A Politico review
of some 5,000 pages of emails and documents recently released by the Senate Finance Committee found that the IRS targeted more conservative than liberal groups seeking tax-exempt status and "firmly established" that Lois Lerner, the agency’s former director of Exempted Organizations, "held and discussed liberal views."
Politico pored over the thousands of pages of documents released last week by the bipartisan committee on its investigation into the IRS
' treatment of organizations applying for tax-exempt status.
The documents include "successive drafts of the much-discussed Be On the Lookout list, a protracted discussion of how to handle successors to the low-income housing group ACORN, and examples of the exhaustive information requests the IRS sent to various groups. It also includes various press reports on the agency; in some cases they were emailed around the IRS."
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported
that in her emails, Lerner — who retired after the scandal broke — denounced the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision — "widely hailed by conservatives — as a death knell of democracy" and bemoaned "President Lincoln’s success in keeping the South in the Union."
"Ms. Lerner also eyed a possible audit of a teen pregnancy charity that paid Bristol Palin, daughter of 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin," according to the Journal.
In 2014, Congress found Lerner in contempt for her refusal to testify about her role in the agency's targeting of conservative groups. She complained about Congress in the recently disclosed emails.
"They called me back to testify on the IRS 'scandal,' and I too[k] the 5th again because they had been so evil and dishonest in my lawyer’s dealings with them," she wrote to a friend on March 6, 2014.
Three months later, according to Politico, Lerner bellyached to the same friend about the repeated use of an unflattering picture of her while testifying, saying it "kept surfacing because it serves their purposes of hate mongering to continue to use those images.
"I was never a political person — this whole fiasco has only made me lose all respect [for] politics and politicians. I am merely a pawn in their game to take over the Senate."
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the House Oversight Committee, which twice called Lerner to testify, told Politico that the emails show that in an attempt to save herself, Lerner threw rank-and-file employees under the bus by fingering them for the extra scrutiny given to conservative groups.
She "lied right from the start, trying to say it was front-line agents in the Cincinnati office," Jordan said. She "blamed good civil servants. So now for her to come out and say, 'Oh they’re dishonest and they’re evil,' when in fact she tried to blame someone else for what she did and what she orchestrated, is, I guess, the height of hypocrisy."
Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, who chairs the House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee, told Politico that Lerner "has only herself to blame for her conduct."
The emails are "a sad attempt by Lois Lerner to deflect blame for her egregious abuse of power," he said. "The only victims in this scenario are the Americans who were unfairly targeted by the IRS for their personal religious and political beliefs."
The Department of Justice and at least four congressional committees have been investigating the IRS since 2013, "when agency officials disclosed that agents had improperly singled out tea party and other conservative political groups when they applied for tax-exempt status," according to U.S. News & World Report
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