Lois Lerner, the former IRS official, took the “Fifth” at her hearing at a House Oversight Committee in May 2013 and said, “I will not answer any questions or testify about the subject matter of this committee’s meeting.”
The reason for the hearing was the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, prompting an apology by the agency. As early as March 2010, four different IRS offices sought out applications from conservative groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their names and made demands that were so onerous, the groups’ tax exempt status was held up for more than two years.
Related: How Congress Could Have Prevented the IRS Scandal
The action followed a BOLO (be on the lookout) after the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United and found it unconstitutional to ban free speech by corporations, unions and other organizations.
A few liberal groups were caught in the sweep, but most received their tax-exempt status in far less time than the conservative groups. USA Today analyzed the IRS data and concluded that liberal groups were given a free pass.
Did Lois Lerner act alone or did someone else give her the green light to target these groups? If she wouldn’t talk about it, maybe her emails would finally settle the issue.
Then, incredulously, the head of the IRS announced that Lerner’s emails were lost. Not just lost—deleted and irretrievable because the hard drive was fried and destroyed and whatever had been backed up on servers had been permanently deleted. Yikes!
Last Thursday, the IRS inspector general said it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes—the very tapes IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said were either destroyed or deleted. To punctuate the problem, the IRS claims it has spent $10 million producing documents, including 67,000 Lois Lerner emails.
Related: IRS Scandal—Who’s Next on the Chopping Block?
Throughout it all, Lerner, who was placed on administrative leave, received her salary and benefits and continued to receive bonuses—a total of $129,300 over three years, according to Forbes. The former commissioner also received a $100,000 bonus.
To date, taxpayers have spent millions investigating the IRS scandal—including the $10 million spent trying to recover the “lost tapes” to the millions spent on six different investigations.
Chances are, by the time this issue is resolved, there will be a new president, a new cabinet, and a new investigation.
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