The Washington Post

Lerner mentioned working for pro-Obama group amid scandal

The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to send a criminal referral regarding former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner's treatment of conservative nonprofits during the 2012 election.

Lois Lerner (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The referral letter lays out a case that Lerner targeted groups like Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)4 that is part of Karl Rove's fundraising apparatus. The letter also reveals that Lerner expressed interest in a job with Organizing for America on Jan. 28, 2013, a 501(c)4 outgrowth of the Obama presidential campaigns. Lerner wrote to a fellow federal employee, “Oh—maybe I can get the DC office job!" Regardless of Lerner's intended tone with that comment (it appears to be a joke), House Republicans -- who have been looking into the IRS's treatment of conservative nonprofits for over a year -- have clearly jumped on it as further evidence of wrongdoing, what the letter deems, "turning a blind eye to similarly-organized liberal groups, like Priorities USA."

The previous hearings and investigations into the IRS last year mostly featured smaller tea party-affiliated groups. House Republicans accused the IRS of scrutinizing independent expenditure groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in their name more heavily than other groups. The IRS also closely examined groups with "occupy" and "progressive" in their name -- among many other buzzwords that made it easier to sort through the many new groups being formed since the Citizens United decision.

Crossroads GPS is much bigger than these narrower groups. It spent more than $70 million during the 2012 election.

The committee, which is dominated by Republicans, voted 23-14, along party lines, to refer Lerner's case to the Justice Department. If prosecuted for the criminal acts alleged by the Ways and Means Committee, she could face a sentence of 11 years in federal prison.

Republican Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement Wednesday, "Today’s action highlights specific wrongdoing for the Department of Justice to pursue.  DOJ has a responsibility to act, and Lois Lerner must be held accountable. It is also important that the American people know what really occurred at the IRS, so this powerful agency cannot target American taxpayers ever again.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) also released a statement on the vote Wednesday, saying, "As I’ve said, if Lois Lerner continues to refuse to testify, then the House will hold her in contempt.  And we will continue to shine the light on the administration’s abusive actions and use every tool at our disposal to expose the truth and ensure the American people get the answers they deserve.”

William Taylor, who is Lerner's attorney said in a statement Wednesday that "the Committee’s referral affects nothing.  The Department of Justice is already investigating the ‎IRS.  This is just another attempt by Republicans to vilify Ms. Lerner for political gain." He adds, "the timing of today’s vote is odd.  We have not heard from the House Ways and Means ‎Committee.  Nor has the Committee previously issued a report of its findings."

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Sean Sullivan · April 9, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.