Lawyer says IRS question was planted

It turns out the question that led Lois Lerner to disclose the IRS's wrongdoing was planted by none other than Lerner herself.

Celia Roady, the lawyer whose question led Lerner to disclose the committee's wrongful targeting of conservative groups, said Friday that Lerner asked her to ask the question.

“On May 9, I received a call from Lois Lerner, who told me that she wanted to address an issue after her prepared remarks at the ABA Tax Section’s Exempt Organizations Committee Meeting, and asked if I would pose a question to her after her remarks," Roady said. "I agreed to do so, and she then gave me the question that I asked at the meeting the next day. We had no discussion thereafter on the topic of the question, nor had we spoken about any of this before I received her call. She did not tell me, and I did not know, how she would answer the question.”

As The Post's Ed O'Keefe reported during the hearing, Steven Miller, the former acting IRS commissioner who resigned Wednesday, appeared to confirm Roady's version of events, though he was less definitive.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.): Was Ms. Roady’s question to Ms. Lerner about targeting conservative groups planned in advance?

Miller: I believe that we talked about that, yes.

Miller added: "I did not speak to Celia Roady, and I believe I did talk to Lois about the possibility of, now that the TIGTA report was finalized, now that we knew all the facts, now that we had responded in writing and everything was done, did it make sense for us to start talking about this in public."

The IRS said in a later statement that the forum was a good place to disclose the wrongdoing.

"This is a group that is familiar and deals with 501(c)(4) matters," the IRS said in a statment. "Given that TIGTA was nearing completion of the report, the IRS felt the review was far enough along and that the facts were known that it was appropriate to address the issue at the tax conference panel during the question and answer session."

Just two days prior to the planted question, Lerner was given an opportunity to address the situation at a House subcommittee hearing, but said nothing about any wrongdoing.

Rep. Joe Crowley's (D-N.Y.) office on Friday posted a video of the exchange (the applicable part is at about the 5-minute mark):

 

Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · May 17, 2013