Republicans this week released e-mails showing that former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner expressed scorn for conservatives in an e-mail to an unidentified recipient — the name was redacted.

Lerner’s remarks would be troubling if she sent them to another IRS official, but it ends up that she was communicating with her husband, Michael Miles, according to unredacted copies of the exchange that Democrats leaked on Friday.

To review, Lerner used the term “__hole” to describe extreme conservatives after Miles complained about “the whacko wing of the GOP,” adding that “right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.”

This goes back to our point in an earlier article that federal employees are not prohibited from having political views or expressing them in private conversations. They just can’t promote candidates at work or use their positions to influence elections.

Republicans may be right that Lerner used her authority as head of the IRS’s tax-exemption division in an attempt to silence conservatives, but they need to find direct evidence of such a conspiracy to prove their suspicions. So far, they only have circumstantial evidence.

It’s worth noting, as MSNBC did in an article on Friday, that Republicans have used some harsh language as well to describe the party’s hardliners. Readers may remember that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) an “__hole” earlier this year, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) referred to critics on the far-right as “crazies.”

For what it’s worth, Miles is an attorney whose law firm hosted a voter-registration organizing event in coordination with President Obama’s reelection campaign. The Daily Caller reported the connection in an article last year.