Emails Reveal IRS Official Lois Lerner Knew of Tea Party Targeting in 2011

With all the controversy and reporting on Syria, Obama’s “red line” in the sand, and his skulking away due to the overwhelming American outrage over another “limited strike” war, some may think that the IRS scandal and Lois Lerner’s Fifth Amendment stance, after making a statement proclaiming her innocence, have gone by the wayside. Well, it hasn’t for Rep. Dave Camp, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Camp has revealed secret emails that Lois Lerner sent to her colleagues “suggesting collusion between the IRS and Democratic operatives and claiming that tea party applications should not be processed through the agency’s Cincinnati office,” according to the Daily Caller. Camp stated “there will be consequences.”

In a February 2011 email, Lerner wrote, “Tea Party Matter very dangerous … Counsel and Judy Kindell need to be in on this one … Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.” As you may or may not recall, IRS officials had claimed, at first, that the Cincinnati office was solely responsible for improper targeting of conservative and tea party organizations.

In an email “responding to a complaint the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission,” Lerner wrote, “Perhaps the FEC will save the day.”

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According to the National Review Online, who obtained the emails exclusively, the correspondence has suggested that the discrimination of “conservative groups extended beyond the IRS and into the FEC, where an attorney from the agency’s enforcement division in at least one case sought and received tax information about the status of a conservative group, the American Future Fund, before recommending that the commission prosecute it for violations of campaign-finance law. Lerner, the former head of the IRS’s exempt-organizations division, worked at the FEC from 1986 to 2001 and was known for aggressive investigation of conservative groups during her tenure there, too.”

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In February 2009 email to Lois Lerner, the FEC attorney stated, “‘Several month ago … I spoke with you about the American Future Fund, a 501 (c)(4) organization that had submitted an exemption application the IRS [sic].'” Despite Rule 6103 that prohibits the IRS from sharing confidential taxpayer information, an email suggests that Lerner may have provided the information to the FEC attorney. The FEC attorney email continued saying, “When we spoke last July, you had told us that the American Future Fund had not received an exemption letter from the IRS.”

The timing of the correspondence proved particularly interesting. It suggested that the “FEC attorney sought information from the IRS in order to influence and upcoming vote by the six FEC commissioners.” In March of 2008, the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party lodged a complaint with the FEC alleging violation of campaign-finance law by the American Future Fund for “engaging in political advocacy without registering as a political-action committee.” In June of 2008, the American Future Fund responded to the complaint citing its application for tax-exemption submission in March of 2008. Based on the email correspondence, one month after receiving the response from the American Future Fund, the FEC attorney contacted Lerner to investigate its tax exempt status. Under law, the FEC general counsel office is “prohibited from conducting an investigation into an organization before the FEC’s six commissioners have voted to do so.”

Rep. Camp stated, “There is increasing and overwhelming evidence that Lois Lerner and high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions. There are still mountains of documents to go through, but it is clear the IRS is out of control, and there will be consequences.”

In a responding statement the IRS stated, “We have been regularly providing witnesses and requested documents to Congress, including the emails released today. In addition, we continue to take corrective actions to fix the managerial and organizational deficiencies in the tax-exempt area identified in the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s May report. We support a complete review of these documents to fully understand the circumstances that led to these events.”

Did anyone ever doubt that Lois Lerner was involved even after claiming she did nothing wrong? Does anyone else find it insulting that the IRS would call this “managerial and organizational deficiencies?” This is more than managerial deficiency or a problem with the organization of the agency. This is a violation of the law so call it what it is – criminal.

Of course, Lois Lerner will hide behind the tired old rhetoric of “I was just doing what I was told” or “I was following orders” or maybe something along the lines of “doing a favor for a friend.” Well, those lines are overused and does not relieve one of following the law because someone ordered it or a friend wanted a favor. Let’s face it, what law abiding citizen would commit a felony because someone told them to do it or a friend thought it would be fun? There is a moral responsibility each person assumes to reject to follow instructions/requests that are unlawful or dishonest. Lerner chose to reject her moral responsibility and engage in behavior she knew was inherently criminal and unethical.

Unfortunately, this type of behavior seems all too common in Washington these days. Moral responsibility is discarded in favor of pleasing whoever is sitting on top of the pile; funny thing is that whoever sits on top of the pile can change. Once that moral responsibility is compromised, it has to continue to be compromised since reclaiming credibility after it’s lost is difficult if not impossible.

Rep. Camp speaks of an out of control IRS and consequences to all of this. Using out of control to describe the actions of the IRS is like using the term “limited strike” to describe initiation of war. One can only hope consequences to Lerner and the IRS will be applied by Congress and the judicial system. Frankly, there are considerable doubts. There has been nothing short of incompetence, negligence and impotence coming from Congress on any scandal riddling this nation, especially those in clear violation of the Constitution. It isn’t a far stretch to wonder why this one would be any different.

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