Lerner, DoJ discussed criminal prosecution of tax-exempt applicants

posted at 10:41 am on April 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

A FOIA request from Judicial Watch has uncovered e-mails from Lois Lerner that discussed an effort to push criminal prosecution of tax-exempt status applicants — and right before IRS targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge. The e-mail, dated May 8, 2013, shows coordination between Lerner and the DoJ to follow up on the idea first broached by Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI):

I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ, I know him from contacts from my days there. He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.

Via Katie Pavlich, here is the screenshot of the e-mail:

The date is very, very interesting, as Katie also points out. Just two days after that e-mail went out from Lerner, she offered an apology for targeting conservative groups in her tax-exempt unit:

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.

Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.

The apology came as the Inspector General for Treasury was about to release a report that would have made the issue public anyway. Later, we found that the IRS had deliberately staged the apology in an attempt to spin it. This e-mail confirms that the apology was slightly less than sincere.

Judicial Watch issued the following statement:

“These new emails show that the day before she broke the news of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner was talking to a top Obama Justice Department official about whether the DOJ could prosecute the very same organizations that the IRS had already improperly targeted,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The IRS emails show Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is now implicated and conflicted in the IRS scandal. No wonder we had to sue in federal court to get these documents.”

There is one caveat to this, which is that Lerner never mentions who specifically should be prosecuted for lying on the forms. This could apply equally to Occupy Wall Street groups as well as Tea Party groups … if the IRS was investigating them both equally. Even Lerner admitted two days later that she wasn’t investigating them equally, though, and the pattern uncovered later made that painfully obvious. The intent here seems clear — to use the Department of Justice as a weapon against political opponents, as if the IRS couldn’t make life miserable enough for people on its own.

Perhaps the House committees investigating Lerner need to start issuing subpoenas to Justice personnel to determine just how Lerner proposed moving forward on criminal prosecutions, and who she may have suggested as targets. They could start with Nikole Flax, Nancy Marks, Joseph Grant, and Jennifer Vonze, and see where the investigation goes from there.

Update: Judicial Watch e-mailed me to point out that the e-mail actually recounts a phone call that attempted to coordinate criminal prosecution. I have edited the headline and the lead paragraph. (A couple of times, by 11:25 am ET.)

Update: Another correction — Whitehouse is D-RI, not R-RI.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

These emails are damning to Lerner and Holder and I bet it goes up to Obama.

sorrowen on April 16, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Hello? Anyone home?
American Media?
The vaunted AMERICAN FREE PRESS?

Wakee, wakee … so sorry to bother you but … it is time to get up and DO YOUR FRIGGIN’ JOBS!

Missilengr on April 16, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Criminal prosecution of Americans who were simply applying for tax exempt status?

No.. just turning them down wouldn’t be enough. Just making them jump through hoops or harass them… but to prosecute them? Normal every day Americans… moms and dads and others.. to prosecute them.. penalize them.. fine them and send them to jail…. just for applying for tax exempt status!

I lack the freaking words!

JellyToast on April 16, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Sensationalist, emotional, and wrong. Rush said that they asked about charging groups who knowing lied on their tax exempt application. For example, said there would be no political activity and then did so.

Think about this: billionaire leftist files to be a church and thus tax exempt. Obviously that would be fraud, non?

Many here just feel tribal pressures and are reacting without agency.

antisense on April 16, 2014 at 4:06 PM

So, any suggestions as to what options are out there for appropriate actions would be sincerely appreciated.

justltl on April 16, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Recognize reality. Hedge accordingly. Rosetta Stone – Mandarian and Russian would be a worthwhile investment. If you are the type who prefers paying for their software that is.

antisense on April 16, 2014 at 4:08 PM

True, but you don’t need public knowledge/awareness to prosecute criminals. You need evidence and standing.

freedomfirst on April 16, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Unfortunately, there’s potentially more damning evidence being withheld or held up by those who are most likely covering up their potentially criminal actions.

This does not mean that something will indeed surface that will truly implicate those responsible, but there would have to be someone, somewhere in this administration to do what’s right and come clean.
Even Nixon had it’s John Dean, but this regime is rotten to the core, so I suspect there will be no defectors.

There’s something. There’s been heavy plumes of smoke from the beginning and it shouldn’t take much to find the raging inferno, but it’s a thug-o-cracy and the inmates are running the asylum, foxes guarding the hen house…etc.

StubbornGreenBurros on April 16, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Sensationalist, emotional, and wrong. Rush said that they asked about charging groups who knowing lied on their tax exempt application. For example, said there would be no political activity and then did so.

Think about this: billionaire leftist files to be a church and thus tax exempt. Obviously that would be fraud, non?

Many here just feel tribal pressures and are reacting without agency.

antisense on April 16, 2014 at 4:06 PM

u think these scoundrels will stop there?? I don’t think so. They could file charges on innuendo…u know ..guilty until proven innocent comprende?

gracie on April 16, 2014 at 4:43 PM

“Need to include CI” is a direct reference to the Cincinnati office, suggesting yet again that the the Cincy were in this up to their eyeballs. There is no one in that office who did not know this was going on. They should be closed down.

Cricket624 on April 16, 2014 at 4:51 PM

IF – these 501C4s WERE violating the tax codes and were TOO POLITICAL – wouldn’t prosecution be APPROPRIATE?? That would be tax fraud, no?

Gebeaux on April 16, 2014 at 5:15 PM

IF – these 501C4s WERE violating the tax codes and were TOO

POLITICAL – wouldn’t prosecution be APPROPRIATE?? That would be tax fraud, no?

Gebeaux on April 16, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Don’t confuse the issue, what you are suggesting would have been the legal way to handle it for a “normal” person.

Tater Salad on April 16, 2014 at 5:17 PM

“Need to include CI” is a direct reference to the Cincinnati office, suggesting yet again that the the Cincy were in this up to their eyeballs. There is no one in that office who did not know this was going on. They should be closed down.
Cricket624 on April 16, 2014 at 4:51 PM

One problem: CI doesn’t mean Cincinnati, in our parlance. It means Criminal Investigations, which is pretty much mandatory to involve if they’re looking at filing charges.

While I don’t have access to emails and such, I can say three things with solid certainty:
1) Targeting of conservative groups was a top-down policy. Management is very freaking territorial about who decides what, and no front line employee has the policy-making power to make that decision. We can recommend, but until management actually decides, we can’t do anything.
2) The rank and file, by a vast majority, is just interested in keeping our jobs. Getting involved in political crap is a fast way to lose our jobs.
3) If you apply for something and are turned down, unless there is forgery or other explicit fraud involved, it is EXTREMELY rare for us to press charges against anyone. In the context of the body of evidence, these scumbags were looking to drag more people into their political inquisition against their enemies.

To see something like this makes me sick, because people don’t distinguish between people like her, and groups like IVO, who actually live up to their job description of taxpayer protection.

Asurea on April 16, 2014 at 6:11 PM

If the Republicans really want to drive a stake in the Democrat party they will begin arresting people. Until then it’s all just talk.

crankyoldlady on April 16, 2014 at 6:39 PM

I am so angered by this. And yet the MSM reports nothing. Somehow I think that Bundy ranch is just indicative of the way at least 50% of us in this country feel.

COgirl on April 16, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Why go after people when you could just deny the 501c(4)?

COgirl on April 16, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Asurea on April 16, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Good info. What do you think of my theory that this was run by the Treasury Union reps that look like a shadow management structure, reinforced by Barry’s Executive Order?:

Meet the Partisan Union Behind The Partisan Internal Revenue Service

The fact that, under Executive Order 13522, federal agencies are being co-managed by union bosses and it appears that the perpetrators of the IRS scandal are likely to be members of the IRS union makes one wonder how coordinated the attacks were–especially as four of the alleged perpetrators are claiming their bosses made them do it.

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 6:58 PM

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Unlikely, at least at the local level. Managers can’t be in the union, first. While NTEU, publicly, closed ranks with the rank and file in Cincinnati, I got half a dozen emails from the local chapter to bring any “political” instruction to their attention. Don’t do political crap, it puts your job in danger, get with us and TIGTA to protect yourself, etc. And our local guys do NOT like TIGTA… that’s how badly they were freaking out over it.

Again, I can’t speak for National, but local was far more concerned about heading off further scapegoating of low-level.

Asurea on April 16, 2014 at 7:11 PM

More on coordination with union: Obama Met With IRS Union Boss Day Before Tea Party Targeting Began

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM

So, any suggestions as to what options are out there for appropriate actions would be sincerely appreciated.

justltl on April 16, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Move to Texas, leave Wifey behind if she’s that stupid. Lots of cute Latinas here in Tejas.

Ammo is free in Texas (take it from the Enemy) and it’s the only place that has a chance to stand on it’s own when the Bounced Welfare Check Riots start.

Who is John Galt on April 16, 2014 at 8:12 PM

I’m not really alarmed by this, IF they were legitimate as “political expenditures”–provided that they would prosecute breaches in the same way for any political orientation.

I have no confidence in this, though. If its just a case of the powers that be interpreting something as a “political expenditure” because the justification of the expenditure under “social welfare” seems a political argument itself, I see it as a HUGE problem, as they would be prosecuting people based on a political viewpoint.

In fact, I don’t see how you can separate OFA, who got a 501c4 classification under this IRS regime, and their promotion of the ECA, which is the “signature legislation” of the candidate for whom the organization used to be a campaign organization. Sure you can argue that there is no clear evidence that promoting the ECA is not “social welfare” but it is also not cleanly separate from the legacy of their former central political figure.

So it seems like clear, unambiguous, political action should be the standard. (But it probably wouldn’t have been.) But given that standard, legal action against those orgs would be understandable.

Axeman on April 16, 2014 at 8:30 PM

It’s becoming clear we have an administration willing to put in prison those who oppose him politically… Someone remind me again how we are now any different from China or the old Soviet Union..oh wait I know they actually had journalists who wanted to expose he truth even if they weren’t allowed to….

Caseoftheblues on April 16, 2014 at 8:31 PM

SLAM! the cell door on her ass!

SMACKRUNNER on April 16, 2014 at 8:51 PM

It’s The Chicago Way.

Welcome to Greater Cook County, AKA the United States of America.

farsighted on April 16, 2014 at 9:29 PM

This isn’t someone who spotted a crime and was trying to prosecute… it was a group trying to “piece together” enough information, to make it seem like they could prosecute, for intimidation purposes.

If any group had broken the rules they would have been turned down in a heart beat. But nobody broke the rules. So they are going to piece together stuff for intimidation. Nobody got turned down.

Nobody has clean hands. Nobody is suggesting that this is too far too go. They are practicing intimidation and stalling during the election.

petunia on April 16, 2014 at 9:41 PM

slickwillie2001 on April 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM

As I said, I have no experience with national, and what they get up to (though, they’re essentially management at that point, automatically corrupt). The local guys are good and keep some of the crazier crap local management tries in check. They were not happy when the info on the targeting came do. Very not happy.

Asurea on April 16, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Ammo is free in Texas (take it from the Enemy)
Who is John Galt on April 16, 2014 at 8:12 PM

Lefties have ammo? who knew?

8 weight on April 16, 2014 at 10:10 PM

Hello? Anyone home?
American Media?
The vaunted AMERICAN FREE PRESS?

Missilengr on April 16, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Repeal the Hollywood tax cuts.

And after that opening shot, use Congress to pressure the liberal monopoly media to dis-aggregate and accept real competition, from which honesty would flow.

This is not impossible. A real opposition party would be doing it, and gaining benefits from even partial success.

David Blue on April 17, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Can’t wait for a Republican administration so all the progressive tax exempt company’s can be scrutinized. I’m sure the MSM won’t cover it, cause it’s not news.

BTW can we please stop the video ads running without being selected, talk about annoying.

WelfareWonderland on April 17, 2014 at 2:25 PM

If we had solid proof in hand that Barry was born in Kenya and was NOT a natural American Citizen…

Nothing would happen – from either side of the house. The constitutional crisis would be too big for anyone to handle

If we had solid proof in hand that Barry issued orders directly to Holder for Fast an Furious and designed it to fail – see the above

If we had solid proof in hand that Barry specifically and categorically refused help in Benghazi – see the above

If we had solid proof in hand that Barry had personally with his bare hands dug up Lincoln’s body and urinated on it… sigh – see the above.

The fact of the matter is that we don’t have leadership worthy of the name on either side of the isle that is willing to take up the hard work of stopping the slow motion train wreck this presidency has become. No one wants to deal with the apples when the cart gets overturned and no one wants to contemplate what would happen if this presidency was declared null and void.

Even assuming that we could do such a thing, is anyone in their right mind ready to see Biden run the show for the next 2.5 years? Really? Bad as Barry is… I shudder to think what things would be like with him in the oval office!

lorandolph on April 17, 2014 at 4:48 PM

BTW can we please stop the video ads running without being selected, talk about annoying.

WelfareWonderland on April 17, 2014 at 2:25 PM
Try AdBlockPlus. I don’t have any of the problems that I hear others c/o of.

Of course, I’m using Pale Moon brower, which although not connected to FF, can use their add-ons.

avagreen on April 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Regarding L.Lerner, I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t take a pill (literally) for her bosses. It would keep her quiet, the thugs in the WH could say it was just her actions alone, she was a little nutz and depressed, and sweep it under the rug.

avagreen on April 17, 2014 at 5:00 PM

BTW can we please stop the video ads running without being selected, talk about annoying.

WelfareWonderland on April 17, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Try AdBlockPlus. I don’t have any of the problems that I hear others c/o of.

Of course, I’m using Pale Moon brower, which although not connected to FF, can use their add-ons.

avagreen on April 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM

AdBlock works. So do some other programs. Not everyone can tolerate being put in this position, however. I wonder how much traffic Hot Air has lost because of this idiocy. The number can’t be insignificant.

non-nonpartisan on April 17, 2014 at 5:05 PM

BTW can we please stop the video ads running without being selected, talk about annoying.

WelfareWonderland on April 17, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Try AdBlockPlus. I don’t have any of the problems that I hear others c/o of.

Of course, I’m using Pale Moon brower, which although not connected to FF, can use their add-ons.

avagreen on April 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM

I use FlashBlock. It replaces all Flash content with a symbol that I can click on to run.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on April 17, 2014 at 7:17 PM

These emails are damning to Lerner and Holder and I bet it goes up to Obama.

sorrowen on April 16, 2014 at 3:54 PM

How right you are. They must think we believe they are just taking selfies at cabinet meetings. Oh, well maybe that, too. I think Lerner is one of the most disdainful looking women I’ve seen.

rlwo2008 on April 17, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Try AdBlockPlus. I don’t have any of the problems that I hear others c/o of.

Of course, I’m using Pale Moon brower, which although not connected to FF, can use their add-ons.

avagreen on April 17, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Me too, except that I use AdBlock Edge, which also works.

Without Pale Moon (or equivalent) and AdBlock (fill-in-your-choice), HotAir is just too annoying to visit now.

David Blue on April 17, 2014 at 10:41 PM

I use FlashBlock. It replaces all Flash content with a symbol that I can click on to run.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on April 17, 2014 at 7:17 PM

OK, that’s another solution.

But noisy ads that ran without being selected, forcing a hunt for which tab to kill, was too obnoxious to put up with.

David Blue on April 17, 2014 at 10:47 PM

Comment pages: 1 2