You can’t make up the arrogant chutzpah of the White House! I love these guys. I do. Here they say Sarah Hall Ingram has no part of any of the IRS scandal, even though she personally ran it during the scandal. The White House fired her replacement who was there for what, eight days? But SHE is innocent. And there is no proof she had anything to do with the scandal…maybe except her 2009 speech where she outlined what turned out to BE the scandal. One thing about arrogant liberals is they love to talk.
Here is the outline of how she, and one could assume her staff, “sees” the rights of a citizen concerning good governance. Mary Katherine Hamm finally jumped on the speech over at Hotair. However, even she doesn’t see what is there.
What did Sarah Hall Ingram promise? The she believed in “good goverance” and sadly no one has asked her yet what exactly is her definition of good governance? Let’s go to the speech.
She starts out:
Today, I want to say how happy I am to be back at TE/GE working with you and the rest of the tax-exempt sector. And just as in my Tax One class so many years ago – we won’t say how many – we are here to discuss the policy give and take whenever Congress seeks to shape behaviors and human beings seek to use or police the results.
Hmmm… Congress seeks to shape behaviors? That’s their job? How exactly? I mean, I get the CAFE standards and such, but this is free speech. And remember, the democrats were calling for behavioral modification big time!
Ms. Ingram gets to the heart of the matter. Remember, she’s been in this position, doing this kind of work forever. This is her deal. She went to school and got a degree in it. She doesn’t see that she could be wrong. In fact, I’m willing to bet it is the exact opposite. Ms. Ingram is a true believer. Here she lays out who she thinks should occupy the tax-exempt arena.
We want the sector to do well. We need the sector to do well. We expect much of it. We want it to be populated by those who believe in, who are driven by, the concept of service. This is a concept that, of course, can be expressed in many ways. Those who aid the poor and the distressed, those who educate, who perform scientific research, who enliven our arts and our cultural life, who cure the sick, who provide religious leadership in our churches, synagogues and mosques – all are serving others. And all are an essential part of our national fabric and collectively reflect our diverse and creative nation.
What is missing from her list? We have artsy people, curing sick people, educating people, even religious people (assuming their prayer content is acceptable by the IRS of course). But what don’t we see? We don’t see people who want to educate other citizens about Constitutional rights. Because folks, that’s not charity. Remember, this is from her worldview.
Here is her take on what she thinks is important a little thing she likes to refer to as “Good Governance.” Pay attention, the clues start here.
What does “good governance” mean? I think it would be useful, as a beginning, to sketch out what I mean when I say “governance” or “good governance,” since there isn’t a universally accepted definition and everyone probably has his or her own idea of what the term ought to mean.
I’m using the term “governance” in a somewhat limited way. I’m not interested in trying to usurp the business judgment of an organization’s officers or board of directors or trustees. Nor am I a micro-economist concerned with whether an organization is maximally efficient in the way it provides its charitable services to the public. I do think, however, that a tax-exempt charity should actually provide charity; it should provide some meaningful and measurable benefit or service to
And Congress can’t find out who started the effort? A mystery is it? Let’s try that again. Good governance = actually providing charity. Now we could be cynical, knowing full well the Obama’s brother’s “charity” as fast tracked through. We could be a little skeptical about the fact liberal groups were given a pass. But remember, this is from her view of the world.
How does Ms. Ingram gets past the unequal treatment. Well, you see, it isn’t like they are trying to be mean, but certain organizations may not be like others. Or as Orwell pointed out; “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Nor do I believe that the Service should try to lay down or enforce “one size fits all” rules about governance. Governance, after all, is not mathematics. There is not only one right answer or way of doing things. In my view, one of the great strengths of the non-profit sector is that it is a great engine of experimentation and new ideas. There can be, and should be, many varieties of good governance, many right answers.
Nor do I mean the IRS should intrude on areas under the jurisdiction and supervision of the attorneys general or charity officials of the states. So if that is what good governance doesn’t mean, what do I understand that term to mean from a federal tax perspective? When I speak of governance, I am speaking of a number of key organizational and operating principles that the IRShas already articulated, and that find their origin in the Internal Revenue Code. They are not expressly laid out in the Code, nor do they need to be, but the principles of governance that are of concern to the IRS should derive from the requirements for tax exemption, and should aid an organization in meeting them.
That crazy Orwell fellow, he seems to be able to predict human behavior over and over. Maybe it is because we aren’t any different now than we were five thousand years ago. We just wear a fancier suit of civilization over our still basic failings like arrogance, lust for power and greed. One reason the founding Fathers worked so hard to build a system of government that is designed to thwart the efforts of a weak man.
Anyway, back to the architect’s outline. Ms. Ingram continues.
A foundational principle is that the organization should clearly understand and publicly express its mission. This helps assure that the organization provides a public benefit and does not drift away from a charitable purpose. It helps an organization avoid practices that are inconsistent with tax-exempt status. Equally important is the principle that the organization’s board should be engaged, informed and independent.
So the IRS thinks it a good idea the “charity” because that is what she thinks qualifies in this area, should not drift away from its charitable purpose. Several things here. Tax exempt political organizations have been around for a long time. Yet, she does not address them at all. Second, she lumps all of these into public good/charitable entities and then claims the IRS has jurisdiction over whether they are staying on course or not. In truth, that is a lot of assumptions and a serious position change for the head of the division.
I especially like this next part, because at some point, if thing go as I expect, Ms. Ingram will be facing one of these.
Transparency is another key principle. I believe that board decisions should be reflected in minutes, that records supporting decisions should be retained for reasonable periods, that whistleblowers should be protected, and that each year’s Form 990 should be complete, accurate and prepared in good faith. My vision of governance is not of a vast scheme of rules, but of a more compact set of guiding principles. Not a battleship bristling with guns, but a sturdy lighthouse with a bright and steady beam. Others have certainly advanced the discussion – for example, the principles of good governance that Independent Sector and others within the tax-exempt community have articulated and proposed for adoption. For our part, the IRS has identified the principles we are most concerned with in the governance section of the Life Cycle tool on the Exempt Organizations website. They are also embedded in Part VI of the new Form 990.
Whistleblowers. You know, those people who come forward and tell you things like “I was following my supervisor’s orders.” or “Hillary knew all along.” The ones who are supposed to be lauded for their bravery but are often savaged by the Left if they dare tell their story about a Liberal. You know, those guys.
Understand, in no way am I saying Ms. Ingram is a bad guy. She’s not. I’m willing to bet she is liberal, hard-lined in her beliefs, certainly set in her ways of big government, and is a federal career employee living in a big house, driving a new car, making the right friends, going to the right parties and funding her 401K to the max every year.
But she IS government. And she doesn’t thinks she is wrong. But she is. Why? Because she forgot her place. She is a civil servant. She works for the people. They don’t work for her. But that got lost somewhere along the line. Like an out of control police officer or prosecutor or judge. Probably after years and years of doing what she wanted and never being questioned. The difference is there are still good checks and balances on the law enforcement side of the law. Who watches the IRS?? In my old career I followed two principles 1: First do no harm. 2. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Ingram forgot both.
I’m willing to bet she is going to be questioned now. Not everybody in public service sees their job as a crusade or a nanny or as an authoritarian. Some people remember why they are there, to protect citizens from abuse.
But how was Ingram going to get from “A” (the concept) to “Z” the execution? She is kind enough to lay it out for us. She even titled it.
IRS Promotion of Good Governance
Somewhat controversially – at least to some – we have advanced the notion that there is a link between good governance and tax compliance. This concept seems intuitively true to many people. I certainly believe it; it does not seem like a controversial statement to me. But some have challenged this association of good governance and good compliance – not by pointing out cases in which well governed organizations nonetheless seriously violated the Code and put their tax-exempt status at risk – but simply by saying the point has not been proved.
These critics often note that effective governance arises from intangibles – the dedication and diligence of responsible officers and board members – rather than from the adoption of
numerous rules and procedures. These, in their view, can pile up on top of each other to such an extent that they prevent good governance rather than promote it . Knowing who is right in this discussion is not easy. We have set out to collect some information on the point. We are going to start asking agents, at the end of each examination, to fill out a check sheet about certain of the examined organization’s governance practices and internal controls. The check sheet is intended to identify instances of noncompliance found during the exam, and also to gather information about whether the organization had, and used, any internal controls. For each instance of noncompliance found – excessive compensation, political intervention, inurement, private benefit, material diversion of assets – the agent should ask, who made the decision to do it or to allow it? Was there a policy in place concerning the transition or activity, for example, and if so, was it followed?
Note the issue of political intervention. She believes, rightly or wrongly, that tax exempt status should be limited to charities. Real charities. However, her ultimate boss, Barack Obama and his friends are very liberal and like progressive organizations. So, if she wanted to clamp down on all of them where do you think she’d end up? Certainly, not the head of the Obamacare/IRS division. (Or course this could be all cover and she’s a flaming liberal.)
Now Ingram wants you to know that her intentions are good. But you do have to comply with her needs first before you are approved.
Let me be clear – we will be gathering objective data, not subjective views. And we will do this over time. As we collect enough information to be interesting, we’ll share it with the community, and everyone can have a go at it. I appreciate that this is not a statistically valid way of proving anything about good governance. With unlimited resource s we would undertake a study that would meet that standard. But this tally by our agents will tell us something, and we will read the results in conjunction with the studies that various members and observers of the tax-exempt sector have undertaken. I’ll talk about several of them in a moment.
Again, that good governance standard. A standard she claims doesn’t really exist in Code, but does exist in the minds of the agents at the IRS. Think about that for a second, you are a “good citizen” if they feel you are. Talk about your shades of Mao!
This is from his Red Book about correct way to handle contradictions among the people. Note some similarities. This is not saying she’s a communist. This is saying that the idea of conformity to a big government is universal in the minds of many big government types.
In the political life of our people, how should right be distinguished from wrong in one’s words and actions? On the basis of the principles of our Constitution, the will of the overwhelming majority of our people and the common political positions which have been proclaimed on various occasions by our political parties and groups, we consider that, broadly speaking, the criteria should be as follows:
(1) Words and actions should help to unite, and not divide, the people of our various nationalities.
(2) They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to socialist transformation and socialist construction.
(3) They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, the people’s democratic dictatorship.
(4) They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, democratic centralism.
(5) They should help to strengthen, and not discard or weaken, the leadership of the Communist Party.
(6) They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to international socialist unity and the unity of the peace-loving people of the world. Of these six criteria, the most important are the socialist path and the leadership of the Party.
Dude! Sound familiar, just a little?
Ingram believes her division should be in charge of identifying good and bad tax exempt organizations. If one falls out of compliance, then it is punished.
Now, like I said, she can’t hammer progressive organizations even if she had a mind to. Obama’s people would fry her in oil! So, if she is sincere she will go after the ones she thinks are still not charities and do the what damage she can. In truth, I’m sure she is more a willing order follower than a mistake prone ideologue. There is WAY too much history in her thinking to imagine another answer might be valid. I was being nice.
It gets worse. Again I can’t see why people are still wondering who the architect is.
A second step we have taken in the direction of good governance has been to emphasize the importance of transparency and accountability in maintaining the public’s confidence in the integrity of individual organizations and of the tax-exempt sector as a whole. We have done this in a variety of ways. A number of years ago, we collaborated with Guides tar to make Form 990 information accessible on the web.
More recently, other players have also obtained and analyzed data. We revised the Form 990 so that the public, and the Service itself, will have access to more complete information about tax-exempts, presented in a more coherent fashion. Part of that effort was Part VI of the Form which includes 28 questions related to the size and independence of the board, to policies on conflict of interest and joint ventures, and to other areas such as gifts and compensation. We are just starting to receive the new 990s with their new information, and look forward to seeing what we and the public might learn.
Who would be the other players? Harry Reid? Pro-Publica? Apparently, yes!
But Ingram is far from finished.
Our third step is in the determinations area where we encourage applicants for determination letters to consider incorporating some principles of good governance into their organizing documents. And we used our experience in developing the governance section of the 990 to design an educational tool on governance for charities. This is the Life Cycle tool I mentioned a moment ago, which we released in February, 2008.
Additionally, when the Cyber Assistant comes on line on January 1 – we’re on track for that schedule -it too will offer applicant s for tax-exemption an opportunity to consider adopting what we consider to be basic tenets of good governance. Cyber Assistant is an electronic tool that will help walk applicants for tax-exempt status through the determination letter process. By the way, in talking about the determination stage, I have been using the word “consider” deliberately. We may encourage applicants to incorporate principles of good governance into their organizational structures, and thereby reduce their risk of something going wrong later, but we are not requiring adherence to a particular set of rules. I’ll discuss in a few minutes the training we have begun offering to our determination specialists to make sure they understand this difference.
Of course she wants to help citizens decide what is good and what is bad. This may result in questions being asked by IRS agents about what kind of prayer you may say or demanding a list of what kind of educational material you might provide another citizen or have read yourself. And once again, understand Ms. Ingram thinks this is okay.
She even cites the fact that many States and the leadership within them like the idea of the IRS monitoring charities. I’m thinking that statement won’t hold water after the smoke clears here. She may not be able to make that argument with states like Texas or Florida or Ohio.
On the more enthusiastic side of the scale is Independent Sector, which has led the tax-exempt sector in embracing the adoption of good governance principles. Commissioner Shulman has spoken in praise of Independent Sector’s efforts, as did Steve Miller when he was the Commissioner of TE/GE. As you know, prominent members of the Senate Finance Committee are also sitting on the enthusiastic side of the scale. The reaction of the states has been interesting to us. notwithstanding that we have long had a very good relationship with them, we wondered if the states might push back against our efforts to some degree or another. We wondered if they might see our work as a raid on their authority and jurisdiction, an overstepping of bounds on our part. But by and large that did not happen.
That is an argument she can make. What she can’t do is pick and choose “good citizens” engaging in “good governance” according to her rules. But I will again state if you ask her she’d be shocked there is such a row about this. It is a MINDSET!
Also note Mr. Shulman spoke in praise of the effort. That’s the same Shulman who now acts like he is suffering from “Dain bramage” and can’t remember anything. Here is a version of his testimony.
Ms. Ingram continues on…and frankly on and on. Here is one of the remaining key passages.
So, what are my guiding principles on governance? I’ve been reviewing with you the IRS’s current stance on the issue of governance. Let me now shift the focus toward the future by speaking for a few minutes about how I see the concept of good governance fitting into our overall program. Then I will identify what I believe are some key guiding principles on governance. Good governance as a tool for managing the risk of non-compliance] I said earlier that I viewed good governance as a tool–
a tool for managing against the risk of non-compliance, of an organization or person going astray.
Now let me explain, in a broad sense, how that tool works within the context of Exempt organization’s traditional determinations and examinations programs, and its new compliance tools, the Review of Organizations unit, which we call “the ROO,” and the Exempt Organizations Compliance Area, the “EOCA,” which, among other things, has allowed us to introduce and greatly expand our use of compliance checks. As part of our own effort to be efficient, to be wise stewards of the public funds entrusted to us, we need to concentrate our efforts where they will do the most good.
It’s something we as responsible managers want to do, and it’s something those who look over our shoulder – the IRS Oversight Board, or the Treasury Inspector General, for example – insist that we do as well. As a practical matter, we cannot subject every application for tax-exempt status to a painstaking, leave-no-rock-unturned review.
I’m going to call bullshit and throw the flag here. Her division did exactly that. When the reports started coming out that this division was out of control you couldn’t find one government middle manager or commissioner who could explain what happened. Truth is, they knew, they all knew. It was a matter of doing what the current government wanted- which was to screw with the other side.
And nobody in government really as a problem keeping down the groups that want to cut their jobs back. Seriously, where’s the money in that?
So some will claim it was accident or a couple of out of control agents in a local office. I’m hoping those local agents have copied and saved all the emails that say otherwise. This speech from Ms. Ingram was a major policy speech put up on the IRS website. There is no ignoring they truly feel that they have the right, because they feel they have the responsibility, to monitor and modify citizens behavior they believe violates their definition of “good governance.”
Remember this. The woman who gave this speech was rewarded and promoted to the IRS/Obamacare division. She will be in charge of setting the tone for the division that will decide whether or not you are in compliance with Obamacare and the resulting fines and penalties. Or if you are a good enough citizen to get care.
Now that should make you shudder.