May 29, 2017

IRS Memos Reveal Way More Than ‘Smidgen’ of Corruption

Lois_Lerner_TestifiesWays and Means investigation shows Treasury and the IRS were in cahoots.

Remember President Obama’s claim during the Super Bowl Sunday interview with Bill O’Reilly that there is “not even a smidgen of corruption” going on with the IRS? Why, he explained, they were merely trying to fix how they deal with some confusing rules that caused bureaucratic mistakes.

Um, not even.

An investigation by the House Ways and Means Committee has uncovered memos that not only prove IRS officials knew exactly what they were doing in targeting conservative political groups, but prove there was coordination and direction from Obama’s Treasury Department. The Wall Street Journal reports:

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp blew up this fairy tale at Wednesday’s hearing with new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Mr. Camp unveiled a June 14, 2012 email from Treasury career attorney Ruth Madrigal to key IRS officials in the tax-exempt department, including former director Lois Lerner.

The email cites a blog post about the political activity of tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups and reads: “Don’t know who in your organizations [sic] is keeping tabs on c4s, but since we mentioned potentially addressing them (off-plan) in 2013, I’ve got my radar up and this seemed interesting.”

Interesting for sure. The IRS typically puts out a public schedule of coming regulations, and Mr. Camp noted that in this case “off-plan” appears to mean “hidden from the public.” He added that committee interviews with IRS officials have found that the new 2013 rules were in the works as early as 2011, meaning the Administration has “fabricated the rationale” for this new regulation.

Other memos show that IRS officials were taking direction from the political rhetoric coming out of the White House, and this started in 2010:

The IRS hyper-scrutiny of conservative groups only began in 2010 amid the Obama Administration’s larger political attack on political donors like the Koch brothers, and emails show that IRS officials were acutely aware of this political environment. In February 2010, for example, an IRS screener in Cincinnati flagged an application to his superiors noting: “Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a ‘high profile’ case.”

From then on applications were routed through the offices of Mrs. Lerner and Obama-appointed IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, and long approval delays ensued. Extensive interviews and emails show that neither the initial Cincinnati interest, nor the subsequent Washington delay, was in any way driven by “confusion.”

There was certainly no confusion. IRS officials understood exactly what their White House masters wanted them to do, which was to use a combination of heightened scrutiny and process delays to prevent conservative groups from getting approval for their nonprofit status. These rules Obama claims were so “confusing” have been in place since 1959, and that never stopped the IRS from approving worthy applications within an average time frame of three months before Obama became president. That’s whey the IRS started demanding to know all the names and addresses of organizations’ members, along with explanations for why certain people might have come to speak to the group.

Far from having “fizzled” as much of the media tries to claim, this scandal is peaking. That doesn’t mean a media that is hard-wired to cheerlead for Democrats will pay attention to it, but the public needs to understand how egregious this use of government power has been.

After all, Lois Lerner didn’t take the Fifth for no reason.

By: Dan Calabrese

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