Lois Lerner "made several false statements" about her involvement in the IRS scandal to the Congressional Committee while she was an IRS director, according to the scathing report released yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
According to the report, Lerner's false statements include:
- Asked on February 24, 2012 whether the criteria for evaluating tax-exempt applications had changed at any point, Lerner responded "that the criteria had not changed. In fact, they had. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), in late June 2011, Lerner directed that the criteria used to identify applications be changed," the report says.
- On "April 4, 2012, Lerner said that the information the IRS was requesting in follow-up letters to conservative-leaning groups-which, in some cases, included a complete list of donors and their respective contributions- "was not out of the ordinary."
- On April 26, 2012, in Lerner's first written response to the Committee's request for information, Lerner wrote that the follow-up letters to conservative applicants were "in the ordinary course of the application process to obtain the information as the IRS deems it necessary to make a determination whether the organization meets the legal requirements for tax-exempt status."
- But, despite her claims on April 4 and 26, at a briefing on May 13, 2013, IRS officials, including the IRS Commissioner's Chief of Staff Nikole Flax, could not identify any other instance in the agency's history in which the IRS 'asked groups for a complete list of donors with corresponding amounts,'" the report states.
- In May 2012, according to a report provided to the Committee, the IRS identified "seven types of information, including requests for donor information, which it had inappropriately requested from conservative groups.... Lerner had received a list of these unprecedented questions on April 25, 2012-more than one week before she sent a response letter to the Committee defending the additional scrutiny applied by EO to certain applicants."
- During the May 10, 2013 American Bar Association's tax conference, Lerner said that the IRS: "knew that certain conservative groups had in fact been targeted for additional scrutiny. She blamed the inappropriate actions of the IRS on 'line people' in Cincinnati," the report says. "This revelation occurred two days after members of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee on May 8, 2013, had asked Lerner for an update on the IRS's internal investigation into allegations of improper targeting at a hearing. During the hearing, she declined to answer and directed Members to questionnaires on the IRS website."
According to the report, Lerner's "failure to disclose relevant information to the House Ways and Means Committee... was the first in a series of attempts to obstruct" Congress' investigation.