IRS PROBE REVEALS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S AGGRESSIVENESS AGAINST TEA PARTY MEMBERS
NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
March 17, 2014
© 2014 NewsWithViews.com
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, released a report on Tuesday that reiterates the committee's desire to hold of the IRS Exempt Organizations division head, Lois Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify thereby preventing the panel from moving forward with its investigation.
"Chairman Issa and the Republican congressmen better not hold their breath: they will learn nothing from Lerner as long as the focus by the news media is on the tiffs between Republicans and the Obama administration-defending Democrats," said political strategist Mike Baker.
"If anything the infighting on the panel of lawmakers allows the news media's Obama sycophants to digress to their hearts' content. When will the GOP learn how to handle the news people?" Baker added.
When Lerner appeared before Issa's committee last week, she responded to each and every question by citing the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer any and all questions posed by Issa or other committee members.
As a result of Lerner's refusal to testify, the Oversight Committee released its report which, while not containing her testimony, does include emails, remarks she's made to reporters, and her relationships with IRS agents involved in extraordinarily unusual scrutinizing of tax-exempt status applications submitted by conservative groups that use the words "Tea Party" or "Patriots" within the names of their organizations.
The 141-page report alleges that Lerner purposely setup stonewalls to prevent conservative or libertarian groups from garnering the "501(c)(4)" tax-exempt approval.
The released report states, Lerner believed the Executive Branch needed to take steps to undermine the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. A senior advisor to Lerner e-mailed her an article about allegations that unknown conservative donors were influencing U.S. Senate races. The article explained how outside money was making it increasingly difficult for Democrats to remain in the majority in the Senate. Lerner replied: “Perhaps the FEC will save the day.”
According to Issa's statement in the report.
"In the wake of Ms. Lerner's refusal to testify and answer questions, this report offers detailed evidence about steps she took to crack down on organizations that exercised their constitutional rights to free political speech
"She involved herself in efforts to apply unprecedented scrutiny to new applicants, existing organizations, and to write new rules after President Obama and other prominent Democrats expressed outrage at the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision."
Within the report, Issa quoted a letter that was sent to Lerner by the committee: "Moreover, despite repeated questions from the Committee over a year ago and despite your intimate knowledge of the situation, you failed to inform the Committee of IRS’s plan, developed in early 2010, to single out conservative groups and how that plan changed over time. You also failed to inform the Committee that IRS launched its own internal review of this matter in late March 2012, or that the internal review was completed on May 3, 2012, finding significant problems in the review process and a substantial bias against conservative groups. At no point did you or anyone else at IRS inform Congress of the results of these findings."
In February 2012, the Committee received complaints from several congressional offices alleging that the IRS was delaying the approval of conservative-oriented organizations for tax exempt status. On February 17, 2012, Committee staff requested a briefing from the IRS about this matter. On February 24, 2012, Lerner and other IRS officials provided the Committee staff with an informal briefing. The Committee continued to receive complaints of disparate treatment by the IRS EO office, and the matter continued to garner media attention.
On March 27, 2012, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent Lerner a joint letter requesting information about development letters that the IRS sent several applicants for tax-exempt status.
In response, Lerner participated in a briefing with Committee staff on April 4, 2012. She also sent two letters to the Committee, dated April 26, 2012, and May 4, 2012, in response to the Committee’s March 27, 2012 letter. Lerner’s responses largely focused on rules, regulations, and IRS processes for evaluating applications for tax-exempt status. In the course of responding to the Committee’s request for information, Lerner made several false statements.
Prior to Lerner’s attempted assertion of her Fifth Amendment privilege, the Committee believed her testimony would advance the investigation of the targeting of tax-exempt conservative-oriented organizations.
The following facts supported the Committee’s assessment of the probative value of Lerner’s testimony:
• Lerner was head of the IRS Exempt Organization’s division, where the targeting of conservative groups occurred. She managed the two IRS divisions most involved with the targeting – the EO Determinations Unit in Cincinnati and the EO Technical Unit in Washington, D.C.
Lerner has not provided any testimony since the release of TIGTA’s
Committee staff have conducted transcribed interviews of numerous IRS officials in Cincinnati and Washington. Without testimony from Lois Lerner, however, the Committee will never be able to fully understand the IRS’s actions. Lerner has unique, first-hand knowledge of how and why the IRS decided to scrutinize conservative applicants.
Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel did not interview Lerner as part of
ongoing internal review. In finding no intentional wrongdoing associated with the targeting of conservative groups, Werfel never spoke to Lois Lerner. Furthermore, Werfel lacks the power to require Lerner to provide answers.
• Lerner’s signature appears on harassing letters the IRS sent to targeted groups. As part of the “development” of the cases, the IRS sent harassing letters to the targeted organizations, asking intrusive questions consistent with guidance from senior IRS officials in Washington. Letters sent under Lois Lerner’s signature included inappropriate questions, including requests for donor information.
Lerner appears to have edited the TIGTA report. According to documents
provided by the IRS, Lerner was the custodian of a draft version of the TIGTA report that contained tracked changes and written edits that became part of the final report. Many of Lerner’s voluntary statements from May 22, 2013, have been refuted by evidence obtained by the Committee. Contrary to her statement that she did not do “anything wrong,” the Committee knows that Lerner was intrinsically involved in the IRS’s inappropriate treatment of tax-exempt applicants.
Contrary to Lerner’s plea that she has not “violated any IRS rules or regulations,” the Committee has learned that Lerner transmitted sensitive taxpayer information to her non-official e-mail account in breach of IRS rules. Contrary to Lerner’s statement that she has not provided “false information to this or any other congressional committee,” the Committee has confirmed that Lerner made four false and misleading statements about the IRS’s screening criteria and information requests for tax-exempt applicants.
In the months following the May 22, 2013 hearing, and after the receipt of additional documents from IRS, it is clear that Lerner’s testimony is essential to understanding the truth regarding the targeting of certain groups.
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