Former IRS mandarin Lois Lerner orchestrated an unprecedented crackdown on Tea Party and conservative groups and then attempted to scapegoat those nonprofits, blaming them for the harsh treatment they received at her instigation, according to a damning report released yesterday by congressional investigators.
The report came out six days after Lerner appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee under subpoena and for a second time refused to testify about IRS targeting of right-of-center 501c4 nonprofit advocacy groups during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. (The full report is available in PDF form at the committee’s website.) At the March 5 hearing, which was a continuation of a hearing started last year, Lerner again opted to invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
President Obama has claimed that there was not even “a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS affair but anyone with eyes knows the Obama administration has been stonewalling and intimidating witnesses who know the ugly truth about these Third World banana republic-style tax abuses.
Democrats correctly view Tea Party groups, that is, right-wing populist groups, as an existential threat to the Left. These nonprofits tend to be Republican-leaning organizations and they have been successful so far in derailing, or at least slowing, parts of President Obama’s ongoing transformation of America. Many left-wingers don’t believe such groups are legitimate and don’t want them granted official recognition and tax-exempt status by the IRS.
The report also comes as lawmakers consider whether to cite Lerner for contempt of Congress.
“Many questions remain, including the identities of others at the IRS and elsewhere who may have known about key events and decisions she undertook. Americans, and particularly those Americans who faced mistreatment at the hands of the IRS, deserve the full documented truth that both Lois Lerner and the IRS have withheld from them,” the new report states.
But “[e]ven without her full testimony, and despite the fact that the IRS has still not turned over many of her e-mails, a political agenda to crack down on tax-exempt organizations comes into focus,” the report continues. “Lerner believed the political participation of tax-exempt organizations harmed Democratic candidates, she believed something needed to be done, and she directed action from her unit at the IRS.”
“Compounding the egregiousness of the inappropriate actions, Lerner’s own e-mails showed recognition that she would need to be ‘cautious’ so it would not be a ‘per se political project,’” the report states. It continues:
She was involved in an “off-plan” effort to write new regulations in a manner that intentionally sought to undermine an existing framework for transparency. Most damning of all, even when she found that the actions of subordinates had not adhered to a standard that could be defended as not “per se political,” instead of immediately reporting this conduct to victims and appropriate authorities, Lerner engaged in efforts to cover it up. She falsely denied to Congress that criteria for scrutiny had changed and that disparate treatment had occurred.
Professor Paul L. Caron of Pepperdine University School of Law prepared a summary of the new 141-page report that contradicts Democrats in the House who have argued that Lerner was driven out of the tax collection agency by a May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The TIGTA report held that the Exempt Organizations division of the IRS that she headed “inappropriately targeted ‘Tea Party’ and other conservative applicants for tax-exempt status and subjected them to heightened scrutiny.”
Citing the congressional report, Caron notes that this extra scrutiny resulted “in extended delays that, in most cases, sidelined applicants during the 2012 election cycle, in spite of their Constitutional right to participate,” the new report states. At the same time, “the majority of liberal and left-leaning 501(c)(4) applicants won approval.”
New emails referenced in the report showed that, contrary to Democrats’ claims, Lerner had planned to retire from the IRS long before the TIGTA report was made public. Lerner’s paid leave was, in effect, a paid vacation before her retirement. Apparently the IRS did not penalize her for her misbehavior.
The report discusses a March 2012 document that Lerner approved while at the IRS. It authorized an IRS response to Congress that blackened the names of the affected advocacy groups, blaming them for the heightened level of scrutiny to which their tax-exempt applications were subjected. Committee investigators believe that Lerner knew what she was doing was wrong.
Lerner ran afoul of IRS rules by mishandling taxpayer information. Although she told a congressional committee last year under oath that she had “not violated any IRS rules or regulations,” emails demonstrate that she did. The report states that Lerner handled protected taxpayer information in her nonofficial email account.
In correspondence dated November 2013, then-IRS chief Daniel Werfel wrote, “We do not permit IRS officials to send taxpayer information to their personal email addresses. An IRS employee should not send taxpayer information to his or her personal email address in any form, including redacted.”
Lerner apparently believed the Obama administration needed to do something to undermine the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, that wonderful pro-First Amendment ruling that drives left-wingers into fits of apoplexy by opening the door to corporate campaign contributions. After one of her advisors sent her an article about how conservative donors’ contributions were impacting U.S. Senate races and how outside money was making it hard for Democrats to retain their majority in that chamber, Lerner emailed back, “Perhaps the FEC will save the day.”
Last week’s sitting of the panel ended in chaos when President Obama’s lead obfuscating lapdog on the committee, ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), pulled a well-publicized stunt calculated to make committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) look mean-spirited. After Lerner took the Fifth in response to a series of questions Issa put to her, Issa gaveled the proceedings to a close, saying it was obvious that Lerner would not testify at the hearing that was convoked specifically for her testimony.
To direct public attention away from the IRS scandal and tamp down growing calls for the president’s impeachment, Cummings then exploded at Issa, demanding to speak and ranting about the supposed unfairness of it all in front of the television news cameras.
Predictably, media figures such as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer hammered Issa, accusing him of being rude to Cummings, a left-wing sacred cow because he is considered to have been a civil rights leader in the Sixties. House Democrats savaged Issa and even moved a resolution that condemned him, but the resolution was easily voted down. Issa soon caved to media-manufactured pressure and apologized to Cummings, thereby vindicating the Democrat’s gimmicky bit of political theater.
There is little doubt that Obama defenders will dream up still more distractions to keep the public’s eye off the IRS scandal in the lead-up to the November congressional elections.
Don’t miss Daniel Greenfield on this week’s Glazov Gang discussing Why Lois Lerner Pleaded the Fifth, and much, much more:
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.