Emails show Lerner targeting Senator Grassley
An amazing story broke last night as emails from Lois Lerner show that she wanted to refer Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley for an audit after an invitation to a party addressed to Grassley but delivered to Lerner showed the ogranization in question offering to pay travel expenses for Grassley's wife.The travel expenses would be perfectly legal as long as Grassley reported it.
Lerner's first instinct - before Grassley had even accepted the invitation - was to refer him for an IRS exam. Other emails show her colleagues eventually talking her out of it, but it certainly raises questions about what else might be in those missing emails.
he emails appear to show Lerner mistakenly received an invitation intended for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in 2012.
The event organizer, whose name is not disclosed, apparently offered to pay for Grassley's wife to attend the event, which caught Lerner's attention. The December 2012 emails show that in response, Lerner suggested to an IRS colleague that the case be referred for an audit.
"Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?" she wrote.
Her colleague, though, pushed back on the idea, saying an offer to pay for his wife is "not prohibited on its face." There is no indication from the emails that Lerner pursued the issue any further.
Republicans pointed to the exchange as yet another example of Lerner using her position in the Exempt Organizations unit to apply scrutiny to conservatives.
"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," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said in a statement.
"At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights."
Grassley said in a statement that this kind of incident fuels concerns people have about "political targeting" 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 senator said.
The IRS, in response to the publication of the emails, said in a statement that it could not comment on "any specific situation" due to taxpayer confidentiality issues.
Greta Van Sustern and her panel had a hard time believing the story:
Lerner can't be alone in this. Higher ups have to enable her actions - or put a brake on them as is what happened in this case. It's remarkable that the more congress digs, the more shocking the revelations. Just where is the bottom of this scandal?
Grassley is one of the most powerful Senators in Washington and Lerner's willingness to go after him either shows a suicidal arrogance or the confidence of Lerner that her superiors will back her up.
Chilling thought, that.