The sad but common irony that lawbreakers such as Lois Lerner are in positions of law enforcement
Lois Lerner was a model government bureaucrat.
I say this as someone who deals with many good people in government who follow the law while they enforce the law on others.
Far too many, however, violate laws although they are in positions of making regulations and important decisions while enforcing the law on citizens.
Lerner worked her way up the federal bureaucracy to the prestigious position of head of the Exempt Organization (EO) division at the Internal Revenue Service. There, she held immense power over the existence, reporting, and even the constitutional rights of nonprofit organizations.
Lois Lerner was a law enforcement zealot who obviously didn’t exactly practice what she preached. She’s far from alone among mostly unaccountable government bureaucrats.
Looking back at her work as head of the IRS EO, Lerner made substantial changes to IRS Form 990, the tax return filed by nonprofits. 990s are available to the public, and disclose lots of information.
Lerner the Democrat, however, did not make it easier for people to determine how much money charities receive from government. That is a key indicator for many people who wish to donate to charities. It also affects costs-of-fundraising ratios that many charity watchdog groups use to score charities. Conservative organizations that do not take government funds naturally have higher ratios and lower scores.
Based on anecdotal observations from someone who follows the nonprofit sector closely, there is an exceptional amount of fraud and theft within nonprofits that receive government funding compared to those that do not.
Lerner was nevertheless proud of her reforms to Form 990. In 2007, the Center for Effective Government wrote, “The New York Times reports on some of the initial reactions to the 990 changes. According to IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, the redesign of Form 990 is ‘the biggest thing the exempt organizations division at IRS has done in the last quarter century.’”
Selected parts of Lerner’s 2011 Annual Report provide, in retrospect, some often hilarious irony:
EO remains committed to providing quality service and, like most exempt organizations, we are looking at new and alternative means to get the job done.
We are relying more on the Internet and are continually improving our systems and offerings to help the exempt sector with easily accessible, timely information and educational content.
This allows us to use data analytics and build risk models that will guide our work and greatly improve our ability to support high standards of transparency and stewardship among exempt organizations.
As always, we look forward to working with our partners and
stakeholders in the year ahead.
Lois G. Lerner
Director, Exempt Organizations
And, Chronicle of Philanthropy writes of Lerner’s 2012 speech at a popular annual Georgetown University Law School conference: “The [IRS EO] study was described yesterday by Lois Lerner, director of the IRS division that oversees charities, in a speech at Georgetown University Law School. ‘Good governance and tax compliance go hand in hand,’ she said.”
It is reported that Lerner transmitted confidential taxpayer information on 990s, which is a felony when done intentionally.
How much lawbreaking by government bureaucrats is enough?