The Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have uncovered emails that seem to indicate that the IRS was actively working with the Justice Department in the targeting of conservative groups.
But it gets worse. Holder’s DOJ was apparently considering using criminal prosecution against these conservative activists to silence them, doing so for activities which are perfectly legal.
Chairman Issa and the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to Holder making these allegations, and demanding information from the attorney general on communications between the IRS and DOJ and documents related to possible criminal prosecution of conservative organizations.
An email between Lois Lerner and Richard Pilger, head of the Election Crimes Branch of the DOJ, seems to indicate a coordinated effort to target conservatives, and get this: this email exchange occurred just two days before the Lerner’s public apology for the targeting. Here’s what the email said:
“I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ … He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS.”
The Washington Examiner summarizes Issa’s allegations in the letter sent to Holder:
Issa argues that the email shows that the DOJ was considering prosecuting these nonprofits for actions that are legal for 501(c)(4) nonprofits under federal tax law – “that is, engaging in political speech.”
The California Republican sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for him to produce documents and allow the committee to interview Pilger on why his agency was considering prosecuting the tax-exempt groups already improperly targeted by the IRS.
“Mr. Pilger’s communications with Ms. Lerner are also striking for their timing,” Issa argued in the letter. “They show that the IRS and the Justice Department were actively considering efforts to target tax-exempt organizations just two days before Ms. Lerner’s public apology for the targeting.”
The information undermines the “sincerity of Lerner’s apology,” he wrote, and calls into questions Holder’s reaction when the story first broke that the targeting was “outrageous” and “unacceptable.”
“These comments ring hollow in light of evidence that your subordinates apparently colluded with the IRS to target nonprofit groups less than a week before,” he continued.
Issa went on to call Pilger’s suggestion that the DOJ come up with false statement cases about the groups’ political activities “harassment” and prosecutorial “gotcha.”
The Department’s use of alleged false statement on the tax-exempt application is an unfortunate use of prosecutorial “gotcha,” targeting these victims for supposed “lies” about activities that they are legally allowed to do. In this way, the tactics suggested by Mr. Pilger appear to be nothing more than harassment by the Justice Department of groups engaged in otherwise lawful activity.
The pieces are starting to fall into place. Political pressure from prominent Democrats, including Obama himself, in the wake of the Citizens United decision caused the DOJ and IRS to find ways to “deal” with conservative groups who they thought would benefit politically from the lifting of limitations on nonprofits. The Justice Department and the IRS then coordinated an effort to harass and bully conservative organizations to make it as difficult as possible for them to engage in political speech. Emails even suggest that they tried to get the FEC involved. Disgusting.
This is criminal behavior from the Obama administration, plain and simple. It’s past time for us to have special prosecutors come in and investigate the entire administration for its corruption and abuses of power.
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