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Sunday, April 27, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 353

IRS Logo 2House Committee on Oversight Press Release, Oversight Committee Probes Justice Department Role in IRS Targeting:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and sixteen Oversight Committee members asked Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder to produce documents and a Justice Department official for a transcribed interview to explain why his agency would consider prosecution of tax-exempt groups already improperly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Last week, Judicial Watch released IRS documents showing former IRS official Lois Lerner in contact with Justice Department about potential prosecution of tax-exempt groups.

A previously unreleased e-mail related to last week’s FOIA release by Judicial Watch reveals that the Justice Department employee did not reach out to Lerner on his own. Instead, Richard Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Department’s Public Integrity Section, noted via e-mail to Lerner on May 8th 2013, “I have been asked to run something by you.” The e-mail does not indicate who had asked Pilfer to contact Lerner. Additionally, the letter notes that the Department considered prosecuting these groups for actions that are legal for 501(c)(4) nonprofits under federal tax law – that is, engaging in political speech.

The members wrote: “Mr. Pilger’s communications with Ms. Lerner are also striking for their timing.  They show that the IRS and the Justice Department were actively considering efforts to target tax-exempt organizations just two days before Ms. Lerner’s public apology for the targeting. This information certainly undermines the sincerity of Ms. Lerner’s apology, but it calls into question your reaction that targeting was ‘outrageous’ and ‘unacceptable.’  These comments ring hollow in light of evidence that your subordinates apparently colluded with the IRS to target nonprofit groups less than a week before.

Letter From Darrell Issa to Eric Holder (Apr. 23, 2014):

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform continues to examine the Interna Revenue Service's targeting of conservative tax-exempt appl icants.  We are deeply dismayed that the Department of Justice may have contributed to this inappropriate treatment by considering prosecution of tax-exempt groups engaged in political speech.  This information, released by Judicial Watch, damages the integrity of the Department and tµldennines its fundamental mission of "fair and im partial admi nistration of justice for all Americans."  We request your assistance as we examine this matter.

We are severel y disappointed in the Department's apparent contribution to the Administration's targeti ng of tax-exempt applicants. With your constant remi nders about the Department's limited criminal justice resources, we would have hoped that the Department would better focus its prosecutorial resources. To examine fully the Department's apparent role in targeting tax-exempt applicants and the Department's coordination with the IRS on this matter, we ask that you produce the following material as soon as possi ble, but no later than May 5, 2014.

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