New emails reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in the IRS targeting investigation revealed something that might knock the probe up another notch: IRS manager Lois Lerner allegedly sought to have the circumstances surrounding a speaking invitation to Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, referred for IRS examination.
“We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States Senator is shocking,” said Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) in a written press release.
According to the Ways and Means Committee, and the email chain released today, Lerner and Sen. Grassley were invited to speak at the same event in Dec. of 2012, but their invitations got mixed up. When Lerner received Grassley's invitation, she suggested to others in her office that the invitation should be referred for examination.
"Looks like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife," Lerner said. "Perhaps we should refer to Exam?"
One of Lerner's colleagues apparently thought better of it, answering: "I think the offer to pay for Grassley's wife is income to Grassley, and not prohibited on its face." He went on to say that they would need to wait to see if Sen. Grassley accepted the speaking engagement and then filed the proper tax form.
The email thread implies that Lerner's the examination idea was dropped. Sen. Grassley's office did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Ways and Means Committee says that its investigation into Lerner's involvement in the potential Grassley examination is "ongoing."
“At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights. We may never know the full extent of the abuse since the IRS conveniently lost two years of Lerner emails, not to mention those of other key figures in this scandal. The fact that DOJ refuses to investigate the IRS’s abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this Administration’s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law,” said Rep. Camp.
Democrats have repeatedly said that the Republican-led investigation into the IRS targeting of conservatives is purely political and is conspiracy-theory driven. President Obama has said no corruption is involved and has promised to get to the bottom of any wrongdoing.
Sen. Grassley and his wife signed a waiver allowing this confidential tax information to be made public.
[ilink url="http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/irs_grassley.pdf"]Read the Lois Lerner email about Grassley[/ilink]