Emails show IRS’ Lois Lerner specifically targeted tea party

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Ms. Lerner has been removed from her post at the helm of the tax-exempt organizations division, but has not been fired from the IRS.

She asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to testify to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this year, though committee members argue that she may have waived that right and should be recalled and forced to answer questions.

In a statement, the IRS said it has to abide by personnel rules but could not comment on a specific employee.

“We support a complete review of these documents to fully understand the circumstances that led to these events,” the IRS said, adding that the agency has tried to cooperate with the congressional investigations.

Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents 41 tea party and conservative organizations from 22 states in a federal lawsuit against the IRS, said the newly released emails are “damning.”

“They clearly contradict the story line put out by the White House and the IRS that this scheme originated with a couple of rogue, low-level employees in a satellite office in Ohio,” Mr. Sekulow said. “Secondly, it clearly shows the political motivation behind the targeting scheme — a motive that Obama administration officials continue to deny.”

Dianne Belsom, president of the Laurens County Tea Party in South Carolina, is involved in the lawsuit and has been waiting more than three years for IRS approval of an application for tax-exempt status. She said the situation is “completely unacceptable.”

“No one has been fired, those placed on administrative leave are still getting paid, and one person was ‘reassigned’ to other duties,” Mrs. Belsom said. “While the Democrats have tried to claim conservative/tea party groups were not the only targets, all of the evidence points otherwise. It is extremely disappointing that our own government has harassed and targeted us, and to date, there have been no real consequences.”

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