OGR Members to Holder DOJ Richard Pilger
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Date Created:April 23, 2014
Date Uploaded to the Library:July 29, 2014
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DARRELL ISSA. CALIFORNIA ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS ELIJAH CUMMINGS, MARYLAND CHAIRMAN RANKING MINORITY MEMBER JOHN MICA. FLORIDA CAROLYN MALONEY, NEW YORK MICHAEL TURNER. OHIO ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, ongress tbe Wniteb tates JOHN DUNCAN. JR. TENNESSEE DISTRICT COLUMBIA PATRICK McHENRY, NORTH CAROLINA JOHN TIERNEY, MASSACHUSETTS JIM JORDAN, OHIO WM. LACY CLAY. MISSOURI JASON CHAFFETZ, UTAH STEPHEN LYNCH, MASSACHUSETTS j!>ou.se llepresentattbe.S TIM WALBERG. MICHIGAN JIM COOPER, TENNESSEE JAMES LANKFORD, OKLAHOMA GERALD CONNOLLY, VIRGINIA JUSTIN AMASH, MICHIGAN COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM JACKIE SPEIER, CALIFORNIA PAUL GOSAR, ARIZONA MATIHEW CARTWRIGHT, PENNSYLVANIA PATRICK MEEHAN, PENNSYLVANIA TAMMY DUCKWORTH, ILLINOIS SCOTT OcsJARLAIS, TENNESSEE 2157 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING ROBIN KELLY, ILLINOIS TREY GOWDY, SOUTH CAROLINA DANNY DAVIS, ILLINOIS BLAKE FARENTHOLO, TEXAS PETER WELCH, VERMONT WASHINGTON, 20515-6143 DOC HASTINGS. WASHINGTON TONY CARDENAS, CALIFORNIA CYNTHIA LUMMIS, WYOMING STEVEN HORSFORD. NEVADA MNofllTY (202) 225-507 ROB WOODALL. GEORGIA MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM, NEW MEXICO FACSIMILE (202) 225-3974 THOMAS MASSIE, KENTUCKY VACANCY MINOOllY (202) 225-5051 DOUG COLLINS, GEORGIA MARK MEADOWS, NORTH CAROLINA http://overslght.houso.gov KERRY BENTIVOLIO, MICHIGAN RON OrSANTIS, FLORIDA April 23, 2014 LAWRENCE BRADY STAFF DIRECTOR The Honorable Eric Holder, Jr. Attorney General United States Department Justice 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, 20530 Dear Mr. Attorney General: The Committee Oversight and Government Reform continues examine the Internal Revenue Service's targeting conservative tax-exempt applicants. are deeply dismayed that the Department Justice may have contributed this inappropriate treatment considering prosecution tax-exempt groups engaged political speech. This information, released Judicial Watch, damages the integrity the Department and undermines its fundamental mission "fair and impartial administration justice for all Americans."We request your assistance examine this matter. May 2013, Richard Pilger, Director the Election Crimes Branch the Department's Public Integrity Section, e-mailed Lois Lerner, then-Director the IRS's Exempt Organizations Division, writing: "[W]hen you have moment, would you call me? have been asked run something you."After Mr. Pilger and Ms. Lerner spoke, Ms. Lerner summarized the conversation e-mail Nikole Flax, then-chief staff Acting Commissioner Steve Miller. She wrote: got call today from Richard Pilger Director Election Crimes Branch DOJ. know him from contacts from days there. wanted know who IRS the DOJ folks could talk about Sen. Whitehouse idea the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who "lied" their 1024s saying they weren't planning doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ feeling like needs respond, but want talk the right folks IRS see whether there are See Gregory Korte, eve Tea Party scandal, IRS discussed criminal probes, USA TODAY, Apr. 16, 2014. U.S. Dep't Justice, About DOJ, http://www.justice.gov/about/about.html. E-mail from Richard Pilger, U.S. Dep't Justice, Lois Lerner, Internal Revenue Serv. (May 2013). [TRSR 209188] The Honorable Eric Holder, Jr. April 23, 2014 impediments from our side and what, any damage this might IRS programs. Ms. Lerner asked veteran IRS official Nan Marks arrange the meeting,but unclear what additional steps the Department took coordinate with the IRS about the targeting taxexempt applicants. This e-mail shocking several levels. initial matter, this e-mail further evidence that the Administration's targeting and inappropriate treatment conservative taxexempt applicants was the result political pressure from prominent Democrats "fix the problem" posed the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.6 Information obtained the Committee shows that beginning 2010, the President and congressional Democrats loudly and aggressively criticized the Court's decision and conservative nonprofit groups that they believed would benefit from it.This e-mail makes clear that the Justice Department, like the IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission, played role government-wide effort target political speech.Certainly, apparent this e-mail, the Department felt the need something response Democratic rhetoric against nonprofit political speech. More unbelievably, this e-mail also suggests that the Department actually considered prosecuting nonprofit groups for their political activi6es. Even more astounding, the Department considered prosecuting these groups for actions that are legal for 50l(c)(4) nonprofits under federal tax law -that is, engaging political speech.The Department's use alleged false statement the tax-exempt application unfortunate instance prosecutorial "gotcha," targeting these victims for supposed "lies" about activities that they are legally allowed do. this way, the tactics suggested Mr. Pilger appear nothing more than harassment the Justice Department groups engaged otherwise lawful activity. Other e-mails show just how outrageous the Department's tactics were. Ms. Lerner wrote her colleagues, the law does not support the prosecution nonprofit for making false statements about political speech. She wrote: Whether there was false statement fraud. regarding [sic] desc1iption alleged political expenditure that doesn't say vote for vote against not E-mail from Lois Lerner, Internal Revenue Serv., Nikole Flax, Internal Revenue Serv. (May, 2013). [IRSR 209282] See Memorandum from Majority Staff, Comm. Oversight Gov't Reform, Members, Comm. Oversight Gov't Refonn, "Interim update the Committee's investigation the Internal Revenue Service's inappropriate treatment certain tax-exempt applicants" (Sept. 17, 2013). See Memorandum from Majority Staff, I-I. Comm. Oversight Gov't Refonn, Member, Comm. Oversight Gov't Reform, "The SEC and Political Speech" (July 22, 2013); Memorandum from Majority Staff, Comm. Oversight Gov't Reform, Members, Comm. Oversight Gov't Reform, "Interim update the Committee's investigation the Internal Revenue Service's inappropriate treatment certain tax-exempt applicants" (Sept. 17, 2013); COMM. OVERSIGHT Gov' REFORM, LOIS LERNER'S INVOLVEMENT THE IRS TARGETING TAX-EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS (Mar. 11, 2014). See l.R.C. 501(c)(4); Treas. Reg. .50J(c)(4)-l(a)(2). The Honorable Eric Holder, Jr. April 23, 2014 realistic under current law. Everyone looking for magic bullet scapegoat there isn't one. The law this area just hard.10 Instead, Lerner indicated another e-mail, those individuals pushing for the prosecution politically active nonprofits for "tax fraud" were seeking "shut these down."1 She elaborated: "One IRS prosecution would make impact and they wouldn't feel comfortable doing stuff. So, don't fooled about how this being articulated -it ALL about 50l(c)(4) orgs and political activity." Mr. Pilger's communications with Ms. Lerner are also striking for their timing. They show that the IRS and the Justice Department were actively considering efforts target tax exempt organizations just two days before Ms. Lerner's public apology for the targeting.This information certainly undermines the sincerity Ms. Lerner's apology, but calls into question your reaction that targeting was "outrageous" and "unacceptable."These comments ring hollow light evidence that your subordinates apparently colluded with the IRS target nonprofit groups less than week before. are severely disappointed the Department's apparent contribution the Administration's targeting tax-exempt applicants. With your constant reminders about the Department's limited criminal justice resources, would have hoped that the Department would better focus its prosecutorial resources. examine fully the Department's apparent role targeting tax-exempt applicants and the Department's coordination with the IRS this matter, ask that you produce the following material soon possible, but later than May 2014: All documents and communications referring relating I(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations applicants for 50l(c)(4) tax-exempt status for the period January 2009, through the present. All documents and communications between among Lois Lerner and employees the Department Justice for the period January 2009, through the present. All documents and communications referring relating the potential prosecution tax-exempt organizations for alleged false statements made Internal Revenue Service forms for the period January 2009, through the present. E-mail from Lois Lerner, Internal Revenue Serv., Suzanne Sinno al., Internal Revenue Serv. (Mar. 27, 2013). [IRSR 188327] E-mail from Lois Lerner, Internal Revenue Serv., Nikole Flax al., Jntemal Revenue Serv. (Mar. 27, 2013). [IRSR 188329] See Rick Hasen, Transcript Lois Lerner's Remarks Tax Meeting Sparking IRS Controversy, ELECTION LAW BLOG (May 11, 2013, 7:37AM) http://electionlawblog.org/?p''50160. Rachael Weiner, Holder has ordered IRS investigation, WASH. POST, May 14, 2013. See. e.g., Press Release, U.S. Dep't Justice, Statement Attorney General Holder Sentencing Commission's Vote Approve Reductions Sentencing Guidelines for Nonviolent Drug Offenders (Apr. 10, 2014). The Honorable Eric Holder, Jr. April 23, 2014 addition, ask that you make Richard Pilger available for transcribed interview with Committee staff. Please have your staff contact the Committee staff soon possible, but later than April 29, 2014, schedule this interview. The Committee Oversight and Govenunent Reform the principal oversight committee the House Representatives and may "any time" investigate "any matter" set forth House Rule Please contact David Brewer Tyler Grimm with the Committee staff 202-225-5074 you have any questions. Thank you for your attention this matter. cc: The Honorable Elijah Cummings, Ranking Minority Member See, e.g., COMM. OVERSIGHT GOV'T REFORM, LOIS LERNER'S INVOLVEMENT THE IRS TARGETING TAX-EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS (Mar. 11, 2014).