“Well, I’m not going to catalogue…”
— White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refusing to define what he and President Obama meant when talking about “phony scandals.” Carney, though, intimated that the targeting of political groups by the IRS and the doctored White House talking points on the Islamist raid on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya were “phony.”
We now know that IRS honchos shared information about conservative groups with other agencies, using the vast data in the IRS databanks to help other federal officials make cases against conservatives. Now we need to know how much, how often and what kind.
Email exchanges between Lois Lerner, the Democrat at the center of the probe into abuses at the IRS, and a lawyer at the Federal Elections Commission show Lerner and the lawyer teaming up to try to block a conservative group from winning a case before the commission.
The pixel trail obtained by the House Ways and Means Committee leaves a strong suggestion that Lerner passed confidential information to the lawyer in a bid to squeeze a Minnesota conservative group under fire from state Democrats. The way it’s supposed to work is that the commission doesn’t investigate until its members find probable cause, but here we have a still-unnamed attorney doing a stealth investigation with Lerner’s help in an apparent bid to sway commissioners ahead of their vote.
The chances for collusion are helped by the fact that prior to coming to the IRS, Lerner was the longtime head of the elections board’s enforcement office. That’s where she first earned the ire of conservatives for targeting religious groups, especially the demand from her office to know about the content of prayers tendered for the sake of Lt. Col. Oliver North.
Lerner, therefore, would have had plenty of knowledge about how to game the system at the commission to make sure a complaint turned into a case – precisely what her successors at the FEC would need to drop the hammer on a conservative group. And given the warren of unlisted government email addresses and the prevalent use of personal accounts for public business, it’s hard now to know just what passed between Lerner and the FEC.