Key members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform expressed outrage at revelations made in newly released emails showing ex-IRS official Lois Lerner coordinating with the Department of Justice on prosecuting nonprofit groups.
One committee member said the emails prove why the IRS is “scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner’s emails.” IRS commissioner John Koskinen was recently threatened with contempt for stonewalling the committee’s investigation. Koskinen claimed in a hearing that it could take years to provide the documents requested by Oversight.
“The release of new documents underscores the political nature of IRS Tea Party targeting and the extent to which supposed apolitical officials took direction from elected Democrats,” Oversight chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said in a statement. “These e-mails are part of an overwhelming body of evidence that political pressure from prominent Democrats led to the targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.”
“Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner’s emails,” said Oversight Economic Growth subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan.
“Not only do these e-mails further prove the coordination among the IRS, the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Justice Department and committee Democrats to target conservatives, they also show that had our committee not requested the Inspector General’s investigation when we did, Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department would likely have been leveling trumped up criminal charges against Tea Party groups to intimidate them from exercising their Constitutional rights,” Jordan said.
The emails were obtained through a lawsuit filed by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, and were not provided to Oversight, which voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. Lerner’s contempt charge currently awaits a full House floor vote.
“I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ … He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folks could talk to about [Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon] Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who ‘lied’ on their 1024s — saying they werent planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures,” Lerner wrote in a May 8, 2013 email to a colleague, just days before the IRS scandal broke.
“DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS …,” Lerner wrote.