FEBRUARY 05, 2015
DOJ Emails Suggest IRS Counsel’s Office Slowed Investigation
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released new internal Department of Justice (DOJ) documents revealing that the Internal Revenue Service Office of Chief Counsel’s office delayed approval of an IRS employee’s meeting with DOJ and FBI investigators into the Obama IRS targeting scandal. The emails also detail the involvement the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division with the investigation. The documents show, the Public Integrity Section was investigating the IRS scandal only a month after it reached out to Lois Lerner about prosecuting targeted tax-exempt entities. This is the first window into the criminal investigation of the alleged IRS abuses.
The Public Integrity Section previously has been tied to an effort to work with the Obama IRS in an effort to prosecute the very groups and individuals critical of the Obama administration and the president’s reelection that the IRS has admitted to illicitly targeting.
The new documents were released by the DOJ as result of a court order in Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 14-cv-01239)). The lawsuit was filed after the DOJ failed to respond to a FOIA request seeking:
Any and all records concerning meetings and/or communications between the Department of Justice Criminal Division Public Integrity Section and the Internal Revenue Service Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, the White House, Members of Congress and/or congressional staff, and any non-government entity, regarding 501(c)(4) or other tax-exempt organizations.
The emails show that, on June 12, 2013, the lawyer for a cooperating IRS employee in Cincinnati complained to a DOJ prosecutor about the IRS Counsel’s office delaying approval of a meeting between the IRS employee and Justice Department prosecutors: “[W]e find it amazing that they didn’t immediately respond giving us the green light to meet with you.”
The DOJ prosecutor wanted to know who the contact in the IRS Counsel’s office was and wrote back: “Let’s talk in am if they don’t get back to you. Thanks.”
The new emails suggest that investigators had wanted to meet quickly but it was nearly a month before the unnamed IRS employee met to proffer evidence to two Justice Department prosecutors, two FBI officials, and an investigator from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The proffer session seems to have taken place in the IRS’ Cincinnati office on July 11, 2013, and included the IRS employee’s attorney, who the documents suggest works at the Cincinnati area law firm Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing PLLC. The documents detail that the proffer took place after a Garrity immunity waiver was secured for the IRS witness. Garrity immunity assures the right of public employees not to be compelled to incriminate themselves.
The email exchanges show that a trial attorney from the Public Integrity Section was partnered with an unnamed attorney from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
Barbara Bosserman, an attorney at the Civil Rights Division, has been reported to be leading the IRS investigation at Justice. The DOJ, in court filings in another Judicial Watch lawsuit about Bosserman’s role in the case, confirmed that she is one of the attorneys investigating the IRS matter. According to Federal Election Commission records, Bosserman contributed $6,750 to Obama’s campaigns and the DNC from 2004 to 2012, including 12 separate contributions to Obama for America between 2008 and 2012.
William J. Wilkins, the Chief Counsel for the IRS, is a political appointee of President Obama’s. Wilkins was a former Democratic staffer the U.S Senate, a donor to Democratic candidates and committees, and was a lobbyist for several years. The May 14, 2013, Treasury Inspector General report that revealed that the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status details that the “Chief Counsel” was involved in the IRS’s Tea Party and conservative targeting.
In this second “rolling production,” the Justice Department released 34 pages of heavily redacted emails, while admitting that it had reviewed 938 pages of responsive records related to its contacts with the IRS concerning the criminal prosecution of targeted tax exempt entities. As of today’s date, the DOJ has reviewed 1,772 pages of records in this case, but only produced 36 heavily redacted pages. Held in their entirety are 1,736 pages.
The new documents also provide detail on what the investigators were examining and the nature of the documents it wanted from the IRS witness. On July 12, 2013, the DOJ attorney (whose name is blacked out) emails:
First, we would appreciate receiving the time line related to the “TAG spreadsheet” and “BOLO” that [REDACTED] prepared. As we stated, that timeline will be covered by the proffer agreement she executed yesterday …
Second, we would also appreciate obtaining the email communications that you obtained from [REDACTED-BLACKED OUT] pertaining to the 501(c)-application issues we discussed yesterday, i.e., the public allegations that the IRS “targeted” certain groups based on their political viewpoints, in particular groups associated with the ‘Tea Party.” As I explained yesterday, due to the filter procedures we have in place, could you please divide the communications into two groups, those dated before and those dated on or after March 1, 2012? To the extent practical, the emails dated on or after March 1, 2012, should be placed in a sealed envelope or otherwise clearly separated from the first batch (i.e., if they are scanned and emailed, please do so in separate files). To the extent any of these applications contain taxpayer information, return information, and/or taxpayer return information, the Department of Justice and the FBI have referral authority under 18 U.S.C. 6103(h) to view this information by virtue of our participation in a joint investigation with TIGTA.
The documents do not detail why the emails needed to be “filtered” according to the March 1, 2012, date, though there is a reference to Justice Department “filter team” elsewhere in the material.
“The IRS scandal is getting worse. These documents show that the Obama IRS Counsel’s office, run by an Obama political appointee, was stonewalling a federal criminal investigation. And only in the Holder Justice Department would it be deemed appropriate that the offices implicated in the IRS abuses should investigate the IRS abuses,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And one might wonder why the Justice Department was so quick to offer an immunity deal to an IRS employee. This is an ugly mess and it is no surprise that, after nearly two years, the criminal investigation of the Obama IRS by its co-conspirators at the Obama Justice Department is widely acknowledged as a farce.”
In early December 2014, Judicial Watch released the first batch of internal DOJ documents revealing that former IRS official Lois Lerner had been in contact with DOJ officials about the possible criminal prosecution of tax-exempt entities two full years before what the IRS conceded was its “absolutely inappropriate” 2012 targeting of the organizations. According to the documents, Lerner met with top Obama DOJ Criminal Division officials as early as October 2010.
In April 2014, Judicial Watch forced, through a federal court order, the release of IRS documents revealing that the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section reached out to former IRS official Lois Lerner on May 8, 2013, about whether it was possible to criminally prosecute targeted tax-exempt entities. The documents were obtained as a result of an October 2013 Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit filed against the IRS.