IRS Official Lois Lerner Considered Auditing Sen. Charles Grassley Over an Email Mix-Up

The now-retired official at the heart of an IRS scandal about Tea Party groups isn't having a good day. Emails show that former IRS official Lois Lerner considered auditing Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, over an e-mail mix-up (perhaps), and conservative groups see the discovery as yet another example of the IRS' overstepping and intentionally targeting Republican groups. And if there's anything that gets conservatives revved up, it's the IRS.

Lerner, who was director of the agency's Exempt Organizations division when the scandal occurred, is also the official who has been most criticized by Congress for her role in singly out nonprofit Tea Party organizations for extra agency scrutiny in the lead-up to the 2012 elections.

Here's what happened: Lerner was mistakenly sent an invitation to a seminar intended for Grassley. (Lerner was also invited to speak.) In the invitation for Grassley, the group offered to pay for Grassley's wife, too. Lerner thought that could be improper and forwarded the email a few other IRS officials.

Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?

It's unclear whether the note was referring to Grassley or the organization, as the AP notes, but another official responded and basically said that referring the email "to Exam" would be overkill and premature.

Your and Grassley’s invitations were placed in each other’s envelopes. Not sure we should send to exam. I think the offer to pay for Grassley’s wife is income to Grassley, and not prohibited on its face.
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This all comes at a bad time for Lerner, who Republicans are scrutinizing especially right now since the IRS claims she lost a bunch of emails around the time all this was happening in what they call a suspicious computer crash. Some Republicans contend that the whole thing is a cover-up of a coordinated administrative effort intended to help President Barack Obama win the 2012 election.

In a statement, Rep. Dave Camp, a Republican who heads the House Ways and Means Committee, insinuated that the emails were intentionally lost. Not a shock considering that last week Rep. Paul Ryan told another IRS official testifying before the committee that he thought the person was lying.

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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. At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights. We may never know the full extent of the abuse since the IRS conveniently lost two years of Lerner emails, not to mention those of other key figures in this scandal.

Grassley was a bit more dialed back, calling the revelation "very troubling" in a statement.