Conservative outrage du jour: Lerner’s emails

Re the Tea Party 501C3 audits and harassment, a year ago Rep. Issa issued a subpoena for all of Lois Lerner’s email, and last Friday the IRS response was they could not provide much of them, because they were lost when she suffered a hard drive crash on her laptop in 2011.

Inasmuch as Republicans and Democrats will clash over claims of truth and reality, it’s often wise to acknowledge the difficulty in weighing competing perspectives and offsetting facts.  It’s just to say, life is complex and messy, things are seldom clearcut, and a person can doubt those with opposing views too much.

This isn’t one of those times.  The IRS is lying, and as a technical matter the lie is almost too absurd for words.

The emails are not lost or unrecoverable.  To assert so is a lie. 

A year ago, in the midst of ambiguity from competing narratives, Democrats and liberal partisans could take a cue from the Administration and IRS to argue there was no scandal.  That there was merely some cloddishness and bad judgment, and that liberal and conservative groups were somewhat equally targeted. 

The ‘lost email’ assertion obviates that.  ‘Lost email’ is a lie offered in place of the email logs.  The email logs are withheld because they are incriminating and not exculpatory.   There’s simply not another answer.

So what of phony scandal now ?  Mind you, at most I figure this climaxes with Lerner and a few others going to jail sometime after they are tried under the next Republican attorney general.

But what’s the defense now if you are liberal Democrat and are actually provoked to acknowledge the reality here.  Is the partisan IRS behavior here to be rationalized as acceptable in the name of ferreting out abuse  of dark money?   Is it OK for them to lie about it so that the administration is not besmirched along with them?


24 thoughts on “Conservative outrage du jour: Lerner’s emails

  1. pm1956

    Oh, more BS.

    Seriously, there is nothing there. It has been shown, conclusively, that conservative groups WERE NOT targeted–liberal groups went through the exact same scrutiny. Further, the scrutiny was perfectly appropriate–this is what the IRS is supposed to do–to see if people or organizations are breaking the law. End of story (except for the infinitely gullible…..)

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      With the exception of one Wire story, these are all a year old. In the time since much has been revealed that undercuts that it was a bipartisan examination. Some of these stories were understood as not accurate days after they were published.

      Do you believe the lost email claim?

      1. pm1956

        Nonsense. This was settled more than a year ago–the guy who started it all did so as a partisan pursuit, and he faked the data by deliberately excluding more than half of the investigations. Further, most responsible Republicans have acknowledged that this is over–but Issa likes to keep it bubbling. but he is so illegitimate that he was deliberately excluded from the GOP special committee on Benghazi. Indeed, Issa has no option but to keep it bubbling because otherwise he gets no attention.

      2. pm1956

        All Issa has is some apparent non-compliance by the IRS to his subpoena–but there is no scandal left. So he is trying to generate a scandal out of a failed disk drive. But the whole “IRS targets conservatives” thing fell apart completely over a year ago.

        get over your conspiracy blinders.

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      The disk drive claim is ridiculous because large enterprise systems are a lot different from a single individual’s laptop PC where you have an email program that maintains your email and writes to local disk. Enterprise email on an Outlook or Lotus installation is hosted, and backed up by redundant storage servers. There is an enterprise standard way of managing these systems that makes it enormously difficulty to lose email with no hope of retrieval.

      Now, there is a more nuanced explanation provided by the IRS in the last day as to why they can’t retrieve that email, and to a certain point it makes technical sense. But much of that explanation is hitched to an acknowledgement that they are indifferently out of compliance with system standards and record retention mandates for which conventional technical assumptions can be made. Go figure.

      I read the Think Progress stuff last night. As I see it, it’s not a demonstration progressive groups were targeted as much or more.

      What it does note, is that yes, progressive keywords appeared on BOLO lists over a period of time that workers were to use to identify suspect applications.

      What’s different is, these conservatives 501c3 and c4’s had their applications delayed indefinitely, and were harassed with a bunch of specious administrative hoops to jump through, like providing membership lists, donor lists, expanded mission statements.

      Progressive groups weren’t encumbered with this, which is to say, they weren’t actually ‘targeted’ the same way.

      In the last month, via what emails were turned over, what’s revealed was that Lerner was desperately trying to get a database into the hands of any sympathetic FBI agent who would use that database as a basis for election fraud investigations and prosecutions.

      The point that’s made is that the federal law prevents a person like Lerner at the IRS from doing that. It’s against the law. An investigation that turns up stuff like this is not a fishing expedition. It’s an oversight committee, basically acting on probably cause, well within its purview to protect the public from rogue federal employees and onerous, capricious bureaucracy.

      I think Issa in his capacity gets to see that the IRS doesn’t persecute people at Lois Lerner’s whimsy, regardless of whether or not he stole a car in 1975. Am I wrong there?

    2. pm1956

      What is the basis for your assumption that progressive groups were not put through the same hoops? Seems to me that you are trying to prove a negative here, which is pretty hard to do.

      1. Erik Petersen Post author

        From the executive summary:

        “A central plank in the Democratic argument is the claim that liberal-leaning groups were identified on versions of the IRS’s “Be on the Look Out” (BOLO) lists and how the IRS used the BOLO lists in practice. The Democratic claims are further undercut by testimony from IRS employees who told the Committee that liberal groups were not subject to the same systematic scrutiny and delay as conservative organizations.”

        Zingy (Me): I don’t see any anecdotal listings in Think Progress’ stuff or the committee’s stuff that shows any progressive groups were subject to these reviews. I’ve never seen any left sympathetic pundit / news source provide a prog 501 that endured this.

        The reviews and administrative hurdles are the targeting, not the BOLO lists.

    3. pm1956

      Further, does the data base prove that there was any form of election fraud? Were those conservative groups guilty of stretching the IRS non profit regulations? From what I know about non profit law and regulations, a lot of these groups were indeed trying to bypass the laws by using bogus nonprofit status to avoid disclosing contributors names.

      That of course is the bottom line in this whole thing–trying to avoid the disclosure of contributor names which is required in electoral law, by using 501(c)4 status as a loophole.

      1. Erik Petersen Post author

        It’s not obvious that the database would prove election fraud. It was just a big database of 501s to troll through. But it’s a moot point. She’s prevented by virtue of a statutory ‘Chinese Wall’ from turning it over to the FBI with no probable cause or a subpoena.

    4. pm1956

      Bottom line: if it is mostly conservative groups breaking the law, you’d expect it to be mostly conservative groups that end up being “harassed”.

  2. Erik Petersen Post author

    “The IRS acknowledged last year that agents had improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status by tea-party and other conservative groups.”

    Me: Which is to say, they acknowledged a bias already. There’s not much to dispute.

    “The IRS also screened liberal groups, which Democrats claim as proof that there was no abuse of power. That’s wishful thinking. The fact that liberal groups were screened is mitigating, not dispositive.”


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