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Inside the Beltway: Where’s the money?

Hey. Wait a minute. Those conservative groups targeted by the IRS may be needing a little cash in the aftermath, say 26 high-profile conservatives leaders who are calling for new legislation to reimburse the grass-roots folks. The coalition — which includes Richard Viguerie, James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Phyllis Schlafly, David Bossie and Gary Bauer — have contacted House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, advising the lawmakers that oversight hearings are all well and fine. But where's the money?

"These efforts, while commendable, have a glaring deficiency; none of them will make whole those organizations and individuals who suffered discrimination or who were politically targeted by the Obama administration's IRS. Many organizations incurred tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal and tax preparation fees pursuing their not for profit tax exemption. Others simply gave up and folded their organizations in the face of the daunting financial burden," the group says in a letter.

"We believe that in the case of the targeting of tea party, 'patriot' and conservative groups, Jewish groups supportive of Israel, right to life organizations and others who were abused by the IRS due to their policy differences with the Obama administration the only answer is legislation to make them whole by reimbursing them for their out of pocket costs and for the other damages they suffered at the hands of the IRS," they recommend.

THE REST OF THE STORY

"As each day passes, Americans find ourselves with more questions about the IRS' targeting of conservative groups and donors — and what the White House and Treasury Department knew and when," says Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has asked in-house attorney Jonathan Waclawski to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the IRS to get to the bottom of things.

The request has been sent, asking for correspondence between IRS employees and officials, dating from Jan. 1, 2010, through Monday. The agency has 20 days to respond.

"There's clearly something serious the American people are not being told," says the feisty Mr. Priebus, who has also organized a public petition to demand accountability from the Obama administration which has, the petition states, "gone rogue."

SCIENCE FICTION

"Shape-shifting by liberal dark money groups seems meant to confuse," proclaim Robert Maguire and Viveca Novak, both analysts with Open Secrets, an online watchdog that traces money in politics.

"Two liberal tax-exempt groups, Citizens for Strength and Security and Patriot Majority, have killed themselves off and re-established multiple times, and sprouted various offshoots that play by different sets of rules. It makes them virtually impossible to track for the average citizen — and maybe for the IRS, too," the pair observe.

Unlike, perhaps, the aforementioned conservative groups that were scrutinized by the federal agency.

The "two liberal groups that have faded in and out of the political scene mysteriously and repeatedly over several years bear names that few would associate, at first glance, with progressive causes," the authors say. They track the phenomenon in interesting but excruciating detail here: Opensecrets.org

WHITE HOUSE FREEZE

The travel industry mourns the drop-off of visitors at the White House. Even before the sequester-imposed end to public tours, 6 of 10 Americans were not visiting the historic site — and others.

"The overall number of Americans who haven't visited their country's most famous sites is simply staggering, but what's even more surprising is that more people have visited Las Vegas than the White House, which last year's study found to be overlooked by 57 percent of Americans," says Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group, a discount travel site.

Some sites do worse than the White House. The site's poll of 2,000 travelers says that 78 percent of Americans have never visited Seattle's Space Needle, 73 percent have avoided Yellowstone Park, 70 percent have never been to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, 69 percent have never visited the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles and 45 percent have not visited the Las Vegas Strip.

NIGHTMAYOR

"Look, I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down. But I've also learned some tough lessons. I hope I get a second chance to work for you. I will fight for you every single day."

Vow from former congressman Anthony D. Weiner in a two-minute video announcing his candidacy for New York mayor, mistakenly posted just after midnight Wednesday at his fledgling campaign site.

And a response to the former New York congressman, who resigned from office after tweeting lewd photos of himself which ultimately ended up on the late Andrew Breitbart's BigJournalism.com, a watchdog site.

"I want to personally thank Anthony Weiner for deciding to run for mayor. Anthony, thank you. Somewhere, Andrew Breitbart is smiling. Perhaps because he knows that there are, in all likelihood, still more pictures floating around somewhere. I just hope, this time, you're smiling in them," observes Fox News host and Breitbart.com contributor Greg Gutfeld.

POLL DU JOUR

68 percent of U.S. voters say the federal government "is out of control" and "threatening basic civil liberties"; 87 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats agree.

32 percent say IRS targeting of conservative groups is the "scandal facing the Obama administration" that concerns them most; 39 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

27 percent say White House handling of the Benghazi attacks concerns them most; 34 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

21 percent cite the Justice Department seizure of AP reporters' phone records; 11 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

10 percent are concerned about all three matters; 14 percent of Republicans and 6 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 1,013 registered U.S. voters conducted May 18 to 20.

Naysaying, hurraying to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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