The Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service may have cooperated in targeting conservative political groups applying for tax-exempt status, FEC Vice Chairman Don McGahn said.
That conclusion, McGahn said, comes after seeing many undisclosed emails between FEC officials and the IRS.
An FEC investigator, according to McGahn, contacted Lois Lerner, director of the Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt organizations division, to discuss the status of the American Future Fund, one of the conservative groups allegedly targeted.
Shortly after that contact, the IRS submitted a list of questions to the organization, McGahn said on CNN
"Who's the dog and who's the tail [in this case]? Who knows?" he asked. But "dealing with Lois Lerner is probably out of the ordinary."
The answers "could be benign [or] could be more sinister," McGahn said.
"Things seemed weird to me" after looking at the emails, he told CNN. "The FEC has not had a good track record with calling balls and strikes. They've been criticized for not playing fair."
McGahn said this "creates the appearance that people are being selectively targeted. And that's something that should never happen."
FEC commissioners granted no permission to their workers to contact the IRS regarding the American Future Fund. That permission usually is required for such contact, McGahn said.
Republican congressional investigators are asking IRS and FEC officials for the emails described by McGahn.
Last week, Republican congressmen revealed
the traffic of several emails between Lerner and an unnamed FEC attorney inquiring about the status of the American Future Fund and the American Issues Project, another conservative group.
Related: Records Show IRS and FEC Colluded Against Conservative Groups
Those emails concern only publicly available information on the two groups. But, McGahn told CNN, additional emails he saw are unclear whether the FEC was looking only for public information.
A request for private information probably would break the law.
FEC Chairwoman Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democrat, said she doesn't know about the emails McGahn discussed, according to CNN.
"If there was any evidence or targeting based on ideology, that would be extremely serious, but I have not seen any evidence of that," she said. "I am not aware of requesting or receiving any confidential taxpayer information. I am not aware of any requests for anything that wasn't publicly available."
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