Friday, July 31, 2015

RNLA Congratulates Jennifer Choe Groves for Her Nomination to the U.S. Court of International Trade

The Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) is pleased to congratulate Jennifer Choe Groves on her nomination by President Obama to serve on the United States Court of International Trade. The U.S. Court of International Trade, an Article III court, has nationwide jurisdiction over civil actions arising out of U.S. customs and international trade laws. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Groves will be the first Asian Pacific American judge to serve on this court.

Groves has been a longtime supporter of the RNLA having previously served as a Secretary of our Board of Governors.

RNLA Executive Director Michael Thielen stated:

The RNLA was privileged to count Jennifer Choe Groves among our ranks and as part of our leadership team in the past. She will make a great addition to the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Groves is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Titanium Law Group PLLC and Choe Groves Consulting LLC, where she provides legal and consulting services in the areas of international trade and intellectual property. Previously, she was a partner at the law firms of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.

Groves also served as the Senior Director of Intellectual Property and Innovation in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in the Executive Office of the President. During her time at USTR, she also served as chair of the Special 301 Committee, where she led the interagency committee’s decision-making on international trade policy and intellectual property protection. Prior to joining USTR, Groves was Counsel at O’Melveny & Myers LLP and an associate at Fish & Neave LLP (now Ropes & Gray LLP). She began her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in New York County District Attorney’s Office from and received her LL.M from Columbia Law School, her J.D. from Rutgers School of Law – Newark, and her A.B. from Princeton University. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Planned Parenthood: "Specimens" for Profit and Power Over Women's Health?

Bills are now introduced in the House and the Senate to cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood, and would instead direct money to women’s health groups. This is a proposed fix to the legal issue of Planned Parenthood misusing federal funds to profit from harvested fetal tissue in the name of research.

A third video released on Tuesday continues to reveal a Planned Parenthood official negotiating with someone believed to be a buyer of fetal tissue. The video also includes an interview with a phlepotomist who worked for a company procuring fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. Phlebotomist Holly O’Donnell stated,

For whatever we could procure, (Planned Parenthood) would get a certain percentage. The main nurse was always trying to make sure we got our specimens. No one else really cared, but the main nurse did because she knew that Planned Parenthood was getting compensated.

Although Planned Parenthood claims, "We do not make a profit on fetal tissue," the legality of Planned Parenthood’s funding hinges on this fact. As RNLA previously reported here, laws restrict fetal tissue research so that no one should benefit financially. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remarked on the Senate floor today:

We introduced legislation last night that would ensure taxpayer dollars for women’s health are spent on women’s health, not a scandal-plagued political lobbying giant.

The Senate expects to vote on the bill before August recess.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

“Mr. Koskinen should no longer be the IRS commissioner”

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs, sent a letter to Obama requesting the firing of IRS chief John Koskinen. Chaffetz stated that Koskinen repeatedly “obstructed” congressional efforts to investigate the IRS’s political targeting taxpayers. Chaffetz quoted his letter in a Capitol Hill press conference,

At best, Commissioner Koskinen was derelict in his duties to preserve agency records. At worst, he and the IRS engaged in an orchestrated plan to hide information from Congress.

Back in 2013, Obama promised to “work hand-in-hand with Congress to fix the problem” when the public learned about the IRS targeting. In the 2013 House investigation, Lois Lerner, ex-IRS official, revealed that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups and other conservatives from April 2010 to April 2012 for higher scrutiny and auditing. However, in March 2014 Lerner asserted her Fifth Amendment rights, repeatedly refused to testify at trials, and was subsequently held in contempt.

When Lerner resigned as director of the Exempt Organizations unit In September 2013, Koshen was installed and confirmed. Unfortunately, Koshkinen has failed to restore any faith in the agency.

Chaffetz also emphasized that Koskinen failed to testify truthfully, comply with subpoenas and preserve up to 24,000 emails related to the investigation. If Obama does not remove Koskinen, Chaffetz vows to

pursue all constitutional remedies at our disposal, including potential contempt proceedings or perhaps impeachment.

Ultimately, Chaffetz calls the concealed facts surrounding the IRS targeting “an unacceptable outcome and one that demands those responsible be held accountable.” See the House Oversight Committee’s video “There Must Be Accountability” here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

IRS Targets Conservatives with No Consequence

New documents confirmed that the IRS targeted individual donors giving to those causes who aligned with lists of conservative tax-exempt organizations. Not only did the IRS use the donor lists of tax-exempt organizations for audits, but also the documents highlight that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may have come under “high scrutiny.” The IRS would not produce the documents until required by a Freedom of Information lawsuit, Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220).

July 22nd, Judicial Watch announced,

The documents show that the IRS had not enforced the gift tax since 1982. But then, in February 2011, at least five donors of an unnamed organization were audited.

The press release further explained,

Crossroads GPS, associated with Republican Karl Rove, was specifically referenced by IRS officials in the context of applying the gift tax. Seemingly in response to the Crossroads focus, on April 20, IRS attorney Lorraine Gardner emails a 501(c)(4) donor list to former Branch Chief in the IRS’ Office of the Chief Counsel James Hogan. Later, this information is apparently shared with IRS Estate Gift and Policy Manager Lisa Piehl while Gardner seeks “information about any of the donors.”

And House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz stated,

You have political targeting that is factual at this point. There are no ifs, ands or buts. You had groups within the IRS who were politically targeting conservatives and impeding their First Amendment rights.

In 2013, IRS official Lois Lerner pled the Fifth before the House Oversight Committee regarding the IRS targeting scandal. Although Lerner met with the Department of Justice to determine how to prosecute conservative groups, she met no consequences for turning this agency into a political weapon. No one was fired as a result of the targeting and former Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa says the IRS is still engaging in the same bad behavior. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Planned Parenthood Violated Research and Funding Laws

New evidence shows Planned Parenthood violated laws concerning fetal tissue research by profiting off the body parts of unborn babies. Center for Medical Progress released a video revealing Planned Parenthood’s practices, and it sparked debate over these laws regulating fetal tissue research as well as the government funding of organizations like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions.

Laws restrict fetal tissue research so that no one should benefit financially from the donated tissue, However, abortion providers, are be reimbursed for additional expenses, such as storing and transporting it. Laws also state that the abortion must be performed according to what’s best for the patient, not what’s best for harvesting "the tissue."

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood said that the patients are not reimbursed for any donations, and Planned Parenthood claims fetal tissue donations are done “with no financial benefit for the patient or Planned Parenthood.”

Yet, in the recently released video, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, discussed Planned Parenthood’s practices of selling unborn babies’ body parts for profit. As Nucatola casually eats lunch she answers questions about a price range per specimen.

“You know, I would throw a number out, I would say it’s probably anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on the facility and what’s involved.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas urged Congress to take action saying,

There is no place for taxpayer funding of organizations that profit from taking away innocent life, much less profiting off the bodies of the lives they have stolen…[Congress] should renew efforts to fully defund Planned Parenthood to ensure that its morally bankrupt business receives not one penny of taxpayer money.

Carly Fiorina, Republican Presidential hopeful, posted,

This latest news is tragic and outrageous. This isn’t about ‘choice.’ It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it’s about empowerment.

Diane Black authored a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and ensure that this misuse of taxpayer dollars does not continue. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte also announced that his committee would be looking into claims made in the video.