In May 2010, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri wrote Lois G. Lerner, director of the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations division, to inform her that the Humane Society of the United States—unaffiliated with local humane societies—may have been engaging in excessive attempts to influence public policy in violation of the rules for nonprofits. Over the past week in the growing IRS scandal, Lerner has emerged as an IRS official who reportedly had knowledge that the agency was politically targeting groups in 2010, and at least one Congressman has accused her of lying to him. And yesterday, it emerged that Lerner is an “active member” of HSUS—or at least was around the time of Rep. Luetkemeyer’s letter, according to her biography in advance of an Oct. 2010 speech.
In short, there’s an IRS official in charge of a department that targeted groups for political purposes, whose honesty has come into serious question, and who may have not investigated serious complaints about the Humane Society of the United States, a group she was an “active member” of.
There certainly seems to be something “there” there. And Congressman Luetkemeyer agrees. This morning he sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Department Secretary Jacob Lew and a second letter to J. Russell George, Inspector General for Tax Administration. He writes:
Given that IRS officials have now admitted that the agency, including Ms. Lerner’s office, targeted conservative non-profit organizations and has been improperly involved in politics, I have serious doubts about the extent to which my requests for an investigation of HSUS’ tax-exempt status, a left-leaning non-profit organization, were given due consideration. Adding to my skepticism, I recently became aware that Ms. Lerner is herself, an active member of HSUS and has spoken at HSUS events.
While it is disconcerting to think that Ms. Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt organizations for the IRS, may have disregarded my request for an investigation due to her own political beliefs or those of her staff, in light of the recent revelations about the activities of Ms. Lerner’s office and in the absence of any other explanation from the IRS, many Americans will arrive at this very conclusion.
The Congressman is asking them to report to him on how his request to Lerner was handled. We’ll see what happens.
You may recall that six Congressmen, including Rep. Luetkemeyer, sent IRS Inspector General Eric Thorson a detailed letter in April 2011 requesting an investigation into HSUS. We’re sure the other five Members will also be interested in hearing about this latest news.