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AWESOME: Union Front Group Got Taxpayer Funds From Department of Labor to Push Minimum Wage Hikes

Guest post by Eric Boehm

The U.S. Department of Labor handed over $ 275,000 in taxpayer-funded grants in 2009 to an organization that claimed to be a charitable nonprofit with tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

But that organization was not officially certified as a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit until 2010, documents show.

The Restaurant Opportunity Center, or ROC-United, a national organization working to raise the minimum wage and improve working conditions for restaurant workers by combing the labor organizing muscle of powerful unions with Occupy Wall Street protest tactics, got the grant anyway.

The group is organizing several high profile events this week to highlight the $ 2.17 national minimum wage for tipped workers.

In the 2009 grant application, ROC United submitted a letter to the Department of Labor that showed the IRS had granted tax exempt status to ROC New York — an affiliated but legally separate organization — even though the $ 275,000 grant would flow to ROC United.

The department was either fooled by the application or didn’t check it closely enough.

Either way, ROC was awarded the grant through the Susan Harwood Grant Program, which is supposed to be limited to 501(c)3 charitable nonprofits, a status not granted to ROC United until June 2010.

“This is also further reason why ROC should not be receiving taxpayer funds. ROC takes taxpayer money, then turns around and lobbies Congress and pushes labor-backed initiatives across the country,” said Mike Paranzino, communications director for ROC Exposed, a political nonprofit that obtained the 2009 grant application via a Freedom of Information request.

Documents obtained by ROC Exposed show that when ROC United applied for the federal grant in August 2009, the group was in the midst of a back-and-forth battle with the IRS over its tax status.

On the application, ROC United claimed to be a “nonprofit with 501(c)3 status.”

But six months later, in February 2010, lawyers representing ROC United were still haggling with the IRS over the organization’s status, and indicated in a letter that the IRS hadn’t granted ROC United official 501(c)3 status.

By that time, the grant records show, federal cash was already flowing to the organization.

A spokesman for the department didn’t respond to a request from Watchdog.org seeking information about the grant application and whether it could be reviewed five years after it was approved. The department also didn’t respond when asked if there could be penalties imposed for grants that were obtained with inaccurate application information.

ROC United didn’t return calls for comment.

When the Labor Department announced the grants in 2009, the award given to ROC United was supposed to “provide training to small restaurant employers” and to develop “local health and safety committees for ongoing workers and employers.” The grant said ROC United would provide training to 50 restaurants and an estimated 2,000 workers in Chicago, New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.

Since 2009, affiliates of ROC United have sprung up in each of those cities.

But training workers on safety issues is hardly the organization’s primary purpose.

Founded after 9/11 to help restaurant workers displaced from their jobs in lower Manhattan, ROC has morphed into a national organization with branches in most major cities. The organization’s goal is “to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce,” according to its website, which brags about ROC’s role in several states’ recent decisions to raise the minimum wage.

The organization has helped organize protests against several restaurant chains and is helping promote protests on Thursday — February 13, a date meant to draw attention to the $ 2.13 per hour wage for tipped workers — around the country.

The group joined U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Wednesday for a conference call urging an increase to the national minimum wage, and ROC United bragged on its Facebook page about being at the White House for an event focusing on the minimum wage.

The group has slowly gained more influence with the Labor Department since that initial 2009 grant, regardless of whether the grant was obtained properly.

In 2011, the department announced an “alliance” with ROC to promote workplace safety.

Its success has caught the eye of major unions, who see service sector employees as a new frontier in labor organization.

All over America, workers are organizing in all kinds of ways, and they call their unity by all kinds of names — workers’ unions, associations, centers, networks,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in September, praising ROC United’s executive director Saru Jayaraman for her role in organizing restaurant workers.

While ROC United puts pressure on restaurants to increase wages, Congress might soon put pressure on them.

Two years ago, the House Oversight Committee caught wind of the 2009 grant application and the seemingly inaccurate representation of the group’s tax exempt status.

In a letter to the Labor Department, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked for information about that questionable 2009 grant and why it was awarded when the organization wasn’t yet recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit.

ROC’s history of intimidation towards opponents and management problems with its own restaurant raises significant questions about why DOL decided to form an alliance with and provide federal funding to the organization,” Issa wrote.

The grant is one of six taxpayer-funded grants ROC has received from the federal government — the other five came from the U.S. Department of Health, federal records show — totaling more than $ 1 million.

Caitlin Carroll, spokeswoman for the House Oversight Committee, said lawmakers and staff are currently reviewing additional materials received from the Labor Department concerning the issues raised in the July 2012 letter.

Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and can be reached at EBoehm@Watchdog.org. Follow @WatchdogOrg and @EricBoehm87 on Twitter for more.

Doug Ross @ Journal

THE AWESOME EFFICIENCY OF GOVERNMENT: White House Considered Scrapping $500MM Healthcare.gov Site

Yesterday @Democracy2014 tweeted this “screenshot of the ‘fixed’ healthcare.gov website two pages into it.”

Now I’m no computer expert, but that doesn’t appear to be what you would call, eh, a working website.

Donald Douglas, writing at American Power, highlights one of the most shocking revelations from today’s ludicrous talk shows.

Folks are talking about Obama advisor David Plouffe’s psycho statement that the ObamaCare website will be working well in 2017. Jeez, right after Obama leaves office. Talk about leaving a steaming pile behind for your successor. Twitchy has that, “‘In denial at this point’: David Plouffe says Obamacare will work ‘really well’ by 2017…”


Watch it [here]. But pay attention to the opening segment, where Stepanopoulos reports that, “at one point the White House considered scrapping the site and starting all over again.” This is the big story of the day, and it’s being underreported amid the David Plouffe clown show and the state-media Orwellianism on the other Sunday shows (Emanuel Ezekiel and Ezra Klein provided the WTF analysis team on “Meet the Press”). That the White House seriously considered shutting down Healthcare.gov is the monumental concession of Democrat incompetence and Republican clairvoyance. It’s the equivalent of folding your cards, of packing up and going home. A complete and utter defeat for the administration’s marquee policy initiative, foreign or domestic. ObamaCare is the president’s brand, and it’s a loss leader.

The New York Times has it buried deep down in this report:

WASHINGTON — As a small coterie of grim-faced advisers shuffled into the Oval Office on the evening of Oct. 15, President Obama’s chief domestic accomplishment was falling apart 24 miles away, at a bustling high-tech data center in suburban Virginia.

HealthCare.gov, the $ 630 million online insurance marketplace, was a disaster after it went live on Oct. 1, with a roster of engineering repairs that would eventually swell to more than 600 items. The private contractors who built it were pointing fingers at one another. And inside the White House, after initially saying too much traffic was to blame, Mr. Obama’s closest confidants had few good answers…

Publicly, Mr. Obama had said “interest way exceeded expectations, and that’s the good news.” But in a meeting in Mr. McDonough’s office that first weekend after the start, someone asked the question on everyone’s mind: Should we just take the website down altogether for a time so it can be fixed?

Panic is the key word here. Read the full report at the Times. And note how much fun Althouse has with the story, “‘Inside the West Wing, where junior researchers monitor Twitter and other social media, officials knew the political controversy had moved beyond the broken website’.”

While the website is the centerpiece of ObamaCare (because its “back end” operations form the lynchpin of this Democrat-socialist health rationing system), it’s just the tip of the iceberg for political recriminations, both current and forthcoming. Millions have lost their coverage on the individual health insurance market — prompting utter fear and desperation among Congressional Democrats facing reelection next year — but as we get deeper into the rollout next year, when insurance companies start notifying business of policy cancellations, and when employers start dumping tens of millions of workers onto the crappy cookie-cutter ClusterCare programs, all hell is indeed going to break loose, and George Will so accurately predicts.

A half a billion dollars of our money was thrown away on this P.O.S. website?

And they were ready to scrap it?

Who was fired? Who was disciplined?

And this was just the website: the actual Obamacare disaster hasn’t even truly begun. What happens to the 129 million Americans who have lost or will lose their insurance?

Here’s a helpful hint for John Boehner: you took 40 phony votes on repealing Obamacare.

Now take a real vote. Force Democrats in the House to make a stand.

Repeal this monstrosity and put as much pressure on the Senate Democrats as they can withstand.

Doug Ross @ Journal

Awesome News: North Carolina Public School Teachers Sending Pro-Union Propaganda Home With Kids

As Scott Walker’s experience in Wisconsin taught us, public sector union bosses are the lowest of the low.

In North Carolina, the radical Marxist agitators have stooped to using schoolchildren to disseminate pro-union propaganda.

A line was crossed tonight in Holly Springs, NC by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE). A flyer for a planned Teacher “Walk In” was distributed to kids at Holly Ridge Elementary school in their ‘take-home folders’ today. This “Walk In” has been talked about in the media a bit but nothing hit as close to home as this did. This flyer had no business being ferried home by our children…

…The flyer has a website on it: www.Organize2020.com… This is a site affiliated with the NCAE. It is almost purely politics, shows shots of teachers protesting at Moral Monday…

Now go read the mission statement, which ends with this paragraph detailing the point of Organize 2020 — to bring unions into our schools…

The mission statement page concludes with the following timeless plea for more taxpayer cash:

We need hope. We need a union.

Never mind that public sector unions have effectively bankrupted the teachers’ retirement systems in Illinois and California.

Never mind that Detroit more resembles Mogadishu than an American city, thanks in large part to forced unionization.

Never mind all that.

North Carolina’s teachers want a union and if the taxpayers don’t like it, well, **** you.

If you don’t like your kids being used as pawns to promote more failing public schools, well, **** you.

In short: just when you think the Left has hit rock bottom, they break out a jackhammer and start digging a new septic tank.

Hat tip: BadBlue News Service.

Doug Ross @ Journal

AWESOME: IRS gives away $4.2 billion to illegal aliens while attacking Tea Party, Christian and Pro-Israel Groups

Guest post by Kenric Ward

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While harrying and stalling tea party groups seeking nonprofit status, the Internal Revenue Service mailed $ 4.2 billion in child-credit checks to undocumented immigrants.

Critics say midlevel IRS bureaucrats continue to abuse the Additional Child Tax Credit program by dispensing $ 1,000 checks to families in this country illegally.

“The law needs clarification that undocumented immigrants are not eligible,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Watchdog.org in a statement.

AP file photo

LEGAL RESIDENTS ONLY: Sen. Charles Grassley says it was never Congress’ intent for the IRS to issue tax-credit checks to people in this country illegally.

To make Congress’ intent clear – that only legal U.S. residents are entitled to ACTC credits — Grassley co-sponsored a clarifying amendment with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wy.

“Unfortunately, the majority leader (Harry Reid, D-Nev.) cut off debate, so we weren’t given the chance to offer our amendment,” said Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The IRS’ practice of paying out billions to undocumented-immigrant families never received full congressional scrutiny, said David North, a fellow at the enforcement-oriented Center for Immigration Studies.

“I’ve been in government and I know kind of how these things work out,” North told the Washington Times.

“It struck me that (GS) 15s and 16s got together at some point and decided this is how we should handle it, and it stuck,” said North, who wrote “Paying Illegals to Stay,” an analysis of how benefit programs increase illegal immigration.

The IRS has said it doesn’t believe the ACTC law allows the agency to deny payment to undocumented immigrants.

Watchdog reported in June that disbursement of ACTC credits has grown rapidly — and suspiciously — with increased issuance of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers as substitutes for Social Security numbers.

ITIN holders are not required to prove legal residency, and ITIN applications are running at the rate of 1 million a year.

Federal investigators identified one address in Atlanta where 23,994 ITIN refunds totaling $ 46,378,040 were delivered. A single bank account there received 8,393 refunds.

Records indicate that undocumented immigrants in Virginia received $ 87.9 million in ACTC cash from the IRS. Watchdog reported that $ 163,711 went to a single address in the tiny eastern shore town of Parksley.

In lightly populated Iowa, Grassley’s home state, undocumented immigrants got an estimated $ 30 million.

With an average of 15 percent of ACTC refunds directed to undocumented households nationally, North calculates that roughly half of the money went to ITIN holders who paid “little or no income taxes.”

An audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration stated:

“We believe legislation is needed to clarify whether or not refundable tax credits such as the ACTC may be paid to filers without a Social Security number. Such a legislative change could result in cost savings to the federal government of $ 1.8 billion annually.

“As it now stands, the payment of federal funds through this tax benefit appears to provide additional incentive for aliens to enter, reside and work in the U.S. without authorization, which contradicts federal law and policy to remove such incentives.”

The recommendations of that audit, conducted in 2009, have yet to be acted on.

Meantime, the IRS continues to be dogged by controversy over its handling of tax-exempt requests by tea party groups and other conservative organizations.

Judicial Watch this month filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the agency asking the District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the IRS to produce records of all communications relating to the review process for organizations seeking 501(c)(4) non-profit status since Jan. 1, 2010.

On May 14, the Treasury inspector general concluded the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as “patriot” and “tea party” in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status.

Hat tips: BadBlue News and @KenricWard.

Doug Ross @ Journal