Emails Reveal Lois Lerner Thought It Was "Dangerous" for a Top IRS Staffer to Talk to the Treasury Inspector General Alone



When a member of The Washington Post editorial board emailed an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) communications staffer questions about targeting of conservative non-profits in May, 2013, the proposed response included the statement that "organizations from all parts of the political spectrum received the same, evenhanded treatment." But according to a trove of recently released IRS emails, first reported by USA Today, that response was nixed by Lois Lerner, the head of the agency's tax-exempt unit and the central figure in an ongoing investigation regarding the agency's targeting of conservative non-profits, who responded, "It sounds like we track it, and we don't."

The agency may not have tracked the political leanings of the groups being targeted in real time. But a year before, an IRS staffer sent an email to Lerner tallying the political lean of the groups involved in cases under investigation. Of the 199 501(c)(4) cases—involving groups which face no restrictions on mission-related lobbying—an estimated 75 percent were conservative, according to an internal IRS email published by Judicial Watch, which has been seeking the public release of emails related to IRS targeting. Less than five percent appeared to be liberal. More than half of the 84 cases investigating 501(c)(3) organizations, which are more restricted in their activities, were conservative.

Lerner also admitted that the agency's actions involving scrutiny of conservative non-profits could have appeared to be politically motivated, although she denies that they were, and insists that the mistakes were due to poor management. In a January 2013 email noted by USA Today, Lerner writes that "front line staff people" handling the investigations may have used "less than stellar judgment." And she says that may be her fault. "I am willing to take the blame for not having provided sufficient direction initially, which may have resulted in front line staff doing things that appeared to be politically motivated, but I am not on board that anything that occurred here shows that the IRS was politically motivated in the actions taken."

In separate email thread published by Judicial Watch, Lerner seems wary of allowing another staffer to provide information related to the investigation without her presence. 

On the morning of June 28, 2012, Holly Paz, then the head of the IRS Office of Rulings and Agreements, who last summer was placed on administrative leave, sent brief message to Lerner. "Now TIGTA [the Treasury Inspector General's office] wants to talk to me. I am guessing they read this morning's paper," she said in an email. The Wall Street Journal had run an article that day about the IRS scrutinizing the tax status of Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS group.  

Lerner was concerned. She wanted to be there when Paz taked with the IG. "Not alone. Wait til I am there," she wrote back less than 20 minutes later.

Paz responded four minutes later. "Sorry. Too late. He already called me." The call, Paz explained, was not about the Journal article, but about "trying to get a better understanding of the scope of the Camp request"—a letter that had recently been sent from House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) with questions regarding IRS targeting.

Lerner's response: "Just as dangerous. I'll talk to you soon. Be there in half an hour."

The obvious question this exchange raises is why, exactly, she was so concerned. There's no further record of the meeting, nor any indication of what they might have talked about. But it's clear enough that Lerner thought there was a reason to worry about what the IG might hear. 

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  1. Phake Skandul

  2. It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this!

    ::destroys hard drive with wooden sword::

    1. “It’s a secret to everybody.”

    2. LOL! Awesome!

    3. Damn it, I can’t even be a couple of minutes late or all the good posts are already taken.

  3. Excellent alt-text Suderman.

    1. and kind of disturbing – and thus double-plus excellent.

  4. an estimated 75 percent were conservative


    1. Were you born a fat, slimy, scumbag puke piece o’ shit, or did you have to work on it?

      1. Hey, I hear the ProActive regimen is working out nicely for the pizza face.

        1. Not so well on the pizza butt.

      2. He had to work on it.

        I believe the man was once human, but through abuse of nasty mind altering substances like wood alcohol, has wrecked his brain so thoroughly that it is no longer sentient.

        The reason why it sounds so much like Wiegel is because it hoovers up bits of text produced by sentient creatures (including professional writers like Wiegel) and regurgitates them, trying to ape human patterns of discourse.

        It is remarkably successful, considering that its brainpower is likely on the level of a cockroach.

        1. I find your theory intriguing.

          Could it not also be possible that it is just sentient enough to write Weigel’s columns?

      3. Weigel was born that way, and he’ll die that way. It comes naturally to him.

    2. I’m starting to think that letting Crazy Uncle Joe tag in might be just what we need to settle the foreign policy thing down. Like Riggs in Lethal Weapon.

      1. No shit. Obumbles doesn’t understand how it works.

        The vice-pres is an insurance policy. If you are pres
        you can’t act in a way that is worse than the vice-pres would. That cancels out the insurance.

    3. slurp that cock demfag.

    4. To be fair, we don’t have enough info. If 90% of the 199 applications were from conservative groups, then having 75% of them checked might be fair. If 50% were from liberal groups, and 5% were checked then it might be unfair.

      1. It wasn’t just who was targeted. The conservative groups were also asked more questions and had to hand over more information on their donors (some of which information the IRS really shouldn’t be able to ask for) than their liberal counterparts.

  5. Lerner’s response: “Just as dangerous. I’ll talk to you soon. Be there in half an hour.”

    The obvious question this exchange raises is why, exactly, she was so concerned.

    Oh, no reason, this totally looks like someone with nothing to hide.

  6. Incredible how blatant they are. I thought Koskinen had an even better ‘fuck you’ attitude when testifying than Lerner. Yes, we are paying these people to fuck us and wipe their asses with the constitution.

    Oh look, shreek is defending them. I would be disappointed if he weren’t.

  7. If organizations across the spectrum *are* receiving even handed treatment, one doesn’t need to track the matter; for example, I doubt the IRS collects information about applicants’ hair color, nor do they use hair color to make decisions.

    I don’t think the dangerous bit was whether or not they were approving applications. Rather the focus seemed to be on getting donor lists. Given the administrations’ single minded focus on collecting email addresses and names of both friends and enemies, and their A game on leveraging this information to win elections, my guess is the scandal is going to involve the transmission of the data the IRS collects to organizations active in current political campaigns.

    1. But it was just metadata!

    1. Huh, Hillary Clinton makes an appearance at 0:28.

  8. I wouldn’t have so much of a problem with Lois Lerner’s verbal answers, if the 27 people cc’d on the email chains didn’t all have miraculous, simultaneous hard drive crashes.

    1. And all kept their emails in local *.pst files instead of on the fucking exchange server.

      1. “Ser-ver?” (looks quizzically) “…and what does that *do*, exactly?”
        – Congressional ‘Investigator’

  9. The obvious question this exchange raises is why, exactly, she was so concerned.

    Because she’s a lying, mendacious, pos?

    1. “Cunt” is the word you’re searching for, I believe.

  10. Despite the scandal she’s involved in, Lerner is actually right here. As an employee, talking to an inspector alone IS dangerous, for exactly the same reason that talking to a cop alone is dangerous.

    1. Well, as far as I know, the IG isn’t going to shoot you for holding a cell phone, but I agree. Even if everything is/was on the up and up, all it takes is for one lackey to misspeak and she’s got a shitstorm on her hands.

      1. Well, as far as I know, the IG isn’t going to shoot you for holding a cell phone

        The Treasury Office of the Inspector General does have a swat team, actually…

  11. Roll that beautiful bean footage.

    1. Gah! Not for Lois Lerner, you miserable bot!

  12. Regular dangerous or CARLOS DANGERous?

  13. Lerner also admitted that the agency’s actions involving scrutiny of conservative non-profits could have appeared to be politically motivated, although she denies that they were, and insists that the mistakes were due to poor management.

    It’s merely a bizarre coincidence. And besides, those teabaggers are sneaky; you can’t be too careful.

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