The clumsy way the IRS disclosed the issue, as well as Lerner’s press briefing by phone, were seen at the time as a public relations disaster. But even so, it is worth reviewing three key statements made by Lerner and comparing them to the facts that have since emerged.
Kessler also raises the issue that Lerner may have committed perjury. One of the answers outgoing IRS head Steven Miller actually did give was that he met with Lerner and arraigned that they would "plant a question" in her ABA talk so so she could mention the upcoming scandal.
“But between 2010 and 2012, we started seeing a very big uptick in the numb er of 501(c)(4) applications we were receiving, and many of these organizations applying more than doubled, about 1500 in 2010 and over 3400 in 2012.”
Lerner made this comment while issuing a seemingly impromptu apology at an American Bar Association panel. (It was later learned that this was a planted question — more on that below.) In her telling, the tax-exempt branch was simply overwhelmed by applications, and so unfortunate shortcuts were taken.
But this claim of “more than doubled” appears to be a red herring. The targeting of groups began in early 2010, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC was announced on Jan. 21. The ruling paved the way for political groups to apply under a tax-exempt status known as 501(c)(4). Most charities apply under 501(c)(3), but under 501(c)(4), nonprofit groups that engage in “social welfare” can also perform a limited amount of election activity.
... while there was an increase in 2010, it was relatively small. The real jump did not come until 2011, long after the targeting of conservative groups had been implemented. Also, it appears Lerner significantly understated the number of applications in 2010 (“1500”) in order to make her claim of “more than doubled.”
So Lerner was dissembling when she suggested that a simple well-aimed question prompted the disclosure.
In fact, just two days before the ABA conference, Lerner appeared before Congress and was asked by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) about the status of investigations into 501(c)(4) groups. She provided a bland answer about a questionnaire on the IRS Web site, failing to take the opportunity to disclose the results of the probe. (The clip is embedded below, with the question coming at 5:09.) Small wonder that Crowley is now calling for her to resign, saying that Lerner lied to him.
While Kessler gave Lerner his lowest rating (four Pinocchios) based he does title the piece, A bushel of Pinocchios for IRS’s Lois Lerner implying that he wishes he could give them more.
Having covered this President since before he was a candidate seven years ago, there is no surprise that lies are coming from his administration. The surprise come from the fact that the mainstream media is beginning to cover those lies.