Conservative Legal Group Unearths New IRS Lois Lerner Emails

The group says the documents show that Lois Lerner inquired at Justice as to “whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities.” The group says the documents show that Lois Lerner inquired at Justice as to “whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities.” J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

Another batch of previously unreleased Internal Revenue Service emails is being showcased by a conservative legal nonprofit as evidence of politicized coordination between the tax agency, the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department.

Judicial Watch on Wednesday released documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request filed in October 2013. The group says the documents show that Lois Lerner, the since-resigned head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, inquired at Justice as to “whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities.”

One of the email exchanges between Lerner and Nikole C. Flax, then-chief of staff to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller, discusses plans to work with Justice to prosecute nonprofit groups that “lied” (Lerner’s quotation marks) about political activities, Judicial Watch noted in a press release.

One email has Lerner commenting that some nonprofits applying for exempt status during her division’s later controversial handling of the applications were “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.”

Other emails released by the legal group discuss proposals to consult the FEC—Lerner’s former employer—and contain a reference by Lerner, possibly in jest, of landing a job in a Democratic nonprofit in Washington.

“These new emails show that the day before she broke the news of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner was talking to a top Obama Justice Department official about whether the DOJ could prosecute the very same organizations that the IRS had already improperly targeted,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The IRS emails show Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is now implicated and conflicted in the IRS scandal. No wonder we had to sue in federal court to get these documents.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., released a statement saying, “These emails are part of an overwhelming body of evidence that political pressure from prominent Democrats led to the targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.

Committee member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who has complained with Issa about what the lawmakers view as the agency’s slow response in turning over documents, said, “Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner’s emails.”

As of Thursday, the release had drawn little commentary, and Government Executive inquiries to Justice, IRS and congressional Democrats elicited no responses.

Peter Roff, a former UPI reporter who now works for conservative advocacy groups, wrote on U.S. News & World Report’s website Wednesday that “the so-called ‘smoking gun’ proving the Internal Revenue Service played politics with conservative groups seeking official non-profit, social welfare status over the last several years may finally have been found.”

Roff singled out an email dated April 15, 2013 -- weeks before the IRS controversy was ignited by a report on “targeting” by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration -- in which a Treasury official and Lerner discuss the need to “get on the stick and that the next election cycle is around the corner.”

Paul Streckfus, an attorney who follows the IRS controversy in his newsletter on exempt organizations, noted that the latest developments help both sides. He reprinted an essay published Wednesday by Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik reporting on how Oversight panel Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., has recently been attacked on Fox News for allegedly steering the IRS to go after right-leaning groups. At the same time, Zurawik wrote , left-leaning publications such as Mother Jones publish headlines stating that the charges against the IRS from Republicans make no sense.

“While it is factually true that there are emails, each side is spinning the content and context of the missives so hard, it is all but impossible to determine whether they prove Cummings' innocence or complicity,” Zurawik wrote. “Both Issa and Cummings, like Fox News and Mother Jones, say they are on the side of democracy, truth and ordinary citizens -- and that the other side is Satan in a blue suit with an American flag pin in the lapel. Perhaps it has always been thus with Washington politicians. But it wasn't always thus with the media. And that's one of the major reasons we are such a hopelessly confused, jangled and troubled nation these days.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.