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Lois Lerner Tag

By now, most people know the back story. In the run-up to the 2012 election, Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations were subjected to unnecessary scrutiny and even harassment by the IRS to whom they were applying for non-profit status.

Two big items happened today concerning the IRS. No, the agency still exists and we have to pay taxes. However, the agency has apologized for targeting conservative groups due to their political beliefs during President Barack Obama's administration. Also, it's now official that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will leave in November as President Donald Trump announced a new leader.

Lois Lerner was the IRS official at the center of the scandal over targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups. The evidence was overwhelming that Tea Party and conservative groups had applications for tax exempt status delayed or denied, while liberal groups did not, and that this targeting was deliberate. Documents and hard drives went missing, Lerner pleaded the 5th, and there were years of obfuscation and delay in producing documents and information. The House Oversight Committee produced this video in 2014 summarizing what had happened:

It has been almost five years since news broke that officials at the IRS used the power of government to harass members of the Tea Party and other conservative groups. The media has largely ignored the scandal and so far, no one has gone to jail. Earlier this month, IRS officials claimed they couldn't testify because their lives were at risk. USA Today reported:
IRS officials say lives at risk in tea party bias case Details about tea party bias claims against the IRS could remain secret because current and former agency officials say their lives are in danger if they publicly testify about the case.

What a shock. Judicial Watch discovered that top IRS officials, including Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, knew that the agency targeted conservative groups before they told Congress. Judicial Watch reported:
The FBI documents also reveal that IRS officials stated that the agency was targeting conservative groups because of their ideology and political affiliation in the summer of 2011. According to one senior tax law specialist, “The case seemed to be pulled because of the applicant’s political affiliation and screening is not supposed to occur that way … [Redacted] said he thought the cases were being pulled based upon political affiliations.” And IRS senior official Nancy Marks, appointed by [then-acting Commissioner Steven] Miller to conduct an internal investigation stated, “Cincinnati was categorizing cases based on name and ideology, not just activity.”

Tea Party groups won a major victory last week, when Judge Susan J. Dlott of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio certified a class of Tea Party organizations that allege the IRS intentionally delayed their applications for preferential tax treatment based on their political viewpoints. Winning class certification in NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. Internal Revenue Service is a big deal, because it means the Court has already made several determinations, all of which favor the class.  The Court has determined that the number of Tea Party groups effected by the IRS's alleged behavior is so numerous that they can proceed together as a class.  The Court has also determined that all of the Tea Party groups have valid legal claims against the IRS which share common legal issues; in other words, that the IRS has treated them all the same way. Having survived the hazardous class certification step, the Plaintiffs will now get substantive discovery from the IRS and from third parties.  As the Washington Times summarized:

CNN Reports:
The Justice Department notified members of Congress on Friday that it is closing its two-year investigation into whether the IRS improperly targeted tea party and other conservative groups. There will be no charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner or anyone else at the agency, the Justice Department said in a letter. The probe found "substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime."
Despite incriminating evidence and findings by IRS inspectors that Tea Party and conservative groups were treated worse than other groups, DOJ found no support for the view that Lerner and others were politically motivated, as CNN further reported:

Last week, in an August 24, 2015 Status Report, the Internal Revenue Service disclosed that Lois Lerner used a secret personal email account denominated as "Toby Miles." The filing was in a FOIA case filed by Judicial Watch. In a filing last night of an August 31, 2015 Status Report, the IRS revealed that  Lerner also used "a second personal email account" that, unlike the Toby Miles account, "does not appear to be associated with a denomination; only the email address itself appears." The IRS refuses to disclose the email address for either the Toby Miles or the newly discovered account. (added) Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, commented on this latest disclosure:
“It is disturbing that the Obama administration’s explanations to a federal judge about Lois Lerner’s emails become inoperative after only one week. Last week, the court was told that that Lois Lerner had a second alias email account under the name “Toby Miles”. This week the court is told that the “Toby Miles” account isn’t a separate account but that that there still is a second Lerner account, address unrevealed, with IRS-related emails. This game of cat and mouse shows that both the Obama IRS and Justice Department continue with their contempt for Judge Sullivan’s orders that Ms. Lerner’s emails about this scandal be disclosed as the law requires.”
The August 31 status report reads, in part (full embed at bottom of post):

Late last night the IRS filed a Status Report (full embed at bottom of post) disclosing that Lois Lerner used a secret email account for some official business, under the name "Toby Miles." The Washington Times reports:
Lois Lerner had yet another personal email account used to conduct some IRS business, the tax agency confirmed in a new court filing late Monday that further complicates the administration’s efforts to be transparent about Ms. Lerner’s actions during the tea party targeting scandal. The admission came in an open-records lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that has sued to get a look at emails Ms. Lerner sent during the targeting.
The Status Report (embed below) discloses, in relevant part:
On August 24, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (“Service”) released to Judicial Watch, Inc., a CD containing documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request for Lois Lerner communications regarding the review and approval process for 501(c)(4) applications.... In the process of preparing this status report and for the August 24, 2015, release of Lerner communications, the undersigned attorneys learned that, in addition to emails to or from an email account denominated “Lois G. Lerner” or “Lois Home,” some emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal email account denominated “Toby Miles.” The undersigned attorneys contacted the Office of IRS Chief Counsel, and IRS Chief Counsel attorneys informed the undersigned attorneys that these denominations refer to a personal email account used by Lerner. (See Pl.’s Mot. for Status Conf., 15 n.8 (Docket No. 20-2) (noting that the Congressional database includes documents that Lerner’s attorneys provided from Lerner’s “personal home computer and email on her personal email” account(s)).)

Lois Lerner is back in the news. According to a new report, emails Lerner sent to a friend reveal that the called Republicans evil and dishonest. She also criticized the Citizens United ruling as one of the worst things to happen in the United States. Andrew Kugle of the Washington Free Beacon:
Lois Lerner: GOP is ‘Evil and Dishonest’ Former IRS official Lois Lerner said that Republicans are “evil and dishonest,” in a email dated March 26, according to Fox News reporter James Rosen. In the email, Lois Lerner described the time when she was called back to testify about the IRS targeting of conservatives before Congress. “They called me back to testify, on IRS ‘scandal,” Lerner wrote. “I took the fifth again and they had been so evil and dishonest in my lawyer’s dealings with them.”
Here's the video report with James Rosen of FOX News:

President Obama appeared on the Daily Show this week and claimed that the IRS never targeted the Tea Party. Yet according to an explosive new report from Judicial Watch, the IRS used donor lists from certain organizations to target specific people for audits:
Judicial Watch: New Documents Show IRS Used Donor Lists to Target Audits (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that confirm that the IRS used donor lists to tax-exempt organizations to target those donors for audits.  The documents also show IRS officials specifically highlighted how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may come under “high scrutiny” from the IRS.  The IRS produced the records in a Freedom of Information lawsuit seeking documents about selection of individuals for audit-based application information on donor lists submitted by Tea Party and other 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations (Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:15-cv-00220)). A letter dated September 28, 2010, then-Democrat Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) informs then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman: “   I request that you and your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations …”  In reply, in a letter dated February 17, 2011, Shulman writes: “In the work plan of the Exempt Organizations Division, we announced that beginning in FY2011, we are increasing our focus on section 501(c)(4), (5) and (6) organizations.”

Last time we saw Lois Lerner, she was breathing a sigh of relief upon hearing the news that the DOJ had declined to pursue contempt charges after her refusal to testify before a House committee. At the time, this may have seemed like a huge win, but in context, a contempt charge was and probably remains the least of Lerner's problems. Just months before learning she was in the clear, Lerner got buried beneath a damning pile of recovered e-mails showing a very, very paranoid Lois Lerner. The evidence gained from those e-mails suggests a group of officials bent on suppressing the free speech of their political enemies, and screams "cover up." Just think---what if there were even more e-mails out there containing even more damning evidence?! Ask, and you shall receive. An inspector general investigating IRS misconduct has unearthed additional e-mails, and turned them over to Congress. Via Fox News [emphasis mine]:
“This underscores that our investigation into IRS abuse is far from over,” a House Ways and Means Committee spokesman said Wednesday. “The committee will thoroughly review these new emails as part of our ongoing efforts to find out exactly what happened and provide accountability."

The Department of Justice may have let Lois Lerner off the hook, but a judge has ordered the IRS to release the names of the Tea Party groups that were singled out for scrutiny. Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times:
Judge orders IRS to release list of tea party groups targeted for scrutiny A federal judge ordered the IRS this week to turn over the list of 298 groups it targeted for intrusive scrutiny as the agency defends against a potential class-action lawsuit by tea party groups who claim their constitutional rights were violated. The IRS had argued it shouldn’t have to release the names because doing do would violate privacy laws, but Judge Susan J. Dlott, who sits in the Southern District of Ohio, rejected that claim and ordered the tax agency to turn over any lists or spreadsheets detailing the groups that were targeted and when they filed their applications. Judge Dlott also ordered the IRS to say whether a partial list of targeted groups reported by USA Today is authentic as a number of tea party groups try to win certification for a class action lawsuit against the IRS.

You all remember Lois Lerner's contemptuous refusal to testify before a House Committee after she gave an opening statement in which she effectively testified to her defense. The House sought a DOJ prosecution for contempt. News that will shock no one, DOJ will not prosecute. Politico reports:
The Justice Department will not seek criminal contempt charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, the central figure in a scandal that erupted over whether the tax agency improperly targeted conservative political groups.

One year ago, Barack Obama told Bill O'Reilly that there wasn't even a smidgeon of corruption at the IRS. If that statement was true, why is the Obama administration refusing to share documents related to the IRS targeting scandal? Bob Cusack of The Hill reported yesterday:
Obama administration won’t release IRS targeting documents The Obama administration is refusing to publicly release more than 500 documents on the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups. Twenty months after the IRS scandal broke, there are still many unanswered questions about who was spearheading the agency’s scrutiny of conservative-leaning organizations. The Hill sought access to government documents that might provide a glimpse of the decision-making through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Hill asked for 2013 emails and other correspondence between the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The request specifically sought emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and Treasury officials, including Secretary Jack Lew, while the inspector general was working on its explosive May 2013 report that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to review the political activities of tax-exempt groups. TIGTA opted not to release any of the 512 documents covered by the request, citing various exemptions in the law. The Hill recently appealed the FOIA decision, but TIGTA denied the appeal. TIGTA also declined to comment for this article.
The Department of Justice, which hasn't been politicized in any way, may be partially to blame for the slowness of the investigation.

Since 2013, we have been investigating charges that the IRS deliberately targeted and discriminated against conservative organizations that applied for tax-exempt status. Now, watchdog group Judicial Watch has uncovered even more evidence that the Washington office had something to hide during the initial Congressional investigations. Today's document release by Judicial Watch includes evidence that then-IRS official Lois Lerner strongly objected to and attempted to prevent a visit by Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Division Deputy Director Joseph H. Grant to the embattled Cincinnati office, which spent time “smack dab in the middle” of Congressional investigations into the IRS targeting of conservatives. From Judicial Watch:
The newly released documents include an intense chain of emails in which Lerner pleads with Grant, who was a supervisor to her, to “put this [Grant’s planned visit to Cincinnati] off please” at the very time during which both the internal IRS watchdog and Congress were investigating whether the IRS had been inappropriately targeting conservative groups in the months leading up to the 2012 elections. The chain begins with an email from Lerner to Grant, apparently written in response to her learning of the Deputy Director’s planned visit to the Cincinnati office: • April 4, 2012 – 4:41 PM – Lois Lerner to Joseph Grant: We just gor an very extensive information request from Imraan [Imraan Khakoo, TE/GE official] –sure looks like op review material. I’m especially concerned that information about pipeline is being asked about … Add to that the fact tha cincinnati is smack dab in the middle of the c4 Congressional inqueries and is about to get a request from TIGTA on all of that, this is NOT a good time to be asking them for anything or to be talking to them about issue in their work. Everyone is stressed to the max and at their wits end, so can we put this off please? [Typos in originals] • April 4, 2012 – 5:17 PM – Joseph Grant to Lois Lerner: It is a visit, not an OP review … I am also interested in the questions Imraan sent to them. Some answers should be readily at hand. Others certainly won’t be … The questions just serve as a framework for a broader conversation about how things are going and what is on our respective minds. • April 4, 2012 – 5:26 PM – Lois Lerner to Joseph Grant: I get that–but timing would be bad if we have to go to Cincy now. So, I will assume we can go over this here as I get the information I’ve already asked for? Thanks.
Breathe, Lois, breathe!