The former IRS official stands accused of targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. After months of proclaiming her innocence while stonewalling investigators by invoking the Fifth Amendment — as recently as March 5 — Lerner “misled Congress about targeting and her own conduct,” according to a report released recently by the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the 141-page report “offers detailed evidence about steps she took to crack down on organizations that exercised their constitutional rights to free political speech.”
Remember, President Obama told the nation earlier this year there was “not even a smidgen of corruption,” during his Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. If nothing is going on, why has Lerner kept pleading the Fifth? Among the findings in the House Oversight report, Lerner:
• Wrote emails about ways to strengthen the agency’s scrutiny of Tea Party applicants, despite secrecy laws;
• Called for a “multi-tier review,” a scrutiny level that lacked precedent, for Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status;
• Broke IRS rules by using her personal email account to handle protected taxpayer information;
• Expressed concern that the Supreme Court ruling leading to the increase of 501(c)(4) tax-exempt groups would hurt Democratic senators seeking re-election in 2012. The IRS was expected to fix the problem, Lerner wrote: “Everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it. They want the IRS to fix the problem.”
Sounds like more than a “smidgen.”
Let that sink in — they were going to use the IRS to help get Democrats elected. If using the IRS as a partisan political tool isn’t criminal, it should be.
The report also seems to expose why Lerner chose to remain silent during questioning. The House committee is considering holding Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the panel about the targeting activity.
It should. And it should continue to uncover evidence in this — just one of the many — scandals that have plagued this “most transparent” administration.
There is no telling what will be unearthed when the IRS finally gets around to turning over Lerner’s emails, as it previously promised to do. There’s no telling how high this scandal goes.