Chutzpah has a new poster child and his name is Harry Reid. The man who stood idly by as the IRS used its ultimate power to target the Tea Party and other groups in 2012 in order to reelect President Obama, the man who lied on the Senate floor about GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, now claims that FBI Director James Comey violated the Hatch Act by fulfilling his obligation to notify Congress regarding new evidence in the Hillary email investigation:
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid set off a firestorm of criticism Sunday after he said that FBI Director James Comey "may have broken" a federal law when he disclosed on Friday that his office was pursuing potential new evidence related to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server less than two weeks before the presidential election.
The Senate minority leader from Nevada wrote in a letter that Comey may have violated the Hatch Act, which bars government officials from using their position to influence an election.
"I am writing to inform you that my office has determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act, which bars FBI officials from using their official authority to influence an election," Reid wrote. "Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law."
Reid, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of his term, added that Comey's "highly selective approach to publicizing information, along with your timing, was intended for the success or failure of a partisan candidate or political group."
Sorry, Harry -- the Hatch Act was written to prevent government employees from campaigning on the government’s dime for a political candidate. It was not designed to prevent an FBI director from keeping Congress informed of any changes or new information in a federal investigation on which he has already testified before Congress.
While Comey can say he was keeping a pledge to Congress regarding a federal criminal investigation of a presidential candidate, Sen. Reid has no excuse for the lie he admitted telling in 2012 about Mitt Romney, an attempt to influence the presidential results:
One of the strangest incidents of the 2012 presidential campaign was when then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid accused then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of having not paid any taxes over the past decade. That Reid made that allegation from the floor of the Senate made it even odder.
The problem with Reid's allegation? It's just not true. We know that, at least in 2011 and 2010, Romney did pay taxes. How do we know that? Because Romney released his tax returns for those years. In 2011, Romney paid $1.9 million in taxes; in 2010, he paid slightly more than $3 million in taxes.
Our own Fact Checker gave Reid Four Pinocchios for his "no taxes" claim. PolitiFact gave the claim a "Pants on Fire" rating.
Yet Reid (D-Nev.) not only refuses to retract the allegation but also seems to take great pride in it. When pressed by CNN's Dana Bash last year about continuing to defend a statement that is not true, Reid responded, "Romney didn't win, did he?"
To Harry Reid in 2012, the end justified the means. But unlike Dingy Harry, James Comey is not making this stuff up. He did not make up the multiple servers and devices, some scrubbed with Bleach Bit, some smashed with hammers. He did not make up the mass deletions of emails and the fact that “state.gov” emails may have wound up on the laptop of a pedophile stalker. If Reid and the others wanted full disclosure, they should have demanded it of Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin.
Harry Reid wasn’t quite so outraged when another government agency with three letters, the IRS, decided to use its power to target and intimidate Tea Party and other conservative groups. As Politico reports, Reid thought groups that merely exercise their right to bind together in common cause to exercise their free speech rights,deserved to be targeted and investigated by a politically motivated IRS:
After accusations that the IRS targeted conservative groups unfairly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid argued on Tuesday that some nonprofit organizations are indeed abusing their tax-exempt status.
The Nevada Democrat singled out GOP strategist Karl Rove as an abuser of the system because his tax-exempt group, Crossroads GPS, spent millions on the 2012 election to defeat Democrats….
“His organization, Rove’s organization, [has] one purpose and one purpose only and that’s to defeat Democrats. Anyone who thinks otherwise is being willfully foolish,” Reid said. “Preventing overtly political groups like the ones run by Karl Rove as masquerading as social welfare organizations, is really a critically important tasks.”
Rove’s group was one that several Democrats singled out in 2010, when they asked the IRS to investigate whether they were violating their tax exempt status.
Wasn’t the attempt by Lois Lerner and her cronies, in a scandal that also involved lost or deleted emails, conveniently crashed hard drives, etc. to target conservative groups a political move by government employees to influence an election?
House and Senate Democrats, it has been documented, often sent letters to the IRS asking that particularly successful and annoying groups be investigated. As Investor’s Business Daily noted:
Senate Democrats, including supporters of the Disclose Act, provided the names of groups they wanted targeted in a taxpayer-funded witch hunt overseen by an IRS employee and Obama campaign donor.
Using the Citizens United case as a pretext, retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., on July 27, 2012, wrote IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to investigate 12 conservative groups he accused of violating their tax-exempt status and engaging in coordinated political activity.
The groups Levin asked to be targeted for special scrutiny were Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, Priorities U.S.A., Americans Elect, American Action Network, Americans for Prosperity, American Future Fund, Americans for Tax Reform, 60 Plus Association, Patriot Majority USA, Club for Growth, Citizens for a Working America Inc. and the Susan B. Anthony List….
Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire; Tom Udall, New Mexico; and Al Franken, Minnesota; sent a similar letter to Shulman in February 2012, asking the IRS to investigate tax-exempt groups they believed were engaged in political activities. So did retiring Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., in 2010 and House Democrats in 2012, the Atlantic reported Monday.
And on the House side, Congressional Democrats were hardly reluctant to have the IRS target conservative groups: Coordination by Rep. Elijah Cummings with the IRS to target conservative was also noted by IBD:
Of particular interest to us has been Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on Rep. Darrell Issa's House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, who has made every effort to keep the committee from finding out the true extent of IRS corruption and abuse of power in its targeting of conservatives.
As we've noted, emails released by Issa, a California Republican, show that Cummings' Democratic staff had requested information from the IRS' tax-exempt division, the one headed by Lois Lerner, on True the Vote, a conservative group that monitors polling places for voter fraud and supports the use of voter IDs, something that Cummings opposes.
"The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared, protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings' staff," the Oversight panel said in a statement.
The hypocritical Democrats doth protest too much. They are the ones who have sanctioned abuse by government agencies to influence elections. All Comey has done is his job -- to keep Congress updated on his testimony and investigations. He also may have done a great patriotic service for his country by keeping a possible felon out of the Oval Office. He may well have prevented a constitutional crisis that would make Watergate look like, well, a third-rate burglary." -- Daniel John Sobieski
Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.