Paul L. Caron

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 380

IRS Logo 2House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Testimony: In 2010, Justice Department Sought Lois Lerner’s Help to Prosecute Tax Exempt Groups Engaging in Politics:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, today requested that the Department of Justice make DOJ Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith available for a transcribed interview. The request comes after Smith’s subordinate, Director of DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch, Richard Pilger, told Committee investigators in a transcribed interview that the Justice Department met with Lois Lerner in October 2010, two and a half years earlier than previously known, to discuss potential criminal enforcement relating to political speech of nonprofit groups in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

“The Committee’s transcribed interview of Richard Pilger presents further troubling information about the Department’s contemplated prosecution of nonprofit groups for false statements,” Chairman Issa and Chairman Jordan state in the letter.  “It is apparent that the Department’s leadership, including Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith, was closely involved in engaging with the IRS in wake of Citizens United and political pressure from prominent Democrats to address perceived problems with the decision.”

“According to Mr. Pilger,” the letter continues, “the Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits.  This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith.”

The meeting occurred days before Lois Lerner spoke at a Duke University event about the immense political pressure on the IRS to “fix the problem” created by Citizens United before the 2010 midterm election.

Earlier this week, Chairman Issa issued a subpoena after Pilger declined to answer critical questions on the instructions of a Justice Department lawyer during a transcribed interview on May 6, 2014.  The subpoena followed an April 23, 2014 letter from 17 Members of the Committee requesting materials concerning the Department’s involvement in efforts to scrutinize tax-exempt applicants after emails surfaced between Pilger and the Internal Revenue Service’s Lois Lerner where they discussed singling out and prosecuting tax-exempt applicants, at the urging of a Democratic Senator.

Letter embedded below.

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