When Lois Lerner tried to inoculate herself from scandal by planting a question at a Friday afternoon conference, her excuse was to pass the blame to “low-level employees” in Cincinnati. The official IRS statement was:
“Between 2010 and 2012, the IRS saw the number of applications for section 501(c)(4) status double. As a result, local career employees in Cincinnati sought to centralize work and assign cases to designated employees in an effort to promote consistency and quality. This approach has worked in other areas. However, the IRS recognizes we should have done a better job of handling the influx of advocacy applications.”
It’s important to note that the centerpiece of the “flood” fairy tale was that Citizens United created a huge influx of new tax exempt organizations. The New York Times telling was typical:
“But after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision on campaign financing freed corporations and unions to spend money on elections, hundreds of new applications began to arrive from Tea Party and other organizations.”
We’ve already exposed the “flood of applications” excuse as a flat lie; in fact, applications were down when the targeting began. And it has been widely covered that “blame Cincy” was inconsistent with the reality that targeting was run out of Washington.
But it turns out that Citizens United was central to the genesis of IRS tea party targeting. Not because of the mythical flood of applications, but rather because Lois Lerner micromanaged tea party applications because she was trying to set up a challenge to Citizens United and didn’t trust the career civil servants in Cincinnati to play along. Here is the key email that was released yesterday:
Got that? Lois Lerner’s top concern in completely taking over these applications was to ensure they would be handled strategically to maximize a political objective of challenging Citizens Untited and restricting political speech. Her other comments? Well, we’re not quite sure:
Remind me again why we’re still paying this woman’s salary?