Guest post by Investor's Business Daily
Politics: New emails show that the woman at the center of the IRS scandal over special scrutiny of conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status targeted tea party applications specifically and directed they be held up.
While a possible "wag the dog" attack on Syria and other "phony" scandals like Benghazi have grabbed the headlines, Congress has continued its investigation into the Obama administration's targeting of tea party groups that sprang up in opposition to ObamaCare by the agency charged with enforcing it, the Internal Revenue Service.
In case anyone forgot, Lois Lerner, former head of the Exempt Organizations office of the IRS, who invoked her Fifth Amendment rights rather than tell what she did and knew about the targeting of tea party and other conservative groups, is still being paid with your tax dollars while on "administrative leave."
Yet another reason for her silence has been unearthed by a 2011 email released by the House Ways and Means Committee in which the woman who claimed she had done nothing wrong admitted that the tea party was not only targeted, but targeted at her direction, in response to the Citizens United case that so outraged President Obama because it reaffirmed the free-speech rights of those who oppose him.
In the February 2011 email, Lerner advised her staff — including then-Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then-Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz — that a tea party matter is "very dangerous" and something "Counsel and (Lerner adviser) Judy Kindell need to be in on." Lerner added: "Cincy should probably NOT have these cases."
It was Paz, a D.C.-based top deputy in the IRS division that handled applications for tax-exempt status, who told congressional investigators she was personally involved in reviewing tea party applications for tax-exempt status as far back as 2010.
On May 22, the day after Paz was interviewed by investigators, Lerner refused to answer questions from lawmakers at a congressional hearing, citing her right not to incriminate herself.
Like the Internet video the Benghazi terrorist attack was blamed on, the only thing phony about the IRS scandal is the administration's cover story that a couple of rogue agents in the Cincinnati office concocted and executed this most blatant abuse of power by the most powerful and feared agency of government. Lerner's email further blows out of the water that discredited fiction.
It also confirms a suspected reason for the planned intimidation and hamstringing of conservative opposition to the Obama administration's policies, saying that those tea party group applications for tax-exempt status could end up being the "vehicle to go to court" to get more clarity on the 2010 Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance rules.
This would explain the bizarre and repeated questionnaires requesting lists of donors, books members read, contents of their prayers, texts of speeches given before the group and whether any member is thinking of running for office. The Obama administration was gathering information for possible future court cases to gut Citizens United while it was keeping its political opponents at bay.
"There is increasing and overwhelming evidence that Lois Lerner and high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said of the emails from Lerner.
Using government power to target conservative opponents of liberal Democrats is nothing new for Lerner. As we've written, the IRS scandal may have its roots in "Chicago way" politics with the 1996 targeting of Illinois conservative Al Salvi by a familiar name, Lois Lerner, then head of the Enforcement Division of the Federal Elections Commission.
No need to plead the Fifth, Ms. Lerner. You've already incriminated yourself and the administration you serve, no matter how many times you and the president intone, "I am not a crook."
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