Sunday, July 22, 2007
Maine fails disclosure test
The state loses points for not requiring the governor to report property and links to businesses.
By SUSAN M. COVER Blethen Maine News Service © Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. :ap -->July 21, 2007 AUGUSTA — Maine and 20 other states got a failing grade on a recent survey of what governors are required to disclose about their financial holdings and how easy it is for the public to get access to it.
The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C., nonpartisan government watchdog, released a report Thursday that takes a critical look at what kinds of information states require their chief executives to report.
Such disclosure is critical to good government, the center said, because "governors sign legislation into law, recommend and approve state budgets, and have wide-ranging powers to appoint department and agency heads and fill board and commission positions."
The report's lead author, Leah Rush, said it is part of the center's efforts to make sure ethics laws are useful to the public.
"Citizens should have all the information that goes into making a decision," she said in a phone interview.
Four states – Idaho, Michigan, Utah and Vermont – do not require their governors to file any disclosure reports, according to the center.
Washington was the only state to get an "A" grade.
And while Maine got an "F" for achieving a score of 44 out of 100, it does require governors – and 150 state executive officials – to report sources of income of more than $1,000, gifts, immediate family income and the sale of goods or services to any state agency.
Maine lost points because governors are not required to disclose real property information or whether they are officers or directors of businesses. Also, the disclosure information about what investments or earnings belong to a spouse are not defined clearly, Rush said.
Maine also did not do well in the category of public access, because the completed forms are unavailable on the Internet and because copy fees may exceed 50 cents per page.
The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices does not administer the gubernatorial disclosure system. That responsibility lies with the Secretary of State's Office.
Don Cookson, spokesman for Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, said Maine's reporting requirements provide the basic information necessary so citizens can tell whether there's a conflict of interest.
Also, Maine's forms are designed to be simple so the officials can fill them out themselves, he said.
"It shows any scenario where undue influence may be a concern," he said.
The report filed by Gov. John Baldacci in April is mostly blank. The only two items listed on his form indicate he makes more than $1,000 from renting out a Hilton Grand Timeshare and on interest income from the Congressional Federal Credit Union.
Rush said though some of the categories in the center survey ask for specific details that may seem trivial, the point is to make the information as clear and user-friendly as possible.
"Part of the goal is to put ethics laws to practice," she said.
The "Circuit Court of the United States" was abolished in the Judicial Code of 1911, but in fact it didn't go anywhere as the Repealer only had application on the Revised Statutes of 1878, which is only prima facie evidence of law. The real Judicial Act of 1789 is still intact and I have checked and also Westlaw confirms same. Before the "Circuit Court of the United States" was abolished in the Land of Oz, its powers and duties were transferred into the "District Court of the United States" in the Judicial Code of 1911. Then in the Judicial Code of 1911, the "Circuit Court of Appeals" were created, which in reality are Admiralty and Equity courts and the Writ of Error was abolished in this court in 1928 - i.e. the end of all at law courts in the federal side. In 1948, the Congress in the Land of Oz created the new "United States District Courts" as found today in 28 U.S.C. § 132. Then farther in in 1988 the Congress created a Land of Oz "Writ of Certiorari" that allows the Supreme Court of the United States to pick and choose what cases they want and there is no requirement for jurisdiction or for any issue of merit (substantive issues). Hoo-haa - welcome to the Matrix.
U.S. Unable To Prove It’s Not Voluntary
The United States appears to have bitten off more than it can chew when it sued Bob Schulz and the We The People organizations earlier this year in an effort to shut down "Operation Stop Withholding.
In the lawsuit, the Government accused WTP of operating an unlawful "abusive tax shelter" in violation of IRC Sections 6700 and 6701, citing the organization'
In response to the lawsuit served on Schulz on May 3, 2007, Schulz filed a motion to have the case dismissed on the ground that Operation Stop Withholding is not only fully protected by the First Amendment (including the Petition clause), it is protected because We The People organization is educating People about the withholding laws as they are currently written and which expressly provide that such agreements are voluntary.
The Government's lawsuit has asked the District Court to issue an injunction prohibiting WTP’s efforts to educate Americans about the legal termination of private withholding agreements. WTP's efforts rely on "black letter" law which clearly establishes that Withholding Agreements (W-4s) are voluntary and that a worker can -- at any time -- terminate his W-4 by simply notifying the company that he no longer gives his permission to the company to withhold from his pay.
The Government finds itself in a very tough spot.
On one hand, it is asking the Court to shut the WTP program down, but on the other hand, neither the IRS nor the attorneys at the Department of Justice have been able to dispute or refute the simple truth that the law itself plainly establishes that withholding is voluntary and permission to withhold can be easily withdrawn by workers at their sole discretion.What follows are a just a few of the legal citations that the Government has been confronted with and has failed to rebut:
26 CFR § 31.3402 (p)-1 "Voluntary Withholding Agreements". (a) An employee who desires to enter into an agreement for withholding.
Pursuant to 26 CFR § 31.3402(p)-1(
|Pursuant to 26 USC § 3402(p)(3)(A)|
|“Protected Individuals” as per 8 USC §1324a cannot be compelled to submit any specific government documents or to disclose a social security number as a condition of being hired by or maintaining their status as a worker. Most American workers qualify as "Protected Individuals" under the law.|
The landmark decision of EEOC v. Information Systems Consulting CA3-92-0169T U.S.D.C. Northern District of Texas Dallas Division, held that companies cannot discriminate against applicants or workers for failure to obtain or disclose a social security number.
No law requires a worker to file a Form W-4 (or its equivalent). In U.S. v. Mobil Oil Co., 82-1 USTC para. 9242, U.S.D.C. ND Tex. Dallas 1981 CA. 3-80-0438-G, the court ruled that an Entity does not even have to send a W-4 Form or other employment forms to the Internal Revenue Service unless served with a judicial court-ordered summons to do so.
|Pursuant to IRC §6041(c), a worker is only required to furnish a name and address upon demand of a company for whom he seeks to work. No social security number is required by statute.|
Building upon a plethora of false statements, pitiful hyperbole, factual omissions and defective (and vindictive) claims of lawful authority, the Government has attempted to paint WTP as a "promoter" of an illegal tax fraud "scheme" without ever specifically identifying any false speech made by WTP, and without addressing the very laws WTP has relied upon -- and which irrefutably establish that wage and salary withholding is voluntary.
Nowhere in its pleadings does the Government directly confront the voluntary nature of the withholding laws cited by WTP even though withholding is the central issue before the court.
Indeed, beyond the compelling judicial and constitutional drama unfolding as the landmark Right to Petition lawsuit continues its certain path to the Supreme Court, the Government may have done itself great harm by pursing a "6700" lawsuit against WTP.
As a result of accusing WTP of activity expressly protected by the Constitution and the lesser laws of the nation, it has risked widespread exposure in the public domain of the very information it seeks to censor.
It is no miracle that the United States cannot -- by any law -- force average workers to submit to mandatory withholding. To do so would be to require them to withhold monies for taxes, which by the Constitution and U.S. law, CANNOT BE IMPOSED UPON ORDINARY AMERICANS.
The fact that one's signature is required to execute a W-4 withholding agreement is simple evidence of this truth that, until recently, has remained well-obscured within the complexity of the tax code.
It is beyond time that our government confront a difficult political question that our organization has asked repeatedly over numerous years:
Do our elected leaders and guardians of the Rule of Law move with deliberation toward an orderly transition of a replacement for our Constitutionally-
It is indeed not ironic that such a possibility awaits our nation, and may one day come to pass, inadvertently perhaps, because of one
The truth is out there and it's not going away.
History of the "6700" Lawsuit:
The United States served its Complaint on May 3, 2007, charging Schulz with promoting an abusive tax shelter in violation of Section 6700 of the Internal Revenue Code.
On May 23rd, Schulz and WTP filed a Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted under 6700 and under the First Amendment’s Petition for Redress and Free Speech clauses. Also filed were three Declarations by Schulz.
For those not familiar with WTP’s Operation Stop Withholding here are the highlights:
On March 15, 2003, by letter, Schulz Petitioned the Government for a Redress of Grievances relating to the forced withholding and diversion of workers’ pay. The theme of the Petition for Redress was the black letter law showing that withholding was voluntary, that any worker could legally terminate an existing withholding certificate (W-4) by simply notifying the company, in writing, that the worker did not want to continue having his pay withheld, and that a worker did not have to provide the company with a Social Security number.
Enclosed with Schulz’s March 15, 2003 letter was a Blue Folder with documentation supporting the Petition for Redress, and Forms for workers to use to legally terminate withholding.
In the March 15 letter, Schulz notified the United States that he would begin to instruct workers on how to legally terminate withholding unless the United States were to tell him his interpretation of the law was wrong.
Hearing no objection, Schulz embarked on his schedule of 37 meetings around the country, handing out 3500 copies of the Blue Folders (at no cost) to people in attendance at those meetings. The materials comprising the Operation Stop Withholding "Blue Folder" are still available (for free) on the WTP website.
The day before he left on his trip, the IRS sent Schulz a letter saying, in effect, “We have reviewed certain materials and have decided to investigate you for promoting an abusive tax shelter, in violation of Section 6700 of the Internal Revenue Code. You are asked to meet with us and to bring your books and records.”
Thus, under color of an “official” 6700 investigation of Schulz and the WTP organization, the IRS could now get away with almost anything, including harassing Schulz and the organization to death, or at least to the point where we could not continue with our process of Petitioning the Government for Redress of Grievances relating to withholding or anything else.
Schulz told the IRS, in effect, “No answers, No records.” The IRS then served a Summons on Schulz for the books and records. Schulz sued the IRS. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Schulz I, that Schulz did not have to respond to the Summons without a court order and if the IRS wanted the information it would have to bring Schulz to court to get it.
The IRS and DOJ then filed a subsequent motion asking the U.S.Court of Appeals to modify its decision claiming it would make it harder for the Government to collect taxes. In Schulz II, the Court sternly denied the motion again holding that taxpayers enjoy the protection of broad Due Process Rights with regard to all forms of IRS administrative actions.
Within weeks of the decision in Schulz II, the IRS began serving a series of third-party summonses against Schulz, rather than bring Schulz to Court to enforce the original Summons. Each third-party summons has resulted in a new lawsuit by Schulz against the IRS.
In November, 2006 the IRS felt the teeth of the Second Circuit Court of Appeal's decision in Schulz II when it served an administrative Summons on a New York bank demanding Schulz's personal bank records. Read our 11/8/06 web article.
After Schulz filed a lawsuit against the IRS to quash the Summons, on November 6th a federal judge issued an injunctive order enjoining and prohibiting the IRS from enforcing the bank Summons. During pre-trial pleadings, the primary investigator for the IRS was caught perjuring herself to the District Court regarding the alleged basis for issuing the Summons. This case is currently awaiting the disposition of that Court.Immediately following the March 30, 2007 “V” demonstration outside the White House (video) and its coverage by the Washington Post, the United States filed the "6700" civil injunction lawsuit against Schulz and the WTP organizations.