Embattled ex-IRS official Lois Lerner inquired about auditing a pro-abstinence group with ties to Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, according to a Senate report released on Wednesday.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, disclosed Lerner’s email — which she sent in April 2011 — in an addendum to a report detailing the results of a two-year investigation into whether the IRS unfairly targeted conservative groups.
The bi-partisan report concluded that Lerner and the IRS often ignored applications for tax-exempt status submitted by Tea Party organizations and other groups.
According to Hatch, Lerner’s political views influenced the IRS’ handling and processing of tax-exempt applications for the conservative groups.
One example of this was an email Lerner sent to her supervisors asking whether an audit should be conducted on Candie’s Foundation, a nonprofit group which seeks to limit teen pregnancy.
Bristol Palin was paid $332,500 to serve as an “ambassador” for the organization, which was founded by an executive at Candie’s Inc., an apparel company.
After Lerner learned of the payment to Palin from a news article, she wrote in an April 8, 2011, email chain to David Fish, Judith Kindell — two IRS officials — and others:
Thoughts on the Bristol Palin issue? I’m curious that a [private foundation] can pay any amount to someone who is not a [disqualified person]? It is a [private foundation] right? Even if it were a [public charity] – would that be private benefit – what are the consequences? I’m asking because I don’t know whether to send to Exam as a referral.
Hatch noted how unusual it was for Lerner to consider an audit based upon a single news article. He noted that out of 1.5 million IRS records reviewed by his committee staff, there were no other instances where Lerner referred a progressive group for an audit based on a single news article.
“Lerner’s willingness to act on this particular news article – among many that reached her inbox each day – shows that she was paying close attention to conservative politicians and organizations,” Hatch stated in his report.
USA Today noted another partisan comment from Lerner that Hatch cited in his report.
In a March 6, 2014, email exchange Lerner and a friend were discussing the political landscape in Texas. Lerner’s friend criticized Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, the former and current governors of the state, respectively.
“As you can see, the Lone Star State is just pathetic as far as political attitudes are concerned,” the friend wrote to Lerner.
She responded by stating that Abraham Lincoln should have allowed the South to secede from the Union.
“Look my view is that Lincoln was our worst president not our best. He should’[v]e let the south go. We really do seem to have 2 totally different mindsets,” she wrote.
[h/t USA Today]