12.17.2013 0

Obama’s shameful bullying

Photo: WhiteHouse.gov

Photo: WhiteHouse.gov

By Rick Manning

The past year has been filled with various scandals that have forced the Obama Administration to play defense on issue after issue.  One of the most significant, and one that could easily be forgotten is the IRS/tea party targeting scandal that erupted mid-year.

However, it should not have been a surprise to anyone that the Obama Administration used the vast powers of the federal Administrative state to target and coerce their perceived political enemies.

In the very early hours of the Administration in 2009, Obama’s Labor Department’s Solicitor’s Office draft plan revealed that they were planning on using tactics that reeked of intimidation and bullying.

Here are just a couple of enforcement tactics that the Labor Department’s political lawyers planned, “Engage in enterprise-wide enforcement,” e.g., send every DOL enforcement agency against a particular employer.  This means that the Labor Department planned all along to engage its vast array of regulatory resources against targeted employers including Wage and Hour enforcement, OSHA enforcement, and where applicable, federal contractor and pension enforcement actions against an unlucky employer who got on their radar screen.

This is exactly what Texas businesswoman Catherine Englebrecht experienced as the founder of the Houston-based, King Street Patriots and the national voter integrity group, True the Vote.  After True the Vote was targeted by a local liberal Texas group, Englebrecht’s manufacturing business got inundated by federal investigators ranging from the IRS to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to the Labor Department’s OSHA inspectors.  This multi-jurisdictional assault effectively brought to bear “enterprise-wide enforcement” on steroids as it extended to at least three different Departments across the Administration.

The only question that remains is who at the White House was coordinating the assault on Englebrecht’s First Amendment freedom?

Another tactic promised by the Labor Department would not be confined to the Court’s, as their original operating draft document encouraged that the Department “deter [employers] through shaming.”

This blatant bullying tactic encourages Obama administrators to “out” employers who are not playing ball, with the expectation that threatening or harming one business or group’s reputation will compel others to be more cooperative.

The shaming and bullying tactic has been one that the left has aggressively engaged in over the past few years.  Fifty five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held in NAACP versus Alabama that organizations not only have a right of free association, but those associations can be kept private.  This privacy was deemed important to prevent the government or other entities from engaging in acts of intimidation against members of a specific group.

Yet, more than half a century later, Democrats have pushed for legislation and IRS regulations to unlock the privacy of donors and members to tax-exempt organizations like the NAACP.

The irony of an Administration coming up with regulations that effectively shutters non-profits like the tea party in response to the IRS’ abuse of the law against these very same conservative groups is almost too much to stand.

In fact, it is shameful.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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