Congress required the IRS to investigate groups to see how much of their time is spent in politics and how much is spent in secular stuff, and is now giving them hell for trying to do it.
If an organization devotes itself to politics more than a certain percent of the time, it loses its tax exempt status. This requires the IRS to figure out how much time the group is politicking and how much time they are quilting, which means asking questions about both.
Now if you were an IRS agent doing that job, trying to decide which group is political and which is not, and an organization with "Tea Party" in the name came up and you didn't ask them questions, then you would be letting Congress down.
In that same building where the government makes inquiry into the political beliefs of its people, on another floor a high court declared that Clay County had been wronged by an unfair trial.
As Bob Dole would say, where is the outrage? People have been jailed for months on a conviction based in part on sins too old. Where is the clamor for their release?
Was the trial of the Miracle gang unfair? Of course it was. All those federal trials cleaning up Eastern Kentucky counties are unfair, and it is only partly because of the judging.
The key concept here that the government uses to unfairly try politicians it has targeted is 'conspiracy.' They can indict as many people as they want and try them together. The government has to prove that the defendants acted together, so during a trial of several weeks the government makes them sit huddled up together in a corner of a courtroom for a jury to watch, puts them together during breaks, and requires each one to have his own lawyer, but then the lawyers act like a group, which means that the same arguments are boringly repeated and any stupid thing one lawyer says is held against all, and because there are so many lawyers on one side it makes the Unites States look like the underdog.
By alleging conspiracy, every bad thing the government can prove about one of the defendants comes out against all of them, including Judge Miracle's admission that he had done some stuff wrong, but back past the statute of limitations. William F. Buckley wrote that he had smoked pot but it was more than 12 miles out in the ocean, and more than three years back.
Another concept which benefits the federal government in these trials is the inherent belief among jurors that politicians in Eastern Kentucky are crooked, which is not necessarily true. Because they believe before the trial starts that the defendants are crooked politicians, they simply do not require much proof of it, and are genuinely afraid to acquit them because they fear a visit from the F.B.I.
They recently trotted out all the kinds of stuff they are going to use against Richie Farmer, things he has done in the past which do not please Uncle Sam, and which show something or another about Richie that the jury needs to hear.
To be safe, all public officeholders in Kentucky should get advance approval from the United States' Attorney before they give away a pocket knife or an autographed basketball.
Do not despair. It could be worse. In some countries they have secret courts where only one side is represented and wins and the defense is just eliminated entirely and they can listen to you talk on the phone.
Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at email@example.com.