Lois Lerner, 2011: The Tea Party is “very dangerous”
We’re far past the point where Lois Lerner of the IRS should be wearing an orange jumpsuit and giving interviews through shatterproof glass. (In reality, she’s still drawing a plump paycheck at your expense, dear taxpayer, and nobody seems to know what she’s doing while on “administrative leave.”) The Wall Street Journal notes that despite frantic media-Democrat efforts to claim the IRS scandal is a storm the Obama Administration has weathered, congressional investigations continue, and they keep turning up highly inconvenient nuggets of previously buried information:
Emails unearthed by the House Ways and Means Committee between former Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner and her staff raise doubts about IRS claims that the targeting wasn’t politically motivated and that low-level employees in Cincinnati masterminded the operation.
In a February 2011 email, Ms. Lerner advised her staff—including then Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz—that a Tea Party matter is “very dangerous,” and is something “Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on.” Ms. Lerner adds, “Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.“
That’s a different tune than the IRS sang in May when former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said the agency’s overzealous enforcement was the work of two “rogue” employees in Cincinnati. When the story broke, Ms. Lerner suggested that her office had been unaware of the pattern of targeting until she read about it in the newspaper. “So it was pretty much we started seeing information in the press that raised questions for us, and we went back and took a look,” she said in May.
Earlier this summer, IRS lawyer Carter Hull, who oversaw the review of many Tea Party cases and questionnaires, testified that his oversight began in April 2010. Tea party cases under review are “being supervised by Chip Hull at each step,” Ms. Paz wrote to Ms. Lerner in a February 2011 email. “He reviews info from TPs, correspondence to TPs etc. No decisions are going out of Cincy until we go all the way through the process with the c3 and c4 cases here.” TP stands for Tea Party, and she means 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups.
Is there a single speck of the original IRS story about rogue low-level operatives in Cincinnati left? Is any statement made by the Administration during the first weeks of the scandal still operative?
The emails also put the targeting in the context of the media and Congressional drumbeat over the impact of conservative campaign spending on the 2012 elections. On July 10, 2012 then Lerner-adviser Sharon Light emailed Ms. Lerner a National Public Radio story on how outside money was making it hard for Democrats to hold their Senate majority.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had complained to the Federal Election Commission that conservative groups like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity should be treated as political committees, rather than 501(c)(4)s, which are tax-exempt social welfare groups that do not have to disclose their donors.
“Perhaps the FEC will save the day,” Ms. Lerner wrote back later that morning.
It looks like she’s hoping for her old colleagues at the FEC to rescue Senate Democrats from the onslaught of Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity. The Washington Post scrambles to save the day from her “save the day” comment by asserting, without evidence, that it’s “unclear whether Lerner was referring to preserving the Democratic majority, or the potential crackdown on groups not playing by the rules.” That’s pretty funny to anyone familiar with the stream of liberal groups that waltzed past Lerner’s department, fanning themselves with easily obtained 501(c)(4) exemptions while engaging in such non-partisan, non-political activities as “supporting President Obama in achieving enactment of the national agenda Americans voted for” and running Barack Obama’s Twitter feed.
As a warm ray of truth breaks through the heavy Obama Administration cloud cover and burns away liberal pipe dreams about an overzealous but non-political IRS going after progressive groups too, the Democrats’ full-time cover-up squad – fresh from their triumph in stonewalling yet another investigation into Obama’s bloody Benghazi disaster – is still doing their best to run interference on the IRS scandal, absurdly claiming that the huge mountain of evidence piling up against Lerner and her colleagues isn’t really there. From the Washington Times:
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Michigan Republican, said the emails from Ms. Lerner show a dangerous pattern.
“There is increasing and overwhelming evidence that Lois Lerner and high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions,” he said. “There are still mountains of documents to go through, but it is clear the IRS is out of control and there will be consequences.”
Democrats have argued that liberal groups were also scrutinized, though the latest emails suggest there was an effort to target tea party organizations.
Rep. Sander M. Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said there is still no evidence that the IRS was driven by a political motive to stifle conservative views.
“Lois Lerner was incompetent in her management of the IRS tax-exempt division and unprofessional in her conduct — reasons why I immediately called for her to be relieved of her duties,” Mr. Levin said.
He said, though, that Republicans are overselling what the investigation uncovered.
“Selective leaking by Republicans does not change the fact that tens of thousands of documents and dozens of interviews with IRS employees have revealed absolutely no evidence of political motivation, no evidence of outside influence and no evidence of White House involvement,” Mr. Levin said.
Who are you going to believe, Sander Levin or your own lying eyes? Are we going to let the Democrats swap Lois Lerner in for the nameless “low level employees in Cincinnati” as the designated sacrificial lamb… a lamb that gets to keep all its wool, since to this day no one has truly been punished for this outrage?