Issa expands IRS probe to include possible FEC collusion targeting conservatives
The emails back and forth between the Federal Election Commission and the IRS are suggestive of coordinated behavior that targeted conservative groups. House Oversight Committee chairman Darrel Issa is now investigating this link, asking for thousands of emails generated by the FEC going back 5 years.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa demanded Wednesday that the Federal Election Commission turn over records of more than five years of communications with the Internal Revenue Service -- a move that significantly expands the California Republican's ongoing probe of alleged federal targeting of conservative groups.
In a letter to FEC Chairman Ellen Weintraub -- a Democrat -- Issa cited CNN reporting on Monday that raises "the prospect of inappropriate coordination between the IRS and the FEC about tax-exempt entities."
Among other things, Issa asked for records of all communications between the IRS and the FEC dating back to the start of 2008. He also requested records of any FEC discussions relating to tax-exempt applications or organizations since 2008.
The letter was co-signed by Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, a prominent member of Issa's panel.
Iss'a letter came after Don McGahn, the vice chairman of the FEC and a Republican, told CNN that he saw an e-mail from an FEC investigator to Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS division responsible for reviewing applications from various groups for tax-exempt status.
The investigator asked Lerner, herself a former FEC employee, to discuss the status of the American Future Fund, a conservative political advocacy group.
McGahn noted that after Lerner was contacted, the IRS sent a questionnaire to the American Future Fund.
Lerner, the figure at the center of the congressional investigation into alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when called to testify before Issa's panel in May.
"Dealing with Lois Lerner is probably out of the ordinary," McGahn said, stressing that FEC commissioners had not given their staffers permission to reach out to the IRS on the matter, a step typically required for such inquiries.
Last week, GOP congressional investigators disclosed several e-mails between Lerner and an FEC attorney inquiring about the status of both the American Future Fund and another conservative outfit, the American Issues Project.
So it appears Lerner knew exactly what she was doing when she took the fifth in her testimony before congress. It wasn't necessarily because of her overseeing the targeting program at the IRS. It was to cover up the collusion she initiated with the FEC - her former haunt.
Lerner wants immunity before she will testify. I say give it to her and let the dominoes start to fall.