Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Lois Lerner, director of Exempt Organizations for the IRS, is surrounded by Capitol police as she boards an elevator after being excused from a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington on Wednesday.
Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.
Jay Sekulow, an attorney representing 27 conservative political advocacy organizations that applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status, provided some of the letters to NBC News. He said the groups’ contacts with the IRS prove that the practices went beyond a few “front line” employees in the Cincinnati office, as the IRS has maintained.
“We’ve dealt with 15 agents, including tax law specialists — that’s lawyers — from four different offices, including (the) Treasury (Department) in Washington, D.C.,” Sekulow said. “So the idea that this is a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati is not correct.”
Among the letters were several that bore return IRS addresses other than Cincinnati, including IRS headquarters in Washington, and the signatures of IRS officials higher up the chain. Lerner’s signature, which appeared to be a stamp rather than an actual signature, appeared on a letter requesting additional information from the Ohio Liberty Council Corp.
Lerner has become one of the public faces of the controversy after refusing to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last Wednesday, citing her Constitutional Fifth Amendment rights after reading a brief statement: “I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws, violated IRS regulations or provided false information to this or any other committee.”
She was put on administrative leave at the end of last week after reportedly refusing to resign at Obama administration’s request. She is continuing to collect federal paychecks on her almost $180,000 annual salary, though at least one Republican senator, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, is urging the agency to speed up the process and fire her.
In the two weeks since the IRS acknowledged it targeted conservative organizations seeking status as tax-exempt “social welfare” organizations for additional scrutiny, many Republicans have sought to link the agency’s actions to the White House. In an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post on May 22, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote that “the administration has been extremely creative in employing throughout the federal government the sorts of intimidation tactics that were used at the IRS.”
The White House has dismissed suggestions it was aware of the targeting, saying President Barack Obama only learned of the issue when it broke in the news on May 10. White House spokesman Jay Carney has since deflected most questions about the scandal, saying it would be inappropriate to comment until an FBI inquiry into the agency’s actions – one of five separate government investigations — is concluded.
For its part, the IRS has declined additional comment beyond its congressional testimony — including former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller’s testimony that IRS employees didn’t have partisan motives and only made “foolish mistakes … trying to be more efficient” — and other previously released public statements, including its response to a Treasury inspector general (see pages 49-51) and a Q&A on 501 (c) groups it published on its website.
But attorneys for some of the targeted groups’ provided documentation and two IRS employees in the Cincinnati office made statements to NBC News that call into question parts of the official explanation Americans have heard from the IRS so far.
Sekulow, who worked with the office of the chief counsel of the IRS in the early 1980s as a trial lawyer representing the IRS on tax-exempt cases, said the number of groups he’s heard from, and the scope of the requests for information the IRS sent them, persuaded him “that this was not something that was just created at an agent level, that this was certainly higher up.”
The Truth Comes Out: Former IRS Director Admits Taxes Are Voluntary
May 23, 2013
Steve Miller, former Director of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), admitted at a Congressional hearing that the taxes collected by the IRS are not mandatory – but voluntary.
When questioned at the House Ways and Means Committee (WMC) hearing last week, Miller told House Representative Devin Nunes that “America’s tax system is ‘voluntary’”. When Nunes remarked for clarification that the US tax code is a “voluntary system”, Miller said, “Agreed.”
House Representative Xavier Becerra commented that the ruse of the IRS is kept as a public confidence in the system scheme to keep Americans paying money to the IRS.
Miller confirmed this is so.
The shuffle at the IRS has landed Danny Werfel as the new acting director.
As his first message to those employed at the IRS, Werfel said that amid the mistrust of the public brewing against the organization, it is the mission of all employees to “help America’s taxpayers understand and meet their tax responsibilities.”
Werfel invoked the tragedy at Oklahoma to coerce his underlings into believing that they are doing a great work. He said: “. . . as the nation comes together to support the victims of the devastating tornados in Oklahoma, we should all feel a sense of pride that IRS is actively supporting the recovery effort and doing our part to help.”
President Obama anointed Werfel as a replacement for Miller who was asked to resign just a month before his term as acting director of the IRS was complete.
Werfel has a history working for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and an analyst for the Department of Justice (DoJ). Obama describes Werfel as having “proven an effective leader who serves with professionalism, integrity and skill.”
Senator Orin Hatch commented on Obama’s choice of putting a businessman in place at the IRS: “If I was the president I would find the very best businessman I possibly could who’d be willing to take it over and have the authority to be able to straighten the mess out. I don’t know whether Werfel has that kind of dimension or not, but I hope he does.”
Lois Lerner, director of the Tax-Exempt division at the IRS during the targeting of Patriot groups refused to speak to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, claiming her right of the 5th Amendment.
William Taylor III, attorney for Lerner, requested in a letter that preceded her arrival, asking the OGRC that she be allowed to refrain from appearing before the committee. Taylor claimed that be forcing Lerner, it “would have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her.”
Read Full Article Here
- Richmond Tea Party joins groups setting legal sights on IRS (watchdog.org)
- Lois Lerner Directly Involved in IRS Targeting, Letters Show (nationalreview.com)
- Lois Lerner Directly Involved In IRS Targeting, Letters Show (patdollard.com)
- IRS to be sued in federal court (wnd.com)
- Major IRS Scandal Figure To Plead Fifth (huffingtonpost.com)
- Lois Lerner IRS Directer of Exempt Organizations signed the Letters (americanfreedombybarbara.com)
- ACLJ: White House Account of IRS Abuses ‘Does Not Square With the Facts’ (cnsnews.com)
- IRS Replaces Lerner Amid Tea Party Controversy (washington.cbslocal.com)
- IRS replaces official in tea party controversy (thenewstribune.com)