NEW FOIA Reforms: A Chance to Shine Some Light on Scientology's IRS Tax Exemption

AnonLover

Patron Meritorious
I haz bad news.

b4lv5dxcqae1wip-jpg.241407


This morning I woke up and commenced harpooning this effort for one last day before Congress adjurns for the year.

And I discovered the online congressional record had been updated to reflect a status change on Senate bill 2520: https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/2520/all-info#all-actions

It was "held at the desk"

So I said "WTF is this shit...." /raaaaage

And commenced to sound the alarm to key peeps in the opengov / transparency advocacy camp:
https://twitter.com/DatumOmNom/status/543041792795758592

Confusion ensued. DMs flew. Nobody was quite sure what had happened. So I picked up the damn phone and commenced to feverishly call every mofo congressman that mattered to find out WTF. Nobody would give me a straight answer who/what/where/when/how this desk hold thing worked.

So then I finally called the right branch of gubmint and got a straight fking answer from the paper pushing clerks themselves: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sj4a3r?new_post=true

Apparently, "Held at the desk" is not the same as your usual hold on a bill. So I no sooner got that straightened out and was passing info along to peeps in the transparency groups that supported this bill, and Speaker Boehner held a live stream press conference on other matters....

Video will eventually be available for replay here: (currently processing)
http://youtu.be/zF9Sa2zw81U

And supposedly one of the opengov transparency group advocates piped up in that press conference and asked Boehner a generic question about 'FOIA reform' (added as an update here: http://e-pluribusunum.com/2014/12/1...-hangs-in-the-u-s-house-hangs-in-the-balance/ )

And Speaker Boehner replied “I have no knowledge of what the plan is for that bill.”

Which is a lie, he was the one who had it "held at the desk" and only the Speaker can do that.

So then the opengov advocates made this happen:

In Opaque Move, Boehner Tables Government Transparency Bill
http://www.newsweek.com/opaque-move-boehner-tables-government-transparency-bill-291153

And this...

Editorial: Call Boehner now to support open records
http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opi...ll-boehner-now-support-open-records/20247955/

But I had already called Boehner's office twice today and once yesterday. And Congress shuts down for the year in 1 hour at the time of this post. So fk it... I'm done making phone calls. But others are welcome to try.

The media is likely to hype this as "Boehner killed it" but kill is a strong word and it is not exactly dead in the House and sent back to the Senate for revisions. Delay is a better word. Boehner delayed it in such a way he ensured it wouldn't hit the House floor and get voted on than passed to the president to sign before the end of the year.

...to be continued in 2015...
 
Last edited:

AnonLover

Patron Meritorious
The House has decided to not go home for the year just yet. They reconvene tomorrow at 3pm. Will Boehner bring the FOIA to the floor for a vote? Extremely doubtful. But hey he might surprise us. So phone calls to Boehner's office urging him to release the "held at the desk" status on FOIA Senate bill 2520 tomorrow wouldn't be entirely off base.
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
The House has decided to not go home for the year just yet. They reconvene tomorrow at 3pm. Will Boehner bring the FOIA to the floor for a vote? Extremely doubtful. But hey he might surprise me. So phone calls to Boehner's office urging him to release the "held at the desk" status on FOIA Senate bill 2520 tomorrow wouldn't be entirely off base.

Is there some unfinished business that Boehner actually does care about?
 

AnonLover

Patron Meritorious
Is there some unfinished business that Boehner actually does care about?

Yeah, this clusterfk 1600pg thing called the omnibus spending bill the sets budgeting for almost everything. If they don't pass it, fed government could shut down in January.
 

Purple Rain

Crusader
I haz bad news.

b4lv5dxcqae1wip-jpg.241407


This morning I woke up and commenced harpooning this effort for one last day before Congress adjurns for the year.

And I discovered the online congressional record had been updated to reflect a status change on Senate bill 2520: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opi...ll-boehner-now-support-open-records/20247955/

It was "held at the desk"

So I said "WTF is this shit...." /raaaaage

And commenced to sound the alarm to key peeps in the opengov / transparency advocacy camp:
https://twitter.com/DatumOmNom/status/543041792795758592

Confusion ensued. DMs flew. Nobody was quite sure what had happened. So I picked up the damn phone and commenced to feverishly call every mofo congressman that mattered to find out WTF. Nobody would give me a straight answer who/what/where/when/how this desk hold thing worked.

So then I finally called the right branch of gubmint and got a straight fking answer from the paper pushing clerks themselves: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sj4a3r?new_post=true

Apparently, "Held at the desk" is not the same as your usual hold on a bill. So I no sooner got that straightened out and was passing info along to peeps in the transparency groups that supported this bill, and Speaker Boehner held a live stream press conference on other matters....

Video will eventually be available for replay here: (currently processing)
http://youtu.be/zF9Sa2zw81U

And supposedly one of the opengov transparency group advocates piped up in that press conference and asked Boehner a generic question about 'FOIA reform' (added as an update here: http://e-pluribusunum.com/2014/12/1...-hangs-in-the-u-s-house-hangs-in-the-balance/ )

And Speaker Boehner replied “I have no knowledge of what the plan is for that bill.”

Which is a lie, he was the one who had it "held at the desk" and only the Speaker can do that.

So then the opengov advocates made this happen:

In Opaque Move, Boehner Tables Government Transparency Bill
http://www.newsweek.com/opaque-move-boehner-tables-government-transparency-bill-291153

And this...

Editorial: Call Boehner now to support open records
http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opi...ll-boehner-now-support-open-records/20247955/

But I had already called Boehner's office twice today and once yesterday. And Congress shuts down for the year in 1 hour at the time of this post. So fk it... I'm done making phone calls. But others are welcome to try.

The media is likely to hype this as "Boehner killed it" but kill is a strong word and it is not exactly dead in the House and sent back to the Senate for revisions. Delay is a better word. Boehner delayed it in such a way he ensured it wouldn't hit the House floor and get voted on than passed to the president to sign before the end of the year.

...to be continued in 2015...

What a prick. Yes, I am ad homming him!
 

Purple Rain

Crusader
The House has decided to not go home for the year just yet. They reconvene tomorrow at 3pm. Will Boehner bring the FOIA to the floor for a vote? Extremely doubtful. But hey he might surprise us. So phone calls to Boehner's office urging him to release the "held at the desk" status on FOIA Senate bill 2520 tomorrow wouldn't be entirely off base.

So should I try and call about that? What is the number?
 

Purple Rain

Crusader
And now the NYTimes weighs in and prints Boehner's quote. Where were they earlier in the week when nobody noticed the damn thing was "held at the desk" and there was still time to apply pressure :unsure:

The Clock’s Ticking on Freedom of Information Reform
http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/the-ticking-clock-on-freedom-of-information-reform/?src=twr&module=Search&mabReward=relbias:s,&_r=0

Well, I commented on the article anyway. Not sure if it will get published because they are moderated. I was surprised, frankly, that there were only 3 comments.

I basically just said why would anyone NOT want freedom of information, and what does he have to hide?
 

Intentionally Blank

Scientology Widow
So should I try and call about that? What is the number?

So please, call Speaker Boehner’s office at (202) 225-6205 or (513) 779-5400 or tweet him at @speakerboehner. Ask him to put the FOIA bill on today’s calendar. It’s an easy, bipartisan effort that would help citizens and democracy to function better. And it’s a great way to start restoring people’s faith that their government can function to make their lives better.

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opi...ll-boehner-now-support-open-records/20247955/
 

RogerB

Crusader
So, anyone else willing to fess-up and cast your comment with the New York Times in an effort to get these bums in DC to do an honest day's work???

6 comments as I write this . . .

Roger B . . . .

New York 1 hour ago

Having lived on three continents, I find it rather tragic to be seeing the way America's elected representatives play their game of delay and obfuscate. Long gone is true honesty in government, The handling of this Bill is a classic example of deceit by those we should be able to trust.
 
Last edited:

AnonyMary

Formerly Fooled - Finally Free
There are currently only 14 comments on this important article. I would hope that members here would add their voice.

We'll see if mine gets published.
I hope Mr. Boehner decides to do the right thing on this before it's to late. It's not only a slap in the face to every group, individual and legislative representative in America who supports this bill, but to the system itself, which he was elected to and which pays him to represent the best interests of the country.
 

RogerB

Crusader
OK, Ms. McConnell . . . yer UP! . . . . I must say you out eleganted me with your prose. Lovely!

Yep, there are 15 really good comments up plus a number of other brilliant responses to original comments. The dialogue there is shaping up like other forums we know and love/hate!:biggrin:
 

AnonLover

Patron Meritorious
A quick update on this: the House reconvened for barely 15mins on Friday to clean up some leftover business and speaker Boehner was not attendance. The senate bill was, of course, not brought for consideration. There was a small flurry of OpEd and other summary coverage in the media with after-the-fact lament. I will post links to the better ones for some click-love before the weekend is over. The best, and most high profile, was from Columbia Review of Journalism.

As I predicted, the media ran with "Boehner killed FOIA" for the most part. And Rep Issa put out a lame, false flag press release, claiming the Senate could still pass the far weaker House bill for their earlier FOIA Oversight Act that the Judiciary Committee rewrote into the far better/stronger FOIA Improvement Act. I'm loathe to link to this disgraceful act of blame-shifting. But it's out there and fortunately got very little attention.

Moving forward, the Senate bill can still be brought to the House Floor in the next session. So before January rolls around, I will revise the letter to House Reps I posted upstream in this thread so that urges them to help bring it up for a vote in addition to asking them to vote yes. (Unless an automated alternative is made available via the same open government advocacy group that setup the link for sending letters to Senators I posted in my OP on this thread)

In the meanwhile, anyone who has a Rep on the House Committee for Oversight & Government Reform could take the initiative to write a letter asking their Rep to read the bill and become well versed in the background of this legislation so that they could possibly lead the debate on bringing it up for consideration when the 114th session commences next year.

Note: the list of members assigned to that committee for the next session will be adjusted in the near future. Old timers aren't likely to move. Retirees or ousted congress critters will likely be replaced with noobs. I'll be tracking this for further updates as each party announces their adjusted assignments.
 

AnonLover

Patron Meritorious
Here's the best of the media coverage on the FOIA S.2520 bill not coming up on the floor of the House for a vote before the session ended. Please show these links some click love in order to hopefully encourage the outlets to do follow-up coverage on this important piece of legislation next year.

House scuttles bipartisan FOIA reforms
By Steve Benen, MSNBC 12/12/2014
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/house-scuttles-bipartisan-foia-reforms

FOIA reform dies while the press looked the other way
By Kelly J O'Brien, Columbia Journalism Review, 12/12/2014
http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/foia_reform_dies_while_the_pre.php

Bipartisan effort to expand access to public records fails
By Ed Pilkington, The Guardian 12/12/2014
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...fort-to-expand-access-to-public-records-fails

Push to Reform the Freedom of Information Act Collapses in House
By Robert Collins, PBS Frontline 12/14/2014
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/front...reedom-of-information-act-collapses-in-house/

Welcome, Gov. Haslam, plus FOIA lament
By David Plazasm The Tennessean 12/13/2014
http://www.tennessean.com/story/opi...ise-senate-foia-bill-now-house-vote/20263157/

Congress Tables Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Reforms Despite Bipartisan Support
Laura Lee Baris, People's Pundit Daily 12/13/2014
http://www.peoplespunditdaily.com/2...ation-act-reforms-despite-bipartisan-support/

Editorial: House botches chance for much-needed FOIA reform
Longview News-Journal, 12/14/2014
http://www.news-journal.com/opinion...cle_ee7f3a8a-d2fa-5ae1-aa3e-0c0cd873c082.html

There was also an AP article that ran on several brand name outlets (Politico, Wapo, Fox News, Huffpo, etc) with disappointment quotes from a few of the key advocacy group people. But they also gave lip service to Rep. Issa's disgraceful blame-shifting press release - so fk 'em, I'm not linking to it here.

Also worth noting, some media outlets have taken Sen. Rockefeller's cryptic remarks to Politico after his 11th hour Senate hold was released at face value, and reported that there was some last minute changes or minor wording tweak done to the bill at the last minute. False bullshit is false.

The govtrack.us website now has all three copies of Senate bill 2520 online with a tool for doing a side-by-side comparison between versions. This makes it clear that the only changes between the second version from November and the final version passed to the House is the work-in-progress committee notes that serve as a temporary preamble to the actual legislation text. This preamble ONLY notes what changed in the amendments made between the first and second versions.

So when you take those work-in-progress notes away and the actual legislation legalsleeze that will go on the books if enacted DID NOT CHANGE in the final "engrossed" version of the bill. They just stripped out the preamble explaining the amendment history of revisions made before the Senate passed it. So Rockefeller raised a non-issue that only required talking him down and no wording adjustments to the proposed legislation whatsoever.
 

Purple Rain

Crusader
Here's the best of the media coverage on the FOIA S.2520 bill not coming up on the floor of the House for a vote before the session ended. Please show these links some click love in order to hopefully encourage the outlets to do follow-up coverage on this important piece of legislation next year.

House scuttles bipartisan FOIA reforms
By Steve Benen, MSNBC 12/12/2014
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/house-scuttles-bipartisan-foia-reforms

FOIA reform dies while the press looked the other way
By Kelly J O'Brien, Columbia Journalism Review, 12/12/2014
http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/foia_reform_dies_while_the_pre.php

Bipartisan effort to expand access to public records fails
By Ed Pilkington, The Guardian 12/12/2014
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...fort-to-expand-access-to-public-records-fails

Push to Reform the Freedom of Information Act Collapses in House
By Robert Collins, PBS Frontline 12/14/2014
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/front...reedom-of-information-act-collapses-in-house/

Welcome, Gov. Haslam, plus FOIA lament
By David Plazasm The Tennessean 12/13/2014
http://www.tennessean.com/story/opi...ise-senate-foia-bill-now-house-vote/20263157/

Congress Tables Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Reforms Despite Bipartisan Support
Laura Lee Baris, People's Pundit Daily 12/13/2014
http://www.peoplespunditdaily.com/2...ation-act-reforms-despite-bipartisan-support/

Editorial: House botches chance for much-needed FOIA reform
Longview News-Journal, 12/14/2014
http://www.news-journal.com/opinion...cle_ee7f3a8a-d2fa-5ae1-aa3e-0c0cd873c082.html

There was also an AP article that ran on several brand name outlets (Politico, Wapo, Fox News, Huffpo, etc) with disappointment quotes from a few of the key advocacy group people. But they also gave lip service to Rep. Issa's disgraceful blame-shifting press release - so fk 'em, I'm not linking to it here.

Also worth noting, some media outlets have taken Sen. Rockefeller's cryptic remarks to Politico after his 11th hour Senate hold was released at face value, and reported that there was some last minute changes or minor wording tweak done to the bill at the last minute. False bullshit is false.

The govtrack.us website now has all three copies of Senate bill 2520 online with a tool for doing a side-by-side comparison between versions. This makes it clear that the only changes between the second version from November and the final version passed to the House is the work-in-progress committee notes that serve as a temporary preamble to the actual legislation text. This preamble ONLY notes what changed in the amendments made between the first and second versions.

So when you take those work-in-progress notes away and the actual legislation legalsleeze that will go on the books if enacted DID NOT CHANGE in the final "engrossed" version of the bill. They just stripped out the preamble explaining the amendment history of revisions made before the Senate passed it. So Rockefeller raised a non-issue that only required talking him down and no wording adjustments to the proposed legislation whatsoever.

Have to race off to get ready for something right now, but will definitely give click love later this evening! Thank you so much!
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
Attention all US-based folks who are appalled that Scientology was granted tax exempt status and want to see it repealed:

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a major Freedom of Information (FOIA) reform bill last month. A similar bill was also unanimously approved in the House prior to this one. So there is significant traction right now on bringing an end to government secrecy and ensuring a greater degree of transparency.

Of particular interest for Church of Scientology ex-members, critics, watchers and other SPs on the Senate's FOIA Improvement Act (S. 2520) is a major change to the B(5) exemption. This change basically means a mountain of dox that are always denied under current FOIA rules cannot remain secret forever and must be released after 25 years.

So all those repeatedly denied requests for the files on the secret negotiations between Scientology and the IRS would have to be coughed up and handed over for public disclosure in 2018!


Getting those dox could be a huge boon for those of us interested in lobbying for a renewed investigation into the cult's tax exemption status. But we need to get the current bipartisan bill to pass a full Senate vote. According to social media, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Senator Tom Coburn, M.D (R-Oklahoma) are the major road blocks who are against these reforms.

For more information on exactly what is involved with this bill, check out the must-read links in my next post below. Then if you're from the US, please take the time to go to the following link and harpoon your Senators to support these reforms and vote YES to Senate Bill 2520. It only takes a few minutes:

http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12634


AnonLover, see my #8 prediction for 2015 over here:
http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthre...it-here-first!&p=987320&viewfull=1#post987320

Please continue to let us know what we can do to help make this happen in the next legislative session.
 

AnonLover

Patron Meritorious
Good riddance, Darrell Issa: A wasteful blowhard’s humiliating history
By Ari Rabin-Havt, 12/11/2014
http://www.salon.com/2014/12/11/good_riddance_darrell_issa_a_wasteful_blowhards_humiliating_history/
In January, with Darrell Issa term-limited out of his chairmanship, Jason Chaffetz, a Utah representative elected in 2008, will take the helm of the Oversight Committee.
Note for future reference - Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz would be an important player to target with the next round of harpoons for eliciting his support on calling S.2520 up for a vote. He looks to be quite young for a Congressman, let alone one to be put in charge of important committee with only 6 years on the hill.
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
Note for future reference - Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz would be an important player to target with the next round of harpoons for eliciting his support on calling S.2520 up for a vote. He looks to be quite young for a Congressman, let alone one to be put in charge of important committee with only 6 years on the hill.


The following is from a Press Release on Rep. Jason Chaffetz's website (from June of 2010):

Chaffetz, Conyers, Smith, Issa and Bachus Call for FOIA to Apply to Fannie-Freddie

Washington, DC—Today Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-03) joined with Reps. Conyers (MI-14), Smith (TX-21), Issa (CA-49) Bachus (AL-6) and others to introduce HR 5539, a bill designed to bring greater transparency to the mortgage giants who have received billions in federal taxpayer dollars. HR 5539 would apply the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) during periods when these entities are in conservatorship or receivership, as they are now.

“The American people have a right to know what activities their taxpayer dollars are bailing out,” said Chaffetz. “Fannie and Freddie were chartered by the federal government. They’re currently managed by board members chosen by the federal government. And the federal government has sunk at least $145 billion into Fannie and Freddie, with hundreds of billions more in potential liability. FOIA makes possible a level of transparency and accountability in federal agencies that is desperately needed here.”

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith stated, “The excessive risks taken by executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac significantlycontributed to the recent economic recession and left taxpayers bailing out government-chartered financial institutions to the tune of up to $1 trillion. We must ensure that government-sponsored organizations dependent on taxpayer dollars are held accountable for their use of federal funds. Requiring Fannie and Freddie to comply with FOIA will provide much-needed transparency so American taxpayers can see exactly how government-controlled institutions are spending our tax dollars.”

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa stated, "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are being run by the federal government to achieve objectives set by the federal government. As long as this continues, it's a matter of common sense that they should be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests."

https://chaffetz.house.gov/press-re...ssa-and-bachus-call-foia-apply-fannie-freddie

Other related articles on same story:
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/chaffetz-calls-for-foia-to-apply-to-fannie-freddie/article/140045

http://news.ptfs.com/foia-and-decla...rnment-regulator-takes-exception-to-foia-bill
 
Top