Emails unearthed by the House Ways and Means Committee seem to show collusion between a Federal Election Commission attorney and the Lois Lerner of the Internal Revenue Service on two separate occasions to influence the record prior to the FEC’s vote in the case of a conservative non-profit organization. Not only does the correspondence suggest discrimination of conservative groups by the FEC and the IRS, but it also alludes to the fact that discrimination may have gone beyond the bounds of the IRS and into the FEC.
The American Future Fund (AFF) is the conservative group in question and the correspondence in the emails obtained indicates that an attorney from the FEC sought and received tax information about AFF prior to recommending that AFF be prosecuted for violations of campaign-finance law.
National Review reports:
“Several months ago . . . I spoke with you about the American Future Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization that had submitted an exemption application the IRS [sic],” the FEC attorney wrote Lerner in February 2009. The FEC, which polices violations of campaign-finance laws, is not exempted under Rule 6103, which prohibits the IRS from sharing confidential taxpayer information, but the e-mail indicates Lerner may have provided that information nonetheless: “When we spoke last July, you had told us that the American Future Fund had not received an exemption letter from the IRS,” the FEC attorney wrote.
The timing of the correspondence between Lerner and the FEC suggests the FEC attorney sought information from the IRS in order to influence an upcoming vote by the six FEC commissioners. The FEC received a complaint in March 2008 from the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party alleging that the American Future Fund had violated campaign-finance law by engaging in political advocacy without registering as a political-action committee. The American Future Fund responded to that complaint in June 2008, telling the commission that it had applied for tax exemption in March of that year and was a “501(c)(4) social-welfare organization that was organized to provide Americans with a conservative and free-market viewpoint and mechanism to communicate and advocate on the issues that most interest and concern them.” According to the e-mail correspondence, a month after receiving the American Future Fund’s response, the FEC general counsel’s office — which is prohibited under law from conducting an investigation into an organization before the FEC’s six commissioners have voted to do so — contacted Lerner to investigate the agency’s tax-exempt status.
The FEC general counsel’s office, in its recommendation on the case, apparently didn’t tell the agency’s commissioners about how it had obtained the information about the group’s tax-exempt status. Recommending that the commissioners prosecute the American Future Fund, the general counsel’s office wrote, ”According to its response, AFF submitted an application for tax-exempt status to the Internal Revenue Service . . . on March 18, 2008.” The footnote to that sentence reads, “The IRS has not yet issued a determination letter regarding AFF’s application for exempt status. Based on the information from the response and the IRS website, it is likely that the application is still under review.” In fact, an FEC lawyer knew that the organization had yet to obtain tax-exempt status because Lerner provided the confidential information.
A report on American Future Fund was then submitted in September 2008, but would not be voted on until late February 2009. Normally this time would take about a month, not over five.
However, on February 3, 2009, the FEC attorney contacted Lerner for an update about AFF’s application. “Could you please tell me whether the IRS has since issued an exemption letter to the American Future Fund?” he asked. “Also if the IRS has granted American Future Fund’s exemption, would it be possible for you to send me the publicly available information and documents related to American Future Fund?”
Eventually, the FEC voted 6-0 to close American Future Fund’s case.
Calls are now coming from House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp and oversight-subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany for the IRS to provide all communications between the agency and the FEC between 2008 and 2012.
In a letter sent to acting IRS administrator Danny Werfel on Wednesday, Camp and Boustany wrote, “The American public is entitled to know whether the IRS is inappropriately sharing their confidential tax information with other agencies.”
Emails indicate there may have been since the FED attorney also inquired about the American Issues Project in an email to the IRS.
You can read the Camp/Boustany letter, along with the email exchanges by clicking here.
Lerner’s history of being aggressive towards conservatives is long and villainous.
Jim Hoft points out, “Under the direction of Lois Lerner, the Federal Election Commission sued the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. She harassed the Christian Coalition for three election cycles. Eventually, she lost her case. At one point Lerner even asked a targeted conservative if Pat Robertson prayed over him.”
“In 1996, while at the FEC, Lois Lerner harassed Republican Senate candidate Al Salvi and made him this outrageous offer, ”Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.” One of Lerner’s minions even asked Salvi to fork over $200,000 with his promise not to run again.”
Lerner pleaded the Fifth Amendment before Congress back in June, even though she took time to say she had done nothing wrong and then blamed others for the targeting. She has been on paid leave since May.
Tim Brown is the Editor of Freedom Outpost and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.