IRS Fed Cummings’ Office Tax Data on True the Vote
Members of Elijah Cummings staff asked the IRS for information about the election integrity group True the Vote, calling into question his vehement denials of his involvement in targeting the group. House Oversight and Government reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued a stern letter to Cummings demanding an explanation.
According to emails released by the House Oversight Committee, Cummings’ office had multiple contacts with the IRS tax exempt division, led by Lois Lerner.
The House Ways and Means Committee voted 23-14 to refer Lerner’s case to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
Emails indicate Lerner personally checked on the status of a January 25, 2013 inquiry from Cummings’s office, asking her deputy, Holly Paz, “Did we find anything?” Paz responded “Have not heard yet. We didn’t get the request until people had left on Friday and people were late or on unscheduled leave today.” To which Lerner replied “Thanks, check tomorrow please.”
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Lerner’s office eventually provided Cummings’ office with True the Vote’s 990 forms.
During a February subcommittee hearing, True the Vote’s attorney Cleta Mitchell, inquired as to whether there was any committee staff involved in putting True the Vote on the IRS radar screen.
Shortly after that hearing True the Vote’s founder Catherine Engelbrecht filed a formal ethics complaint against Cummings. Cummings had sent her three letters threatening Congressional investigations into True the Vote and her other group King Street Patriots.
Here is the text of one of letter dated October 4, 2012, all but accusing True the Vote of a “criminal conspiracy “ to commit voter suppression. Cummings publicized on his website and in a press release.
Here is Cummings not so subtly accusing True the Vote of racism.
Yesterday, Oversight Committee chairman Darrel Issa, sent Cummings a letter stating:
Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, records of communication between your staff–indicate otherwise. As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Mrs. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS…
These documents indicating involvement of IRS officials at the center of the targeting scandal responding to your requests, raise serious questions about your actions and motivations for trying to bring this investigation to a premature end. If the Committee, as a you publicly suggested in June 2013, “wrap[ped] up this case and moved on” at that time, the Committee may have never seen documents raising questions about your possible coordination with the IRS in communications that excluded the Committee Majority. Your frequent complaints about the Committee Majority contacting individuals on official matters without the involvement of Minority staff makes the reasons for your staff’s secretive correspondence with the IRS even more mysterious.
As the Committee continues to investigate the IRS’s wrongdoing and to gather all the relevant testimonial and documentary evidence, the American people deserve to know the full truth. They deserve to know why the Ranking Member and Minority Staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, surreptitiously contacted the IRS about an individual organization without informing the Majority Staff and even failed to disclose the contact after it became an issue during the subcommittee proceeding.
The public deserves a full and truthful explanation for these actions. We ask that you explain the full extent of you and your staff’s communications with the IRS and why you chose to keep communications with the IRS from the Majority Members and staff even after it became a subject of controversy.