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February 10, 2016

Issa Issues Report Ripping Lois Lerner

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Darrell Issa has apologized to Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings for cutting off his mic, but the chairman isn’t changing the course of his committee.

The California Republican issued a 141-page report Tuesday on the involvement of Lois Lerner, the former director of IRS exempt organizations, in the targeting of prospective tax-exempt organizations.

The report, which did not have signoff from committee Democrats, concludes that Lerner “created unprecedented roadblocks for Tea Party organizations” and “worked surreptitiously to advance new Obama Administration regulations that curtail the activities of existing 501(c)(4) organizations.”

From the report:

Most damning of all, even when she found that the actions of subordinates had not adhered to a standard that could be defended as not “per se political,” instead of immediately reporting this conduct to victims and appropriate authorities, Lerner engaged in efforts to cover it up.

The report includes loads of emails from Lerner and her colleagues that call into question her motives for applying stricter oversight to new 501(c)(4) organization applications — and some emails and information that simply reflect poorly on the retired head of Exempt Organizations.

In one email chain titled “HMMMM?” Lerner writes, in discussing the desire to see a “proposed denial” for tax-exempt status go to court, that “these guys are itching for a Constitutional challenge. Not your father’s EO.”

The emails released Tuesday paint a picture of an IRS with an agenda and aware of the potential political ramifications of its actions. Lerner writes that the tea party matter could be “very dangerous.” She forwards an article about “dark-money” from liberal news site Mother Jones. When a colleague sends her an article about conservative donors influencing Senate races, Lerner responds: “Perhaps the [Federal Election Commission] will save the day.”

In another section of the report, titled “Lerner’s Management Style,” former IRS Acting Commissioner Chief of Staff Nikole Flax tells Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff that the IRS did not choose Lerner as a witness for a hearing because, “Lois is unpredictable. She’s emotional.”

Flax was involved, according to the report, in an email conversation regarding how and when Lerner would bring up the IRS targeting issue. According to testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, a question was planted in the audience during a Georgetown University Law Center conference.

Flax advises Lerner to say that, in considering tax-exempt status applications, the IRS “placed too much reliance on the particular name of an organization,” like “tea party” or “patriot,” but that this was “an error — not a political vendetta.”

The report also shows Lerner, all the way back in January of 2013, trying to figure out benefit issues if she were to retire in October 2013. Lerner retired on Sept. 23, 2013.

Last week, Lerner refused to testify before the Oversight Committee, again invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Issa gaveled the committee out without letting Cummings make a statement or ask a question. The situation led to an awkward standoff between Issa and the Maryland Democrat, with Issa eventually instructing staff to cut off Cummings’s microphone. Issa apologized, but he still doesn’t appear excited about working with Democrats.

Lerner could be held in contempt of Congress as early as this week.

  • Joshua B.

    Hit her again with contempt charges.

  • Beeker

    Obviously, you failed to understand about rights: Lerner is within her rights to invoke the 5th. It is Issa who should be hit being unfit to run the committee because many of his statements have not reflected facts except to focus on the narrow partisan facts. Essentially, the last meeting was a kangeroo court that he was forced to adjourn when things don’t go his way.

    Adding to the fact that it is Congress’ fault for putting ambigious law for the IRS to follow.

    • Wdav621

      Oh, Beeker, you poor poor little Kool-Aid drinking moron. You defend the malfeasance of the lowest of the low, even when they are caught red-handed. Gee whiz, I wonder what your political leanings are… Praise the liars and evil just because they are Democrats. Then deny truth if it is out of the mouth of anyone not drinking Kool-Aid with you. Enjoy the future. Your ilk brought it on for all of us, and, it isn’t going to be very pleasant.

    • ConradCA

      The fact that the IRS selected conservative organizations for extra attention and delayed their applications until after the 2012 election is a crime. Then there is the fact that some of their applications containing private information was turned over to Tyrant Obama’s political allies which also is a crime. Lastly, Lerner already admitted to the first crime.

      • doc holiday

        The tax law requires 501(c)(4) organizations
        to operate exclusively to promote the “public

        In 1959 the IRS edited their
        tax codes to only require that
        they mostly promote the public welfare.

        Where did they get the right to modify it as it does not mean the same thing.

        That was done by a Republican administration Hmmmmm.

  • jjwestP07

    Lois Lerner is the scowling face of this administration, which has earned Americans’ distrust.

  • wisconsinnorm

    How could anyone not want to know if any high ranking politician could sig the IRS on you? Next thing we will find out is every major corporation in America has a paid government mole within their ranks. Capitalism and democracy at its finest. Those in the know know what they shouldn’t be allowed to know…Isn’t that special for insider trading? No wonder politicians are wealthy when they leave office. And the beat goes on and on and on and on…Must be the democrats turn to look the other way.

  • pitch1934

    It’s a wonderful world when people who have been charged with felonies can ride herd on the government.

  • Michael L Wyland

    I’ve written over 20 articles for The Nonprofit Quarterly on the IRS and the IRS scandal. Issa was right on the process and all wrong on the optics.
    There is dispute as to whether Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment rights appropriately last May. The Committee majority says she did not, and cites legal precedent to sustain that view. The minority says she did, and cites legal precedent to sustain that view.
    The May committee hearing was not adjourned, it was recessed. Last week’s hearing was a resumption of the May hearing, beginning with the resumption of Lerner’s testimony. As such, there were no opening statements from Issa, Cummings, or other committee members. Technically, Cummings’ desire to make a statement was inappropriate, from a parliamentary standpoint. First, there were no other statements made in order. Second, Issa granted Cummings’ request to ask a procedural question, but Cummings launched into a statement and resumed it when interrupted by Issa, who reminded him to ask a question.
    Of course, the public and the media care little for parliamentary procedure – they care about drama, especially when accompanied by pictures. Issa should have allowed Cummings a way to make his statement. Even though not required to do so, it was within his discretion as committee chair.
    The important point is that the investigation continue. There is real misconduct which should be investigated and, if appropriate, prosecuted, regardless of obstruction and foot-dragging by the Administration and the House Democrats.

  • Liberalism is Nonsense

    While liberty is often confused with democratic processes, the right to vote does not imply that centralized control has been minimized or that those who are ineligible to vote are victims of coercion.

  • Stephen Barlow

    What do you expect from a witch hunt in a non ‘scandal’? The facts derived from the investigation were NEVER going to be part of the report. This is all political propaganda @ taxpayer expense for the GOP in 2014….

    All it was ever intended to be and no different than the Rural Tour of Issa to gather selected “witness” testimony and exclude facts from the Committee he Chairs Treasonously.

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