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

Discussion in 'Leaks & Legal' started by AnonLover, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. AnonLover Member

    Attention all US-based folks who are appalled that Scientology was granted tax exempt status and want to see it repealed: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:
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  2. AnonLover Member

    Everything you need to know about Senate Bill 2520 and the proposed FOIA reforms:

    Primary Sources: How a New FOIA Bill Could Force More Government Transparency
    By Jason Leopold, VICE News 11/18/2014

    Senate Judiciary approves FOIA reform
    By Mario Trujillo, The Hill 11/20/2014

    ‘Do-Nothing Congress’ Poised to Enact Historic FOIA Reform
    By Alexander Howard, PBS Media Shift 11/25/2014
    • Like Like x 7
  3. AnonLover Member

    This info is already crossposted to the SPs R Us FB group, ESMB, RFTTP and OCMB. So spreading is done. Nao click the link at the bottom of OP and harpoon your Senators!
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  4. AnonLover Member

    BREAKING: Only one Senator’s hold remains on the FOIA Improvement Act, and then the Senate will vote on it. Possibly any day now!

    EDIT: And that one hold is Oklahoma's Senator Coburn:

    FOIA Reform Bill Could Pass Senate This Week
    By: CJ Ciaramella, Washington Free Beacon 12/4/2014

    Full bill and related particulars here:
    • Like Like x 4
  5. wolfbane Member

    Oh hells yessss!

    If this awesome bill passes, I suggest we file on the scilon IRS stuff before 2018. Repeatedly. Just to make damn sure the IRS knows we do not forget and that they should expect us.

    I hit that mofo too! I copied my slightly customized form letter message from the first link and ported it over to here:

    Contact Form for Senator Coburn
    • Like Like x 9
  6. Early media report about the one remaining hold on the FOIA Improvement Act appears to have been wrong. According to @OpenTheGov activists on Twitter,


    It is NOT Senator Coburn who is delaying the vote. It is Senator Jay Rockfeller (Democrat-WV) who is retiring from office at the end of December and has already taken down his online contact form:


    Yes, he's a descendent of THE Rockfellers and his pending retirement is not a good sign. This old fart has no pressing reason to keep his constituents happy and wouldn't be around to be held accountable if the bill doesn't go to vote during the current session.

    Possible angle for harpooning this roadblock is to go through his long list of committee assignments,


    Look for connections to one's own Senators and then urge that person to tell Rockfeller to do the right thing.

    For example: Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) is the Chairman of Finance Committee where Rockfeller has served for several terms. Wyden is the same Senator who Ortega reported on related to him telling the IRS to answer questions about the cult's tax exemption raised by one of his constituents. So I'm going to email my own Senator on the Finance Committee and include Wyden, asking them both to urge Jay Rockfeller to stop blocking a vote on this bill.

    It's a stretch, but since the Democrats have lost power in the Senate I don't see much point in harpooning the former Majority Leader Harry Reid to pressure Rockfeller since Reid already fully supports the bill according to this:
  7. RightOn Member

    oh man, this is juicy
    but I am sure those files will be scrubbed a bit and or "missing"?
    • Like Like x 1
  8. AnonLover Member

    Good idea. Here's another one - this bill is the Senate Judiciary Committee's bipartisan baby. The Dems desparately need some bragging rights after loosing control of the Senate in the last election cycle. So the Dems on the Judiciary committee have a vested interest in making sure Rockfeller (also a Dem) doesn't screw this bill up that Chairmain Senator Leahy (another Dem) crafted along with Senator Grassley (GOP Ranking Member).

    Therefore, the Dems on the following committee members list are key targets to harpoon for enlisting their help in urging their fellow party member Rockfeller to get with the program. Along with any other Republicans on the Judiciary committee that might also have a seat on one of Rockfeller's subcommittees. (not sure if there is any overlap but it might be worth checking)
    • Like Like x 2
  9. wolfbane Member

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  10. AnonLover Member

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  11. AnonLover Member

    Arrggh! I missed the all important *IF* in the above tweet. So my claim of SUCCESS on the final hold lifted was premature. Rockefeller is still a cock blocker on this. But harpooning Senators is still needed.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. wolfbane Member

    So it looks like the week ended and Senator Rockfeller's hold that is preventing a full Senate vote still stands?

    Bipartisan FOIA reform is on the ropes – and Sen. Rockefeller is throwing the punches

    Yet when Senator Rockefeller made his farewell speech to congress yesterday (Thursday), apparently this hypocritical bastard beat a loud drum for bipartanship and compromise:

    This is why we can't have nice things. First thing Monday morning I'm calling his office to ask WTF the hold up is. My fellow amerifags should too. (202) 224-6472
    • Like Like x 6
  13. anon8109 Member

    I wonder what kind of backroom negotiations are happening. If he's holding a highly popular bill it could be to get something in return for himself.
  14. DeathHamster Member

    The IRS is already in violation of FOIA by hiding the negotiations under the category that's supposed to be used for confidential tax payer information only.

    I wouldn't count on any FOIA reform shaking anything loose from the IRS short of sending in federal marshals.
    • Like Like x 2
  15. meep meep Member

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  16. AnonLover Member

    Yes. And it's not looking good. Late in the day, this story finally broke with a lame statement from Rockfellar...

    Rockefeller under fire for blocking FOIA bill
    By Julian Hattem, The Hill 12/05/14

    The same lame statement was posted to his website and put out on Social Media in response to the Twitter campaign trolling the living shit out him for the past 24 hours:

    In response, one of the 70+ open government and consumer protection groups who supported this bill posted this takedown:

    Rockefeller Issues Statement Opposing FOIA Legislation

    Those 70+ groups who had no problem whatsoever with the bullshit concerns Rockefeller alleged are listed here:

    So WTf is the deal? There are several FOIA and Open Government activistm peeps on Twitter insinuating that Rockfeller has a long history of being in bed with NASA due to his Chairman spot on some Science committee. But I have seen no dox or other evidence float by supporting this. I haven't gone looking for it either.

    Then there is the claim he also has a too-close-for-comfort relationship with the FTC. The following small bit of evidence on this front is floating around.


    Full size letter...
    You'll notice the last line in Rockefeller's statement that might just support that speculation.

    But time is running out on 11th hour changes. Once the Senate goes home for Christmas, game over. And keep in mind that Senate Judiciary Committee approved this bill unanimously after working on it since 2012. So Rockefeller's claims that there are court case issues here, without citing specific experts who find fault with which provisions, is a big FU smack in the face to the biggest legal sleeze authorities on the hill.

    The whole thing is outrageous. I too will be calling his office on Monday, and likely everyday the Senate is still in session and his hold is blocking the vote.
    • Like Like x 2
  17. wolfbane Member

    Senator Leahy who wrote the bill offered up a response to Rockefeller here:
    That goes on to say that if Rockefeller's objection isn't addressed then the bill will likely have to wait until next session. But Leahy will no longer be chairman of the judiciary committee.

    Thinking ahead for worst case scenario letter writing options - does anybody know how things work in the committees/subcommittees in regards to the controlling party in the Senate changing?

    Do the Republican "Ranking Member" people become the new chairman and the old chairman steps down to the ranking member seat? (Which would put Grassly in control of the relevant committee here. Which might not be so bad since he gets nearly equal credit for this legislation on the conservative media sites. I think I read somewhere he was actively involved in writing the second draft and seems to be the one who worked out the late stage concessions that were made between June and November that got all the GOP members on board.)

    Or will we get those key positions in each committee/subcommittee appointed or elected into power fresh? (out with the old, in with the new type of deal?)
  18. RightOn Member

    sadly, I believe this would be the case :(
  19. wolfbane Member

    I found my own answer - the process varies between parties, but basically includes the Senators picking where they would like to be assigned, then they get nominated for spots based on those choices. Then nomination go through a process to get approved and appointments to the head seats are made by the party leaders.

    Democrats seem to have a touchy-feely, lets come to a group consensus, process for nominations, approvals and head seat assignments. While the Republican process is more direct and seniority rules.

    So with the GOP process the most senior old farts automatically get whatever spot they want and the semi-old farts get to call dibs on the sloppy seconds. Then the old farts hold a circle jerk where they agree on those sloppy second selections and decide which noobs get stuck with which slim picking leftover spots.

    Overly pedantic description here, starting on pdf page 8:

    Senator Grassley is of course one of those old farts and he has already declared he's taking the Judiciary Chairman spot:

    Which leads to me believe Grassley taking control may not bode well for this bill due to this statement in the above article
    Worst case scenario speculation - Rockefeller's hold stands until he leaves office without this objection from his statement being addressed:
    Then we might be stuck with the bill being bounced back to committee for revisions where any subsequent draft can be easily pissed and moaned about when it goes back to the Senate floor because a non-attorney is running the show.

  20. Ersatz Global Moderator

    Yeah AnonLover!
    • Like Like x 1
  21. AnonLover Member

    I respectfully disagree, based on how the bill CURRENTLY reads. The short answer, for now, is this:

    After the secret agreement was leaked to the press in the 1990s, a tax reform group and two OG critics went after the full files and the B(5) exemption was successfully used to deny to it.

    When the Sklar tax case fought to get *just* the finalized agreement (there is no confirmation the leaked agreement was the final one) the subpoena was squashed without explanation and a judge's ruling stated there was an outstanding issue to be addressed but Sklar's approach was the wrong way to do it.

    When we anons crafted the FOIA request for leveraging the Sunshine Week project + Obama's verbal "presumed openness" initiative (new law officially/permanently enacts this) that XenuBarb filed in 2011, we took the previous failures into account as well as the major the fking blackhole the B(5) exemption currently represents, and requested just "the final determination covering specific matters" (how the IRS refers to the finalized agreement internally - it's not actually an "agreement" or a contract, but a "determination")


    The response we got sidestepped the usual B(5) blackhole exemption for all closed-door negotiations and deliberations, and fell back and punted with the IRS-only privacy exemption for not disclosing financial information. This was a bullshit excuse because they could have easily redacted the dollar values and banking info, if any actually existed. But based on the leaked version, there was none.

    When I took the rejection letter we got on that request, and reached out to FOIA advocacy groups and to try and get some lawfag activists to file a pro-bono appeal on our behalf, I was told that we made an interesting argument but ultimately the IRS would still be able to pull the B(5) exemption out of it's back pocket and get an appeal pressing for a redacted version of the final agreement/determination tossed out right quick. So it was pointless to fight it under the current legislation

    However, under the current draft of the new bill the 25-year rule on B(5) exemptions expiring when they reached the proper age is strongly in our favor. And this would apply to both the finalized agreement AND the deliberation files. The former we should be able to get right away, (thanks to other secondary tweaks in the new bill) once the new legislation is in place and functioning. The latter would not happen until 2018 rolls around when we have the 25yrs rule on our side.

    Secondary to ^^That is two other small gains I think will give us traction. 1) There is slated to be a middle-man advisory group that will instruct and govern each agency what exactly they can and cannot do under the new FOIA provisions. So some fat cat head honcho doesn't get to singularly make that decision to approve/deny. And 2) ...shit, I forgot specifically what the second one was ATM. It was something procedural, relating to how long it would take and the manpower required to redact the full files no longer being a valid excuse for delaying a request into a permanent backlog pile.

    EDIT to add final thought - Will getting an IRS FOIA request approved be a slam duck under the new bill? No, probably not until the 25 year rule rolls around and a few bigger groups successfully set some precedents. But we will have a fighting chance, more leverage when it comes time to lobby advocacy groups to appeal a rejection on our behalf and the hopeless factor will be significantly diminished over time.

    Disclaimer - thanks to Senator Rockefeller's cock blocking hold, all of the above is subject to change if they end up revising the proposed bill. Thus, I didn't bother going through everything I highlighted as exploitable differences in the new bill vs. current legislation and end up making this a 10mile long post. Pic related:

    • Like Like x 2
  22. AnonLover Member

    That all said, here's what's is now relevant to our harpooning interests in the immediate future on the Rockefeller cock blocking front.

    The need for urgency on harpooning this clusterfk, from:
    (Yes, my FULL FRONTAL CAPS LOCK is warranted)

    What can be done about it? (emphasis mine on what imo needs the most attention since social media based harpooning is already massive from all the opengov and transparency groups that supported this bill)

    Tell Sen. Rockefeller To Release His Hold on FOIA Reform
    By: Danielle Brian, Executive Director, POGO 12/05/2014
    Also, this:
    Engage intergalactic battletoad warfare tactics and FIRE!
    • Like Like x 2
  23. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    Your membership card was returned as undeliverable. Just give Admin your address and it will be sent again.
    • Like Like x 2
  24. AnonLover Member

    LULZ! Shawn Musgrave from MuckRock (a FOIA dox tracking and publishing platform) filed a FOIA request on all communications between Sen. Rockefeller and the FTC, specifically related to this S.2520 bill. He's boldly fishing for evidence on the theory there is an unhealthy relationship between the two and the Senator is doing one final favor for his pet agency.
    • Like Like x 4
  25. Random guy Member

    Your point being?
  26. wolfbane Member

    • Like Like x 3
  27. AnonLover Member

    • Like Like x 5
  28. Done! Plain text, FTW (for lazyfags)
  29. AnonLover Member

    Here's another good, detailed, explanation of the situation brewing with FOIA Senate Bill 2520. And please take a few minutes to send e-mails to Sen. Rockefeller's staffers as noted upstream ITT.

    One Man is Single-Handedly Standing in The Way of FOIA Reform: Outgoing Senator Jay Rockefeller Wants to Kill the FOIA Reform Act This Monday
    By The Sparrow Project, 12/7/2014
    • Like Like x 1
  30. AnonLover Member

    Nice. I made a shorter version of this and posted it on Sen. Rockefeller's wall in response to lame statement.
    • Like Like x 2
  31. BigBeard Member

    I spoke with my Senator's staff late yesterday, and they're not optimistic. The feeling they've got is Rockefeller doesn't want this bill passed, for whatever reason, doesn't give a damn what people think, and will retire and collect his pension no matter what.

    • Like Like x 3
  32. wolfbane Member

    That was a useful gesture. I'll try my Senator's office on the same angle tomorrow after I grow tired of attempting to leave a message with Rockefeller's office.

    FWIW there is one positive outlook on this being resolved here:

    Why Senator Rockefeller Will Lift his Hold on the FOIA Improvement Act

    But I'm not sure how realistic it is.
    • Like Like x 2
  33. BigBeard Member

    I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

  34. AnonLover Member

  35. wolfbane Member

    Contact info for Rockfeller:

    email is
    DC office (202) 224-6472, fax is (202) 224-7665 (the voicemail box is not yet full like it was on Friday)

    Satellite offices
    Beckley, WV (304-253-9704)
    Charleston (304-347-5372)
    Fairmont (304-367-0122)
    Martinsburg (304 262-9285)
    • Like Like x 1
  36. AnonLover Member

    • Like Like x 10
  37. Anonymous Member

    Bravo, AnonLover! Well Played!

    fireworks sparkle@0.gif fireworks sparkle@0.gif fireworks sparkle@0.gif
    • Like Like x 3
  38. BigBeard Member

    Anyone hear what changed Rockefeller's mind???


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