Tax Day Justice: DOJ Investigation of Lois Lerner Called for by Ways and Means Chairman
The chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review evidence that Lois Lerner “broke the law to target Americans for their political beliefs.” The request comes after the DOJ refused, under the Obama Administration’s leadership, to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by the former IRS Exempt Organizations Division director.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), joined by Tax Police Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL), sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting an investigation into allegations that Lerner used her division’s power to target American citizens’ applications for non-profit status, or political action committees, based upon the citizen’s political beliefs.
“Taxpayers deserve to know that the DOJ’s previous evaluation was not tainted by politics,” the two chairmen wrote in the letter obtained by Breitbart Texas. “We respectfully request the Department of Justice to take a fresh look at the evidence presented in the attached referral in order to restore taxpayers’ trust in the IRS.”
Brady and Roskam sent information to the U.S. Attorney General disclosing findings of a three-year investigation by their committee that uncovered “evidence of willful misconduct on the part of Ms. Lerner.”
“Despite this fact, and for what many believe were purely partisan reasons, the prior Administration refused to review Ms. Lerner’s misconduct,” they explained. “In particular, the Committee found that Ms. Lerner used her position to improperly influence IRS action against conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and equal protection rights under the law.”
“The Committee also found she impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration,” the letter to Sessions continues. “Finally, Lerner risked exposing, and may actually have disclosed, confidential taxpayer information, in apparent violation of Internal Revenue Code section 6103 by using her personal email to conduct official business.”
In August 2016, Breitbart News reported that the House voted to hold Lerner in Contempt of Congress for her refusal to testify before a House Oversight Committee hearing in May 2013. The article disclosed information contained in 302 FBI documents revealing possible illegal conduct by Lerner and others in the IRS.
Commenting on Obama’s Justice Department’s failure to take action, the letter from the two tax chairmen states, “Disturbingly, in February 2014, while the investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) was ongoing, President Obama stated there was ‘not a smidgeon of corruption’ at the IRS, preempting a fair investigation in which he had political equities.”
In April 2014, the Ways and Means Committee posted a timeline of Lerner’s alleged misconduct while serving in the IRS:
January 21, 2010:
Citizen’s United Ruling: Supreme Court issues ruling in Citizens United case, which would lead to an active campaign by Democrats against conservative groups – a campaign Lerner was well aware of and reacted to.
January 27, 2010:
President Obama Goes on the Attack: In his State of the Union address, President Obama states: “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
IRS Targeting Begins: According to TIGTA, the IRS’s Determinations Unit “began searching for other requests for exemption involving the Tea Party, Patriots, 9/12 and IRC § 501(c)(4) applications involving political sounding names, e.g., ‘We the People’ or
‘Take Back the Country.’”
September 26, 2010:
White House Steps Up Attacks: David Axelrod, then-senior advisor to President Obama, referred to Crossroads GPS and similar groups as “front groups for special interests. These are front groups for foreign-controlled companies, which would have been banned under the bill that we put through Congress, and they don’t want the American people to know, and the American people ought to be alert to that.”
October 12, 2010:
Democrat Leaders Join Attack: Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin urges the IRS to investigate the tax status of Crossroads GPS and “other orgs” – though no other organizations were named.
October 19, 2010:
Lerner on Alert: Speaking to students at Duke University, Lois Lerner states that 501(c)(4) organizations were spending money on campaign activity in the wake of the Citizens United decision and claimed, “[E]verybody is screaming at us, ‘fix it now before the election….”
Lerner Calls Conservatives “Dangerous,” Start to Take Control: Lois Lerner sends email to IRS employees “Tea Party Matter very dangerous ….Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”
March 24, 2011:
Democrats Step Up Attacks: DCCC launches website to “expose donors of Crossroads GPS.”
June 3, 2011:
Congressional Inquiries Begin: Chairman Camp sends letter to Commissioner Shulman inquiring about IRS targeting of taxpayers who donated money to conservative groups, as well as information regarding audits of 501(c)(4) organizations.
June 19, 2012:
White House Continues to Attack: President Obama’s lawyer demands that Crossroads GPS disclose its donors, saying in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that the group is plainly a “political committee” subject to federal reporting requirements.
February 1, 2012:
Democrats Continue to Attack: National Public Radio reports that Senate Democrats, led by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), want to investigate groups such as Crossroads GPS.
July 10, 2012:
Lerner’s Mindset Revealed: Lois Lerner, in response to a story sent to her regarding the complaint to the FEC against Crossroads GPS replies “Perhaps the FEC will save the day.”
July 17, 2012:
Lerner Starts to Prepare Cover Story: Lerner sent an email to Holly Paz and Nikole Flax offering comments on a talking point that referred to an “uptick in political advocacy cases,” drafted for then-Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Steve Miller. However, Lerner admits that, “I know we don’t have published SOI stats” to support such a claim.” [See letter to DOJ]
July 27, 2012:
Democrats Attack, Again: Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) sends another letter to the IRS regarding Crossroads GPS and others, seeking a probe and status.
December 14, 2012:
IRS Leaks: Crossroads GPS’s application is leaked to ProPublica, though the tax-exempt status of the group had not been determined, a violation of federal law.
November 2, 2012:
Lerner Misleads TIGTA: Lerner sends misleading response to TIGTA investigatory audit questionnaire. [See letter to DOJ]
January 4, 2013:
Lerner Leaps Into Action: Lerner organizes a meeting with Democracy 21 and also with the Office of Chief Counsel and the Office of Tax Policy at the Department of the Treasury for January 4. This begins a series of specific actions by Lerner that targets only conservative groups. [See letter to DOJ]
January 4, 2013:
Lerner Pressures Review Committee: Lerner inquires to the status of Crossroads, and finds that the group had not been selected for audit. She subsequently sent an email to the Director of Examinations in Dallas, TX, Nanette Downing, demanding to know why the group had not yet been audited. In her email to Downing, she notes that she wants all moves regarding Crossroads to be coordinated in DC. [See letter to DOJ]
January 24, 2013:
Lerner Ponders Job for Obama Organization: In response to a news story about the formation of the President’s Organizing For Action, a 501(c)(4), Lerner remarked to EO Senior Technical Advisor Sharon Light, “Oh—maybe I can get the DC office job!” [See letter to DOJ]
January 31, 2013:
Lerner Attempts to Influence Independent Appeals Process: In an email to the Chief of IRS Appeals, Chris Wagner, Lerner offers unsolicited advice on the independent appeals process notwithstanding a prohibition against such contact. [See letter to DOJ]
May 10, 2013:
Lerner Misleads Public: At an American Bar Association function, Lois Lerner, director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division, publicly apologizes for what she claimed were inappropriate actions by the Cincinnati office of the IRS to subject conservative groups to extra scrutiny.
Despite the lengthy report from the Ways and Means Committee, the DOJ took no action. “It is clear that when the DOJ announced in October 2015 that it would not bring charges against Lois Lerner, the agency was following President Obama’s signal on how he wanted the investigation to be handled,” Brady and Roskam concluded in this new letter to the DOJ.
The two committee chairman requested a new investigation to look into the matter in order to “restore taxpayers’ trust in the IRS.”