Katie PavlichAn email recently released by the House Oversight Committee shows IRS official Sarah Ingram was pretty excited about President Obama publicly speaking out against conservative groups with "secret donors." The email was sent from Ingram to Lois Lerner and others inside the tax agency after a glowing piece was published in the New York Times about the IRS and the trouble it was having with new tax exempt applicants and groups in light of the 2010 Citizen's United ruling.
"The 'secret donor' theme will continue -- see Obama salvo and today's Diane Reeham (sp). At least SS started the idea that we don't have the law to do something," the email reads.
For reference, the word salvo is defined as "a simultaneous or successive discharge of artillery, bombs, etc.," and was clearly used by Ingram in reference to Obama's repeated public slamming of conservative tea party groups.
President Obama August 9, 2010 at a DNC fundraiser in Austin, Texas:
Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates all across the country. And they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. You don't know if it’s a big oil company, or a big bank. You don't know if it’s a insurance company that wants to see some of the provisions in health reform repealed because it’s good for their bottom line, even if it’s not good for the American people.President Obama during an MTV interview October 14, 2010:
A Supreme Court decision allowed this to happen. And we tried to fix it, just by saying disclose what’s going on, and making sure that foreign companies can’t influence our elections. Seemed pretty straightforward. The other side said no.
They don't want you to know who the Americans for Prosperity are, because they're thinking about the next election. But we’ve got to think about future generations. We’ve got to make sure that we’re fighting for reform. We’ve got to make sure that we don't have a corporate takeover of our democracy.
During a town hall-style event with young voters hosted by MTV, the president was asked about the tea party’s validity. “They have every right and obligation as citizens to be involved in this process,” the president said. However, he noted that “there is an awful lot of corporate money being poured into these elections right now,” being spent on negative campaign adsThese are just two examples from 2010, there are many many more. Americans for Prosperity was specifically targeted by the IRS.
“If you’re in a battleground state right now, you are being bombarded with negative ads every single day and nobody knows who’s paying for these ads. They’ve got these names like ‘Americans for Prosperity,’ or ‘Moms for Motherhood.’ Actually, that last one I made up,” he laughed. “They’ve got these innocuous-sounding names and we don’t know where this money’s coming from. I think that is a problem for democracy,” he concluded, suggesting that the groups might be Big Oil or Big Insurance companies unhappy with federal regulations on their industries.
Back in October 2010 Lerner did speak to a group of at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy and came as close as she ever has to admitting a possible motive for the IRS targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) groups.Over to you, Kim Strassel:
During a Q&A, Lerner answered a question about the impact of the Citizens United case on the flow of money in politics. Lerner said that "everyone" was "screaming at" the IRS, adding that they "want the IRS to fix the problem."
Was the White House involved in the IRS's targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.The IRS not only took action against inconvenient groups, but they also tried to cover their tracks by "losing" thousands of emails between 2009 and 2011.
Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will testify tonight in front of the House Oversight Committee.
UPDATE: I should add that Sarah Ingram is now in charge of the IRS division responsible for implementing Obamacare.