Paul L. Caron

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1137

IRS Logo 2Real Clear Politics, Strassel Nails the Left's "Intimidation" Crusade, by Peter Berkowitz (Hoover Institution, Stanford University):

The most notorious instance of the left’s efforts to use government power to intimidate political opponents during Obama’s presidency was the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting, beginning in 2010, of some 300 small, often Tea Party-affiliated conservative organizations that had applied for tax-exempt status. The IRS’s job was to ensure that applications had been filled out correctly. But at the behest of longtime Democratic Party partisan and then-director of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Unit Lois Lerner, the agency delayed action on applications for months, which in many cases stretched into years.

Sometimes the IRS directed targeted organizations to answer extensive questionnaires that were “a mix of boring officialdom and sinister intrusiveness.” In the case of the San Fernando Valley Patriots—a small organization established to oppose what they deemed an arrogant, overspending, out-of-touch Washington establishment—the IRS requested, Strassel reveals, “the names and Social Security numbers of every person who had ever donated their money or time to SFVP.”

The IRS conspiracy to drive conservatives from the political arena, the impact of which on the 2012 presidential election may have been decisive, was part of a multi-front offensive. Strassel recounts harrowing tale after tale of private citizens, nonprofits, corporations, and elected officials caught in the maws of a “vast and orchestrated” campaign to close down speech.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


Actually my facts are quite correct. Unlike say…your recent post.
For the sake of brevity, I didn’t include every single detail but the overall point was accurate – that Lerner’s office was directly involved and in control.

For example, Carter Hull was indeed involved just as the Cincinnati office was involved. Nether, however, were the key people responsible for the targeting. What you ignore in Hull’s case, is his own testimony, which clearly points out that he was not allowed to issue guidance or make determinations because Lerner’s office and the Office of Chief Counsel would not let him. Just like Lerner’s office would not let the Cincinnati office make determinations.

You can’t keep throwing the line employees under the bus. Based on TIGTAs findings and the testimony of the employees, it’s quite clear that Lerner’s office and the Office of Chief Counsel were the primary organizations in charge. Unless you’re saying all of the line employees are lying and Lerner was the only honest person at the IRS?

Posted by: sigh | Jun 21, 2016 9:48:33 AM

the vast, vast majority of those employees want to do a good job, collect their pay, and go home.

I agree. That's why, when "a bad apple like LLerner turns up", nobody blows the whistle. They just keep their heads down. I have yet to see any proposal to address that cultural deficiency.

Posted by: AMT buff | Jun 21, 2016 8:59:00 AM

Mr. Reader: Thirty years of working directing with IRS and Chief Counsel personnel convinced me that the vast, vast majority of those employees want to do a good job, collect their pay, and go home. They don’t have political agendas; most couldn’t tell you who their congressman is. Every now and then, a bad apple like LLerner turns up. She undeniably was a bad manager and a poor selection for her position. But the bureaucracy is like a flywheel–it just keeps on turning; jerks and bumps like Lerner have little effect in the long run.

Mr. sigh: Your facts are quite wrong. In fact, Lerner had the Cincinnati office collect the BOLO cases and send them to Chief Counsel lawyer Carter Hull in DC. This is one of the factors that causes conservatives to argue that the cases received inappropriate handling! Hull was tasked with collecting the cases, issuing guidance, and devising a uniform methodology for handling. Which is the normal bureaucratic impulse of the Service. So bad and deceptive as Lerner was in her too-clever-by-half “apology” at the ABA Tax Section meeting, her misdeeds did not include those you suggest.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 21, 2016 8:12:40 AM

This is more like revisionist history by Publius than by Strassel. The issue of whether Lerner was a “longtime Democratic Political Partisan” can be debatable depending how you define the term. As others have pointed out, however, she was definitely partisan.
On the issue of the Cincinnati office – they did not delay ANY applications. Quite early in the process, the HQ staff (under Holly Paz who reported to Lerner) took control of the tea party cases. The Cincinnati staff still worked some of the cases and corresponded with the applicants but they had no authority to grant or deny the applications. The testimony of the line employees showed that they were just waiting for HQ to give them direction, which Lerner and Paz never did.
As for the whole issue of the BOLO list, that’s pretty misleading. Again, the targeted cases coming in ended up in Lerner’s shop - where the inappropriate conduct occurred (i.e., long delays and inappropriate demands for information). If Lerner wanted the Cincinnati office to handle the cases differently she could have had the HQ staff issue guidance on how to handle the cases of have them handle the applications directly. She never did. Given her record of partisanship, her initial lies concerning the affair, and the totality of what TIGTA found, it’s far more likely she just wanted the wording of the BOLO list changed to give her cover and plausible deniability.

Posted by: sigh | Jun 20, 2016 3:27:55 PM

I'm glad I amuse you. I wish I could say the same for your posts.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Jun 20, 2016 1:03:02 PM

As a frequent reader but an infrequent commenter on this blog, as someone who is still not exactly sure what I think about this IRS thing, and as a current IRS employee, I will say that Publius Novus seems to have had his mind made up about this since day one--no new story, piece of evidence, etc., has changed the tenor of his comments. With certainty, nothing bad happened. Generally, I find such certainty somewhat unsettling, and a pretty reasonable signal of a closed mind.

Posted by: Reader | Jun 20, 2016 11:08:59 AM

Mr. Spradling: It was not necessary for you to tell me you are not a lawyer. I have been reading your confused twaddle with tears of humor in my eyes for many months. As for engaging you in a debate, like Winston Churchill, my sense of personal honor prohibits me from fighting an unarmed man.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 20, 2016 8:59:45 AM

@ PN, I challenge you to a debate. If I can afford it, I'll meet you anyplace, anytime. Please note, I'm not a lawyer. I have never been in a debate in my life. But I, like many people, recognize the truth. Ms. Lerner came from the Federal Elections Commission with an agenda, which she has never denied.

Do you know how you remind me of? The same partisans who defended Nixon, may he rot in hell. Right or wrong doesn't matter to you. All you care about is defending your life's work. Sad.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Jun 19, 2016 4:19:26 PM

"She twice directed the Cincinnati office to cease and desist from using the offending BOLO lists"

And she planted a question at a lawyers' conference, in an attempt to control the media narrative instead of being frank and candid. And then she claimed that she did nothing wrong, after which she plead the 5th Amendment before Congress.


Lerner (Re: "the whacko wing of the GOP"): "Maybe we are through if there are that many a--holes... We don’t need to worry about alien terrorists. It’s our own crazies that will take us down."

Lerner: "Look my view is that Lincoln was our worst president not our best... He should [have] let the south go... We really do seem to have [two] different mind sets."

You're probably right, though. No reasonable, open-minded person reading this stuff could ever come to the conclusion that political bias and animus was at work. Not in a million years.

Perhaps you should change your handle to "Publius Negatio"?

Posted by: MM | Jun 19, 2016 11:57:02 AM

The MSM are still not interested in this huge scandal. It makes Watergate look small. Nixon only tried to get the IRS commissioner to get his political enemies and it was a charge on Nixon's bill of impeachment...Obama's White House actually accomplished it...and ABCBSNBCNNPRPBS don't seem to care. They're not much interested in looking into the Clinton Foundation either. Boy, Democrats sure got it good.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Jun 19, 2016 9:41:02 AM

Revisionist history. LLerner may have been a poor choice for a division director, but the record is quite clear on three oints: she was not a "long-time Democratic Party partisan"; she did not direct the Cincinnati office to delay any applications; and she twice directed the Cincinnati office to cease and desist from using the offending BOLO lists.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jun 19, 2016 7:22:25 AM