By Jack Minor –
Giving further ammunition to critics who believe the Obama administration is attempting to cover up wrongdoing in the IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups were told a shocking claim by an attorney representing tea party groups targeted by the agency that former head of the IRS tax-exempt division has been speaking with the Department of Justice while also refusing to answer questions posed to her by members of Congress.
During a panel at the CPAC conservative annual convention, Cleta Mitchell, the lead attorney for multiple grass-roots groups who claim to have been targeted for heightened scrutiny said she learned on Thursday that Lois Lerner had been questioned by DOJ investigators sometime during the past six months.
The revelation is particularly noteworthy as Lerner just this week refused to answer questions about emails she had sent, instead invoking her Fifth Amendment rights. President Obama said that there was not even a “smidgen” of corruption at the IRS. Additionally, the FBI has claimed the investigation is effectively over and there is no evidence of wrongdoing.
With the president’s statement along with that of the FBI, it is unclear why Lerner is refusing to answer questions since according to Obama there is no wrongdoing.
Mitchell went on during the panel discussion to say with Lerner’s unwillingness to talk to congress, the congressional investigations may have come to a standstill and because of this taxpayers are going to have to be the ones to conduct the investigation.
“We are going to have to take matters into our own hands – private investigations and rewards for whistleblowers,” she said in the CPAC panel discussion Friday.
Mitchell said the roots of the IRS targeting go back to 2010 when grassroots groups were successfully able to wrest control of the House from Democratic control as well as the Citizens United Supreme Court case.
Citizens United argued that since corporations are recognized as a person for legal purposes, they have First Amendment rights to speak out on issues. This opened the door for outside groups to run ads for and against a candidate, rather than let the candidates primarily control the message they wanted to portray during a campaign.
The tea party consists of common everyday Americans, many of who began to get involved in following politics for the first time following the passage of Obamacare. This citizen activism resulted in the movement sending several candidates they supported to Washington.
After the 2010 election democrats became alarmed at this citizen involvement and began to encourage the IRS to look into these groups.
Then Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who was the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and other democrats including Sen. Charles Schumer D-N.Y. sent letters telling the IRS they wanted the groups investigated.
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