Non-profits

IRS Scandal: Playing “count the lies” with Lois Lerner

After the revelations today about Lois Lerner, and her emails to her colleagues, perhaps quite a few of the victims of the IRS “special treatment” for conservative organizations would be wanting a good, stiff drink. While it might be a little reassuring to find out that Lerner really was behind the targeting of Tea Party organizations, what does that mean now? True, it’s come out that Lerner was communicating via email about the “very dangerous” matter of dealing with Tea Party organizations, but what now?

Lerner remains out of the loop, but she is still being paid by the taxpayers, and members of Congress have started screaming for accountability, but it’s not likely that anything meaningful will be done, at least not during this administration.

The activities that got Lerner in hot water in the first place are still happening now, and it’s not likely that Congress will manage to get bi-partisan support for any legislation that could possibly address the matter. That’s unlikely in itself, because this is a regulatory issue, as opposed to a legislative one, as in policies and procedures within the IRS have been misused for the political gain of the administration. However, at least one “mystery” has been solved. This probably is part of the reason why Lerner had pleaded the Fifth in her testimony.

Otherwise, the reaction from The Hill was at least a little interesting, with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) leading the charge to hold Lerner accountable:

House Republicans demand to talk to Obama Justice Department official who wanted to prosecute conservative groups

Justice Department

The IRS scandal just got a little bigger. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has uncovered evidence suggesting that the Justice Department contacted disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner in 2010 for help prosecuting nonprofits allegedly engaged in political activity:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and subcommittee chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have requested an interview with Jack Smith, who heads the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Unit, after a subordinate revealed the department meetings with Lerner in a closed-door interview.

“The Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits,” Jordan and Issa said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. “This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith.”
[…]
Issa and Jordan said they believe the Justice Department, “contributed to this pressure” on Lerner and other IRS officials to stop right-leaning organizations from achieving tax-exempt status, following a Supreme Court ruling lifting restrictions on their activity.

Democrats were particularly angered by the ruling because they believe it created a surge in social welfare groups who were engaged in blatant political activity, many of them conservative.

Emails reveal IRS, Justice Department sought to prosecute tax-exempt groups

The IRS scandal just got a little bigger. The powerful tax agency and the Justice Department sought to prosecute tax-exempt groups that were suspected of engaging in political activity, according to emails obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

The emails released by Judicial Watch reveal that Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of congressional inquiries into the scandal, received a phone call from a Justice Department official who wanted to look into prosecuting tax-exempt groups for making “false statements.” That idea, they note, was floated by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The email exchange took place between May 8 and May 9, 2013. Lerner revealed that the IRS had scrutinized groups seeking nonprofit status on May 10, setting off a political firestorm for the Obama administration and the IRS, one that continues today.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Judicial Watch obtained emails dating back to March and April 2013. In an email dated March, 27, 2013, for example, Lerner explains that “several groups of folks from the FEC world” were looking to shutdown groups with tax-exempt status, adding that ”[o]ne IRS prosecution would make an impact.”

House Oversight Committee to bring Lois Lerner back to testify on IRS scandal

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has put Lois Lerner, a disgraced former IRS official, on notice that she’ll be called back to testify about the powerful tax agency’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups.

“Ms Lerner’s testimony remains critical to the Committee’s investigation,” wrote Issa in a letter to William Taylor, Lerner’s attorney. “Documents and testimony obtained by the Committee show that she played a significant role in scrutinizing applications for tax exempt status from conservative organizations.”

Issa also noted that the committee has obtained information that Lerner ”participated in ‘off plan’ work to develop rules that would allow the IRS to stifle constitutionally protected political speech by non-profit groups.” These proposed rules — which would codify the targeting of conservative groups — are currently being considered by the IRS

Former IRS Officer Drafted Secret Regulations Restricting Non-Profits in 2012

After President Barack Obama defended his administration’s handling of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives, an email sent from Treasury official Ruth Madrigal to then IRS official Lois Lerner obtained by the House Committee on Ways and Means, indicated the former official’s intentions to change 501(c)(4) regulations without disclosing the move.

The “off-plan” to which the email referred to was planned in 2012, while conservative groups were being directly targeted by the IRS. According to The Daily Caller, the rules thought out by Lerner restrict the political activity of conservative groups by keeping non-profit associations from being free to participate in several political activities.  The “off-plan” changed what the IRS sees as “candidate-related political activity,” placing previously acceptable activities like voter registration drives under the political activity category, thus not recommended for 501(c)(4)’s.

Ways and Means chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) had harsh words regarding Lois Lerner and her off-the-record plan during the House committee meeting that disclosed the contents of the email.


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.