POLITICS: PennAve

New Oversight report claims Lois Lerner misled Congress on IRS targeting

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,IRS,Darrell Issa,PennAve,Elijah Cummings,Lois Lerner,House Oversight

A GOP-led House panel Tuesday released an extensive report that attempts to show former top Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner lied to Congress about her involvement in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the 141-page report “offers detailed evidence about steps she took to crack down on organizations that exercised their Constitutional rights to free political speech.”

The report comes as Issa weighs whether the committee should vote on holding Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the panel about the targeting activity.

Republicans claim she waived her Fifth Amendment rights by reading a statement proclaiming her innocence at a hearing last year.

The report does not include any of the Lerner emails the IRS recently promised to turn over to the House Ways and Means Committee, but Oversight apparently had enough material to determine, according to Issa, that Lerner “misled Congress about targeting and her own conduct.”

The top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., has accused Issa of turning Lerner into a political target. He is expected to release a statement shortly in response to the report.

Among the findings in the report:

— Lerner, in emails to other IRS officials, wrote about ways to highlight the agency's scrutiny of Tea Party applicants, despite secrecy laws, by provoking groups to challenge IRS rulings in a court case.

— She called for a Washington, D.C.-based, “multi-tier review” for Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt status. “A D.C. IRS employee said this level of scrutiny had no precedent,” the report notes.

— Lerner references “the fabulously rich and hugely influential” Koch brothers, who are GOP donors, in asserting that the agency needed to cautiously conduct a “project” scrutinizing groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax exempt status. The code references the tax exempt category conservative and Tea Party groups were requesting from the IRS.

— Lerner broke IRS rules by using her personal email account to handle protected taxpayer information.

— Lerner expressed concern that the Supreme Court ruling leading to the increase of 501(c)(4) tax-exempt groups would hurt Democratic senators seeking re-election in 2012. The IRS was expected to fix the problem, Lerner wrote.

“The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year old precedent that basically corporations couldn't give directly to political campaigns,” Lerner wrote. “And everyone is up in arms because they don't like it. The Federal Election Commission can't do anything about it. They want the IRS to fix the problem.”

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