IRS promoted signatory on threatening letters?
posted at 12:01 pm on May 31, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
First, let’s start with Investors Business Daily’s two-time Pultizer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, Michael Ramirez, who sets the table on the political corruption in the IRS with one clear image that speaks volumes:
Now, that may seem a little harsh. How can one accuse the IRS of acting like gangsters when muscling groups on the basis of their politics? Well, when the bullies get promoted rather than fired, that’s certainly one good indicator:
President Obama may have promised “to hold the responsible parties accountable” for the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative non-profit groups, but one of the agents at the center of the scandal was recently promoted, an IRS source tells The Washington Examiner.
Through 2012, then-Exempt Organization Specialist Stephen Seok signed many of the intimidating letters sent to conservative nonprofits. For example, this January 2012 letter sent to the Richmond Tea Party demanded the date, time and location of all group events, as well as copies of all handouts provided at the events, and the names and credentials of all organizers. Seok also demanded the names of all speakers and the contents of the speeches they made.
According to WXIX-TV/Fox 19 in Cincinnati, Seok is no longer an exempt organization specialist. He has since been promoted to “supervisor IRS agent.”
Organizations reward favored behavior and punish disfavored behavior. Interestingly, Seok is not among those who will appear before the House Oversight Committee over the next couple of weeks, at least not at the moment. His former colleagues in the unit may have plenty to say about how Seok’s performance made him a candidate for promotion for behavior that Lois Lerner and Douglas Shulman claimed wasn’t sanctioned by the agency and was limited to, er, Seok’s former colleagues.
Speaking of Lerner and the Chicago Way, her past performance at the Federal Election Commission has now come under question. A former opponent of Senator Dick Durbin claims that Lerner tried to extort a promise never to run for political office again in exchange for dropping claims later proven false:
Former Illinois state representative Al Salvi, who ran as a Republican against Democrat Dick Durbin in his state’s 1996 U.S. Senate race, said that embattled IRS official Lois Lerner intimidated him in her then-capacity as a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) official and told him she would drop various complaints against him if he never ran for office again. …
Salvi told Illinois Review this week that he went head-to-head with Lerner after his 1996 electoral loss to Durbin, when she was head of the commission’s Enforcement Division. The FEC hit his campaign committee with a small handful of complaints related to a $1.1 million personal loan he made to his campaign in its final weeks.
Though a federal district court dismissed the case against Salvi, the FEC appealed it to the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals, and featured Salvi’s case multiple times in the official FEC magazine.
Salvi said that Lerner offered to drop the case if Salvi agreed never to run for office again.
“She said, ‘If you promise to never run for office again, we’ll drop this case,’” Salvi said, noting that he thought Lerner was helping Durbin keep him out of Illinois politics in the future.
Salvi offered one last dig at Lerner: “I didn’t plead the Fifth” in his court case. Maybe that was because Salvi wasn’t doing anything illegal. If Salvi’s allegations are true, it provides a very interesting context in which the IRS felt comfortable targeting conservative groups, and happy enough to promote the man signing the letters that harassed them. The Chicago Way seems to be an apt description of the IRS’ approach.