Lois Lerner Appeared Eager to Audit a Sitting Republican Senator
Committee Chair Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) announced on Wednesday that Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division, tried to have Grassley referred for IRS examination:
“We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States Senator is shocking,” Camp said in a news release.
Grassley, in a statement, said the targeting "fuels the deep concerns many people have about political targeting by the IRS and by officials at the highest levels. It’s very troubling that a simple clerical mix-up could get a taxpayer immediately referred for an IRS exam without any due diligence from agency officials.”
The information comes from confidential emails reviewed by the Ways and Means Committee.
The documents show that Lerner and Grassley both received invitations to speak at the same event, but their invitations got mixed up.
When Lerner received the invitation intended for Grassley, she sent an email to another IRS official saying it looked like the group that invited them both to speak was "inappropriately offering to pay for his wife." She wonders if the case should be referred for examination.
"Not sure we should send to exam," the IRS official replies. "I think the offer to pay for Grassley's wife is income to Grassley, and not prohibited on its face..."
The official says the IRS should wait to see if Grassley accepted the speaking invitation; and then determine whether the group that invited him issued him a 1099 form; "And even without the 1099, it would be Grassley who would need to report the income on his 1040."
Lerner thanks the official for his response, then says, "Don't think I want to be on stage with Grassley on this issue."
Sen. Grassley says he never received the invitation referred to in the email exchange, nor did he speak at the event.
“At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights," Camp said on Wednesday. "We may never know the full extent of the abuse since the IRS conveniently lost two years of Lerner emails, not to mention those of other key figures in this scandal. "The fact that DOJ refuses to investigate the IRS’s abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this Administration’s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law.”
The Ways and Means Committee used its authority under Section 6103 of the tax code to view the confidential emails. Sen. Grassley and his wife signed a waiver, allowing Camp to make the information public.