APRIL 10, 2014
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) colluded with a Democratic congressman to harass a right-leaning voter integrity group during the tax agency’s illegal witch hunt of conservative nonprofits, according to explosive new emails made public this week by the House Oversight Committee.
The emails show that the IRS communicated with Congressman Elijah Cummings multiple times between 2012 and 2013 about a Houston-based voter fraud prevention group called True the Vote. The conservative organization was targeted by the IRS after applying for tax exempt status more than two years ago and the emails show that confidential taxpayer information was shared with Cummings and his staff. In 2012 the Maryland lawmaker joined a coalition of leftwing groups—including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—to shut down True the Vote.
As part of the intimidation effort Cummings fired off a seven-page letter on his official stationery to True the Vote’s president accusing the group of “illegal voter suppression.” The congressman also wrote that True the Vote was responsible for many illegitimate voter registration challenges and he demanded the group provide him with a list of all individual voter registration challenges by state, county and precinct submitted to governmental election entities. Cummings also ordered True the Vote to provide him with correspondence and determinations by elections officials relating to each of the group’s challenges.
The documents released by the House committee responsible for holding government accountable show that the IRS and Cummings collaborated to deliver powerful punches in hopes of destroying True the Vote. Then-IRS Director Lois Lerner funneled Cummings information on the targeted conservative group, the House panel writes in a press release announcing its findings. It also reveals that Cummings, the committee’s ranking Democrat, previously denied his staff contacted the IRS about True the Vote. Imagine that; a politician lying to cover up wrongdoing!
Is anyone really surprised about this illicit team effort between the feared tax agency and President Obama’s minions in Congress? Certainly not Judicial Watch. As part of its ongoing investigation into the IRS scandal, last May JW requested all records related to communication between the IRS and members of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate regarding the review process for organizations applying for tax exempt status. This is information that should not be shared between the tax agency and legislators.
Last fall JW obtained government records that show the IRS illegally colluded with another government agency—the Federal Election Commission (FEC)—to crack down on conservative nonprofits during the 2012 election cycle. The files show that Lerner, at the time IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, provided FEC enforcement attorneys with detailed, confidential information concerning tax exempt application status and returns of conservative groups in violation of federal law.
There appears to be no end to the madness! Just last month, the House Oversight Committee published a scorching report that confirms what JW has helped uncover in the course of an ongoing probe into the IRS scandal. It blasts Lerner for mishandling taxpayer information (and lying to Congress about it), subjecting conservative applicants for tax-exempt status to heightened scrutiny and obstructing the committee’s investigation. Congressman Cummings has suggested that investigating this gargantuan scandal is tantamount to McCarthyism, a term coined when Senator Joe McCarthy waged a witch hunt against suspected communists in the 1950s. Don’t be surprised if Cummings eventually plays the race card.