The Unceasing Political Thuggery of Obama's Gangster Government

The Unceasing Political Thuggery of Obama's Gangster Government
January 25, 2014

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)

In the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama urged Latinos to “punish our enemies” — meaning anyone who stands in opposition to his agenda. The Obama administration has done its part fulfill that promise, maybe the only promise this president will ever keep.

Thursday night, prominent conservative Dinesh D’Souza — author of The Roots of Obama's Rage and producer of the documentary 2016: Obama’s America — was arrested on felony charges of violating campaign finance law. Obama's Department of Justice seeking a $1 million fine and seven years in prison. This hard approach to "justice" stands in stark contrast to the way Obama's DOJ handled a prominent Democratic donor who got off with a misdeameanor, a nominal fine, and two months in jail for doing the exact same thing.

What did D’Souza do? He is charged with making "straw donations" by asking friends to give a total of $20,000 to a 2012 U.S. Senate camapign in New York and then reimbursing them. If proven true, that is a violation of America’s Byzantine campaign finance laws, and D’Souza must face the consequences. But this case stinks to high heaven of selective prosecution of the president’s “enemies” — a long-standing pattern of this administration, which Michael Barone aptly dubbed America's first “gangster government.”

D’Souza was trying to help out an old college friend, Wendy Long, who ran on the Republican ticket against incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand. Let's be clear: Long's campaign was nothing more than a ceremonial campaign so that someone represented the party on the ballot. She had no shot of taking out Gillibrand, who won with 72 percent of the vote to Long’s 27 percent. Furthermore, Gillibrand spent $14.2 million on her campaign to Long’s measly $742,000. Yet we’re supposed to believe that the feds caught D’Souza in their net after simply conducting “a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election for United States Senator in New York.” And Gillibrand's campaign — which collected and spent 1,800 percent more money — had zero sketchy contributions?

We are to believe that D'Souza's status as one of the president's sharpest and most-prominent critics had absolutely nothing to do with DOJ taking a sledgehammer to kill a gnat that over-contributed to a nuisance candidate an amount that probably matches the tip money for Gillibrand's 2012 campaign luncheons? That is beyond absurd — especially in light of what the FBI and DOJ have found not worthy of any investigation, let alone indictment.

In 2012, the Obama re-election campaign's online donation form did not require that the billing address match the card, or that the security code on the back be entered, or even that the state match the ZIP code. This allowed at least one British citizen to illegally contribute to Obama’s campaign, and likely many thousand more non-US citizens to do the same. (It is, again, an insult to our intelligence that the most tech-savvy campaign ever didn't set up its donation page for that very purpose.)

In October 2012, the Federal Elections Commission announced that it identified more than $2 million in donations at Obama’s campaign website in which no ZIP codes were entered or the ZIP codes were incomplete — an error that requires the donation to be voided, and a feature that was in place on Romney's campaign site. The FBI didn’t even have to do any “routine review” of the Obama campaign to take action on lawbreaking on a much greater scale than that alleged of D’Souza. Yet, it is merely a coincidence that no Obama campaign staffer or donor was investigated, let alone arrested?

Here are more coincidences we’re supposed to take at face value, and not as evidence of a corrupt Obama adminisration determined to "punish" the president's "enemies":

  • King Street Patriots founder Catherine Engelbrecht was investigated by the FBI, audited by the IRS, and also saw her spotless family business put under close scrutiny by the IRS, OSHA, and the ATF — all just months after she applied for nonprofit status for her “Truth the Vote” group to battle rampant election fraud. Among the information the IRS demanded was “every Facebook post and Tweet she had ever written,” detailed information about her family, and whether she or any of her relatives had ever run (or thought about running) for political office. Liberal members of Congress also publicly accused her of being part of a “criminal conspiracy” and demanded DOJ investigate.
  • The IRS systematically gave similar bureaucratic proctal exams to countless other Tea Party groups seeking nonprofit status — thus chilling the speech and political paticipation of right-leaning groups, but not those on the left.
  • An IRS, unchastened by the public exposure of its corruption, deciding to "legalize" its practice of chilling of non-leftist speech with a new rule that will establish a policy of harassing Tea Party groups while leaving unions and leftist outfits alone. According to this post at Examiner.com, not a single public comment about the rule (as of January 21) was in favor. I doubt something as insignificant to the IRS as the public will has a chance of stopping its plans.
  • The Obama administration and its Democratic allies in Congress sacrificing cherished spending priorities in 2014 to ensure the IRS could still institute its rule to put "Tea Party groups out of business" as the 2014 midterm elections approach.
  • An SWAT-team federal raid on Gibson Guitars — whose CEO is a Republican donor — for allegedly breaking the century-old and almost-never-enforced Lacey Act for using the same "illegal" wood its competitors use. (The executives of Gibson's competitors, not subject to similar raids for that "crime," happen to be big Democratic donors.)
  • Intense IRS scrutiny of the only  conservative organization in Hollywood, "Friends of Abe," which included a demand for a complete donor list — something the IRS does not typically ask for in a "routine" audit. Leftist Hollywood nonprofits, such as Norman Lear's People for the American Way, have never cited cause to complain about similar IRS harassment.
  • The auditing of James O'Keefe and his Project Veritas, which exposed the genuine abuse of nonprofit status by the leftist ACORN — a group Obama worked with closely before he ran for political office. Now, out of the blue, the New York State Department of Labor has demanded O'Keefe appear before them with all his papers in order on Tuesday — including all "copies of Social Security returns, unemployment insurance (state and federal), check stubs and canceled checks, and any other records pertaining to payments for services." New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wasn't kidding, it appears, when he said conservatives are not welcome in "his" state.
  • Billionaire Frank VanderSloot, a decades-long big Republican donor, getting audited by the Obama's IRS for the first time in his life after giving generously to the "Super PAC" of the Mitt Romney campaign. The Obama Labor Department was kind enough to follow up with an audit of all the workers on VanderSloot's Idaho cattle ranch. Billionaire leftist George Soros — the "Daddy Warbucks" for countless left-leaning groups, creator of his own leftist nonprofits, and big donor to Democratic campaigns — has never had reason to complain about such scrutiny.
  • Conservative journalist Wayne Allen Root being audited twice by Obama's IRS, and reporting that he personally knows of at least 15 people who were subject to IRS audits within 90 days of writing big checks to the Mitt Romney campaign. (Chilling detail: Root says the IRS agent who called him said he knew who he was, and knew that he served as a guest host for a conservative radio show.)
  • And while we're talking about politicized "justice," I must mention the fact that Obama's DOJ has still refused to pursue criminal charges against global warming activist Peter Gleick. He publicly admitted to impersonating a director of The Heartland Institute via email, stealing Heartland's confidential and private property (its budget and planning documents), and distributing them to leftist allies for the purpose of harassing Heartland donors. He has not yet copped to creating his own version of a Heartland "planning document," an obvious fake, intended to defame the organization and distort the purpose of its work in climate science. A criminal trial that is not likely to happen — despite the open-and-shut case laid out to federal prosecutors by Heartland, as well as Gleick's public confession — would do a lot to clarify that point. [Full background here.]

Are those examples enough to establish a pattern? To establish that these are not mere coincidences or “bad luck” on the part of conservatives and right-leaning groups? That there are countless more examples that are not publicly known?

Never in the history of this country have we seen such a broad and coordinated abuse of the government’s power to threaten criminal prosecution and ruin the lives and livelihoods of people the president and his party see as political “enemies.” None of the victims above did anything that even smelled like a criminal act act (except, perhaps, D'Souza) before the state came crashing down with the inevitable and purposeful result of ruining their lives. Their only "offense" was publicly opposing the president's agenda, and putting those dissenters through the goverment's paces was the whole point.

As columnist Mark Steyn has often noted, the process is the punishment. Exercising your rights of free speech and free assembly will put you on "the list." So think twice before daring to oppose the statist agenda. Don't speak out. Obey ... or else. The Obama administration's intimination tactics are encouraging the president's powerful allies in Congress to join in even more heartily. This week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivered a despicable, un-American speech to the leftist nonprofit Center for American Progress. He urged the IRS to "redouble" its intimidation tactics against the Tea Party, and anyone else who dares to "attack government" through peaceful political outreach and speech.

This should be the political scandal of the century — if only we had an honorable and competent MSM press corps in this country. Alas, it is more interested in Justin Bieber’s arrest. If President Obama deigns to give the MSM an audience for questioning, we are treated to gems such as “What is your New Year’s Resolution?” (Obama’s answer: Be nicer to the White House Press Corps!)

When George W. Bush was president, Hillary Clinton famously shouted:

I'm sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we're Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.

But apparently not this administration. Hillary Clinton was right. But she and those who cheered her are nowhere to be found now that the sideshow of Dixie Chicks protests have been replaced by the infinitely more threatening governmental suppression of principled public dissent. Today, left-leaning America — as well as the constitutionally protected MSM — have no interest in standing up for the patriotic right to "debate and disagree" with the Chicago-style thuggery of the Obama administration. That is tragic for the cause of liberty, our politics, and our increasingly fragile republic.

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)