There will be no going   back.

Visit   MyVoteFlorida.com   today and request your absentee ballot to ensure your vote is counted. It’s   fast, easy and convenient.

There are no excuses this election. Request your ballot today. 

Alternatively, if you live in Highlands County, you can go to our local Highlands County Supervisor of Elections web-site and request an absentee or mail-in ballot at:  http://highlands.electionsfl.org/Absentee/Absentee-Request.aspx

But whether you choose to vote by mail or in the early voting or on election day, 4 November, the most important thing is to make sure that you cast your ballot and encourage family and friends to do the same!

 

 

Thanks to Obamacare, Health Costs Soared This Year – From The Daily Signal

October 13th, 2014

Thanks to Obamacare, Health Costs Soared This Year

Daily Policy Focus: Many lessons can be learned from the first year of Obamacare. Here are three of the most important.

Read More

How Gun Groups Are Trying to Influence Midterm Races

Some prominent organizations focusing on firearms are locked and loaded this election cycle, shelling out millions in hopes of influencing voters before they head to the polls Nov. 4.

See the Infographic

Want an Economic Boost? Let’s Kill the Death Tax

Death and taxes are two of life’s certainties, but the tax on death itself should certainly be eliminated.

Read More

Quick Hits:

All the President’s Former Men: Panetta Joins Critics of Obama Over Benghazi

October 9th, 2014

Heritage Foundation – The Morning Bell

All the President’s Former Men: Panetta Joins Critics of Obama Over Benghazi

Daily Policy Focus: Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has joined other former members of the Obama team in criticizing the president’s Middle East policy and his handling of the Benghazi attack.

Read More

This 29-Year-Old Woman Has Chosen to Die. Why That’s a Loss for All of Us.

Brittany Maynard has terminal brain cancer. She was diagnosed on New Year’s Day this year, just a little over a year after her wedding.

Read More

Hong Kong’s Former No. 2 Official Fields 7 Questions on the Future of Her City.

As the number of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong dwindles, one of the city’s veteran leaders is a key figure in seeking a compromise with the pro-Beijing camp on how to elect a new chief executive.

Read More

Quick Hits:

On Amendment 2, the Tampa Tribune recommends a “no” vote

September 29th, 2014

Editorial from The Tampa Tribune -

Voters should reject the medical marijuana amendment    

        Published: September 28, 2014
                    

It’s human nature to want to relieve the pain and suffering of another human being. And there’s no denying the testimony of thousands of patients who say marijuana has helped them endure the nausea, the loss of appetite and other symptoms associated with the treatments for cancer, AIDS and other debilitating diseases.That explains the polls showing public support for Amendment 2, which would allow the use of marijuana in Florida by patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions.If the proposed amendment were that simple, we would favor its passage. But it’s not.Amendment 2 is a broadly written blueprint for allowing the manufacture and distribution of an illegal substance the federal government classifies as a Schedule 1 drug with a high potential for abuse and no acceptable medical use.The proposal allows doctors to certify patients as eligible for marijuana to treat any “debilitating” ailment a doctor thinks will relieve suffering. For unscrupulous doctors, that could include back pain and anxiety and other ailments that they determine to be debilitating conditions.

Amendment 2 asks voters to make medical marijuana legal today on the promise that the state will later enact the rules and regulations necessary to prevent its abuse by doctors and distributors and by patients and the caregivers who can be certified to obtain the drug for others. It offers civil liability immunity to physicians, patients and dispensaries associated with medical marijuana use. It could allow for the smoking of marijuana plants that vary in intensity and ingredients and can cause many of the same ailments associated with cigarette smoking. And it legitimizes a drug that, according to studies, can impair brain development in minors.

In short, the amendment poses too many risks.

Amendment 2 supporters gathered the signatures needed to place the proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot by telling the heart-wrenching stories of patients who find marijuana provides relief when no other drugs have helped. The proposed amendment lists cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as debilitating diseases that would qualify for medical marijuana treatment. But the list ends with the phrase, “… or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”

That could make it available for almost any patient who can find a willing physician. How the marijuana would be produced and distributed remains to be determined by state officials who are now struggling with the rules related to the more acceptable Charlotte’s Web strain of marijuana that lawmakers voted to legalize this year. That strain is used to treat seizures and is non-euphoric and ingested through oils and other means rather than smoked. Because it doesn’t get its users high, it won’t be subject to the abuses that can be expected with the smokable marijuana permitted under Amendment 2.

An alternative to smokable marijuana, the synthetic drug Marinol, has Federal Drug Administration approval and can be taken by pill form. Although its cost may be greater, and the effects not always as immediate or lasting as smoking the drug, Marinol is proven to be safe and is available through a doctor’s prescription to treat weight loss and nausea associated with treatments for disease.

Marijuana can’t be prescribed by doctors and dispensed through pharmacies because it’s illegal under federal law. Amendment 2 would create state-sanctioned dispensaries to distribute marijuana to patients certified by a doctor for its use.

State estimates put the number of medical marijuana patients in Florida at less than 450,000. But with the broad language in Amendment 2, that number might prove to be a joke. And whether the state will allow “pot shops” in our communities to serve those patients, or require parental consent for minors before certifying their marijuana use, are questions to be addressed in regulations that remain to be written. 

Twenty-three other states have legalized medical marijuana, with varying results. The first, California, turned the law into a farce that stains the reputation of that state. Florida’s reputation risks a similar stain if Amendment 2 passes and abuses occur.

The amendment’s chief supporter, trial lawyer John Morgan, insists the law is about helping thousands of suffering patients and nothing more. But his buffoonish performance before a group of Lakeland bar patrons betrayed that insistence by revealing a cavalier attitude about casual marijuana use. It bolstered suspicions that the amendment is really about opening the door to full legalization of marijuana for recreational use, as Washington state and Colorado have done. 

Supporter Ben Pollara, who is leading the campaign for passage, says the state Supreme Court has affirmed that the ballot language for Amendment 2 is not vague or too broad. But the legal opinion about ballot language doesn’t address the alarming loopholes in the amendment.

We are not without compassion for the sufferers of chronic pain. But the wording of this amendment opens the door to abuse. It’s based on blind faith that the state adopts the right rules and has the capacity to enforce them.

On Amendment 2, the Tribune recommends a “no” vote.

For the rest of the story and others, see:  http://tbo.com/list/news-opinion-editorials/tribune-editorial-voters-should-reject-the-medical-marijuana-amendment-20140928/

For additional information and to get involved, go to www.VoteNo2.org

or like them on Facebook: NoOnAmendment2

Reminder – Highlands Republican Meeting Thursday evening at 6:30 PM at the Sebring Elk’s Lodge

September 24th, 2014

Just a quick reminder that we are having our monthly meeting tomorrow evening at 6:30 PM with optional dinner before the meeting beginning at 5:30 PM.  With the all important general election now only 40 days away, the program  this month will focus on the planned activities and responsibilities regarding the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts and also a very important update on the latest information regarding the Vote NO on Amendment 2 efforts.

Please encourage families and friends to attend and bring them with you.  We need additional volunteers in many areas.  We also have opening for new members of the Highlands County Republican Executive Committee in most precincts.  Won’t you consider encouraging someone you know to attend and to get involved?

 

AGENDA – September 25, 2014

HighlandsCounty Republican Executive Committee Meeting                                                                          Elk’s Lodge Sebring 6:30 PM

Optional meals & beverages 5:30 PM

Call to Order                                                       Kathy Rapp, Chairman

Invocation                                                            Bob Hummel

Pledge of Allegiance                                            TBD

Welcome guests                                                    Kathy Rapp Chairman

Recognize Elected Officials / Candidates             Kathy Rapp Chairman

Roll Call by Precinct                                               Ida Jackson

Request Motion to approve absences                               Kathy Rapp Chairman

 

Request Motion to approve minutes 8/28/14                  Kathy Rapp Chairman

Treasurer’s Report                                                           Penny Kocarek, Treasurer

Vice Chairman’s Report                                                  Virgil Beato, Vice Chairman

New Business

State Committee Woman Report                            Joan Hartt

State Committee Man Report                                  Chuck Oakes

HRWN Report                                                        Kathy Rapp

Webmaster Report                                                 Earl Claire

PROGRAM :

GOTV Activities & Precinct Responsibilities – Virgil Beato and Kathy Rapp

Status of Headquarters and Volunteer Sign-up – New volunteers are needed for many key areas!

WIFI – Women’s Issues – Fresh Ideas *coming Soon

Vote NO on Amendment 2 – Kathy Rapp

(For those of you who would like to have questions answered and/or to volunteer to get involved on this issue, you can go to the web-site  http://voteno2.org/ and sign up to get involved.  They also have Facebook and Twitter sites for those who would like to join in the social media campaign for Vote NO on 2. )

Announcements:

Next Meeting October 30

Next Board Meeting October 14 @6:30 Republican Headquarters

Neighborhood Canvassing each weekend in Sebring and several weekdays in Lake Placid as your schedules permit for the Re-election of Governor Rick Scott and his Cabinet members –Contact Virgil Beato or Earl Claire for times and meeting location

Subscribe to our Highlands County Republican web-site at:  http://www.republicanpartyofhighlandscounty.com

Officers

Chairman
    Kathy Rapp
Vice Chairman
    Virgil Beato
Secretary
    Olivia Scott
Treasurer
    Penny Kocarek

State Committeeman
    C. A. "Chuck" Oakes

State Committeewoman
    Joan Hartt