The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) improperly obtained donor lists from nonprofit groups as part of a “secret research project” being run by Lois Lerner and other officials.
IRS official David Fish revealed the “secret research project” in a June 27, 2012 email to Lerner’s direct subordinate Holly Paz, according to emails released Thursday by the nonprofit group Judicial Watch, which obtained the emails in a pending Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
“Joseph Urban [IRS Technical Advisor, Tax Exempt and Government Entities] had actually started a secret research project on whether we could, consistent with 6104, argue that [REDACTED],” Fish wrote.
“Joe was quite agitated yesterday when I told him what we were doing. (He was involved when the initial question was raised, but we didn’t continue reading him in),” Fish continued. “At one point he started saying that this was a decision for Steve Miller–I told him we were already doing it, and that I didn’t know whether Lois had already talked to Nikole [Flax, former IRS Chief of Staff to IRS Commissioner Steve Miller] about this. Would not be surprised if he already started working on Lois.”
“Thanks for the heads up,” Paz replied. “The decision was made by Steve, based on advice from P and A. [Procedure and Administration].”
Lois Lerner and Nikole Flax, who were both part of the “secret research project,” both suffered computer crashes that allegedly wiped out their emails, according to the IRS. (RELATED: Meet the First 7 IRS Employees Whose Computers Crashed).
Another email released Thursday showed that Lerner obtaining donor information from groups “was not needed across-the-board and not used in making the agency’s determination on exempt status,” according to an IRS deputy chief counsel.