Lois Lerner's big mouth

Lois Lerner is a nasty piece of work, and one aspect of her arrogance could well be her undoing. She enjoyed wielding her power so much that she boasted about it, and in doing so in a 2011 interview with Business Week, she conceded a point that could be used to prove criminal culpability. Patrick Frey, who writes Patterico's Pontifications, uncovered the incriminating crowing:

A reader sends a very interesting tidbit buried in a November 17, 2011 Businessweek.com article about the IRS and not-for-profit universities. The article is about the IRS making inquiries into "whether schools improperly claimed tax-exempt status for taxable businesses." At the end of the article is this fascinating quote:

Lois Lerner, the IRS's director of tax-exempt organizations who is overseeing the investigation, says many schools are rethinking how and what they report to the government. Receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS, she says, is a "behavior changer."

Frey provides a timeline, noting the bragging took place months after the initiation of the targeting of conservatives and tea parties. Ed Morrissey explains the implication in the Fiscal Times:

The targeting of conservative groups by the tax-exempt unit Lerner ran also used the "thick questionnaire" tactic, which Lerner brags is a form of intimidation.  An entertaining timeline of the IRS targeting scandal compiled by Freedom Works, which supports and trains Tea Party activists and groups, shows Lerner found out about the targeting by June 27, 2011 at the latest, and had initiated an audit of the office and its "be on the lookout" (BOLO) list used for the targeting. 

That resulted in a broader BOLO being put into use, and five months later, Lerner is bragging about the "behavior changer" effect of IRS demands for extensive information. Targeting continued well into 2013, and most of the groups that applied for tax-exempt status dropped those requests, or never received approval.

The acknowledgement that IRS questionnaires change behavior could indicate conscious intent in the harassment of tea party and conservative organizations seeking tax exempt status.  That paves the way for a potential criminal conviction.  Lerner is currently demanding immunity in order to testify, having invoked the Fifth Amendment. Her bargaining leverage has just collapsed. If Lerner finds herself facing potential criminal prosecution, her tongue may loosen on its own.  There are much bigger fish than this unpleasant woman, and she strikes me as the kind who would find life in the slammer unacceptable. She'll be looking out for number one.

John Hinderaker of Powerline notes:

...the salient point is the bullying attitude: never mind the merits, a "thick questionnaire from the IRS is a behavior changer." And that was in a magazine interview! It makes one wonder what else Lerner may have said in unguarded moments.

Exactly. Let the crowd-sourcing of Lerner's braggadocio begin!


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