Returning to our recent Liberty Update commentary on how socialist advocates rely on a mythical misimpression…
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Image of the Day: Sources of Wealth in the U.S. Versus Elsewhere

Returning to our recent Liberty Update commentary on how socialist advocates rely on a mythical misimpression of European realities, The Wall Street Journal offered a nice snapshot of the sources of wealth for billionaires in the U.S versus Europe, China and Russia:

. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="600"] Sources of Wealth[/caption]

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So would socialists like Bernie Sanders prefer that wealth derive more from inheritance and political connections as they do in Europe or Russia, as opposed to business founders and financial advisors who help American workers and retirees benefit from record stock markets?…[more]

November 25, 2019 • 12:35 pm

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Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Obama’s Own Watchdogs Say Administration Violates the Law Print
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, August 13 2014
Added to the litany of unilateral changes made to ObamaCare...and the proposal for the president to grant amnesty by fiat to half of the nation’s illegal immigrant population, the revelations in the IG letter indicate further proof of an administration-wide disregard for the rule of law.

“This is the most transparent administration in history.”President Barack Obama, February 13, 2013

Apparently, transparency doesn’t mean disclosure, even when it’s legally required.

On August 5, two-thirds of the Inspectors General who serve in the Obama administration sent a letter to Congress saying that several federal agencies are refusing to comply with document and interview requests specifically authorized under the Inspector General Act of 1978.

The letter, signed by 47 of the 73 IGs, draws attention to three glaring examples of executive branch stonewalling.

The Peace Corps IG is being refused access to the agency’s records on sexual assaults against Peace Corps volunteers. The agency’s lawyer claims that disclosure is prohibited under the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Act of 2011. But that claim rings hollow to the IGs because the same law provides “an extensive oversight role” for the Peace Corps IG to examine the agency’s “handling of reports of sexual assault against Peace Corps volunteers.” Refusing to hand over the agency’s records deliberately frustrates the purpose of the law.

At the EPA, the Chemical Safety and Hazard Board says that the attorney-client privilege outweighs access to the documents the agency’s IG requested. But this mistakes how attorney-client privilege applies to IG investigations.

“While valid privilege claims might in certain circumstances appropriately limit the EPA [IG’s] subsequent and further release of documents,” the letter says, “a claim of privilege provides no basis to withhold documents from the EPA [IG] in the first instance.” In other words, the safety board’s legal advisers are either incompetent or malicious, and no one seriously thinks they are that dumb.

This dubious claim of privilege from disclosure recalls the kind of defiance U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asserted when he refused to turn over to Congress Justice Department documents relating to the Fast and Furious scandal. Holder and his lawyers argued that certain details of the cross-border gun-running operation dealt with national security and thus could not be shared.

But those claims seem implausible because national security was never a focus of the operation. Instead, the purpose was apparently to track how American guns found their way into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. That was a domestic law enforcement experiment that went very bad, leading to the murders of dozens of Mexicans and at least one U.S. Border Patrol Agent. Holder and his lieutenants understandably want to avoid embarrassment for such a poorly conceived program. Eventually, the House of Representatives voted to censure Holder for obstructing a congressional investigation.

With this as background, it’s no wonder the Department of Justice is the third agency cited by the IG letter for stonewalling investigators. After a lengthy – and unnecessary – cat-and-mouse game between DOJ leadership and the agency’s IG, DOJ officials granted access to the requested documents, but in a way that sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

While approving of the Department’s decision, the IG letter warns, “it did so based on a finding that the three reviews were of assistance to the Department of Justice’s leadership, not because of the DOJ [IG’s] independent authority under the IG Act, thereby undermining the [IG’s] independence.”

If allowed to stand, that kind of rationale creates opportunities for future disingenuous attorneys to further erode the IG’s ability to ensure that bureaucrats insulated from the public are in fact following the law.

What makes these and the other instances of refusing to disclose lawfully requested information so serious is that in each case executive branch lawyers are deliberately and consistently interpreting clear statutory text to mean something other than what the law says.

Added to the litany of unilateral changes made to ObamaCare – including the IRS ignoring the law’s text and making insurance subsidies available to everyone – and the proposal for the president to grant amnesty by fiat to half of the nation’s illegal immigrant population, the revelations in the IG letter indicate further proof of an administration-wide disregard for the rule of law.

If the 47 IGs were litigants in a courtroom, they could request sanctions against the government for needlessly and intentionally delaying discovery. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure strongly support an open and efficient system of document-sharing as a way to speed cases to a resolution, and punish attorneys who hide the ball. As it is, the only remedy for the IGs is to petition Congress to exert its oversight capabilities on agencies gone wild.

Indications are the IGs will get what they want in September when Congress returns from its August recess. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, is deeply concerned about the unprecedented nature of the formal request for help. “I’ve never seen a letter like this, and my folks have checked – there has never been a letter even with a dozen IGs complaining.”

If Republicans retake the Senate in November, Charles Grassley (R-IA) would become the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with oversight of these issues. His response: “This is an administration that pledged to be the most transparent in history. Yet, these nonpartisan, independent agency watchdogs say they are getting stonewalled.”

It sounds like the best source of help for Obama-appointed IGs to do their job is a Republican Congress that takes the letter of the law seriously.

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Where is the USS Arizona Memorial located?
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