Ranking Democrat previously denied his staff contacted the IRS about group True the Vote
WASHINGTON – Newly delivered internal IRS e-mails sent and received by former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner and other IRS employees show that House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Minority staff, working for Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, began contacting the IRS in August 2012 about targeted non-profit applicant True the Vote. The IRS produced this e-mail on April 2, 2014 – only days after Oversight Committee Members had taken new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to task for withholding relevant e-mails. The Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairmen on the Oversight Committee today sent a letter to Ranking Member Cummings demanding an explanation for his staff’s queries, why the Minority hid these efforts from the Majority, and why the Ranking Member denied such actions by his staff at a February Subcommittee hearing:
“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff – indicates otherwise,” wrote the Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairmen of the Oversight Committee. “As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.”
The letter notes:
- The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings’ staff.
- Five days after Cummings contacted True the Vote seeking “copies of all training materials used for volunteers, affiliates, or other entities,” the IRS sent True the Vote a letter requesting True the Vote provide “a copy of [True the Vote’s] volunteer registration form,” “…the process you use to assign volunteers,” “how you keep your volunteers in teams,” and “how your volunteers are deployed … following the training they receive by you.”
- On or before January 25, 2013, Cummings’ staff requested more information from the IRS about True the Vote. The head of the IRS Legislative Affairs office e-mailed several IRS officials, including former Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, that “House Oversight Committee Minority staff” sought information about True the Vote. On Monday, January 28, Lerner wrote to her deputy Holly Paz: “Did we find anything?” When Paz informed her minutes later that she had not heard back about True the Vote’s information, Lerner replied: “thanks – check tomorrow please.”
- On January 31, 2013, Paz attached True the Vote’s form 990s, which she authorized the IRS to share with the Minority staff. Neither Cummings nor the IRS shared these requested documents with the Oversight Majority. None of the Minority’s communications about True the Vote with the IRS were shared with the Committee Majority even though Ranking Member Cummings frequently complains about the Committee Majority contacting individuals on official matters without the involvement of Minority staff.
- Cummings denied that his staff, “might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies” at a February 6, 2014, Subcommittee hearing:
Ms. Mitchell: We want to get to the bottom of how these coincidences happened, and we’re going to try to figure out whether any – if there was any staff of this committee that might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies. We don’t know that, but we – we’re going to do everything we can do to try to get to the bottom of how did this all happen.
Mr. Cummings. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. Meadows. Yes.
Mr. Cummings. I want to thank the gentleman for his courtesy. What she just said is absolutely incorrect and not true.
Click here for a copy of the letter from the Chairman and five Subcommittee Chairman to Ranking Member Cummings.
Click here for documents about Cummings’ interactions with the IRS about a targeted conservative organization.