Posted by Curt on 23 February, 2015 at 5:23 pm. Be the first to comment!


Judicial Watch:

At her confirmation hearings Wednesday, Loretta Lynch said she’s only “generally aware” of the Justice Department’s investigation of IRS targeting of conservative groups.

As a service for our likely new attorney general, here’s a primer on why so many in Congress want a special counsel in the IRS case.

Under federal rules, the attorney general appoints a special counsel “when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter . . . would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.”

In this case, there’s both.

On May 14, 2013, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General reported that the IRS had “used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions.”

Responding to the public outcry, Attorney General Eric Holder announced, “I have ordered an investigation to be begun. The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken.”

Problem is, Justice had long been interested in IRS investigations of tax-exempt groups.

Back in October 2010, the head of Justice’s Election Crimes Branch, Richard Pilger, met with IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner — the woman at the center of the affair.

As Pilger later told House investigators, the meeting came at the request of Jack Smith, the director of Justice’s powerful Public Integrity Section.

It was one month before the 2010 midterm elections. The Tea Party was on the rise. Democrats were arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United that January had unleashed a torrent of campaign spending.

Within weeks of the Citizens United ruling, according to the Treasury IG’s report, a Cincinnati-based IRS unit under Lerner’s direction began searching for tax-exemption requests involving the words “Tea Party” and other “political sounding names.”

So Lerner had been at work for months when she met with Pilger that October 2010. He told investigators that the meeting was to explore being “more vigilant to the opportunities from more crime” in the tax-exempt organizations area.

Lerner’s agenda was clear. Days after the meeting with Pilger, she addressed the Citizens United decision in a talk at Duke University.

“They want the IRS to fix the problem,” Lerner said. “So everybody is screaming at us right now: ‘Fix it before the [2010 midterm] election. Can’t you see how much these people are spending?’”

The October 2010 events are significant. They establish high-level Justice Department interest in IRS targeting of conservative groups.

The events also set a partisan political context to the Justice and IRS actions: Everyone — meaning, everyone in liberal Democratic circles — is screaming at us right now to fix Citizens United.

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