Judicial Watch, the organization that has done more than anyone except House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to untangle the skein of corruption in the scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s discriminatory targeting of conservative groups, released on Wednesday another round of revelations gleaned from IRS emails it obtained via a FOIA request.
The government transparency organization disclosed today that, contrary to Obama Administration talking points in the weeks immediately following the scandal, the marching orders for the agency’s discriminatory targeting came from Washington, D.C., and not from a rogue batch of employees in the IRS field office in Cincinnati.
That confirms what former Cincinnati employee Cindy Thomas reportedly told her superiors last May, accusing former exempt organizations division director Lois Lerner (now under a Congressional contempt charge) of throwing the Cincinnati office under “a convoy of Mack trucks.”
“Cincinnati wasn’t publicly ‘thrown under the bus’ [but] instead was hit by a convoy of Mack trucks,” Thomas wrote to Lerner on May 10 of last year – the same day Lerner was apologizing for the scandal and blaming it on the Cincinnati office. “As you can imagine, [Cincinnati] employees and managers furious. 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?”
The other revelation from today’s Judicial Watch release is the apparent involvement of a career Democratic Senator, Carl Levin of Michigan, in fomenting IRS discrimination against conservative nonprofits organizations during President Obama’s reelection campaign.
“The documents also show extensive pressure on the IRS by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) to shut down conservative-leaning tax-exempt organizations,” Judicial Watch said in a press release. “The IRS’ emails by Lois Lerner detail her misleading explanations to investigators about the targeting of Tea Party organizations.”
A series of letters between Senator Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations, and top IRS officials throughout 2012 discuss how to target conservative groups the senator claimed were “engaged in political activities.” In response to a Levin March 30 letter citing the “urgency of the issue,” then-Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller assured the senator that IRS regulations were flexible enough to allow IRS agents to “prepare individualized questions and requests” for select 501(c)(4) organizations.
The newly released IRS documents contain several letters and emails revealing an intense effort by Levin and IRS officials to determine what, if any, existing IRS policies could be used to revoke the nonprofit exemptions of active conservative groups and deny exemptions to new applicants. In a July 30, 2012, letter, Levin singles out 12 groups he wants investigated for “political activity.” Of the groups – which include the Club for Growth, Americans for Tax Reform, the 60 Plus Association, and the Susan B. Anthony List – only one, Priorities USA, is notably left-leaning.
And then there’s much more, including a synopsis of emails Levin sent the agency with increasing urgency ahead of the 2012 Presidential election “intensifying his [Levin’s] campaign against predominantly conservative nonprofit groups.”
“These new documents show that officials in the IRS headquarters were responsible for the illegal delays of Tea Party applications,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in today’s statement. “It is disturbing to see Lois Lerner mislead [sic]the IRS’ internal investigators about her office’s Tea Party targeting. These documents also confirm the unprecedented pressure from congressional Democrats to go after President Obama’s political opponents. The IRS scandal has now ensnared Congress.”