Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner reportedly discussed possible criminal prosecution of conservative groups and Tea Party nonprofit applicants as early as September 2010 in a meeting with officials from the Department of Justice election crimes staff, according to new emails obtained by a government watchdog group.
Just before the November midterm elections, an unnamed DOJ official arranged a meeting in October 2010 between attorneys from the election crimes unit of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section and the IRS to "discuss 501(c)(4) issues," a Sept. 29, 2010, email revealed, Town Hall reported. The 501(c) (4) reference is to a provision of the tax code that allows limited political activity by nonprofits.
"These new documents dramatically show how the Justice Department is up to its neck in the IRS scandal and can't be trusted to investigate crimes associated with the IRS abuses that targeted Obama's critics," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
"And it is of particular concern that the DOJ's public integrity section, which would ordinarily investigate the IRS abuses, is now implicated in the IRS crimes. No wonder the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done no serious investigation of the Obama IRS scandal," he added.
Additionally, congressional investigators also found that the FBI and DOJ had been sent another Lerner email about a "1.1 million page database of information from 501(c) (4) tax exempt organizations" containing confidential taxpayer information, according to WND.
Learner, who headed the IRS division, has been accused of processing Tea Party and conservative groups' for tax exempt status in an unfair manner before the 2010 and 2012 elections, including the IRS who improperly delayed dozens of applications for years, according to an internal audit by the agency's inspector general. Documents show that some liberal groups were singled out, too, Politico reported.
Since the scandal broke in 2013, documents from various agencies and individuals have been requested by GOP-led House committees, with IRS claiming to have spent $10 million in compliance of such requests. But Lerner, who was placed on administrative leave shortly after the scandal broke, and has since retired, remained the focal suspicion of the controversy, repeatedly denying any illegal behavior.
On Oct. 8, 2010, Lerner, who was the senior career executive in charge of the IRS staff that managed reviews of applicants for tax exemption by nonprofit groups, attended a meeting with DOJ's director of the Election Crimes Division, Richard Pilger, according to a document released to Judicial Watch, the nonprofit government watchdog group that obtained the documents by going to court and forcing the DOJ to release its correspondence with the IRS under a Freedom of Information Act.
In testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Pilger admitted DOJ officials met with Lerner in October 2010.
"The 2010 meetings are significant because Lerner told journalists in 2013 that the targeting of the conservative and Tea Party nonprofit applicants began between the 2010 and 2012 elections," Washington Examiner reported.
Meanwhile, the DOJ is still refusing to provide at least 832 pages of documents citing "taxpayer privacy" and "deliberative privilege," the watchdog group said.