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Lois Lerner's 'Partners' and Her ‘Mini-Me’

Harris-Lerner-Kremenak

Conservatives who now know about the lawless, arrogant ex-federal bureaucrat lawyer Lois Lerner may wish to know that her “farm team” meets at the Washington Marriott Georgetown October 5 – 7. 

Last week I wrote at American Thinker about the little-known organization called NASCO, the National Association of State Charity Officials. NASCO consists of government bureaucrats who, like Lois Lerner, are supposed to be nonpartisan, but frequently are statist partisans who abuse government power. They operate between conservatives and the causes they support, and too many show contempt for -- even ignorance of -- constitutional rights and the rule of law over them.  

You’ll find few if any conservatives among NASCO’s most influential members, and they are particularly harsh on nonprofit organizations that don’t rely on government funding. I wrote: 

2007 letter from NASCO’s then-president Hugh Jones to Lois Lerner describes NASCO as Lerner’s “partner in the regulation of charities.” Especially in retrospect, that’s some admission against interest, as lawyers might say. ... 

NASCO members wield influence over citizens’ right of private association with causes, the importance of which was described in 1831 by Alexis de Toqueville, and constitutional protections of which were emphasized in the 1958 landmark decision NAACP v. Alabama. They enforce charitable solicitation laws, which are a “prior restraint” on First Amendment rights requiring nonprofits to obtain solicitation licenses in about 4/5 of the states. Prior restraints are the most dangerous form of regulation of First Amendment rights, and indeed some argue are the most important reason why we have the First Amendment protection of the press. Going back to Blackstone’s 1769 Commentaries, we know prior restraints are dangerous because they are a method for censorship. 

Professor Paul Caron, who deserves a medal for his daily spot about The IRS Scandal at his TaxProf Blog, focused on an observation about the bullying methods used by some members of NASCO. I’ll expand a bit with more from the American Thinker piece:

It’s not just that NASCO considered itself a partner with “Dr. Evil” Lois Lerner so much as many of its members act like her “Mini-Me.” Lerner’s IRS was caught violating First Amendment rights of conservatives by demanding such things as the prayers they said at their meetings, and illegally disclosing to hostile blogs the confidential list of donors to the National Organization of Marriage. 

It is a common unethical practice employed by many NASCO members to, like Lerner, make demands for actions and production of documents, but refusing to cite legal authority, which gives cover to their lawlessness or even incompetence.  For example, one assistant attorney general sent a “civil investigative demand” for documents. The investigation statute required that she state her “cause” in her demand, which provides a modicum of Fourth Amendment protection. When I asked her to cite her “cause,” she cited to the law requiring her to state her cause. I wrote back suggesting she watch a few episodes of Law & Order to learn the law. 

Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Kremenak provides another good example. Charity regulators have authority to investigate misdeeds, of course, but not authority to violate the First or Fourth Amendments. Not only does Kremenak tell charities what to do and what documents to produce, she adamantly refuses even when asked to provide notice of her legal authority for making such demands. Her lack of transparency is unethically designed to shield her violations of First and Fourth Amendment rights, and even her own investigations statute. 

Kremenak reports to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. After reaching a settlement in 2008 with a bank, which directed that a third of a six-figure fine go to the corrupt and now defunct “community organizing” group ACORN, Swanson received a grade of A+ from that group in time for her 2010 election. So, it’s not just censorship of political enemies; these regulators use their positions for payola and cronyism. 

Conservatives who have had dealings with Lois Lerner over the years, from when she was at the Federal Election Commission to her time at the IRS, need to know that there are hoards of NASCO bureaucrats such as Kremenak who act like Lerner’s ‘Mini-Me.’  

NASCO’s contempt for the rule of law is hidden by the organization’s own lack of transparency. However, a case that may be before the Supreme Court, Center for Competitive Politics v. Kamala Harris, highlights the dangers of these state bureaucrats. NewsmaxTV ran this interview with CHQ Chairman Richard Viguerie about that case, and it is well-worth watching. 

Also, this amicus brief is well-worth reading.

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