Over the past several months it has become abundantly clear that former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner has no intention of talking. Last May she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and she invoked it again in March when recalled by Congress to answer to new allegations rising out of the ongoing investigation.
The problem is that nobody in the Obama Administration seems the least bit concerned. As the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes:
Ms. Lerner twice refused to testify before Congress, IRS general counsel William Wilkins claimed 80 times that he couldn’t recall events, [the Department of] Justice has leaked to the press that it will charge no one, and House Democrats have become obstructionist.
Mr. Holder put Obama donor Barbara Bosserman in charge of the investigation, and in June last year, mere weeks after the targeting came to light, Ranking Ways and Means Democrat Elijah Cummings declared that the “case is solved.” President Obama in February upstaged his own Justice Department by announcing that there was not a “smidgen” of corruption, even as the investigation supposedly continues.
Despite the White House’s stonewalling the evidence of scandal continues to pour in. Evidence unveiled by the Ways and Means Committee shows that Lerner quarterbacked a coordinated campaign to crack down on conservative groups. Previous evidence showed that the IRS gave extra scrutiny to groups like Americans for Responsible Leadership, Freedom Path and Rightchange.com along with organizations that included the words “Tea Party” or “patriots” in the title. But new reports shows that the Lerner and the IRS targeted higher-profile, bigger-impact organizations like Crossroads GPS.
The committee released emails showing that Lerner personally intervened to influence IRS officials to deny Crossroads tax exempt status. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The most troubling new evidence are documents showing that Ms. Lerner actively corresponded with liberal campaign-finance groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, which had asked the IRS to investigate if conservative groups including Crossroads GPS were violating their tax-exempt status. After personally meeting with the two liberal outfits, Ms. Lerner contacted the director of the Exempt Organizations Examinations Unit in Dallas to ask why Crossroads had not been audited.
“You should know that we are working on a denial of the application,” Ms. Lerner wrote in an email. “Please make sure all moves regarding the org are coordinated up here before we do anything.” The Cincinnati agent assigned to the case at the time, Joseph Herr, noted on his timesheet, “[b]ased on conference, begin reviewing case information, tax law and draft/template advocacy denial letter, all to think about how best to compose the denial letter.”
The denial letter seemed a sharp change of course from the IRS’ earlier actions. Prior to Lerner’s involvement there was no recommendation of denial in the report done by the Exempt Organizations division, nor was there any indication of wrongdoing in Herr’s communications.
Was the crackdown politically motivated? The evidence seems to point that way. But we can say with confidence that Lerner was not a neutral arbiter applying a dispassionate analysis to conservative and liberal groups alike. In fact, one damning email shows that Lerner even joked that her actions may get her noticed by Organizing for Action, a tax-exempt nonprofit that began as Organizing for America – the grassroots arm of Obama for America.
“Right now, the Obama campaign site includes info about this new org, featuring a blog from the new executive director who is leaving the White House to run it from Chicago. They’ll also have a DC office,” one IRS employee writes to Lerner.
“Oh—maybe I can get the DC office job!” Lerner responds.
Will that be enough to get Lerner to talk or the Obama Administration to act? Doubtful. But America deserves answers one way or another.