May 16, 2013, 9:58 am EDT
With his administration besieged by a rising wave of scandals, President Barack Obama moved on Wednesday to appease bipartisan anger over the improper singling out of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service.
Saying that Americans were “right to be angry about” IRS actions, the president announced that he had requested and received the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller. The president made the statement during a brief appearance in the East Room of the White House, but did not take questions from reporters afterward. He also released a letter sent from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to Miller demanding his resignation, the Washington Post notes.
On Friday, IRS officials admitted that the agency had used words associated with the Tea Party and conservative politics to flag groups seeking tax-exempt status. Those groups were then subjected to greater scrutiny. Obama called the practice “inexcusable” on Wednesday. Read
May 15, 2013, 12:59 pm EDT
The National Transportation Safety Board says the tolerance for alcohol in the blood should be cut in the interest of safety.
Lowering the limit to 0.05 — from the current 0.08 — could reduce the incidence of crashes by 50%, USA TODAY reports.
The NTSB is not a regulatory body. It can only make recommendations to the federal and state governments. Each state legislature would need to act on the recommendation to make it law or the federal government would need to enact a law that places pressure on the states. Read
May 14, 2013, 10:09 am EDT
On Monday, the Associated Press (AP) published a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder criticizing the Justice Department for obtaining records of phone calls made to AP reporters and editors.
The AP said the government had disclosed subpoenas allowing it to obtain the phone data on Friday. More than 20 telephone lines belonging to AP staffers, editors and bureaus were probed by the government. The president of the AP, Gary Pruitt, called the subpoenas a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” against its First Amendment rights by the government and demanded that all data collected by federal agents be destroyed, CNN notes.
The Justice Department did not say why it obtained the records. However, the AP said the federal investigators were probing the leak of information regarding a failed 2012 bomb plot targeting aircraft heading to the U.S. Read
May 14, 2013, 9:44 am EDT
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is set to sign a bill that permits same-sex marriage this afternoon.
The bill — which passed the legislature on Monday — will be signed at 5 p.m. this afternoon on the front steps of Minnesota’s Capitol building, the Associated Press reports.
Minnesota becomes the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S. and the third — Both Delaware and Rhode Island passed same-sex marriage laws this month — in 10 days. Minnesota becomes the first state in the Midwest to allow same-sex marriage by legislation rather than through the courts or other methods. Read
May 13, 2013, 8:37 pm EDT
Just days after he manged to resurrect his political career by winning election to Congress, incoming Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C. announced he will work with the GOP in the House of Representatives.
This comes even after the National Republican Congressional Committee dropped its support of Sanford in running for the seat vacated by Tim Scott, who was appointed to replace Jim DeMint after he resigned to head the Heritage Foundation.
In April, Sanford was accused of trespassing at his ex-wife’s home. According to several reports, he was there in February to watch the Super Bowl with his son without her permission, in violation of his divorce agreement. Last Wednesday, Sanford settled with his ex-wife, agreeing to pay $5,000 in court costs and to stick to the agreement settled upon in 2010. Read
May 13, 2013, 11:26 am EDT
In congressional testimony last year, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman denied accusations that the agency was targeting conservative groups for political reasons.
On Friday, IRS officials conceded that the agency had in fact subjected tax-exempt status applications from conservative and Tea Party-related organizations to greater scrutiny. The officials said that the agency had flagged groups that used the words “patriot” or “tea party” and that managers had sent out memos telling agency workers to give additional attention to Tea Party-affiliated local organizations, CNN notes.
The admissions come as the IRS inspector General prepares to release a report this week that indicates that IRS scrutiny of conservative groups began in 2010. In addition to the Tea Party, IRS officials singled out groups who criticized the size of the national debt and government spending. Read