Lois Lerner Loves it When a Plan Comes Together | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

Lois Lerner Plan Comes Together

By David French1391714377000

With all due apologies to Hannibal from the A-Team, I couldn’t help but think of his favorite quote when the Daily Caller reported that “new” IRS free-speech regulations were in the works for some time — perhaps even as early as 2011. The plan to suppress the Tea Party and use the IRS to functionally overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is coming together quite nicely.

Can we finally retire the official IRS narrative of the scandal? In what may go down in history as the least sincere apology ever delivered, on May 10, 2013, Lois Lerner — then director of exempt organizations — disclosed IRS misconduct, apologized, then provided a series of excuses and justifications for that misconduct that the IRS maintains to this day. ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow (Full disclosure: I’m a senior counsel at the ACLJ, and we represent 41 conservative groups from 22 states in litigation against the IRS) testified today before the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs. Here’s a key portion of his written testimony (footnotes in link):

The initial IRS defense turned on three fundamental misstatements: First, that the misconduct was localized to low-level employees in one IRS office, in Cincinnati.[5] Second, that the misconduct was unrelated to the political point of view of the targeted groups but was merely a misguided effort to respond to a “big increase” of 501c4 applications.[6] And third, the misconduct had been identified and stopped. These assertions were all false.[7]

The misconduct was not localized in Cincinnati. From the moment that Lois Lerner made her apology, at the ACLJ we had in our possession letters from IRS offices in California and from IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.[8] In addition, we possessed letters signed not just by “low-level” employees but by high-ranking IRS attorneys and officials from Washington, including letters signed by Lois Lerner.[9]

Additionally, we were able to quickly determine that there was no “big increase” of applications at the time the targeting began. In fact, there were fewer 501c3 and 501c4 applications in fiscal year 2010 – when the targeting began – than in fiscal year 2009.[10]

We also knew that IRS misconduct had not stopped but was instead ongoing. In fact, one of our clients received additional intrusive questions just weeks before Lois Lerner’s apology, and several of our clients were still waiting – years after submitting applications – for IRS approval.[11] Some still wait to this day.

Now we know the targeting — which would have been difficult to continue indefinitely — was being supplemented by a draconian ”off plan” (undisclosed) regulatory initiative that would ultimately render the targeting effort superfluous.Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell are precisely correct when they write that the proposed IRS rules “would redefine political activity so broadly that grass-roots groups all across the country will likely be forced to shut down simply for engaging in the kind of non-partisan educational activities the 501(c)(4) designation was designed to support.” Expect these new regulations, if finalized, to face an avalanche of litigation.

The contours of the IRS response to the Tea Party are now clear: target, delay, and regulate. Target tea-party applications for additional scrutiny, delay approvals through the use of voluminous, intrusive questions and investigations, then regulate exhausted, approved groups into impotence through new rules that expand the definition of political activity so far beyond the bounds of common sense that even the ACLU is outraged.

Yes, the Obama administration’s plan is coming together quite nicely — unless and until it’s checked in federal court.

This article is crossposted on National Review.

Latest in
Free Speech

Final Blow to FFRF’s Attack

By CeCe Heil1448921961920

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered a final blow to the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) last ditch effort to petition for a full court hearing in the WWII Memorial Jesus statue case. FFRF’s campaign to remove the six foot statue was thwarted in August 2014, yet the...

read more

WWI Cross Upheld by Federal Court

By Joseph Williams1448921761883

Today, a federal district court rejected the demands of an angry atheist group to tear down a World War I memorial cross. The United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled in favor of the American Legion’s Blandensburg Cross World War I Veterans Memorial honoring the 49 brave...

read more

Angry Atheists Try to Ban Gideon Bibles

By Jay Sekulow1447350056745

The virulently anti-Christian Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is at it once again. What are these atheists so angry about this time? Apparently, Gideon Bibles resting in hotel table drawers are just too much to bear for the self-proclaimed freethinkers, atheists, and agnostics at FFRF.

read more

Why We Need a Special Counsel Now

By Jay Sekulow1445956969389

When I heard the news that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was closing its investigation into former top IRS official Lois Lerner – who’s at the heart of the unlawful targeting scandal of conservative and Tea Party groups – two thoughts came to mind. First, the decision not to bring any criminal...

read more