New emails obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit show former IRS official Lois Lerner begged her supervisor not to visit the Cincinnati office or ask specific questions related to Congressional inquiries into whether the agency was improperly targeting conservative groups just ahead of the 2012 presidential election. As a reminder, it wasn't until May 2013 when Lerner admitted inappropriate targeting had occurred and plead the Fifth in front of the House Oversight Committee.
“Please don’t ask them about closures, pipelines, wait time for full development cases, or the c4 application letter … can we put this off please?” Lerner sent on April 4, 2012 to her then supervisor Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division Deputy Director Joseph H. Grant shortly after he announced a planned visit to the Cincinnati office. "We just gor an very extensive information request from Imraan [Imraan Khakoo, TE/GE official] –sure looks like op review material. I’m especially concerned that information about pipeline is being asked about … Add to that the fact tha cincinnati is smack dab in the middle of the c4 Congressional inqueries and is about to get a request from TIGTA on all of that, this is NOT a good time to be asking them for anything or to be talking to them about issue in their work. Everyone is stressed to the max and at their wits end, so can we put this off please?" (Judicial Watch notes the typos are in the original emails)
More from the email exchange:
April 4, 2012 – 5:17 PM – Joseph Grant to Lois Lerner:
It is a visit, not an OP review … I am also interested in the questions Imraan sent to them. Some answers should be readily at hand. Others certainly won’t be … The questions just serve as a framework for a broader conversation about how things are going and what is on our respective minds.
• April 4, 2012 – 5:26 PM – Lois Lerner to Joseph Grant:
I get that–but timing would be bad if we have to go to Cincy now. So, I will assume we can go
over this here as I get the information I’ve already asked for? Thanks.
• April 4, 2012 –5:42 PM – Joseph Grant to Lois Lerner:
I think we are in agreement, but just to be sure. I am planning to go to Cincy at the end of the month. I am travelling with Nan Marks and Imraan.
• April 4, 2012 – 6:15 PM – Lois Lerner to Joseph Grant:
Fine with me–just trying to keep the stress level manageable in Cincinnati–they are pretty freaked. Please don’t ask them about closures, pipelines, wait time for full development cases, or the c4 application letters. I know Imraan is really interested in that stuff in general—I promise to give him info—that just wouldn’t be the best place to ask. Thanks
• April 04, 2012 — 9:41 PM – Joseph Grant to Lois Lerner:
Coincidentally, Grant retired just days after the IRS scandal became public in May 2013.
On May 8, 2013, a few days before the IRS scandal broke, then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller promoted Mr. Grant to TE/GE Commissioner, where he was to “oversee the administration of tax law relating to employee plans, tax-exempt organizations and various government entities.” Miller announced his resignation on May 15, 2013 and Grant announced his retirement the next day.
President Barack Obama, White House officials and Lois Lerner herself repeatedly argued the IRS targeting scandal was a local, "low-level", Cincinnati issue, when in fact it was coming from headquarters in Washington D.C.
“These new documents, withheld for years contrary to law, suggest that a top IRS official may have obstructed investigations into the IRS scandal. Even Lois Lerner objected to her boss’s travel to the infamous Cincinnati IRS office, falsely accused by Barack Obama as being solely responsible for the abuse of the First Amendment rights of his critics,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “These documents also show the IRS knew early on that it was abusing its authority and innocent Americans through burdensome information requests and improper collection of the names of donors to groups that threatened Obama’s reelection. This IRS scandal is just getting started. Obama’s cover up of his administration’s suppression of his political opposition continues to unravel.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to dig deeper into the IRS targeting scandal now that Republicans have subpoena power in the Senate.