official may have sought audit involving Republican senator: emails
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[June 26, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former U.S.
Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a controversy over
the tax agency's treatment of Tea Party groups sent emails in which she
appears to seek an audit involving a Republican senator, according to
documents released on Wednesday by a House of Representatives committee.
The emails show former IRS official Lois Lerner received an
invitation to an event in 2012 that was meant to go to Republican
Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa. Grassley apparently received
Lerner's invitation by mistake.
The event organizer apparently offered to pay for Grassley's wife to
attend the event. Lerner, in an email to another IRS official,
suggests referring the matter for an audit.
"Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife.
Perhaps we should refer to Exam?" Lerner wrote to colleague Matthew
Giuliano replied he was "not sure we should send an exam" and added
that an audit would be premature because Grassley had not accepted
The name of the event organizer was blacked out on copies of the
emails released by the House Ways and Means Committee, and it was
not clear if Lerner was suggesting Grassley or the group should be
Lerner's attorney, William Taylor, said in a statement: "She
instructed her staff to return the letter and requested that the
Exam section check to see if the organization's status permitted it
to give the trip to Ms Grassley who was providing nothing in
Representative Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the committee,
expressed outrage over Lerner's actions.
"We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation,
but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently
baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States
senator is shocking," Camp said in a statement.
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"At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political
purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights," he said.
In May 2013, Lerner, who headed an IRS unit involved in applying
extra scrutiny to conservative political groups' applications for
tax-exempt status, apologized in public for what she called
"inappropriate" review of the groups' applications. Republicans have
been investigating since then.
She retired from the IRS in September 2013.
Last week, the IRS said a computer crash had caused it to lose some
emails written by Lerner, angering Republican investigators who want
the emails for review.
At a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
this week, Republicans accused the IRS of hiding the Lerner emails
and obstructing a congressional inquiry into the controversy.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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