IRS official may have sought audit involving Republican senator: emails

WASHINGTON Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:55pm EDT

U.S. Internal Revenue Service Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner sits for testimony before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status from by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Internal Revenue Service Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner sits for testimony before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status from by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former U.S. Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a controversy over the tax agency's treatment of Tea Party groups sent emails in which she appears to seek an audit involving a Republican senator, according to documents released on Wednesday by a House of Representatives committee.

The emails show former IRS official Lois Lerner received an invitation to an event in 2012 that was meant to go to Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa. Grassley apparently received Lerner's invitation by mistake.

The event organizer apparently offered to pay for Grassley's wife to attend the event. Lerner, in an email to another IRS official, suggests referring the matter for an audit.

"Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?" Lerner wrote to colleague Matthew Giuliano.

Giuliano replied he was "not sure we should send an exam" and added that an audit would be premature because Grassley had not accepted the invitation.

The name of the event organizer was blacked out on copies of the emails released by the House Ways and Means Committee, and it was not clear if Lerner was suggesting Grassley or the group should be investigated.

Lerner's attorney, William Taylor, said in a statement: "She instructed her staff to return the letter and requested that the Exam section check to see if the organization's status permitted it to give the trip to Ms Grassley who was providing nothing in return."

Representative Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the committee, expressed outrage over Lerner's actions.

"We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States senator is shocking," Camp said in a statement.

"At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights," he said.

In May 2013, Lerner, who headed an IRS unit involved in applying extra scrutiny to conservative political groups' applications for tax-exempt status, apologized in public for what she called "inappropriate" review of the groups' applications. Republicans have been investigating since then.

She retired from the IRS in September 2013.

Last week, the IRS said a computer crash had caused it to lose some emails written by Lerner, angering Republican investigators who want the emails for review.

At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this week, Republicans accused the IRS of hiding the Lerner emails and obstructing a congressional inquiry into the controversy.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (17)
Dr_Steve wrote:
Indictment pending.

Jun 25, 2014 9:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
borisjimbo wrote:
Looks like a legit reason to wonder about whether somebody is hiding income guys. Why do you have a problem with enforcing the law?

Jun 25, 2014 9:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
REnninga wrote:
Looks like she saw the possibility of a violation of the law on the part of the event organizer, and referred it for review. Exactly what she was paid to do as a federal employee.

When IRS employees become aware of possible violations of the law, are you folks suggesting that the IRS should simply ignore such information if it even indirectly involves a Republican?
Are some of you losing your perspective?

Here’s an idea: Just for fun, try opening your left eye, from time to time, rather than only your right eye. You will be astonished how much it will improve your depth perception when you look at the world with both eyes open, … not to mention how it will also improve your overall personal ‘depth.’

Jun 25, 2014 10:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.