At congressional hearings yesterday, it was revealed that the IRS planted a question at an ABA meeting in order to give Lois Lerner of the IRS the opportunity to get ahead of the pending Inspector General Report and make it seem as if the IRS had voluntarily disclosed the targeting of Tea Party and conservatives.

The person with whom the IRS planted the question was Celia Roady, a tax lawyer who handles tax exempt issues and is very close to the IRS.

There is some dispute as to whether Roady initially denied the question was a set-up, with clear reporting by TPM as to Roady’s denial being partially walked back by two attendees who initially stated that Roady denied the set-up but now say it may not have been that clear.

Regardless, Roady now is at the center of a firestorm, as the IRS setting up the question and answer sends a message of consciousness of guilt.  The mainstream media now is all over it.

Jonathan Steele at Legal Ethics Forum sees Roady as something of a victim here:

The story is still developing but it now appears that the lawyer who was prompted to ask the planted question at the ABA conference did not know the answer and was surprised at Lerner’s answer. If that’s true, think about how rotten that was: set up a colleague to ask what will become a notorious Q-and-A when she assumed it was just an ordinary question at an ordinary conference and would be answered with the same, ordinary answer the IRS had been giving Congress and the public for some time. Now, unfortunately, when that lawyer’s name pops up here or there it will be associated with the IRS’s deceptive scheme. When a federal agency has been falsely answering a persistent, urgent question from Congress, the agency should report the truth directly to the Congress rather than scheme to create a ruse (and use an unwitting accomplice) only when the truth is going to come out anyway. That’s active concealment of bad conduct.

I agree but only to a very limited point.  It was rotten of the IRS to have Roady ask the question.

But, Roady knew that she was asking a planted question and when the bombshell answer dropped, she could have told people that it was a set-up question.

Roady did not make that disclosure at the time, as far as anyone has reported, presumably because of her close relationship with the IRS.

As the days dragged on, and speculation swirled as to whether the question was planted, Roady was silent as far as I can tell. It was only after congressional testimony disclosing the set-up that Roady made the disclosure.

Roady still has not responded to my request for comment.

The only victims here are the Tea Party and conservative groups who were subjected to political targeting at the IRS.