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IRS Apology Misleading

Lois Lerner blamed a “local career employee” of the Cincinnati office. That is disingenuous for at least two reasons:

1. All applications for exempt status are mailed to Covington, KY, which is across the river from Cincinnati. The Cincinnati IRS office handles applications for exempt status from all states. This is true for both 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) applications. As the Director of the Exempt Organization Division of the IRS, Ms. Lerner would know this. Failing to mention it in her “apology” while mentioning Cincinnati tends to lead the reader into believing this was a rogue office; instead, it is essentially the national office for purposes of determination letters on exempt status.

2. Referring to the employees involved as “local” is likewise misleading. No, they were not in D.C.; however, Forms 1024 (for (c)(4) status) and 1023 (for (c)(3) status) would almost always be handled in Cincinnati. Hence, for those purposes, this was not local, but national. She would know that.

Of course they were “career employees,” as they would not have been at the level of a political appointee.

At least one press report naturally translated the statement into “low level.” Other press reports translate it with similar misleading synonyms. I suspect that may have been the point of the words chosen in the statement: let readers mistakenly infer this was isolated, rogue, and unusual, and that other offices were different. Indeed, there would be no other offices handling these issues: all (or almost all) would be in Cincinnati.

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