Thrusting the IRS scandal back on the front page, new e-mails reveal that Lois Lerner knew about the targeting of tea party groups back in 2011, further bolstering the claim that the agency was singling out conservative groups for special scrutiny.
When the IRS first broke the news that tea party groups were singled out for heightened scrutiny, the agency claimed that the entire problem was simply the result of two rogue agents in the Cincinnati office and that no one else knew about what was going on.
However, newly released e-mails show that senior IRS officials knew about the problem far sooner than they have claimed.
Lois Lerner, the IRS official who refused to testify before Congress, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, knew about the targeting as far back as February of 2011.
“Tea Party Matter very dangerous… Counsel and Judy Kindell need to be in on this one… Cincy should probably NOT have these cases,” Lerner said in a February 2011 e-mail.
Responding to a complaint the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission, Lerner said, “perhaps the FEC will save the day.” It has been reported that the IRS and FEC collaborated on the targeting of conservative groups.
House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp vowed “there will be consequences” after learning about the e-mails Lerner sent to her colleagues that suggested there was collusion between the IRS and Democratic operatives while she claimed that tea party applications should not be processed through the agency’s Cincinnati office, which is where the problem supposedly occurred.
“There is increasing and overwhelming evidence that Lois Lerner and high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions. There are still mountains of documents to go through, but it is clear the IRS is out of control and there will be consequences,” Camp said.
The IRS issued a statement claiming that there is no scandal because they are attempting to fix the problem.
“We have been regularly providing witnesses and requested documents to Congress, including the emails released today. In addition, we continue to take corrective actions to fix the managerial and organizational deficiencies in the tax-exempt area identified in the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s May report. We support a complete review of these documents to fully understand the circumstances that led to these events,” the IRS said in a statement.