The Obama Administration scandal involving Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting of conservative organizations applying for federal tax exempt status came to farmland this week.
A May 16 posting on conservative news site dailycaller.com by Patrick Howley reports attorney Lois G. Lerner, who for the moment heads the IRS Exempt Organizations Division and who put a public face on IRS targeting of conservative groups by publicly apologizing, includes in her biography the statement she is an “active member of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS),” and was active in 2005 pet rescue operations after Gulf Coast hurricanes, activity for which “she was widely acknowledged.”
While being a member of HSUS makes one guilty of nothing save for perhaps, in my personal opinion, questionable judgment in the choice of groups to which to donate your time and money, The Daily Caller items on Lerner and her membership in HSUS were enough to trip Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s (R, MO) trigger.
You see Luetkemeyer in March, 2010, sent a “constituent-driven” request to then IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman questioning the tax exempt status of HSUS based on what Luetkemeyer called “HSUS’s significant lobbying activity as a tax exempt group.” In May, 2010, Luetkemeyer “shared those concerns in both a personal conversation and a letter to Lerner…,” according to a May 17 press release announcing he’s renewing his inquiry.
“Luetkemeyer is also raising serious questions about IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner’s political ties to HSUS in light of her recent apology for targeting conservative non-profit groups seeking tax exempt status,” says the Luetkemeyer press release.
Also on May 17, Luetkemeyer fired off letters to IRS Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Attorney General Eric Holder. Of Lew and Holder, Luetkemeyer requests a formal investigation into the handling of his 2010 IRS request about HSUS, and in his letter to George, he wants a separate IRS investigation into the matter.
Acknowledging the IRS can’t by law comment on ongoing investigations, Luetkemeyer wrote to Lew and Holder: “While it is disconcerting to think that Ms. Lerner…may have disregarded my request for an investigation due to her own political beliefs or those of her staff, in light of the recent revelations about the activities of Ms. Lerner’s office and in the absence of any other explanation from the IRS, many Americans will arrive at this very conclusion. With that in mind I formally request that you investigate the IRS’ handling of my requests and report back to me in a timely fashion.”
In an interview with The Daily Caller, Luetkemeyer spokesperson Paul Sloca said their office, over the last three years, tried to get at least status reports from Treasury and Lerner. “They’ve told us they can’t comment on an ongoing investigation, but they won’t confirm they’ve even launched an investigation.”
This latest extension of the IRS scandal won’t be the last. More dots will be connected to other groups and issues. It appears, however, Luetkemeyer isn’t going to let his request get lost in the bigger storm yet to come.
According to The Daily Caller report, “The Humane Society of the United States declined comment.”