Timeline of Targeting: The Evidence Mounts Against the IRS’s Lois Lerner
Today, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to recommend criminal charges against Lois Lerner.
The Committee’s letter to the Justice Department documents in detail the nefarious character of Lois Lerner’s actions.
The Committee pointed to three specific violations of federal law:
- “Lerner used her position to improperly influence agency action against only conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and equal protection rights under the law. She showed extreme bias and prejudice towards conservative groups. The letter lays out evidence on how Lerner targeted conservative organization Crossroads GPS as well as other right-leaning groups, while turning a blind eye to similarly-organized liberal groups, like Priorities USA.
- “Lerner impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
- “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.”
The letter makes it blatantly clear how Lerner, influenced by pressure from the Left, cultivated a culture of bias and engaged in reprehensible behavior, violating the free speech rights of thousands of Americans.
Most stunning is her open political bias. Not only does she clearly show animus toward conservative leaning groups, but when President Obama’s own campaign-committee-turned-advocacy-group, Organizing for America (OFA), applied for tax-exempt status, she remarked to one of her employees responsible for reviewing such applications, “Oh—maybe I can get the DC office job!”
If that doesn’t belie her true intentions, what does? Angling for a job at OFA, using the power of the office for political gain, and putting the full weight of the most dangerously abusive federal agency on the neck of political enemies, but according to President Obama, there isn’t a “smidgen of corruption.”
The evidence to the contrary is mounting.
The House Ways and Means Committee has put together an detailed and damaging timeline of the IRS’s targeting of conservatives.
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.
“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules and regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”
Tomorrow, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will vote on whether to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with its subpoena.
If the Committee votes to hold her in contempt, the measure would be brought before the full House of Representatives. If a majority of the full House votes for contempt, the matter will be referred to both the Justice Department with a recommendation to proceed with criminal contempt charges and back to the Oversight committee allowing it to file a civil contempt action in federal court.
Contempt of Congress is merely the first step in holding the Obama Administration accountable for the ongoing targeting of conservative and pro-life Americans. At the ACLJ, our lawsuit against the IRS, naming Lois Lerner and other top IRS officials as defendants, continues in federal court. Those Americans targeted by this abusive IRS will have their day in court.
Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.