(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is representing 41 organizations in a federal lawsuit challenging the IRS, said today the release of new emails underscore the fact that the unlawful IRS targeting scheme aimed at Tea Party and conservative groups did not originate with low-level employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office as former top IRS officials contend.
Former Director of Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner, said mistakes were made by “our line people in Cincinnati” and former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said the problem originated with two “rogue” employees in the Ohio office.
Now, news reports cite new emails obtained by the House Ways and Means Committee that reveal a Cincinnati IRS official blasted Lerner for her attempt to blame the scheme on low-level employees in the Ohio office.
“Cincinnati wasn’t publicly ‘thrown under the bus’ (but) instead was hit by a convoy of Mack trucks,” wrote Cindy Thomas, former director of the IRS exempt organizations office in Cincinnati, in a May 10, 2013 email to Lerner – the same day Lerner issued her statement and apology.
Thomas rejected Lerner’s assertion that the Cincinnati office was responsible for the targeting scandal.
“As you can imagine, employees and managers (in the Cincinnati tax-exempt division) are furious,” Thomas wrote to Lerner. “Was it also communicated at that conference in Washington that the low-level workers in Cincinnati asked the Washington office for assistance and the Washington office took no action to provide guidance to the low-level workers?” Thomas wrote.
“We knew from the very beginning that the finger-pointing by Lerner and other top IRS officials was just a smoke screen to hide what really occurred,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “With additional emails released in recent months, it is clear that top officials – including Lerner herself – were involved in the scheme long before it came to light in May of 2013. We continue to call on Congress to continue to aggressively pursue the truth in this matter and urge the House to subpoena top IRS officials – including the IRS Chief Counsel – to find out the extent of this targeting scheme and cover-up.”
Just last month, the ACLJ expanded its federal suit, filing a second amended lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. – adding additional defendants – including top IRS political appointees – an additional claim – and evidence that reveals a politically-motivated attack on conservative organizations by the IRS – a secret and illegal targeting campaign – aimed at the organizations because of their political beliefs.
The ACLJ argues that President Obama – along with Congressional Democrats – created a climate of hostility toward Tea Party and conservative groups – making it impossible for the ACLJ’s clients to exercise their First Amendment freedoms. The ACLJ contends that the hostile climate set the stage for the unprecedented illegal targeting by the IRS.
The ACLJ represents 41 organizations in 22 states. Of the 41 groups, 22 organizations received tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 12 are still pending, 5 withdrew applications because of frustration with the IRS process, and 2 had their files closed by the IRS after refusing to answer the unconstitutional requests for more information.
For many months now, the Obama Administration has repeatedly stated that federal investigators are conducting a probe into the IRS targeting scheme. However, to date, not one of our clients has been contacted by the FBI or any other federal investigative body.
The IRS contends that the targeting scheme originated with a couple of rogue IRS agents out of the Cincinnati, Ohio office and contends the abusive conduct has been halted. However, the ACLJ has correspondence showing this tactic was used not only in the Cincinnati office, but also from two offices in California – El Monte and Laguna Niguel – as well as the national office in Washington, D.C.
Furthermore, the ACLJ has letters signed by Lerner suggesting her personal involvement in sending invasive questionnaires to 15 of our clients in March 2012 - some nine months after she was told about the scheme and promised to stop it. The ACLJ has heard from more than 130,000 Americans calling on President Obama and members of Congress to end the IRS abuse.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), focusing on constitutional law, is based in Washington, D.C.
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