Treasury consulted on multiple occasions about timing of IRS disclosure, source says

The Treasury Department was informed on three separate occasions that the Internal Revenue Service planned to disclose that it targeted conservative groups for scrutiny, and on one occasion, Treasury expressed concern about the form of the disclosure, a Treasury official said on Monday night.

In all cases, the official said, Treasury ultimately deferred to the IRS.

In late April, the IRS told the Treasury that senior tax official Lois Lerner was considering making a speech in which she would make a public apology for inappropriate conduct at the IRS in advance of an inspector general report documenting how tax agency officials gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups.

“Treasury expressed some concern about the idea of a speech, but ultimately deferred to the IRS on that issue,” the Treasury official said Monday.

Also in late April, the IRS told Treasury that acting commissioner Steven Miller, whose resignation was announced last week, would apologize for the actions when asked in a forthcoming congressional testimony. Treasury did not offer a view of what IRS should do, the official said.

In both of these cases, Treasury discussed the potential disclosures with the White House and said that the department planned to defer to the IRS.

And finally, Treasury was told ahead of time that Lerner would be asked a question about whether the IRS was screening conservative groups at an American Bar Association conference on May 10. “Treasury again deferred to the IRS on their interest in making a public apology,” the official said.

Treasury did not discuss with the White House Lerner’s plan to acknowledging the targeting at the conference, the official said.

Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.
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