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‘We’re Going to Get Creamed’: Lerner Emails Paint Picture of Planning 501(c)(4) Scrutiny

Former IRS official referred to the Tea Party cases as “very dangerous” and expected legal action because they were “itching for a constitutional challenge.”

Rodrigo Sermeño


March 11, 2014 - 5:44 pm

WASHINGTON – A House committee report claims Lois Lerner, who oversaw the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status, lied to Congress about her involvement in the targeting scandal.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report Tuesday concluding that Lerner “created unprecedented roadblocks for Tea Party organizations” and “worked surreptitiously to advance new Obama administration regulations that curtail the activities of existing 501(c)(4) organizations.”

In 2011, Lerner directed the manager of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Technical Unit to subject Tea Party cases to a “multi-tier review” system. She also stated in an email to her staff that the IRS Cincinnati office “should probably not have these cases.”

In one email, Lerner referred to the Tea Party cases as “very dangerous” and suggested the Chief Counsel’s office should be involved in the review process.

In another email, Lerner forwarded an article to Nanette Downing, director of exempt-organization examinations, from the liberal news site Mother Jones about how “dark money” was being used to influence the political process.

The report accuses Lerner of seeking to “convey her agreement with this sentiment publicly” and engaging “in a wholly inappropriate effort to circumvent federal prohibitions in order to publicize her efforts to crack down on a particular Tea Party applicant.”

Lerner expressed concern that the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections ruling would hurt Democratic senators seeking re-election in 2012. In response to an article sent to her by a colleague about Senate Democrats’ complaint to the FEC that political-oriented nonprofits were violating election law, Lerner writes: “Perhaps the [Federal Election Commission] will save the day.”

“The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns,” Lerner said at an event sponsored by Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy in October 2010. “And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The [FEC] can’t do anything about it. They want the IRS to fix the problem.”

The report states that Lerner made false statements to committee staff on various occasions.

During a February 2012 briefing, Lerner told committee staff that the criteria for evaluating tax-exempt applications had not changed. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), however, Lerner directed in June 2011 that the criteria used to identify applications be changed.

In another briefing, she told committee staff that the information the IRS was requesting in follow-up letters to conservative groups, including in some cases a complete list of donors and their contributions, was not out of the ordinary. At a later briefing, an IRS official could not identify previous instances in the agency’s history in which the IRS asked groups for this information.

The report includes several emails from Lerner and her colleagues that shed light on her motives for applying stricter oversight to new 501(c)(4) organization applications.

The report highlights an email chain in September 2010 – a few months after the first Tea Party groups had been selected for extra scrutiny – in which Lerner wrote that the IRS should focus on these organizations because of concerns expressed by some media outlets that these nonprofit organizations were being created with the specific purpose to engage in politics.

“We need to have a plan,” she wrote. “We need to be cautious so it isn’t a per se political project. More of a c4 project that will look at levels of lobbying and pol. activity along with exempt activity.”

Lerner also said that she expected these political nonprofit groups to file a court case because they were “itching for a constitutional challenge.” In an email exchange about a Tea Party applicant, Lerner and her colleagues seemed to hope a lawsuit would lead the IRS to release information about this particular organization, despite rules protecting the secrecy of unapproved applications.

The emails paint a picture of IRS officials being aware of the potential political consequences of their actions and the increasing attention on the issue. On several occasions, Lerner received emails from colleagues that focused on the political involvement of tax-exempt conservative groups.

In March 2012, IRS Deputy Division Counsel Janine Cook sent an article to Lerner that discussed the potential congressional investigations and the IRS’s treatment of tax-exempt applicants. Lerner responded by writing: “we’re going to get creamed.”

The emails also show that Lerner was trying to figure out benefit issues in January 2013, including an estimate of the amount in benefits she would receive if she retired in October 2013. Lerner retired in September of that year.

The report mentions her use of a personal email address in violation of IRS policy and accuses her of disclosing confidential taxpayer information.

Lerner has refused to answer lawmakers’ questions twice, invoking her constitutional right not to self-incriminate. The report, however, asserts that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by reading a statement proclaiming her innocence at a hearing last year.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee chairman, is weighing whether the committee should vote on holding Lerner in contempt of Congress for providing false or misleading information.

Rodrigo is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
This whole sorry mess is nothing more than confirmation that the nonmilitary public work force is too large, and needs to be reduced to approximately 30% or less of its current cost, either by layoffs, huge pay cuts, or a combination of both. The Tea Party is perceived (rightly) by the public flunky class as an existential threat to their magic paychecks. The path from this behavior of disenfranchising believers in limited government to incarceration and finally killing of them is a very, very short one. Haughty autocratic public sector lifers like Lerner will use whatever means are necessary to take out the possibility of anxiety about losing their "guaranteed" income stream. Others upthread have explained the math of this better than I can.

Lerner is only the most visible example of the fact that those who depend on government largesse for W-2 or grant/subsidy money have truly forgotten the first rule of successful parasites. The host is dying, you morons.

Time for a deworming.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The level of evil involved in attacking citizens is being handled so calmly and cavalierly.

In what parallel universe would this not be treated as the ultimate crime against society. This is a deadly serious offense.

It's NOT cute politics, boys will be boys, both sides do it kind of offense.

It is a high crime against the very fabric of a free society.

She should be hanged.

And all those who conspire to harm society at its elemental level of freedom from tyranny should hang with her.

Build the gallows.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here is how it works. A federal parasite such as Lois "works" for the federal government for the past 33 years, and retires with an annual pension of in excess of $50-60,000. She is but one of over 2.5 million civilian federal employees, who collect over 16.8 billion dollars per month in compensation. Do you suppose the founding fathers envisioned this? I think not. Picture yourself, as a private sector citizen, as one of the "people" who these public servants answer too. Now visualize 2.5 million leeches clinging to the people, dictating to them how to live their lives. And WE have to pay for this? Is it time for a house cleaning? Have you had enough?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (62)
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Well what does anyone expect? This is in the nature of large entrenched political bureaucracies, especially those with some sort of enforcement power. The larger they become the more arbitrary becomes their decision-making process. Also add in the fact that all such organizations have only two goals - First to survive and second to expand. (Sort of like a 1950's sci-fi creature.) You can only meet these goals in a political environment that favors bigger government and bigger budgets. Genuine conservatives and Tea Partiers are anathema to appartchiks like Ms. Lerner because they would stop, or at least retard, government expansion. Asking Ms. Lerner and the IRS to be fair about Tea Party organizations is like asking crabgrass to be fair about weed-killer.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Aside from the legality of denying tax free status of these groups, those groups should still pursue their policies of attacking their political opponents. Battle the tax status, too, but spread their message as much as possible.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where the hell are CBS,NBC,ABC,CNN,NYT,MSNBC,LAT,etc(hell,even Ma Jones!)?What Gov. Christie did was pretty grim,but,by God,this-Christie is like a school counsellor going to jail for saying,"Damn,"while the one who rapes his students becomes school principal.
If this were,oh,say,George W...?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
" In another email, Lerner forwarded an article to Nanette Downing, director of exempt-organization examinations, from the liberal news site Mother Jones about how “dark money” was being used to influence the political process. "

Oh really? Do I live in an alternate universe or is this not EXACTLY what those that oppose conservative American citizenry do??? Sickly and with Consternation, LMAOL
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Chmn. Issa, it is your duty as an elected official of these United States to fulfill your oath (unlike the current administration) and get the legal process rolling NOW! Appoint Rep. Gowdy as Special Prosecutor and this matter would be over quickly. This is not some little indiscretion but a violation of the Laws of the United States perpetrated by an unelected apparatchik in the wanton destruction of our civil rights. DO YOUR JOB, SIR!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since when can the Congress prosecute?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
seems we may not need Lerner to testify, her emails do it most eloquently for her, and it is about time that the case goes forward and jail is too good for this person, who is now on a tax payer paid pension for her abuse of so many.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Congress (Darryl Issa) is considering a censure against Lois Lerner
for her lies, deception and prevarications.
A censure? The case against Ms. Lerner has gone way beyond 'censure'.
This woman should be arrested and prosecuted immediately for her
blatant lawlessness. She broke laws, defied the Constitution, and
bold-faced lied to Congress, yet she is allowed to walk around free.
Congress needs to assert its power and
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, well, that's all true but...

How do you intend to persuade the Attorney General of the United States to prefer charges?

Perhaps you are not aware that the chief law enforcement officer for the federal government is one Eric Holder?

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment now Lois Lerner who thinks she can get out from under this by playing the Sphinx, gets a public gander at the "Chump Jacket" they have provided in just her size.

If she wants us to believe that this was a policy that she dreamed up and executed all by her little lonesome, and with no input or guidance from IRS "upstairs", then fine.

But I don't think that her pension is going to be quite enough for the caliber of attorneys and the supporting defense team that she's going to need.

So, here's the deal, Ms. Lerner...spill your guts and hope that you get lenient treatment for YOUR part in these activities, or you can suck the big wet one while all your betters forget all about you.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is just the tip of the Iceberg and we will never get to the bottom of it as this will completely destroy the Party in Power..... Fast and Furious, same story... Benghazi and the game of 'Swap the Ambassador for the Blind Sheikh" same story.... There is no end to the corruption of the government by 'The One' and his band of merry Thugs from Chicago....
We are undergoing the 'Fundamental Changing of America' to what Obama thinks it should be..... Hopefully we will all still be free when we see the end game......
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is a finger-puppet, not a ringleader.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Where was the Right when Pacifica, NPR, and "community radio" in general broke every rule about objectivity? These all sport tax-exempt status and have laughed their way to the bank. See, for documentation of the masquerade of objectivity played by these tax-exempt institutions of the social democratic Left and conspiracy theorists.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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