Emails reveal Lerner considered targeting... Bristol Palin

Well, as long as it wasn’t partisan I guess.

All of those miraculously recovered IRS emails – 1.5 million pages at least – have been under the microscope at the Senate Finance Committee. They released a new preliminary report this week which has more bad news for Lois Lerner and company, including a few eye openers which were highlighted by Orin Hatch. One in particular should really catch the attention of those who, for some reason, still aren’t completely convinced of Ms. Lerner’s unbiased, bipartisan credentials. In it, she indicates that she considered opening an investigation into a charity who employed Bristol Palin as a celebrity spokesperson. (USA Today)

Lois Lerner, the key figure in the controversy over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups for added scrutiny, once considered opening up an audit into Bristol Palin’s compensation from a teen pregnancy charity, according to a new Senate report…

One email, cited by Chairman Orrin Hatch as an “example of Lerner’s interest in conservative organizations,” asked whether the IRS should open an audit of Candie’s Foundation, which paid Palin $332,500 in compensation to be a celebrity spokesperson. Lerner was concerned that the salary figure could violate IRS rules against charitable groups being for the private benefit of individuals…

“Thoughts on the Bristol Palin issue?” Lerner, then the director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations unit, wrote to her staff in 2011. “I’m asking because I don’t know whether to send to Exam as a referral.” There’s no evidence from the Senate report that an audit was ever opened.

The entire “mission” of Lerner and her team as regards these investigations was to root out political organizations posing as charities to gain a tax benefit and other protections, wasn’t it? If you accept all of the campaign finance reform arguments, then you might agree that this was a noble cause. But she was talking about Candie’s Foundation. It’s an organization with the sole purpose of cutting down on the number of teen pregnancies. Extrapolating from that a bit, they no doubt are involved in the issue of getting contraception out there to sexually active teens and who knows where they come down on the abortion issue. First, how is that a political organization in any way shape or form? And second, even if they were, does that really sound like a conservative magnet group?

And yet they drew Lerner’s attention because of their relationship with Bristol Palin. Never mind for a moment that Bristol was not and is not a politician. But she’s associated with her famous mother and therefore provides a convenient target. Her personal politics are unknown to me and I doubt they are of much concern to Candie’s Foundation. But she definitely was famous and she was also a teenager who became pregnant. Sounds like a pretty good fit to me if you’re in the market for a celebrity endorsement, and still pretty much outside the realm of politics.

Should the IRS be investigating the ASPCA over their use of Sarah McLachlan and her tear jerking songs? (Well, they should be investigating them over some things, I’m sure, but not their tax status or who they have pitching for them.) It’s kind of ironic that Sarah Palin’s daughter might be the one who winds up bringing down Lerner because she was probably the least political person they could have investigated.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022