Earlier this month Lois Lerner refused for the second time to testify before a House committee about what she knows about the Obama administration’s siccing of the IRS on political opponents – an abuse of power in which she played a principal lead -- invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Jim Jordan, Republican Congressman from Ohio and a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government, wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week (“A Special Prosecutor for the IRS”), that the regardless of administration stonewalling the committee investigation has uncovered evidence showing that “the administration's version of the agency's targeting of conservative nonprofits seeking tax-exempt status—such as blaming local officials in the Cincinnati office or claiming that liberal groups were victimized along with conservative groups—is nonsense.”
The real news has been revealed at the Lois Lerner hearing on March 5 and in the report of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on March 11: "Lois Lerner's Involvement in the IRS Targeting of Tax-Exempt Organizations." The evidence brought to light in that hearing and report completely discredited Ms. Lerner's claims about her involvement in what went on. It also eviscerated the notion that liberal and conservative groups were targeted.
When Ms. Lerner appeared before Congress in May 2013, she made this statement: "I have done nothing wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations." But Ms. Lerner, we discovered, forwarded confidential taxpayer information to her personal email account in early May 2013, which is a violation of IRS rules. About the infamous "Be on the Lookout" targeting list—a document used to identify conservative groups for additional scrutiny—she told Congress that the criteria for screening tax-exempt groups for extra scrutiny never changed. In fact, she personally ordered it changed in July 2011 according to documents and testimony received by the committee.
Ms. Lerner was most certainly driven by politics. One email of June 11, 2011, shows that she directed her subordinate to focus on the issues surrounding the application of Karl Rove's group, Crossroads GPS. In another email of Feb. 1, 2011, she frets about the Supreme Court "overturning the ban on corporate spending" as it applies to nonprofits. (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission also overturned the ban on union political spending, but she expressed no concern about that.)
Yet, there’s more to this ugly story than that, because once again Attorney General Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department has been deployed to assist in keeping the truth from coming to light. Writes Jordan,
Last May, and again on March 5 of this year, Ms. Lerner refused to answer the committee's questions about the IRS treatment of tax-exempt groups, asserting her right under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. Yet we learned on March 6 in reporting by this newspaper that she had previously given an interview to the Justice Department and, according to her lawyer, spoke with no grant of immunity.
Ms. Lerner's lawyer claims she gave an interview to the Justice Department because she did not believe the Oversight Committee would treat her fairly. More likely, the reason is because Justice is friendly territory. The lead investigator is a substantial Obama campaign contributor, and Justice has already leaked that it doesn't expect to prosecute anyone. As to the claim that liberal groups were also victimized, our committee investigation has yet to hear from a single progressive group that received the systematic scrutiny and harassment faced by the tea party and other conservative groups.