U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and House Republicans hammered the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on Friday over missing emails related to its targeting of conservative groups.
The IRS announced last week that it can’t find two years of emails from Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS division that oversaw tax-exempt groups. Lerner has acknowledged the agency’s singling out of Tea Party groups that sought tax-exempt status from February 2010 through the 2012 election.
While testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee, Commissioner John Koskinen blamed the lost emails on an antiquated email system and a computer crash. Paulsen and other GOPers maintain the missing messages are part of a massive cover-up.
“Can you rule out that Lois Lerner destroyed her own computer?” Paulsen asked.
In response, Koskinen said: “There’s no evidence that she did. You can never rule out something that you don’t know.”
In a statement following the hearing, Paulsen said: “It’s long past time for the IRS to stop misleading Congress and the American people. The IRS systematically targeted individuals based on their personal beliefs, and as we found out today, is continuing to cover up their misdeeds.”
Michigan Rep. Sandy Levin, the lead Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said there was no conspiracy behind the computer crash, just an email system that was underfunded and deficient.
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tim Walz was among six Democrats and eight Republicans tapped Wednesday on the House side to work out differences between passed House and Senate legislation to reform the Veterans Administration.
Walz, who served 24 years in the Army National Guard, is a member of the House Veterans Committee.
In a statement, Walz said, "My number one goal as a veteran myself and a member of this conference committee is to ensure our veterans and their families are able to get the care they need, and in a timely manner."
The differences between the House and Senate versions of the reform legislation are not great, staffers say, but both chambers are eager to get VA reform passed and sent to the president promptly.
A decision by the U.S. Patent Office to cancel the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins’ team nickname is a “victory for decency,” said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
The team doesn't immediately lose trademark protection and is allowed to retain it during an appeal, which is likely.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused to change the team's name, citing tradition, but there has been growing pressure including statements in recent months from members of Congress, President Obama and civil rights groups.
Native American groups and lawmakers -- who have pressured National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to force Snyder to abandon the name – celebrated the decision.
In May, half of the U.S. Senate – including Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken -- wrote letters to the NFL urging the team to change its name.
“I commend the Native American petitioners and tribal leaders from across Indian Country for their courage to confront this ugly issue head on and strive for both justice and the respect they deserve,” said McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat.
“It is time for NFL team owners to have the courage to speak out and pressure Dan Snyder to change his team’s racist name. Any effort by Mr. Snyder to appeal this ruling can only be viewed as a bigoted attempt to continue to profit from this racist team name at the expense of the dignity of Native Americans.”
The decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which found that the team name is “disparaging of Native Americans,” means that the team can continue to use the Redskins name, but would lose much of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to its use.
The case does not apply to the team's logo.
The U.S. House has voted to rename the Cold Spring post office in honor of slain police officer Thomas Decker, who was killed on duty in November 2012.
Written by Rep. Michele Bachmann, the bill would rename the post office the "Officer Tommy Decker Memorial Post Office." Every member of the state's House delegation co-sponsored Bachmann’s bill.
The bill must be approved by the Senate and signed by President Obama before the tribute is approved.
“It’s a fitting tribute to a life well lived and to a man greatly missed,” Bachmann said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday. “Though Tommy is no longer with us, his legacy and example of courage and compassion lives on.”
Decker’s killing remains unsolved. He was shot in the head outside a local bar moments after he arrived to make a welfare check on a resident.
WASHINGTON -- The National Republican Congressional Committee will spend $3.2 million in Twin Cities television this fall on behalf of Stewart Mills and Torrey Westrom, both of whom are trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Reps. Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson.
Republican officials announced the ad reservations Tuesday. The Minnesota buys are a part of a $30 million national effort in outside independent expenditures ahead of the mid-term elections. Independent spending means the NRCC can't, by law, coordinate with Mills or Westrom's campaigns.
The move is strictly offensive; the NRCC doesn't plan on spending any money for its incumbent Republicans.
“These initial ad reservations should strike fear in the campaign offices of both Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson," said Tyler Q. Houlton, NRCC spokesman, in an e-mail. "With Republican candidates as strong as Stewart Mills and Torrey Westrom, we are going on offense and are in a great position to win in November.”
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