Hammer Time: Texas GOP Sends IRS After Delay Foe
Two years ago, I wrote about the "Payback Principle" as one of the hallmarks of the Bush presidency. As it turns out, declaring total war to smear, intimidate, defame and destroy political opponents is common practice within the Texas GOP. That's what Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) found out when a Tom Delay ally in Congress triggered an IRS audit of the non-profit.
As the Washington Post reported today, the IRS cleared Texans for Public Justice after an audit commenced at the request of House Way and Means Committee member Sam Johnson, a Delay foot soldier and fellow Texas Republican. It was TPJ, Perrspectives reader may recall, who unearthed the Delay plot to circumvent Texas election law by laundering corporate donations through the Republican National Committee back to Delay's Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC). No doubt, the work of Texans for Public Justice helped bring to light some of the crimes for which Delay, the now former House Majority Leader, was later indicted by Ronnie Earle. (For more background on the Delay indictments and previous ethics violations, see the Perrspectives Delay/Abramoff Scandal Center.)
As Richard Clarke, General Eric Shinseki, Richard Foster, Ambassador Joseph Wilson and others who ran afoul of the Bush White House found out, no good deed goes unpunished by the Texas Republican machine. In June 2004, Delay put the hammer down, so to speak, with one-time ARMPAC attorney Barnaby Zall wrote to Johnson to complain about TPJ. On August 3rd, Johnson wrote IRS Commissioner Mark Everson that he had uncovered some disturbing information" and learned of possible tax violations. Johnson's letter continued, "I ask you to report back your findings of each of these investigations directly to me."
Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice learned of the Johnson scheme only after a Freedom of Information Act Request. As McDonald put it:
"This audit was political retaliation by Tom DeLay's cronies to intimidate us for blowing the whistle on DeLay's abuses. Enlisting the IRS to intimidate critics is a dirty trick reminiscent of Richard Nixon...It is not a crime to report a crime, as we did with DeLay."
Luckily for Texans for Public Justice, they emerged from the IRS audit unscathed and at least so, escaped the wrath of the Texas GOP. After all, it could have been worse; Dick Cheney could have taken them hunting.