By Jim Kouri
Government documents obtained by a top “Inside the Beltway” watchdog group and released on Thursday reveal that Internal Revenue Service’s Lois Lerner was strongly urged by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, her assistance in attacking certain non-profit political groups. The organizations they selected for targeting by Lerner were part of the Tea Party and conservative movements.
The group that investigates and exposes government corruption, Judicial Watch, released newly acquired IRS documents, including an email from Ms. Lerner in February 2012 requesting she “put together some training points to help them [IRS staffers] understand the potential pitfalls of revealing too much information to Congress.
One of the released documents is a Lerner email from 2013 that she was willing to ‘take a bullet” for Obama and his White House for the IRS scandal and that she understood why the targeting of Tea Party organizations and other conservative groups may raise questions regarding what did President Obama know and when did he know it. Obama had told the press that he first read about the IRS targeting of conservatives in the newspaper.
According to a Judicial Watch officials, “A May 1, 2013, email exchange between Lois Lerner and other top IRS staffers revealed that 11 days prior to Lerner’s admission that the IRS had “inappropriately” targeted conservative groups, she met with select top staffers from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in a “marathon” meeting to discuss concerns raised by both Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that the IRS was not reining in political advocacy groups in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Senator McCain had been the chief sponsor of the McCain-Feingold Act and called the Citizens United decision, which overturned portions of the Act, one of the ‘worst decisions I have ever seen.'”
This latest batch of documents were obtained after a federal judge issued a court order in one of the Judicial Watch’s lawsuits about the IRS’ abuses and included is Lerner’s most extensive of the IRS scandal. In it she describes her interactions with the Treasury Department Inspector General’s investigators in a lengthy, rambling email dated Jan. 31, 2013: “We feel your folks are being too narrow in their view and have decided that because of the language on the earlier BOLO [Be On the Lookout] list regarding Tea Party, everything that followed was tainted…They also don’t seem to be taking a big picture look at what we have done… When we describe that process, they acknowledge that that approach sounds reasonable, but seem to be saying that reasonableness is overshadowed by the fact that the criteria look bad to folks on the outside, so there is no way we could cure the initial bad impression.
“We understand why the criteria might raise questions….So, I’m not sure how they [TIGTA] investigators are looking at we were politically motivated, or what they are looking for with regard to targeting. They didn’t seem to understand the difference between IRS acting in a politically motivated manner and front line staff people using less than stellar judgment. I am willing to take the blame for not having provided sufficient direction initially, which may have resulted in front line staff doing things that appeared to be politically motivated, but I am not on board that anything that occurred here shows that the IRS was politically motivated in the actions taken.”
The Judicial Watch-obtained documents disclosed how Lois Lerner was already aware that Treasury Department’s Inspector General was uncomfortable with the the political aspects of the IRS targeting groups specifically because of their opposition to Obama’s re-election. Lerner forwarded her discussion with a TIGTA official and notes that it “seems like we may very well be in disagreement [with TIGTA] big time. That means we will need to start drafting our arguments.”
“These new emails show that the IRS scandal is not over,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These documents point to document gaps caused by the refusal of the Obama IRS to search for Lois Lerner’s emails. The incredible email from Lois Lerner admitting (and denying) culpability by her and the IRS in the scandal further undermines President Obama’s lie that the IRS scandal was entirely the fault of ‘bonehead decisions in local offices.’”
Jim Kouri, CPP, the fifth Vice President and Public Information Officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, has served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.