Lois Lerner allegedly targeted conservative groups long before her years at the Internal Revenue Services. While working at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Lerner supposedly engaged in discriminatory behavior towards Republican-leaning Americans. A former FEC co-worker of Lois Lerner’s stated during a recent interview that the IRS staffer’s political ideology was readily apparent during her time at the agency.
Before landing a plush post at the IRS, Lois Lerner was the head of the FEC Enforcement Office and served as the associate general counsel. She began working under Lawrence Noble, the FEC General Counsel, in 1986. Part of Lerner’s duties involved drafting legal advice to commissioners of the agency. The recommendations offered by the woman who invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked by Congress about IRS targeting, guided the actions of the federal agency when hearing elections complaints.
Washington, D.C. attorney Craig Engle had this to say about the years he spent working with Lois Lerner at the FEC:
“I’ve known Lois since 1985. I’m probably one of the few people in Washington who really knows her whole career, as opposed to those who have come across her lately. As head of enforcement at the FEC, Lois would have approved the drafting of every general counsel’s report.”
Engle described his former colleague as a pro-regulation individual who harbored a suspicion that conservative groups intentionally flouted the law. One man’s observations are exactly that, but Lois Lerner’s behavior during the congressional hearing and the allegations levied against her actions while at the IRS appear to give at least some credence to Engle’s views.
Documents from the general counsel’s office also seem to confirm Lerner’s willingness to push Republicans back against the wall, according to a National Review report. The same reports allegedly indicate that Democrats had a far less obstacle-filled road to pass when dealing with the Lerner and the FEC. Financial contributions from foreign nationals supposedly drew more scrutiny when they were given to Republican candidates on at least once occasion.
The House Oversight Committee was not happy when Lois Lerner allegedly stopped an investigation into donations to Democrats by a foreign national in 1998. Lerner allegedly cited in a report that the donor’s “clout” was reason enough to negate the need for further investigation. Howard Glicken was accused of soliciting a $20,000 donation for a senatorial campaign committee from a German man.
Howard Glicken ultimately pled guilty to charges related to solicitating the contribution and was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission. House Oversight Committee Chairman Dan Burton read this excerpt from a Lois Lerner-approved report during the hearing:
“While this office would generally recommend a reason to believe finding against Mr. Glicken and conduct an investigation into the two DSCC contributions, because of the discovery complications and time constraints, this office does not now recommend proceeding against this individual or the DSCC.”
The FEC report approved by Lerner went on to state that Howard Glicken’s “high profile as a fundraiser for the Democrats and the potential support involvement for Al Gore’s then-anticipated presidential run as reasons to end the Glicken investigation. FEC attorneys also reportedly noted that due to his prominence, Glicken would not likely agree to settle the issue outside of a litigation setting.
The review of Lois Lerner’s possible political bias while at the FEC also mentions travel expenses complaints filed against George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore. The 1988 complaint against the first President Bush was levied by four Democrat state party chairmen. The FEC complaint alleged that George H.W. Bush shifted campaign travel expenses from the Bush for President Committee to the Republican National Committee and various state party committees. The response from Bush campaign officials stated that the national and state parties had paid for some of the campaign travel expense because they related to GOP party-building events.
A report by the general counsel stated that the Republican national and state committees had violated federal campaign finance laws and pushed the FEC to issue subpoenas for the Republican National Committee treasurer and state party chairs. The FEC did not drop the investigation until 1996. FEC commissioners noted in a letter sent to the Bush campaign that they needed to prioritize issues and were moving on from the matter.
Also in 1996, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were accused of using Air Force One for campaign trips without reimbursing the appropriate government agencies. The complaint maintained that the Democratic duo received the value of travel in the form of a political contribution. It is illegal to use government property for purposes that are political in nature. A report from the general counsel’s office stated that there was no reason to believe a violation of the law had occurred. Attorneys at the FEC also dismissed another Clinton complaint filed by the Republican National Committee. The GOP group alleged that President Clinton traveled via train through several states on a campaign trip, accruing about $1 million in travel expenses.
The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway has reportedly documented “politically motivated harassment” against the Christian Coalition by Lois Lerner during her time at the FEC. Lerner allegedly steered the FEC to sue the religious group in 1994. The investigation and proceeding legal action has been touted as the largest single enforcement action in the history of the Federal Election Commission. The group was cleared of any wrongdoing in 1999, but not before thousands of hours and taxpayer funds had been devoted to the fruitless litigation.
According to a deposition transcript, FEC attorneys asked Lt. Colonel Oliver North why Baptist minister Pat Robertson was praying for him and why the decorated soldier sent the pastor a letter thanking him for his “kind regards.” Exactly why the FEC considered common courtesy and politeness potentially criminal behavior remains unknown.
When briefly speaking to the House Oversight Committee during the recent IRS hearings, Lois Lerner stated that she was proud of her work in government. While the long-time public employee may feel that she deserves a pat on the shoulder for her efforts, millions of Americans would likely disagree. Adding insult to injury, IRS staffers will still benefit from about $70 million in bonuses as per union contract dictates, even though the agency blew a significant amount of taxpayer funds on line dancing lessons and promotional videos and targeted conservative groups seeking non-profit status.
How do you feel about Lois Lerner and the IRS?