The American Center for Law and Justice recently filed its second amended complaint against the U.S., the IRS, and a number of IRS officials. But this is another “phony” scandal, so don’t expect to hear about it in the mainstream media.
This is the scandal in which the IRS asked organizations to report donor lists, direct and indirect communication with legislative bodies, Internet passwords and usernames, social media postings, and even the political and charitable activities of family members. “Some of these organizations, even after receiving tax-exempt status, have been subjected to continued monitoring by the IRS based on the same unlawful purposes for which their applications were originally targeted,” states the ACLJ complaint, filed October 18.
Geoffrey Dickens wrote for the Newsbusters’ blog at the end of September that it had been approximately 60 to 90 days since “any aspect of the IRS scandal was mentioned on” the “big three morning and evening shows.” I guess we can’t expect wall-to-wall media coverage from those sources.
But Lois Lerner’s retirement did get some mention from the media. In the September 23 article, “Lois Lerner still Hill’s favorite piñata,” Politico writer Lauren French noted that “A Democratic congressional aide said the IRS was moving toward terminating Lerner after completing an investigation into her role in the targeting controversy.” The article’s title says it all: Lerner is a punching bag, not a government official who trespassed on free speech rights. Similar excuses have been made about Susan Rice after her Sunday talk show interviews and the ensuing criticism; after all, she’s part of another “phony” scandal the Obama administration would rather have buried. For her part in the Benghazi scandal, Rice got a promotion.
“The IRS found that Lerner, who led the agency’s unit that reviewed requests for tax exemptions, mismanaged her department and was ‘neglectful of duty’ but found no evidence of political bias, the aide said,” according to Politico (emphasis added). This despite the fact that she was using unofficial email accounts on the side and had a central role in the debacle. (Lerner is named among one of the sundry IRS officials responsible for targeting political speech by the ACLJ lawsuit).
In fact, it seems that Lerner herself knew what type of trouble was brewing for her office and the White House, given their ongoing targeting of Tea Party groups. “On March 2, 2012, Defendant Lerner received an email from IRS Deputy Division Counsel Janine Cook referring to an article in a publication known as the EO Tax Journal about congressional investigations into the IRS’s treatment of tax-exempt applications,” states the ACLJ complaint. “Defendant Lerner responded in part: ‘we’re going to get creamed.’”
Lerner—and her comrades Douglas Shulman, Sarah Hall Ingram, Nikole Flax, and Judith Kindell—took to “repeatedly us[ing] nonofficial, unsecure, personal email accounts to conduct official IRS business, including sending tax return information and official classified documents to non-agency email addresses, and that Defendant Lerner alone accumulated more than 1,600 pages of emails and documents related to official IRS business in a nonofficial, unsecure, personal email account, including almost 30 pages of confidential taxpayer information,” cites the complaint.
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