Deliberate sabotage. Lawmakers investigating Internal Revenue Service audits targeting conservative and pro-family groups have discovered the agent responsible for leaking a confidential donor list belonging to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to one of its political opponents. But in an ironic legal twist, the same law the leaker broke prevents members of the House Ways and Means Committee from divulging his or her name. All they can say is that the agent worked for the Exempt Organizations Division, the same group previously headed by Lois Lerner, who retired last month following the scandal. Lawmakers confirmed that the unnamed agent gave NOM’s donor list to Matthew Meisel, a Harvard graduate and a gay activist. Meisel in turn gave the list to the Human Rights Campaign, which used it to target Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election. Romney’s political action committee donated money to NOM ahead of the vote on California’s Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The news might not have done Romney much harm, but NOM insists its other donors have been intimidated and harassed after their names were made public. NOM President John Eastman wants the government to prosecute both Meisel and the leaker.
20-week abortion ban. Republicans will attempt to get a 20-week abortion ban through the Senate later this month with a bill introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The House passed the ban, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, in June. Given the Senate’s Democratic majority, the bill might have little chance of making it to the president’s desk. And even if it did, President Barack Obama would almost certainly veto it. But the Senate vote would put lawmakers on record on the issue, a stance that could play a role in close elections next year. Public support for abortion restrictions has been steadily rising.
Only six. Documents released today by the House Oversight Committee reveal just how slowly Obamacare is gaining traction among the insurance-buying public: Only six people signed up for new plans during the first 24 hours following the healthcare exchange website’s glitchy launch. After two days, only 248 people had managed to navigate the problem-plagued system to apply for new policies. Obama administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during testimony before a congressional committee, have refused to provide numbers showing how many people signed up for insurance under the new law. The numbers released today came from memos prepared by the agency set up to manage the website’s troubled rollout.
Appeal to Merkel. American fugitive Edward Snowden, wanted for leaking to several newspapers classified documents about the National Security Administration’s electronic surveillance programs, is seeking help from European leaders miffed at the United States for allegedly spying on them. In a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Snowden lamented the “sustained campaign of persecution” he has endured at the hands of the U.S. government. He also wrote that “speaking the truth is not a crime.” He hopes that if European leaders put pressure on the Obama administration, the United States will back off its plan to prosecute him. Snowden, who is living in exile in Russia, where he is safe from extradition, said he would be willing to travel to Germany to speak to lawmakers there personally, as long as they could guarantee his safety. Sounds to me like he just wants out of Moscow before the country’s less-than-idyllic winter sets in.