[promoted from the diaries]
Just days before she planted a question to try to bury the IRS targeting of conservatives before a damaging Inspector General report was released, Lois Lerner was working with the Obama Justice Department to criminally prosecute the same groups her division of the IRS was targeting.
Newly released emails from Lois Lerner, reported at TownHall.com, paint a disturbing picture.
The first is an email Lois Lerner sent to IRS staff on March 27, 2013 (two weeks before news broke of the scandal) about an upcoming congressional hearing, and it spells out exactly what Lerner was hoping for:
"As I mentioned yesterday -- there are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform http://aclj.org/free-speech-2/stop-obama-administration-stonewalling-demand-justice. This is their latest push to shut these down. One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn't feel so comfortable doing the stuff," she wrote. "So, don't be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity."
The second is an email Lerner sent to the chief of staff for IRS acting commissioner Steven T. Miller on May 8, 2013 (two days before the faux apology):
"I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ ... He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who "lied" on their 1024s --saying they weren't planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS."
So at the same time the IRS was targeting hundreds of conservative groups, at a time Lois Lerner was fully aware of it, and was about to plant a question to supposedly apologize for it, Lerner was colluding with her former boss from the FEC, who was essentially now a liberal lobbyist, and the Obama DOJ to “piece together” criminal charges against conservative groups, not because of any hard evidence, but because liberal Senators and left-leaning groups “think” they should.
In fact, in another email, Lerner admits that she “can’t confirm that there was anyone on the other side of the political spectrum” who was targeted. So only conservatives were targeted, and it appears Lois Lerner wanted them criminally prosecuted so “they wouldn't feel so comfortable doing the stuff.” “The stuff” is otherwise known as constitutionally protected free speech and freedom of association.
If anyone should be going to jail, it shouldn’t be Americans exercising their constitutional rights. Those who sought to use the overwhelming coercive power of the federal government to silence them must be held accountable. It deserves an investigation – a real investigation – not an investigation conducted by the very same DOJ that was potentially seeking political prosecutions.
It’s far past time for a Special Counsel.
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.