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

White House Uses Taxpayer Funds to Promote Goldman Sachs While Massively Expanding the Welfare State

FOOD STAMP EXPLOSION: The White House is now using taxpayer funds to promote economic illiteracy like this, which it shares with Common Core. The term SNAP refers to food stamps:

Now let’s think this through.

1. The government takes $ 10 from you, which prevents you from spending it on something you want…

2. The government launders that $ 10 through the federal bureaucracy, which leaves roughly $ 5 for benefits…

3. The government takes the remaining $ 5 it hasn’t wasted and sends it to those who may or may not need it…

Hold up. My first point is wrong. The government doesn’t take $ 10 from you… it takes $ 6 from you and borrows the rest by issuing debt.

And that borrowing program is executed by a certain number of “Primary Dealers” — enormous, powerful banks like Goldman Sachs — that make billions managing the sale of U.S. debt.

Furthermore, the fraud endemic in the food stamp program is legendary. Billions upon billions of your money is stolen each year, much of it in plain view on sites like Craig’s List.

Therefore, in order to believe the collectivist propagandists in the Obama White House, you’d have to ignore all of the fraud, ignore Goldman Sachs, ignore the borrowing, ignore all of the money laundered through the federal bureaucracy, ignore the money confiscated from you… and pretend all of that is more efficient than you spending your money freely on things that you need or want.

You’d have to be completely mad or completely ignorant to believe that — and it would seem the White House thinks you’re either one or the other.

Hat tip: G-Man.

Doug Ross @ Journal

GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT: IRS Gave White House Confidential Taxpayer Info; Punishable by Five Years in Prison

Guest post by Investors Business Daily

Scandal: The IRS official in charge of tax-exempt organizations when the unit targeted Tea Party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for enforcing ObamaCare and may have illegally shared confidential tax data.

It’s bad enough that no one at the Internal Revenue Service has been meaningfully punished for the targeting of conservative groups before the 2012 election. Now we learn that, for some, the unconstitutional and illegal action was a good career move.
Sarah Hall Ingram, who served as commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division from 2009 to 2012, was so good at her job of suppressing the political speech of administration opponents by using the tax code as a bludgeon that she was rewarded during her tenure with four bonuses totaling $ 103,390.

Her salary went from $ 172,500 to $ 177,000 during that period, and she would also be rewarded with the post of director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act division.

That the person who rode roughshod over Tea Party groups was put in charge of riding roughshod over our health care was entirely fitting. The Tea Party was a grass-roots response to the power grab and assault on the Constitution that ObamaCare represents. It had to be punished for its electoral success in 2010 and Obama-Care had to be saved at all costs.

As the IRS scandal was unfolding, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., prophetically warned that “the IRS part of administering ObamaCare, particularly in the wake of this IRS scandal with regard to suppressing the views of Americans who were critical of the IRS, raises further suspicions about their involvement in the administration of ObamaCare.”

His concern appears to have been warranted with the release of redacted emails provided by the IRS to Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Those emails indicate that while counseling senior White House officials on how to deal with a lawsuit from religious groups opposed to the ObamaCare contraception mandate, Ingram may have shared confidential taxpayer information with those White House officials.

Ingram appeared before Issa’s committee Wednesday and claimed she could not recall a document that contained confidential taxpayer information. But as the Daily Caller reports, emails provided to Oversight investigators by the IRS had numerous redactions with the signifier “6103.” That’s the section of the Internal Revenue Code that forbids a federal employee from “disclosing any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee.”

The markings would seem to indicate that, while personal tax information was withheld from Oversight, it was not withheld from the White House.

Issa and other Republicans on Oversight believe the redactions in the email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials, including White House health policy adviser Ellen Montz and Jeanne Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy, did contain confidential taxpayer information. Issa has requested unredacted copies of the emails,

“So it was OK for (a) political White House to get the unredacted version from the same entity that targeted groups who came into existence because they opposed the Affordable Care Act, but Congress can’t get it?” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, pointedly asked Ingram. “That’s unbelievable.”

If confirmed, this leaking of confidential tax data for political purposes by the Obama administration would not be new. As Matthew Boyle has reported at Breitbart News, Obama’s re-election campaign co-chairmen used a leaked document from the IRS to attack Mitt Romney during the 2012 election, according to another targeted group, the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes the president on gay marriage.

Now Sarah Hall Ingram and the IRS will have access to your health and medical information as well. Wasn’t one of the articles of impeachment of Richard Nixon the seeking of tax data to target political enemies?

Read More At Investor’s Business Daily

Doug Ross @ Journal

IRS-GATE EXPLODES: White House and IRS Illegally Traded Confidential Taxpayer Info to Attack Political Enemies

Patrick Howley reports at The Daily Caller:

Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discussed confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials, according to 2012 emails… Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS Tax Exempt Organizations division, also received an email alongside White House officials that contained confidential information.

Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials — including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew — contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.

The emails … had numerous redactions with the signifier “6103.” … Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code forbids a federal employee from “disclos[ing] any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee.”

Federal employees who illegally disclose confidential taxpayer information could face five years in prison.

“Thanks, David. Thanks for the information on [6103],” White House official Lambrew wrote to IRS official David Fish in a July 20, 2012 exchange. “I am still hoping to understand whether the 50 percent rule is moot if the organization does not offer goods and services for sale to the general public. Do we assume that organizations like [6103] do offer goods and services for sale?”

Another email from Montz to Ingram and others refers to the “[6103] memo” and the “[6103] letter” while discussing organizations that are not required to file 990′s.

Ingram appeared before Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee Wednesday and claimed she could not recall a document that contained confidential taxpayer information… Issa has requested unredacted copies of the emails, citing a prohibition from misusing Section 6103 “for the purpose of concealing information from a congressional inquiry.”

Ingram headed the scandal-ridden IRS office responsible for overseeing tax-exempt nonprofit groups before leaving to head the agency’s office in charge of Obamacare implementation.

Misuse of the IRS was one of the articles of impeachment to be used against Richard Nixon had he not resigned.

Heads need to roll at the White House and the IRS.

Hat tip: BadBlue News and BB.

Doug Ross @ Journal

A Brief, Illustrated History of the Public Sector Unions That, Together With The Democrat Party, Are Waging War on the Taxpayer

Throughout American history — and as recently as the 1950s — there were no unions for government workers. Public-sector employees were expected to earn a bit less than their private-sector equivalents. The reasons they did so included an interest in public service, job security and reasonable benefits.

But that changed in the late fifties with New York City Mayor Robert Wagner’s cynical appeal to the votes of city workers. He signed an executive order authorizing them to unionize, and soon other local and state Democrat legislators around the country followed his lead.

These efforts culminated in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy granted federal employees the right to collectively bargain. Since then, public sector union membership has skyrocketed while, in the private sector, unions have fallen out of favor.

In 2009, private sector union members were outnumbered for the first time by their public sector counterparts.

The historical basis of unions revolved around workers receiving a reasonable share of a company’s profits. But that tenet is nonsensical when applied to public service. Governments don’t make profits; they simply assess taxes.

The aims of public sector unions conflict directly with the interests of taxpayers.

And because it has been exceedingly hard to fight public sector unions, the salaries and benefits of public employees have skyrocketed in recent years. Since the election of Barack Obama, the number of federal employees making over $ 150,000 a year has more than doubled to over 10,000.

In 2009 government salaries jumped 2.4%, approximately twice the increase earned by private sector employees. In fact, the average salary of a federal worker is now $ 71,000, about $ 22,000 more than the average private sector employee.

Worst of all, public sector unions have negotiated pension plans that are proving financially untenable. Many allow workers to retire at age 55 at around their full salary in their final years of employment. These pensions often include inflation adjustments as well as lifetime free health care.

These plans are so outrageous that state retirement systems, for example, are currently underfunded by about a trillion dollars.

So how have public sector unions achieved these amazing results? The answer is the hundreds of millions of dollars that unions have donated to federal campaigns since 1990. Almost every single dollar went to Democrats or Democrat causes. In the 2008 election alone, some estimates put public sector union contributions to Democrats at $ 60 million.

These unions are also astroturfing for Democrats, providing slush funds to help liberal causes. An example is ThePartyIsOver.org, a faux populist website designed to discredit TEA Party activists.

The Democrats’ health care bill, the ‘Employee Free Choice Act’ and the $ 800+ billion stimulus bill all contained payoffs to public sector unions. In fact, while the private sector has shed 8,000,000 jobs since the recession began, the number of public sector jobs has risen nearly every month — led by President Obama’s various spending programs at the federal level.

Public sector unions are killing our economic system and the American taxpayer. The debt unleashed by their outrageous benefits plans simply cannot be paid. The union bosses have lied to their members about lifetime benefits and they have betrayed the American people. Public sector unions must be disbanded and outlawed before more of our country begins to resemble Greece, Spain and other European countries.

Those countries are teetering on the brink of economic calamity, thanks to unions just like ours. And please observe that the union bosses and the Democrat Party could give a rat’s behind about American taxpayers — 20 percent of whom are currently unemployed or underemployed. They still want theirs.

Based upon: Amy H. Laff, StateBrief. Linked by: Mark Levin, The Washington Examiner, Ace o’ Spades and TigerHawk. Thanks!


Doug Ross @ Journal