Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner, a central figure in the investigation of why the IRS unfairly discriminated against Americans with conservative political views, has refused to testify to Congress and twice pled the fifth to avoid incriminating herself. Conveniently, thousands of her emails were “lost” in a computer crash, which no doubt could have been avoided if the IRS actually followed its own advice.
- IRS claim: Lerner’s lawyer, William Taylor III, said Friday that his client’s targeting of people who disagree with the Obama administration was totally legitimate, however, because “groups identifying themselves with the tea party and other, more conservative causes dramatically increased the number of applications for (c)(4) status.” According to Politico, Taylor “said it was simply the job of Lerner and the IRS to ensure such tax-exempt organizations follow the law.”
- The truth: It’s actually pretty incredible that defenders of the IRS are still using this talking point, considering it was proven false more than a year ago by The Atlantic and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The data show applications were declining, not increasing. As for the excuse that Lerner was just doing her job, note: “When POLITICO asked Taylor if Lerner was able to give an example in which she expressed concern over a liberal group or lawmaker, he did not offer one.” Ouch.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, a major political donor to Democrats, was President Obama’s choice to take over the agency in 2013, and was interviewed by CNN on Friday. Wolf Blitzer asked Koskinen about the recent testimony of the National Archives and Records Administration’s David Ferriero, who said the IRS did not follow the law in preserving documents as required by the statute for public and official records.
- IRS claim: Koskinen’s response: “I should emphasize that all emails are not official records. So if an email is lost, it doesn't mean we've lost an official record.”
- The truth: According to the IRS’s own Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), “Email messages are official documents” and “The Federal Records Act applies to email records just as it does to records you create using other media.”
These false claims and excuses are unacceptable; the American people deserve the truth. The House has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS, and the Ways and Means Committee continues to pressure the Obama administration to tell the truth.
Find out more about the IRS investigation at GOP.gov/IRS.