As if the bullying of the Tea Party and other conservative groups was not enough, as if the seizure of AP telephone records was not enough, as if the intimidation and threats of criminal action against a FNC report was not enough, the Obama Administration’s IRS has pulled out all the stops and thug tactics using armed security to follow news reporters in a PUBLIC building. What are they afraid the IRS whistleblowers might leak?
ABC Reports Armed Security Guards Dogged Them in IRS Building
Within days of the IRS scandal breaking, ABC News attempted to contact several IRS employees to gather more information on the breaking scandal. Particularly, they found IRS staffer, Elizabeth Hofacre’s mail overflowing at her home. They spoke with IRS analyst Mitchell Steele, who answered his door in a bath robe though the work day was just about to begin downtown, and seemed genuinely beaten down. He told ABC News “this isn’t fair to me.” They also tried to contact Stephen Seok, one of the supervisors in the Determinations Unit at the heart of the scandal, but calls and knocks on his window-covered home went unanswered.
Conflicting Communications Instructions and a Veiled Threat
Seeking official comment at the IRS office in Cincinnati, ABC reporters were told by many IRS staffers that they were not allowed to speak to anyone and were referred to D.C. IRS headquarters in D.C. denied a no-talk rule was official policy because, after all, agency staffers still have a constitutional right to talk to whomever they want. Yet their statement to ABC: “Our policy is that press inbounds (queries) are referred to the press office…but people have First Amendment rights, they are entitled to speak” appears to restrict their free speech when it involves the press.
Despite D.C. denying the Cincinnati staff were not reminded of the official communications policy, one Cincinnati staffer bravely told ABC that was untrue and that “security guards did remind employees of the official policy not to talk with the press – a warning cemented by the punch line ‘or risk losing our jobs.’”
Why would security guards be giving employees instructions on speaking with or referring the press to the D.C. office rather than IRS Administrators?
Armed Homeland Security Inspectors Used to Intimidate?
In an effort to dig deep into when and how the targeting of conservative groups began, ABC reporters visited the Peck Federal Building in Cincinnati. ABC News reported the following occurred after their reporters completed routine security screening:
“As we traveled the public hallways of the building – watched over by security cameras – an armed uniformed police officer with the Federal Protective Service followed us. We were looking for a particular office—of someone who would not want to be seen talking to reporters—but chose to bypass it because of our official babysitter.
Asked why we were being escorted in a public building, the officer identified himself as Inspector Mike Finkelstein and said he was only trying to make sure that the newsmen were not a ‘nuisance.’ He brushed aside further questions. The cop said a supervisor would call to explain. After ABC News phoned and e-mailed the spokespeople in Washington repeatedly for more than 24 hours, a low-level staffer with Homeland Security finally responded. ‘After review by a supervisor, it was determined that the inspector acted according to proper security procedures and that no improper conduct occurred,’ the spokesman said.”
Armed escorts of news media in public hallways of a taxpayer owned building housing a taxpayer-funded agency is now “proper conduct”? What is Homeland Security’s involvement with the IRS scandal beyond providing building security?
Have IRS employees been threatened similarly to what the Benghazi whistleblowers have reported to Congress under oath? Is the Obama Administration prohibiting whistleblowers from talking to Congress? Has the mainstream media finally realized this Administration has no respect for the US Constitution? Now that they have personally experienced the thug tactics, will the MSM apologize to the Tea Party organizations they ridiculed for being “paranoid”? Who within the IRS tried to blow the whistle before the story was intentionally leaked? Were any IRS employees disciplined for speaking up against the targeting instructions? Will Congress be able to identify who within the IRS has the “smoking gun” and if they do, will they subpoena them to testify and ensure there is no retaliation for being forthcoming and truthful? These and many other questions need to be answered. Demand the truth. Demand accountability. We are a Red Nation Rising.