Republicans say IRS e-mails from Lois Lerner show ‘abuse of power’

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from The Washington Post Post,

House Republicans on Thursday rekindled a months-old controversy by releasing what they described as new evidence that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for political reasons.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, revealed e-mails that he said show “high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions.”

In one message, IRS official Lois Lerner told her staff: “Tea Party matter very dangerous. This could be the vehicle to go to court on the issue of whether [a Supreme Court decision] overturning the ban on corporate spending applies to tax exempt rules … Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”

An audit from the IRS inspector general found that the agency had singled out tax-exemption applicants for extra scrutiny based on their names and political ideology.

congressional investigations have shown that officials in Washington — including the IRS general counsel’s office and Carter Hull, a legal adviser from that division — helped develop the controversial procedures.

Democratic lawmakers have released evidence, including IRS training materials and interviews with agency employees, that show the IRS targeted groups from both sides of the political spectrum. They contend that the problems identified in the IG report resulted from poor oversight and confusion over how much political activity is acceptable for so-called “social welfare” groups.

In a July 2012 e-mail, Lerner reacted to an NPR article about Democrats fighting to maintain their Senate majority and asking the Federal Election Commission to crack down on outside-money groups that supported Republican causes.

“Perhaps the FEC will save the day,” Lerner said in a one-line reply to a colleague who forwarded the article. It is unclear whether Lerner was referring to preserving the Democratic majority or the potential crackdown on groups not playing by the rules.

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