WILLIS>> the top story tonight, the ever-increasing scandal is targeting conservative groups is getting bigger. new details, and now eric holder ordered a criminal investigation. the inspector general’s report the early details of which touched off the scandal obtained by fox business in the hot hands right now. president obama’s spokesman said he was confident knowing the white house was involved and scoffed at any comparisons to watergate, with us now, the center of law and justice defending people against the irs, and americans for tax reform did extensive research on the the tactics of the irs, and jennifer from americans for prosperity, which was targeted by the irs. jennifer, starting with you, how are you targeted? tell us your story?
STEFANO>> this was before i joined americans for prosperity, just a stay at home mother, pregnant with another baby, and i wanted to do what was right. my tea party group was large, and i couldn’t run the money donations through the banking the. i was advised the irs would get me for that. i called groups, file, create an organization, and here they were getting targeted by the irs, and i got scared. when i reach out to the irs to understand, some the questions the other groups —
gerri>>: what were they asking?
STEFANO>> all out there now, and i have documents showing it. you know, send us your facebook pages, twitter pages. i said is that personal pages? they said everything. they want to know your personal relationships with politicians and political parties, and i asked what would happen if i don’t send them? they said, look, it’s considered perjury if you omit from the irs, and i’m a pregnant stay at home mother on one income. i stopped. that’s when i sought out groups to help me at least.
gerri:>> poor jennifer was not alone. the questions people were asked, names of candidates invited to speak in events, issues discussed there, copies of handouts, indicate the percentage of time and resources you’ve spent on this organization, really digging down into people’s lives, and you represented people in the situation, what did you learn?
GUEST>> we represented 27 groups like jennifer’s situation, same questions, and we spent over 2,000 hours as a legal organization, attorney hours handling the applications, that’s just 27. we’re attorneys, go through, and people feel comfortable with the responses, but that’s because we had to, again, tell the irs why they were uninstitutional, illegal, and inappropriate to be asking. you can imagine how many people were in jennifer’s situation that didn’t want to apply.
gerri:>> if the irs asks questions that are legal, you don’t say, hey, irs, that’s illegal, do you? you are afraid they come after you with bariums blazing.
GUEST>> this 1 the perfect storm for the irs. that’s what they try to do, get you not to reply so you stop the application, or they get you to disclose everything they want and they have the information on people, but their option is really to get you not to respond at all. that’s what they hope. we know clients who came and didn’t want to miss with the irs. here was the perfect storm, the grassroots activists know each other, and they figured out they all got the same questions, and so together with groups like us who don’t charge them, they fought back.
gerri: you’re truly an expert on the irs, and i wanted to outline for people a little bit here, hog the irs is and how intimidating it can be. the 2012 budget for the irs, 11.8 billion, bigger than the epa, the fbi, the fda. i mean, you name it. this is a big organization. with near 90 # ,000 employees. these people can come after you.
gerri: talk to me a little about the power of this agency, who is minding the minder? i mean, at the end of the day, it seems like they almost get awe with whatever they want to do.
GUEST>> well, that’s absolutely right, and the thing we have to keep in mind is that the irs has been emboldened and empowered under president obama as we’ve seen with a lot of his agenda pushed through the tax code is a very active way to grow the size of government and go after americans, not just in this respect, but folks out there exercising their first amendment rights in the obama administration which is leery youth — about that, but new programs down the pipe with the president’s health care law. this will be administered through the irs. people think the hhs and health services folks are in charge of this, which makes sense, but the irs is the governing body for the president’s health care law meaning that taxpayers are going to be in big trouble when that comes, you know, into full application.
gerri: that’s my question. so they are also asking for personal information, not just the tea partyers, but every single american from sea to shining sea. what do they want to see from us?
>> you heard talking about the way the irs is prying into her own home business if you will. all americans in 20 # 14 are going to have to start reporting to the irs whether or not they purchased health care and whether or not that health care qualifies as health care coverage as its specified under the president’s health care law, so what that looks like when you file taxes in 20 # 14 is that you’re going to have another form to file on top of the w-2 that you get, —
gerri: come on.
>> it’s only getting worse.
gerri: i got to tell you, the amount of information the government’s collecting on me is astonishing whether it’s the irs, the consumer protection bureau out there. they are clerking a lot of information, and, jennifer, to you. i mean, what do you make of this? >>
STEFANO>> well this is exactly what — the tea party is marginalized, but this is what we fight for. the other thing, the irs is not just in charge of ensuring that the health insurance you paid for and now you put on your tax return is a qualifying health insurance, but if they determine it’s not, they levy the fees and penalties and the ones to collect it. in other words, the irs makes money by dding you don’t have a qualifying health care.
gerri: that’s always true with the irs, judge and jury when you pay taxes or not. jordan, to you. what we’ve been through here in the last week with all this information about the irs really tracking down political foes of the administration, what does that tell you?
GUEST>> it tells me that every — all the mainstream media folks who called them paranoid and conspiracy theorists, this is anything worse than what they thought was going on in the government. this is targeted political groups, why the left is so upset here, backtracking because they realize if this goes for the tea party, this goes for progressives next time if you group organizations like this. we are threatening, you know, if the ten remaining clients are not approved friday, we told the acting commissioner in a letter we’re going to move forward with at least informing them of how to sue the irs for potential regress to grievances. they are apologizes, but we have clients who still have not got approved. apologizing, but not correcting.
gerri: interesting as a strategy or tactic to apologize, your add midding to the mistake made. i mean, admission is the first step to finding a solution to …