Newly released emails from the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division office in Cincinnati show that, from the beginning, Lois Lerner was setting the office up as a “rogue” fall guy for the Tea Party discrimination scandal.
The new batch of emails, products of an ongoing investigation into the scandal by the House Ways and Means Committee, show that Cincinnati exempt organizations director Cindy Thomas called out Lerner directly for attempting to make the scandal appear to be the work of outliers working without authorization from Washington, D.C.
On May 10 (the day the scandal first broke to the media), Lerner was claiming it was all Cincinnati’s fault, and that nobody else within the IRS knew that the agency was holding up conservative groups’ applications to be granted nonprofit status during the 2012 general election cycle.
To say that incensed Thomas, back at the Cincinnati office, is an understatement.
“Cincinnati wasn’t publicly ‘thrown under the bus’ [but] instead was hit by a convoy of Mack trucks,” Thomas wrote Lerner in an email that same day.
“As you can imagine, employees and managers [here in Cincinnati] are furious.” Thomas wrote to Lerner.
Confronted May 10 with questions about the brewing scandal, Lerner, who was attending a conference for the American Bar Association at the time, said rogue employees at the Cincinnati office “didn’t have the appropriate level of sensitivity about how this might appear to others, and it was just wrong.”
Thomas, who never publicized her anger with Lerner, excoriated her via email.
“Was it also communicated at that conference in Washington that the low-level workers in Cincinnati asked the Washington office for assistance and the Washington office took no action to provide guidance to the low-level workers?
“. . . How am I supposed to keep the low-level workers motivated when the public believes they are nothing more than low-level and now will have no respect for how they are working cases? The attitude/morale of employees is at the lowest it has ever been.”
At least they can take solace in the fact that Lerner ultimately did take the fall, most likely in a move by the Obama Administration to decapitate the scandal while the public still believed its head wasn’t attached to the White House. She resigned in September, and poked her head up last month to announce she wanted to volunteer to help a local citizens’ group in Maryland screen grant applications from nonprofit organizations. Old habits die hard.