More than 60 percent of voters in a new poll think President Obama and the truth are often strangers. That explains the president’s recent insistence that there isn’t a “smidgen” of corruption in the Internal Revenue Service. The White House is the new home of the whopper.
Judicial Watch acquired several juicy and incriminating emails between the IRS and Justice Department only last week. The conservative watchdog group was investigating the tax man’s slow-walking applications of nonprofit organizations affiliated with Tea Party groups. By making absurd demands, such as ordering the Coalition for Life of Iowa to hand over the text of prayers offered by its members, IRS bureaucrats realized they could keep conservatives from fully participating in the political process ahead of the 2010 midterm elections
Lois Lerner might say a few prayers of her own. The former chief of the nonprofit division once more finds herself at the heart of scandal. The new emails reveal her interest in how selectively prosecuting a conservative group might send a warning shot across the bow of conservative nonprofit groups.
In an email exchange last May, Ms. Lerner tells Nikole Flax, then the IRS commissioner’s chief of staff, that she got a call from a high-ranking Department of Justice (DOJ) official who “wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folks could talk to” about Democratic senators’ push to prosecute conservative groups.
“I think we should do it,” Ms. Flax replies, ” — also need to include [Justice’s Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to [the Federal Election Commission (FEC).”
About six weeks earlier, on March 27, Ms. Lerner in an email to top IRS staff wrote that “folks from the FEC world,” were pressing for “tax-fraud prosecutions” for nonprofit organizations accused of lying about not conducting political activity. “This is their latest push to shut these down,” she wrote. “One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing the stuff.”
If Mr. Obama were still in the Senate, he would surely “revise and extend” his remarks about corruption at the IRS. The “nothing to see here, move along” message will no longer work in the face of this solid evidence that the administration has coordinated prosecutions of groups based on their political beliefs.
Unfortunately, Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee continue to play partisan games. Led by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who has been saying “the case is solved” for months, the committee minority voted earlier this month to give Ms. Lerner a pass.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee similarly voted against referring criminal charges to the Department of Justice, where they would have languished, anyway, with Attorney General Eric H. Holder in charge.
Perhaps they, too, would like to reconsider their votes, and withdraw their approval of preferential treatment for the IRS and its custom of favoring the organizations it likes and inconveniencing the rest. The scandal rises to another level when three government agencies hold meetings to determine which political enemies should be the first to hear the knock at the door from federal agents.
Now would be a good time for the Democrats to drop their obstructionist tactics, and let the truth come out.