Late on Wednesday the House Ways and Means committee released emails from embattled former IRS official Lois Lerner. In the emails Lerner is shown discussing her desire, after having mistakenly been given an invitation for another person to speak at an event, to have an audit initiated against the intended speaker.
While any IRS agent trying to start an audit of anyone simply because of an invitation to speak is a dangerous thing in and of itself, it becomes even more troubling when the person in question is a sitting United States Senator, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley.
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"We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States Senator is shocking," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said in a statement.
"At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights."
Grassley said in a statement that this kind of incident fuels concerns people have about "political targeting" at the highest levels. "It's very troubling that a simple clerical mix-up could get a taxpayer immediately referred for an IRS exam without any due diligence from agency officials," the senator said.
This isn't the first time the central figure in the IRS targeting of conservatives and Tea Party groups scandal has taken a hardline stance against a Republican associated with the United States Senate.
As Illinois Review first reported a year ago, in the 1990s Lerner, who was then working for the Federal Election Commission, repeatedly demanded that one time Illinois Republican US Senate candidate Al Salvi promise to never seek elected office again.
For a number of years Lerner and the FEC attempted to prosecute Salvi over a loan he had made to his own campaign, that cases was ultimately thrown out of court.
From Illinois Review:
Before Lois Lerner (photo right) took us before the federal judge, her last offer was for me to promise to never run for office again. That was always part of their demands," Salvi said. "Before that last offer, another FEC representative that reported to Lerner wanted $200,000 and a promise not to run."
Knowing his $1.1 million campaign loan to himself was legal, Salvi rejected the initial settlement offer from FEC attorney Colleen Sealander. In later conversations, Sealander lowered the amount to $100,000, then $40,000, but always with the additional promise to never run for office again.
"Every time we talked, I refused the offer, and Colleen said she'd have to check with someone," Salvi said. "I finally told her I'd like to talk to whomever she reported. That's when I got a call from Lois Lerner."
During that call, Salvi said, he explained to Lerner exactly what happened -- that while the loan to himself was legal, there may be a difference of opinion on how the loan was reported to the FEC. Salvi explained it was a simple matter and said he thought Lerner would suggest an agreeable solution and dismiss the Democratic National Committee's complaint.
But that was not Lerner's reaction. Instead, that's when she said to Salvi, "Promise me you'll never run for office again, and we'll drop the case."
It is abundantly clear that for more than a decade-and-a-half Lois Lerner has been waging a one woman war against Republicans who are, or want to be, Senators.
And yet we are supposed to believe that there wasn't a smidgen of corruption at the IRS.
cross posted from USofArn.com