It’s a free country. Until a few elections happen.
A FOIA request from Judicial Watch has uncovered e-mails from Lois Lerner that discussed an effort to push criminal prosecution of tax-exempt status applicants — and right before IRS targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge.
“I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ, I know him from contacts from my days there. He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.”
Recently Mortimer Caplin announced his retirement at the age of 96. Caplin may have been the only IRS chief to appear on the cover of Time Magazine back when he was targeting JFK’s political enemies with audits as part of Kennedy’s “Ideological Organizations Project.”
“I remember that the president made a speech and I got a call from the White House again,” Caplin would later write. “The right-wing organizations were believed to be overstepping their tax-exemption bounds.”
Why did DOJ feel the need to respond? Who was pushing for criminal prosecution of the opposition?