We’ve all been there, right? You’re working at a big, busy office. Someone else’s mail gets dropped on your desk by accident. They don’t belong to your political Party, so naturally you target them for an IRS audit. It could happen to any of us.
At any rate, it did happen to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), whose invitation to a speaking event was accidentally delivered to Lois Lerner, the Frau Blucher of the IRS’ Tax Exempt Organizations Division.
Based on an amazing string of emails that didn’t get wiped out in the rash of mysterious post-subpoena hard drive crashes afflicting multiple agencies of the Obama Administration, it seems Grassley’s invitation to the event in question was accidentally placed in an envelope addressed to Lerner. When Lerner got a look at Senator Grassley’s invite, she decided it might serve as a pretext for auditing the sitting Senator, because his wife was “inappropriately” invited to attend too.
Somewhat amusingly, an underling had to explain to the highly-compensated, extremely powerful Lerner that the invitation probably wasn’t inappropriate at all, at least not until and unless the Senator failed to report it properly on his tax returns. I guess it’s a lot to expect Democrat political operatives installed as IRS officials to understand the basics of tax law.
House Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp, whose committee released the emails with the permission of Senator Grassley and his wife, is beside himself: “We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States Senator is shocking. At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights. We may never know the full extent of the abuse since the IRS conveniently lost two years of Lerner emails, not to mention those of other key figures in this scandal. The fact that DOJ refuses to investigate the IRS???s abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this Administration???s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law.”
I suspect another wave of “hard drive crashes” is rolling through the IRS as we speak. As Rep. Camp suggests, we’ll have to use our imaginations to guess what was on the Lerner emails we won’t get to see. The Grassley caper was a lark, remarkable because of its casual nature; the Tax Exempt Organizations chief got a letter intended for a sitting Republican Senator and idly wondered if there might be a little something-something in there she could use to stir up trouble for him.
So, to recap: an offer for your wife to join you at a speaking event might be seized by ambitious officials of the politicized IRS to launch an audit that could destroy your life and career, but the IRS can ignore federal law concerning record-keeping at will, provided its commissioner has a gut feeling that the law doesn’t really matter.