Darrell Issa asked Lois Lerner a serier of devastating questions about her involvment in the IRS's targeting of conservatives.
[Slide 1] In October 2010, you told a Duke University group: “The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year-old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns. And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it. They want the IRS to fix the problem.”
• Who exactly wanted you to “fix the problem” caused by Citizens United?
[Slide 2] In February 2011, you e-mailed your colleagues in the IRS: “Tea Party Matter very dangerous. This could be the vehicle to go to court on the issue of whether Citizens United overturning the ban on corporate spending applies to tax-exempt rules. Counsel and Judy Kindell need to be in on this one please. Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”
• Why did you think the Tea Party cases were “very dangerous”?
[Slide 3] In September 2010, you e-mailed your subordinates about initiating a “c4 project,” but wrote: “we need to be cautious so it isn’t a per se political project.”
• Why were you worried about this being perceived as a political project?
[Slide 4] Michael Seto, manager of EO Technical in Washington, testified that you ordered Tea Party cases to undergo a “multi-tier review.” He testified: “She sent me email saying that when these cases need to go through multi-tier review and they will eventually have to go to Miss Kindell and the chief counsel’s office.”
• Why did you order the Tea Party cases to undergo a “multi-tier review”?
[Slide 5] In June 2011, you requested that Holly Paz obtain a copy of the tax-exempt application filed by Crossroads GPS so that your senior technical advisor, Judy Kindell, could review it and summarize the issues for you.
• Why did you want to have the Crossroads GPS application?
[Slide 6] In June 2012, you were part of an e-mail exchange that appeared to be about writing new regulations on political speech for 501(c)(4) groups “off-plan” in 2013.
• What does “off-plan” mean?
[Slide 7] In February 2014, President Obama stated that there was not a “smidgeon of corruption” in the IRS targeting.
• Ms. Lerner, do you believe that there is not a smidgeon of corruption in the IRS targeting of conservatives? [Slide 8] On Saturday, our Committee’s General Counsel sent an e-mail to your lawyer stating:
“I understand … that Ms. Lerner is willing [to] testify, and she is requesting a one week delay. In talking to the Chairman, wanted to make sure we had this right.”
Your lawyer gave a one word e-mail response: “yes.”
Are you still seeking this discussed delay?
Lerner refused to answer the questions. And instead invoked the 5th Amendment.
The Scrapbook’s attention was drawn last week to a front-page story in the New York Times about a small organization, based in Los Angeles, that is applying for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. Called the Friends of Abe, it is a loose association of about 1,500 “players in the entertainment industry” who gather periodically to dine together and listen to invited speakers.
Last Friday, I critiqued a piece by Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan for inaccurately summarizing the media coverage of the IRS scandal. I encourage you to read both pieces, but in a nutshell Nyhan was arguing that the media had failed to report on new developments since the scandal broke that would reshape our understanding of the scandal as being less driven by partisanship.
Over at the Columbia Journalism Review, political scientist Brendan Nyhan has a piece dismissing the IRS scandal out-of-hand and gently scolding the media for for acting irresponsibly in their coverage. You get the thrust in the first two paragraphs:
At this point, the evidence on the Internal Revenue Service scandal is clear. Contrary to the initial hype, there is no credible evidence of White House involvement in targeting conservative groups or even evidence that Tea Party or other conservative groups were targeted exclusively. It turns out that the keyword lists used by the IRS to target groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny also included terms like “Occupy” and “Progressive” as well as “occupied territories” and “open source software.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew refused to say on national TV this morning whether the politically appointed counsel of the IRS, William Wilkins, has been asked about his participation in the federal agency's scandal:
"Chris, I am leaving the investigation to the proper people who do investigations," said Lew. "I don't think it's appropriate for me to do the investigation."
It’s going to be a long summer in Washington. With so many scandals, news organizations that have spent years sweeping startling allegations about the Obama administration under the rug now find themselves overwhelmed. Woe betide the average citizen who just wants to know what the heck his government is up to.
Valerie Jarrett, a top adviser to President Barack Obama, says she and the rest of the White House remain "very upbeat" despite the series of scandals that have engulfed the Obama administration in recent weeks.