Just published: my new Storify on the ignoble demise of what had been billed as one of the world’s biggest human rights lawsuits, the so-called Lago Agrio case against Chevron over pollution in Ecuador. We’ve covered it for years, before and after the tainted $18 billion verdict obtained by attorney Steven Donziger, and the Storify feature links to many of our key posts. Big-name environmental groups like the Sierra Club, 350.org, and EarthJustice promoted Donziger’s case long after they had reason to know better.
Yesterday, in a major ruling, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rebuked the IRS over its targeting of conservative groups and said that it would have to face a lawsuit by two plaintiffs, reversing a lower court that had declared the dispute moot. The unanimous three-judge panel ruled that there is “little factual dispute” in the case and it is “plain…that the IRS cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits,” that the wrongdoing included not only targeting itself but massively burdensome and intrusive examinations of targeted groups, and that despite the IRS’s claims to have ended the discriminatory treatment, there is evidence that it continues today. My new piece at Ricochet explains.
Sarah Westwood in the Washington Examiner also quotes me on the case: “This is a blistering rebuke to the IRS and its defenders.” Remember in June when the Washington Post ran an editorial dismissing this all as not much of a scandal? Here was my response then.
P.S. Kim Strassel passes the following along in her much-talked-about new book, The Intimidation Game: “So, yes, the president was saying—two months after the news broke—that the whole IRS thing was just a ‘phony scandal.’”
The Washington Post has published my letter to the editor responding to an editorial that had depicted the Internal Revenue Service targeting episode as merely the “thoughtless” result of “carelessness” and “incompetence.” Yet the scandal wasn’t just the flagging of right-of-center (c)(4) groups for challenge not faced by their left-of-center counterparts, but the outrageous information demands placed on many of those groups, including copies of all literature distributed, transcripts of speeches and radio guest appearances, printouts of all social media output, names of both donors and family members, and more.
Earlier coverage here.
41 (!) Secret Service employees have been disciplined following revelations that agency insiders illegally accessed private data on Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who had been critical of the service, in hopes of embarrassing or discrediting him. [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
Under New York City’s stiff gun control laws, it can be famously hard to obtain a carry permit from the NYPD’s license division — at least, famously hard if you’re an ordinary resident without cash or connections to spare. Now, scandal [DNAInfo, New York Daily News]:
A Brooklyn businessman has been charged by the feds with obtaining gun permits for friends and other businessmen by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to NYPD officers in its License Division, authorities said on Monday….
In all, Lichtenstein boasted that he obtained 150 weapons for his friends and associates, charging them about $18,000 each time, and giving $6,000 of the payout to his police connections. If true, that means corrupt officers raked in as much as $900,000.
It’s yet another reminder, Ira Stoll points out, of the general rule that draconian regulation begets corruption — and a caution to those who propose to inflict NYC-style regulation on other parts of the country.
- Sixth Circuit to IRS: stop stonewalling the political-targeting-of-nonprofits scandal [Jonathan Adler, James Taranto/WSJ “Best of the Web”, Joely Friedman/Capital Research Center (see Table 1), my take on the Lois Lerner scandal two years ago]
- “What’s the most ridiculous thing you could imagine a city doing?” “Dunno…paying people not to shoot each other?” [Washington Post on so-called Richmond plan]
- Never mind, prior art: archery company drops foam-arrow patent case, still pursuing other claims against LARPer [ArsTechnica, earlier]
- In New Jersey, “Possessing Air Pellet Gun During Film Shoot Can Get You Many Years in Prison” [Brian Doherty; earlier on tender mercies of New Jersey gun control in Brian Aitken, Shaneen Allen, and Gordon VanGilder cases]
- Georgia: “Woman Walks Into Ladder, Sues, Wins Huge Jury Verdict” [Bob Dorigo Jones]
- New allegation on 20-year-old Vera Coking story: Trump offered work to lawyer representing her in limousine-lot eminent domain case [Washington Post] Magnifies the power of celebrity: “Campaign Finance Restrictions Help Trump” [John McGinnis, Liberty and Law]
- Unbowed by terror: interview with heroic Danish editor Flemming Rose [Simon Cottee/The Atlantic]
- “If The Left Had Its Way On Citizens United, ‘Funny Or Die’ Would Not Be Allowed To Ridicule Trump” [Luke Wachob, Independent Journal]
- Justice Department considers push for law criminalizing support of domestic terror groups [Reuters] Per federally funded police-support center, possible indicators of “extremist and disaffected individuals” include display of “Don’t Tread on Me” flag [Jesse Walker, Reason]
- U.S. BigLaw firm Squire Patton Boggs represents Venezuela as it tries to shut down U.S.-published DolarToday for publishing data about inflation [Jim Wyss/Miami Herald, Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica, earlier here, etc.]
- When scandal broke about IRS targeting of opposing groups, even President Obama talked about accountability. After press attention waned came refusal to press charges, whitewash, denial [Glenn Reynolds, USA Today]
- Bad, bad bar: behind recent rise in blasphemy prosecutions in Pakistan is a lawyers’ group [Reuters]
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on all seven criminal counts Monday in a corruption scheme that traded taxpayer cash and political favors for nearly $4 million in payoffs….The conviction of Silver — for decades one of the three most powerful politicians in the state — was a huge victory for anti-corruption crusading Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.
Appeal is expected. The scheme was one in which Silver helped direct state research funds to a Columbia University physician specializing in asbestos-related disease in exchange for the doctor’s referral of patients to the Silver law firm, which resulted in large legal fees to Silver for cases in which he did no work. Earlier on the charges against Silver here, here, here (and related).
While machine politicians are common enough in New York, Silver (in Wayne Barrett’s words) “for two decades presented himself as the personally devout, politically principled leader of the most progressive slice of New York political life.” Whatever his relations with other Democratic interest groups, Silver always put trial lawyers first.
“A University of Louisville student has filed a lawsuit against Katina Powell and her publisher, claiming Powell’s book, ‘Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,’ has damaged the value of a degree from the school…. The suit is seeking class action status on behalf of the student body at UofL.” [WDRB]