Scandals That Weren’t.

Since Teapublicans took control of the House in 2011, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Paul Gosar and other extremists have conducted a barrage of hearings with the intent of exposing the misdeeds of the Obama administration. They began by examining government loans made to administration “loyalists” at Solyndra, a start-up manufacturer of solar panels. They moved on to the failed ATFE “gun-running” program in Arizona. After that it was Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, interrupted briefly by IRS scrutiny of conservative “non-profits.” Finally, they turned to the Ebola crisis.

After dozens of hearings, numerous investigations and millions of dollars in expenses, here’s what they found:

The loans to Solyndra were initiated during the George W. Bush administration and finalized during the first year of the Obama administration. The company failed when faced with competition financed, in part, by the Chinese government. And, instead of losing millions as Teapublicans claimed, the government actually made a $5 billion profit on the sale of Solyndra’s assets.

Though Issa and his Teapublican investigations found that Fast & Furious resulted in hundreds of guns being trafficked across the border into Mexico; and though Teapublicans blamed the Department of Justice, calling for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder; the facts show that the blame was entirely misplaced. Yes, the ATFE allowed guns to cross the border with hopes of tracking them to the leaders of Mexican drug cartels. But, thanks to Arizona’s loose gun laws, guns have been trafficked across the border for decades. Fast & Furious was created out of frustration with the courts’ refusal to allow charges against so-called straw buyers. The hope was that, by tracking the guns, the ATFE would be able to disrupt the pipeline of illegal weapons.

With regard to Benghazi, contrary to an endless stream of Teapublican propaganda, 7 non-partisan investigations have found absolutely no wrongdoing by the administration or anyone else. There were no orders for rescuers to stand down. And absolutely no evidence of an administration cover-up. It was simply an unexpected and spontaneous attack by terrorists resulting in the deaths of 4 Americans…the kind of attack that led to many more deaths in American embassies under previous administrations. Yet, despite the findings of 7 investigations, Teapublicans are still insisting on spending millions more for yet another investigation by a “select” committee of Teapublican fools.

As for the IRS scandal, there is little evidence of wrong-doing. Yes, Lois Lerner and her IRS colleagues compiled a list of watch words indicating a political committee disguised as a charitable non-profit in order to ferret out those intent on skirting election laws to flood political campaigns with dark money. Yes, that list included numerous words used by Teapublican groups. And, yes, more Teapublican groups were subjected to extra scrutiny by the IRS. But it is also true that, thanks to the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires, more Teapublican groups had applied for non-profit status than Democratic groups. Moreover, following a series of questionable Supreme Court decisions, Lerner’s IRS department was overwhelmed with such requests. And none of the groups affected were denied such status.

Finally, the Teapublican’s weakest attempt to scaremonger was the Ebola “scandal.” So far, only two people have died of the disease in the US. And though it appears that the Dallas hospital was ill-prepared to deal with the disease, the CDC and NIH quickly responded. There have been no further events and no “epidemic” despite the fact that Teapublicans dramatically cut the budget for the Center for Disease Control, making it unable to conduct necessary research.

And what were the Obama administration’s failures in all of these scandals? None. Yet, thanks to Teapublican control of Congress, the investigations, and the propaganda, will continue.

UPDATE: It is estimated that the direct costs of investigations by Issa’s committee have exceeded more than $26 million to date. The indirect costs of the time needed to provide thousands of documents in compliance with the committee’s demands may have exceeded $1 trillion.

Only Crimes Issa Has Exposed Are His Own.

For more than two years, Congressman Issa has been digging under rocks to find dirt on President Obama and his administration. He has claimed that his investigations would prove that the federal loan to Solyndra would expose a “sweetheart” deal for one of Obama’s political contributors. Instead, he proved that the loan process was well underway during the Bush administration.

Issa claimed that his investigation into Fast & Furious would show the president or, at least his Attorney General, ordered ATFE agents to allow gun trafficking to Mexican drug cartels. What he proved was that, out of frustration, a single unit of the ATFE allowed guns to “walk” in hopes of them leading to cartel leadership.

Most recently, Issa claimed that an investigation would show that President Obama, or his campaign, ordered extra scrutiny for Tea Party groups seeking non-profit status for their political operations. What Issa proved is that a self-professed conservative Republican agent in Cincinnati used search terms to learn more about the groups, and that those search terms included Tea Party, Patriots, and 9/12. They also included words like Democrat, Blue, Progressives, and Liberals. (I can attest to this because I’m a member of a Democratic group targeted, and I filled out the paperwork myself.)

Instead of proving that these “scandals” led to the White House, Issa proved that there were no scandals at all! Indeed, all he has accomplished is to prove otherwise. He has also caused writers like me to look into his sordid past. On doing so, I learned that Issa was twice indicted for Grand Theft Auto. I also learned that he quite likely torched his own business shortly after increasing the insurance by more than 400 percent!

It appears the only reason Issa is so determined to prove crime by others is to damage a presidency, ingratiate himself to other members of his own party and to rationalize his own past.

Colbert Exposes Abuses Of The 501(c)4.

Although known for his comedy, Stephen Colbert has shown an aptitude for investigative journalism that surpasses many of the so-called “legitimate” news operations. His reporting on the IRS “scandal” is but the latest example.

Long before traditional news organizations began reporting on the abuses of political PACs and Super PACs, Colbert exposed the inappropriateness of political organizations being awarded 501(c)4 status. Following the lead of Karl Rove, Sarah Palin and hundreds of right wing groups, Colbert formed his own 501(c)4 called the Colbert Super PAC SHH! in 2011. By simply signing a few papers with the help of Republican attorney and former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission, Trevor Potter, Colbert legally declared his organization a non-profit and began collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Potter, he did not have to reveal the names of his donors. He did not have to adhere to spending limits. The only restriction was that he could not directly coordinate his expenditures with any candidates.

Interestingly, he never actually filed a 1024 form to request tax-exempt status from the IRS. (Of course, neither did many other Super PACs.) But now that the IRS is under investigation, Colbert realized that he, along with thousands of Tea Party groups, could file the form with the assurance that the IRS would not dare deny it while the IRS, itself, was under investigation. So Colbert filed the form under the new name Making-America-A-Better-Tea-Party-Patriot-9/12-Place-To-Constitution-America-Tea-Party-Nominally-Social-Welfare-Conservative-Political-Action-Tea-Party-Secret-Money-Liberty-I-Dare-You-To-Deny-This-Application-Of-America-Tea-Party.

Once again, Colbert has exposed the reality of 501(c)4s and the absurdity of our political system.

To be clear, the 501(c)4 designation was never intended to be used by political groups…not even by satirical groups such as Colbert’s. It was intended for use by genuine charities that serve the public interest and need to keep their donors anonymous so that the donors would not be hounded by thousands of other charities seeking funding.

But the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision unleashed a torrent of political groups claiming non-profit status so that corporations could keep their political donations anonymous. Not long afterward, the Tea Party movement began swamping the already understaffed IRS with thousands of requests for non-profit status. Is it any wonder, then, that the IRS chose to target these groups for extra scrutiny? What public good did the groups serve beyond providing cover for anonymous donors who wanted to use their money to attack political opponents and affect the outcome of elections?

Whether the IRS decision to request more information was politically-motivated is still unclear. But two things are clear: The IRS should scrutinize such groups, denying 501(c)4 status to those groups that are primarily political, like…say…the Tea Party. And Stephen Colbert is a unique talent.