Obama’s IRS stalling on release of emails between officials and Democratic senators

The Internal Revenue Service has stalled for nearly a year on a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee seeking all correspondence between agency officials and 13 Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and several vulnerable incuments up for reelection this year:

On May 21, 2013 the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent the IRS a Freedom of Information Act request asking for “any and all documents or records, including but not limited to electronic documents, e-mails, paper documents, photographs (electronic or hard copy), or audio files,” related to correspondence from January 1, 2009 and May 21, 2013 between thirteen different Democrat members of Congress and top IRS officials. Those officials include former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, former Commissioner Steven Miller, senior IRS official Joseph Grant and former head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner. Members of Congress named in the request include Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Reid (D-NV), DSCC Chair Sen. Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Pryor (D-AR), Sen. Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Begich (D-AK), Sen. Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Franken (D-MN), Sen. Warner (D-VA), Rep. Braley and Rep. Peters (D-MI).

Since that request was received by the IRS nearly one year ago, IRS Tax Law Specialists Robert Thomas and Denise Higley have asked for more time to fulfill the request six times.

The IRS had also stalled on release of Lois Lerner’s emails, but finally released them to the House Ways and Means Committee last week after the lower chamber passed the contempt resolution against the disgraced former IRS official.

The NRSC’s request isn’t at all unreasonable, based on what is already known about Senate Democrats involvement in the scandal. We learned last year, for example, that, in 2010, then-Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) requested that the IRS investigate nonprofits for political campaign activity.

More recently — just this week, in fact — Judicial Watch released emails obtained through a FOIA request revealing that the targeting was coordinated from the IRS’s Washington, DC headquarters. Those emails show that Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) pressured the IRS to investigate specific organizations — including Club for Growth, Americans for Tax Reform, and Susan B. Anthony List.

Vulnerbale Senate Democrats — including Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) — cheered on proposed IRS rules that would have legitimatized and institutionalized the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

Unfortunately, the IRS continues its pattern of stalling. The agency has asked for an August 1 deadline to respond, 14 months after the NRSC filed the request.

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