Congressional investigators say they uncovered emails Wednesday showing that a former Internal Revenue Service official at the heart of the tea party investigation sought an audit involving a Republican senator in 2012.
The emails show former IRS official Lois Lerner mistakenly received an invitation to an event that was meant to go to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
The event organizer apparently offered to pay for Grassley’s wife to attend the event. In an email to another IRS official, Lerner suggests referring the matter for an audit, saying it might be inappropriate for the group to pay for his wife.
“Perhaps we should refer to exam?” Lerner wrote.
It was unclear from the emails whether Lerner was suggesting that Grassley or the group be audited — or both.
The other IRS official, Matthew Giuliano, waved her off, saying an audit would be premature because Grassley hadn’t even accepted the invitation.
“It would be Grassley who would need to report the income,” Giuliano said.
The name of the event organizer was blacked out on copies of the emails released by the House Ways and Means Committee because they were considered confidential taxpayer information. Grassley and his wife signed waivers allowing their names to be released.
In a statement, Grassley’s office said the senator did not attend the event, and did not receive any invitation intended for Lerner.
The House Ways and Means Committee released this statement on the targeting of Chuck Grassley:
Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) announced the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative individuals includes a sitting United States Senator. According to emails reviewed by the Committee under its Section 6103 authority, which allows the Committee to review confidential taxpayer information, Lois Lerner sought to have Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) referred for IRS examination.
“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,” said Camp. “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. The fact that DOJ refuses to investigate the IRS’s abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this Administration’s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law.”