Media coverage of yesterday's latest development in the Lois Lerner saga focused on her colorful description of conservatives as "crazies" and "a--holes" in emails released by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich).
Few news outlets highlighted her earlier emails in the same November 2012 email chain in which she discussed a partial deferral of her retention bonus -- and then proceeded to complain about the riffraff destroying a beautiful upper-class village she toured on her part-business, part-pleasure hop across the pond to Great Britain.
The subject of the email exchange, "Suspension of Retention," pertained to an encrypted document Lerner received and then forwarded to a colleague whose name was redacted. Lerner explained the contents of the document to this person, as he or she was unable to decrypt it:
How silly. It just said they have to stop my retension [sic] pay b [sic] because I made too much this year and will give me the rest next year in a lump sum.
Consider the absurdity of Lerner receiving a retention bonus: taxpayers actually gave her more money than her original base salary -- as much as 25 percent -- for her noble, public service-oriented decision to remain in her position where she could continue to keep the "crazies" in check.
Government retention "incentives," as the Office of Personnel Management labels them, are granted if an employee is viewed as indispensable and would leave without the bonus, or if an employee's skills are needed during the time of an office relocation or closure and would also leave without the extra pay. Lerner presumably fell under the first category:
The agency determines that the unusually high or unique qualifications of the employee or a special need of the agency for the employee's services makes it essential to retain the employee and that the employee would be likely to leave the Federal service in the absence of an incentive...
Lerner certainly filled a "special need" for the White House in the 2012 election cycle by suppressing 292 Tea Party groups. But one wonders if Lerner, who had worked in government for about 31 years at the time she wrote the email, was really going to leave if denied a bonus.
To add insult to injury to taxpayers, this high-ranking IRS official likely paid a smaller overall tax bill because the IRS spread out her bonus over two years. If only we all had the option to manipulate our taxable income from year to year to our advantage.
As the Washington Times points out in its editorial today:
Ms. Lerner earned around $177,000 per year and had hit the statutory limit for her pay grade....She knew how to game the system to extract the maximum amount of money from taxpayers.
Lerner's email conversation continued the next morning, as her pen pal asked, "So what's in store for the weekend?"
To which Lerner replied: