How to Bury a Presidential Scandal
The Wall Street Journal reports yesterday that Lois Lerner is retiring.
Lerner is the epicenter of the IRS political targeting scandal.
It’s the type of scandal that can take down a president.
The Administration, though, is gently sweeping her under the political rug all nice, neat and tidy.
How do you pull off something like that? Lets review…
Whose Doing the Talking?
The first rule of coverups is to take control of the conversation.
For example, in the WSJ article an unnamed “Democratic congressional aide” does all the talking. Why a Democrat? Isn’t IRS’s Lerner supposedly non-partisan?
How did the aide get access to an internal IRS probe? Should they be leaking it? More important, though, which congressman does he/she work for??
Those are germane questions. Of course, none of them are answered. Anonymity is bliss.
The President is a Democrat. Coincidence? In politics, there’s no such thing as coincidence.
Lerner’s Retirement Explained
According to the WSJ, the mysterious aide said Lerner decided to retire when informed by an internal IRS review board that it was set to propose her “removal” (firing) for mismanagement and “neglect of duty”.
The nameless aide proudly announces that “the board found no evidence of political bias or willful misconduct”.
There you go. Proof positive. The Administration is clean.
Lerner gets a 4-month paid vacation, a stain on her reputation and then slides off into a fat $113,722/yr federal management pension.
It’s government’s version of a golden parachute given a dutiful foot soldier.
IRS Targeting Scandal Explained
The IRS is making important progress on fixing the underlying management and organizational deficiencies
– IRS quote, Wall Street Journal, 9/23/2013
Same message. Different day. The IRS has been saying the same thing as in yesterday’s WSJ over and over again for four straight months.
Beginning in April 2010 the IRS illegally singled out conservative political groups for extraordinary scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
It began in the wake of the 1/21/2010 Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision. That decision was publicly ridiculed by President Obama in speeches, news conferences and in his 2010 State of the Union.
At least 75 conservative organizations were targeted, about 25% of the total 501(c)(4) applications over an 18-month period.
According to an Inspector General’s audit report, they were targeted for having “tea party”, “patriots”, “9/12 project”, “make America a better place to live”, “We the People” or “Take Back the Country” in search criteria of their title or description.
The IG audit was triggered after conservative groups complained about unfair treatment.
Lerner personally signed cover letters sent to at least 15 conservative organizations saying the IRS was “unable to make a final determination on your exempt status without additional information.”
The IG audit determined the “additional information” sought was “inappropriate”.
Some of the “additional information” magically found its way onto President Obama’s 2012 campaign website. Coincidence? Oh, come on!
The growing scandal has morphed into a Watergate-like web of lies and deceit that, so far, goes strait through the middle of Lois Lerner’s desk all the way up to the IRS chief counsel… and perhaps beyond.
The IG investigated three allegations and found all three true:
- The IRS targeted specific groups applying for tax‑exempt status
- It delayed processing of targeted groups applications for tax‑exempt status
- It requested unnecessary information from targeted groups
Many of those groups still haven’t got approval for tax-exempt status.
Lois Lerner’s Leak
Lerner and acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller concocted a lame scheme to brunt the sting of the upcoming IG report three days before its release.
Lerner called Celia Roady, a tax lawyer, and duped her into asking a planted question at a tax meeting the next day, May 10th 2013.
In her prepared answer, Lerner shocked the meeting in a lie-laced admission of IRS wrongdoing she said was perpetrated by unchecked “line people in Cincinnati”.
Commissioner Miller resigned under fire days later.
To bury a presidential scandal:
- Control the conversation
- Deny the allegations
- Belittle those who make allegations
- Change topics whenever possible
- Keep the story out of the mainstream press
- Protect those, like Lerner, who take the heat
Since Lerner’s leak, ongoing investigations have already uncovered plenty.
Elizabeth Holfacre, a ‘line person in Cincinnati’, testified before congress that she took her marching orders from Carter Hill, a senior IRS lawyer out of the Washington DC office. Hill worked for Lois Lerner.
In his testimony at the same hearing, Hill admitted helping craft the questionnaires that collected “inappropriate” information. He further testified that tax-exempt decisions were made ‘above his pay grade’. He retired.
Hill testified that IRS Chief Counsel William Watkins, one of only two IRS political appointees, was aware of the targeting practice. Suspiciously, Watkins met with President Obama just days before congressional testimony began.
Lois Lerner, during her May 22nd 2013 congressional testimony, famously stared down her nose at congressmen and the stone-face leaker – who broke the original story just 12 days earlier – said she wasn’t gonna tell them nuthin’!!
Where there is smoke, there is fire. There is so much smoke swirling around the IRS targeting scandal that you can’t see your hand in front of your nose.