Patterico's Pontifications

7/10/2013

Lois Lerner in 2011: Receiving a Thick Questionnaire from the IRS Is a “Behavior Changer”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 am

A reader sends a very interesting tidbit buried in a November 17, 2011 Businessweek.com article about the IRS and not-for-profit universities. The article is about the IRS making inquiries into “whether schools improperly claimed tax-exempt status for taxable businesses.” At the end of the article is this fascinating quote:

Lois Lerner, the IRS’s director of tax-exempt organizations who is overseeing the investigation, says many schools are rethinking how and what they report to the government. Receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS, she says, is a “behavior changer.”

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 7.29.12 AM
Above: Lois Lerner, Behavior Changer

Freedom Works had a timeline of the IRS scandal here, and it’s interesting to see how Lerner’s quote fits into the beginning of that timeline. The entry in bold is my personal addition to the timeline based on the quote above:

1 March, 2010 – IRS officials start targeting organizations with “tea party”, “patriot”, and “9-12″ in their names.

27 June, 2011 – Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Operations, learns of the inappropriate targeting. She initiates an audit of the office involved, but the targeting continues.

17 November, 2011 – Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Operations, tells Businessweek that receiving a thick questionnaire from the IRS is a “behavior changer.”

Staffers preparing for the return of Lois Lerner to the witness chair in Congress, please take note.

62 Comments

  1. I don’t think anyone has picked up on this quote.

    Comment by Patterico (9c670f) — 7/10/2013 @ 7:39 am

  2. You learn something new every day. I didn’t realize that burdening American citizens with lengthy application processes in order to discourage them from exercising their civil rights is an appropriate function of the federal government.

    Comment by aunursa (7014a8) — 7/10/2013 @ 7:39 am

  3. People like Lerner and those who’ve Nidal-Hasan-ized aspects of both our government and society are one reason why when I look at them and then look at a character like Edward Snowden, I admit to feeling pangs of, well, moral equivalency. But I acknowledge that and remain wary of such a reaction going too far, unlike various liberals along the lines of Michelle “first-time-I’m-proud-of-my-country” Obama or, for that matter, her former spiritual adviser Jeremiah Wright.

    Comment by Mark (897d7b) — 7/10/2013 @ 7:48 am

  4. There was actually all kinds of categories of organizations tghat got special scrutiny.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (a4dbab) — 7/10/2013 @ 7:49 am

  5. No, there were not, Sammy.

    The other off overlooked aspect of Ms Lerner is how closely the tactics is the tea party targeting track with her tactics at the FEC when she went after the Christian Coalition.

    Comment by JD (5d442b) — 7/10/2013 @ 7:55 am

  6. I had sympathy for her and I thought Trey Gowdy was a tobacco-spitting bully but when bitches be bitches ….

    Comment by nk (875f57) — 7/10/2013 @ 7:58 am

  7. Sammy, just remember that liberal impulse you often struggle with should not be misconstrued for imbuing one with greater compassion, sophistication, intelligence, tolerance and honesty.

    thehill.com, June 27, 2013: Liberal groups seeking tax-exempt status faced less IRS scrutiny than Tea Party groups, according to the Treasury Department’s inspector general.

    J. Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, told Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) in a letter dated Wednesday that the IRS did not use inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups with “progressives” in their name seeking tax-exempt status.

    “Our audit did not find evidence that the IRS used the ‘progressives’ identifier as selection criteria for potential political cases between May 2010 and May 2012,” George wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.

    The inspector general stressed that 100 percent of the groups with “Tea Party,” “patriots” and “9/12” in their name were flagged for extra attention, while only 30 percent of the groups with “progress” or “progressive” were highlighted as potentially political. George’s letter does not say why the progressive groups were given extra scrutiny.

    Comment by Mark (897d7b) — 7/10/2013 @ 8:04 am

  8. In an Obama “President for Life” administration, Lerner will head the “Stasi” unit over at DHS – keeping track of all of the “enemies of the state”.

    Speaking of Nidal Hasan, yesterday this was reported:
    “…At a hearing earlier Tuesday, Hasan said he wanted jurors to know that he was being forced to wear a uniform that he believes represents ‘an enemy of Islam‘(emphasis added). Hasan, an American-born Muslim, had said he didn’t want to wear either military uniform…”

    His charges should be modified by adding Treason, and Aiding & Abetting, to the list.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 8:25 am

  9. nk, you’ve just got it in for ex Fed prosecutors.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 8:27 am

  10. SF: “There was actually all kinds of categories of organizations tghat got special scrutiny.

    5. Comment by JD (5d442b) — 7/10/2013 @ 7:55 am

    No, there were not, Sammy.

    I said There were several kinds of categories – not just political organizations.

    The political ones were newly formed right wing organizations, but there were also other kinds of targets:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323336104578501522735423256.html

    The Internal Revenue Service unit under fire for its reviews of conservative organizations has a long history of targeting groups with extra scrutiny, including foreclosure-assistance charities, credit-counseling services and New York Jewish charities, interviews with current and former employees show….The clustering model has been used officially and unofficially for years, and IRS officials called it “centralization.” In some cases, it was facilitated by a “Be On The Lookout” Excel spreadsheet, which flagged groups that could be problematic or simply were growing fast in numbers, according to a document released by Congress.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/05/us/politics/irs-scrutiny-went-beyond-the-political.html?pagewanted=all

    In 2010, a tiny Palestinian-rights group called Minnesota Break the Bonds applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status. Two years and a lot of prodding later, the I.R.S. sent the group’s leaders a series of questions and requests almost identical to the ones it was sending to Tea Party groups at the time.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (a4dbab) — 7/10/2013 @ 8:50 am

  11. They went after a more pro-Israeli right rival to “J Street” and they went after a kind of boycott Israel group.

    And any place there was fraud they went after similar sounding organizations.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (a4dbab) — 7/10/2013 @ 8:54 am

  12. Another bold-faced lying Finkelman! Lefty yellow-stain’d coward!

    Comment by westie (ece8d5) — 7/10/2013 @ 8:54 am

  13. No, it’s all true.

    What they did against Tea Party groups built on something that already existed.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (a4dbab) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:04 am

  14. I blame Allan Pinkerton.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:08 am

  15. The Pinkertons were not constrained by law.

    Oh, wait…

    Comment by mojo (8096f2) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:31 am

  16. Lois Lerner and Angela Corey better steer clear of BBQ joints least the pitmasters complain the suppliers are putting lipstick on the raw product.

    Comment by ropelight (e67fe9) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:41 am

  17. The Pinkertons were the Blackwell (and maybe Booz Hamilton) of their time in the absence of an adequate national police force. If Obama gets rid of civilian contractors doing national security work, I’ll vote for him for a third term.

    Comment by nk (875f57) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:44 am

  18. During that third term he’d finally be able to hire them to work as his domestic security force. ;)

    Comment by Stashiu3 (e7ebd8) — 7/10/2013 @ 10:02 am

  19. Organizations operating under tax exempt status open the door for this very type of unfair/subjective scrutiny along political lines. The status also invites (and apparently frequently overlooks) intentional fraud along all political and ideological lines of applicants. The IRS should not have this power. The whole status needs to be gone.

    Comment by elissa (e219d7) — 7/10/2013 @ 10:21 am

  20. Today’s IRS News:

    House Appropriations Cmte marking up funding bill for IRS with a 24% ($3B) reduction in funding from current levels. Also calls for no authority to spend on conferences or videos.
    Some of this just could survive a Conference Cmte.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 10:35 am

  21. Holy crap, someone actually heard Insty’s call to zero out the IRS conference budget?

    Comment by PCachu (e072b7) — 7/10/2013 @ 10:59 am

  22. Piece of work this twat.

    Comment by Rodney King's Spirit (ae12ec) — 7/10/2013 @ 12:36 pm

  23. And any place there was fraud they went after similar sounding organizations.

    Clearly not. If there was fraud “in that place” they would have found it. Instead they found no fraud.

    Furthermore, the PROCESS was clearly intended to be the punishment, not to be fact-finding. Thick questionnaires bearing a statement you’d be subject to perjury prosecution based on your statements, with a 30-day deadline and questions about what might happen in the future are not ensuring the tax laws are obeyed. Multi-year delays when equivalent, left-wing organizations have 30-60 day turn-around is clearly a campaign of foot-dragging to prevent the organizations from being effective.

    Comment by Rob Crawford (e6f27f) — 7/10/2013 @ 1:47 pm

  24. Golden oldie. Emphasis mine:

    …The governor was reacting to comments in the video below from Al Armendariz, the EPA’s administrator for Region 6 (which covers Texas and the surrounding states). In the video, from 2010, Armendariz talks about enforcing EPA rules by making an example out of companies caught in violation.

    “I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said,” Armendariz said.

    “It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

    “And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.”

    Unfortunately I accidentally closed the tab so I don’t have a link. But just do an internet search for Al Armendariz and you can’t miss it. He wasn’t actually a newsmaker. That YouTube video is his only claim to fame.

    What he meant clearly you can crucify anyone simply for defying your authoriteh. The point being if you’re a fed regulatory agency you can always claim they’re in violation. Some might win if goes to the courts. But you can keep taking them back to court and/or tie them up in the administrative process until you bankrupt them. The goal is to eliminate anyone who gives you backtalk in order to make examples pour encourager les autres.

    It’s easy to do when you’re supposedly the expert on what is and isn’t against the law in a byzantine system of codes and regulations that no single person can understand. Add to that it’s not their personal money they’re spending harassing you with punitive administrative and legal actions. Turning back to the IRS, the Inspector General has discovered that 30% of IRS seizures are against the law.

    http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2013reports/201330061fr.pdf

    I doubt that the fact certain IRS agents seized millions of dollars worth of citizens property illegally will interfere with them receiving their union-negotiated bonuses and promotions.

    It’s all intended to produce what’s been termed the “servile mind.” That’s the mindset that results in the proper behavior from Lerner’s or Armendariz’s perspective. And they’re not alone. Barack Obama didn’t have to tell the IRS to go after conservative groups.

    Do you really need to tell the Treasury Employee’s Union rank and file to go after people who think they should be paid less and there should be fewer of them?

    Comment by Steve57 (7c82fc) — 7/10/2013 @ 2:20 pm

  25. Do you really need to tell the Treasury Employee’s Union rank and file to go after people who think they should be paid less and there should be fewer of them?

    Should the Members of the House Appropriations Cmte that vote to cut the IRS’ budget feel threatened?

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 2:46 pm

  26. Speaking of changing behavior – this is long over-due:

    “Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) introduced legislation this week to block federal funding for schools that enforce rules that punish students for playing with imaginary weapons…”

    Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/310079-gop-bill-would-defund-schools-with-politically-correct-gun-rules#ixzz2YgOYwTFI

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 3:05 pm

  27. 25.Do you really need to tell the Treasury Employee’s Union rank and file to go after people who think they should be paid less and there should be fewer of them?

    Should the Members of the House Appropriations Cmte that vote to cut the IRS’ budget feel threatened?

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 2:46 pm

    That would be prudent. Can anyone claim it’s mere paranoia to think the IRS wouldn’t react by going after their donors?

    Comment by Steve57 (7c82fc) — 7/10/2013 @ 3:41 pm

  28. I would inform Weasel Werfel that he needs to inform the troops that if that were to happen, the reductions in the following year’s appropriations would be even worse.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 3:49 pm

  29. This post has been linked by Powerline and National Review Online, among others.

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/10/2013 @ 3:55 pm

  30. Just more people for the IRS to investigate.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 3:56 pm

  31. Heh. Does that mean Patterico is Public Enemy #1 of both the LA Times and the IRS?

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/10/2013 @ 4:06 pm

  32. He better hope not, the IRS won’t be such amateurs when they SWAT somebody.

    Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 4:15 pm

  33. Your reader got that from Powerline:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/07/why-lois-lerner-took-the-fifth.php

    Comment by Steven Den Beste (99cfa1) — 7/10/2013 @ 5:31 pm

  34. Sorry, I’m an idiot. Powerline got it from you. Please ignore me.

    Comment by Steven Den Beste (99cfa1) — 7/10/2013 @ 5:32 pm

  35. Sitting in the witness chair should be a behavior changer for Lois.
    I know a orange jumpsuit would be.

    Comment by mg (31009b) — 7/10/2013 @ 5:46 pm

  36. Steven Den Beste links to this Powerline article.

    But the salient point is the bullying attitude: never mind the merits, a “thick questionnaire from the IRS is a behavior changer.” And that was in a magazine interview! It makes one wonder what else Lerner may have said in unguarded moments.

    I didn’t read the Powerline article before I commented here, but what it makes me think she might have said in an unguarded moment is something about crucifixions.

    Which is why I mentioned it.

    Comment by Steve57 (7c82fc) — 7/10/2013 @ 5:57 pm

  37. Two good comments by Robert McMahon at the Powerline link, responding to a comment by Dale Wetzel that essentially described the Lerner quote as no big deal:


    Dale,

    So you missed the point entirely? Everyone else took it for granted but you need to have it explained?

    One of the appalling features in the IRS scandal has been the use of lengthy, intrusive questionnaires as one means of bullying Tea Parties and other political targets.

    In an interview that was published while this tactic was actually being used against Obama’s political enemies in order to reduce 2012 GOP turnout, Lerner described the tactic as if it were a legitimate IRS weapon. Thus her claim of ignorance on the issue is seriously weakened, as is her claim to a non-political motivation.

    (Patterico gets a thumbs-up for discovering such damning contemporaneous evidence that so-called professional reporters missed.)

    … followed by:

    And just in case you need the issue to be cut into bite-size pieces:

    Lerner described the ‘thick questionnaire’ as a weapon for changing behavior. The only behavior in which Tea Parties were engaged was their expression of Constitutionally protected dissent and organization.

    But they were dissenting and organizing against Obama, and that was the behavior that had to be changed – and was – by IRS harassment.

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/10/2013 @ 6:34 pm

  38. No, it’s all true.

    What they did against Tea Party groups built on something that already existed.

    So you think the IRS is getting a bum rap? If so, I gotta a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying. Better yet, it’s not too far from your place of residence!

    Comment by Mark (897d7b) — 7/10/2013 @ 8:09 pm

  39. Also, Ed Morrissey linked here in an article he wrote for The Fiscal Times.

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:11 pm

  40. It’s a good article.

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:14 pm

  41. Lois said something about how receiving a thick something or another could be a big help in getting your attitude right

    she spoke with conviction and I believe her

    but i lack her faith

    Comment by happyfeet (8ce051) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:24 pm

  42. Some say that the Zimmerman judge reminds them of the old Chris Farley female character on SNL who used to be featured in skits with David Spade. The face, the hair… Yeah I can see it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YfvBbxE1vU

    Comment by elissa (e219d7) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:31 pm

  43. OK wrong thread.

    Comment by elissa (e219d7) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:33 pm

  44. Lois likes her a french fry or two when she’s in the mood for something thick and gravy-laden

    but she’s a very disciplined person

    so many questions so little time

    Comment by happyfeet (8ce051) — 7/10/2013 @ 9:36 pm

  45. 1-Business week did two years ago.

    Comment by Ian G. (b2d693) — 7/11/2013 @ 4:12 am

  46. Tye is kind of an idiot. You know that is not what Patterico meant.

    Comment by JD (b63a52) — 7/11/2013 @ 5:18 am

  47. Ian G.,

    Don’t you wonder why Bloomberg and Business Week never mentioned this Lerner quote in any of the several articles they recently published about Lerner?

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/11/2013 @ 6:56 am

  48. Another link, this one by Thomas Lifson, who speculates whether this may expose Lerner to criminal charges.

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/11/2013 @ 7:38 am

  49. DRJ – The IRS scandal is not a scandal. It is a reich-wign creation to try to impeach Teh One.

    Comment by JD (b63a52) — 7/11/2013 @ 7:43 am

  50. Freedom Works paid Dick Armey $8 million dollars to go away. And this blog cites Freedom Works as an authority on which organizations should and should not be treated as legitimate tax exempt orgs? Comedy gold!

    Comment by John Dillinger (df3ff3) — 7/11/2013 @ 10:22 am

  51. You need to read more carefully, John Dillinger. Patterico linked the Freedom Works’ website regarding its timeline of the IRS scandal.

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/11/2013 @ 10:28 am

  52. Right after I’m done reading Bernie Madoff’s classic tome, “What’s Wrong with the Securities Laws.”

    Comment by John Dillinger (df3ff3) — 7/11/2013 @ 10:30 am

  53. Lerner had trouble
    with her potty training hence
    punitive nature

    Comment by Colonel Haiku (8a31be) — 7/11/2013 @ 10:35 am

  54. Drive by trolls are precious. It’s “point” is a tye-esque SQUIRREL to avoid the Obama IRS scandal.

    Comment by JD (b63a52) — 7/11/2013 @ 10:40 am

  55. didn’t I put you in jail?

    Comment by mel purvis (3fec35) — 7/11/2013 @ 10:54 am

  56. @ Comment by askeptic (b8ab92) — 7/10/2013 @ 3:05 pm

    Now if they would just apply tar and feathers liberally to said school administrations, all would be right with the world.

    @ Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/11/2013 @ 7:38 am

    Awesome news. That woman belongs behind bars.

    Comment by papertiger (c2d6da) — 7/11/2013 @ 12:33 pm

  57. Without being too cynical, leftists know good and well that regulations hurt businesses and people and operate to reduce the regulated behaviour. One only need to watch the madness in Austin – “Requiring abortion clinics to meet the same regulations as other medical offices will put them out of business!” – to see this in action.

    Comment by bridget (ead35e) — 7/11/2013 @ 4:38 pm

  58. didn’t I put you in jail?

    Comment by mel purvis (3fec35) — 7/11/2013 @ 10:54 am

    You told me that you killed him!

    Comment by j edgar (ee1de0) — 7/11/2013 @ 6:56 pm

  59. Comment by bridget (ead35e) — 7/11/2013 @ 4:38 pm

    “If it moves, Tax it;
    If it keeps moving, Regulate it;
    If it stops moving, Subsidize it!”

    Our modern government at work.

    Comment by askeptic (2bb434) — 7/11/2013 @ 7:17 pm

  60. Lois Lerner is back in the news.

    Comment by DRJ (a83b8b) — 7/18/2013 @ 6:42 am

  61. The news here is that Carter C. Hull, who was implicated previously by Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre, has now himself implicated Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS exempt organizations office, and the IRS Chief Counsel’s office, headed by Obama appointee William J. Wilkins.

    There will be a Congressional hearing today of Darrell Issa’s committee at which Elizabeth Hofacre, Carter C. Hull and Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George will give testimony.

    The Tea Party applications were supposed to be
    “test cases” – that was the excuse.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (1e81da) — 7/18/2013 @ 7:21 am

  62. Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (the former “witch”) was also a target.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/17/former-gop-senate-candidate-christine-odonnell-tol/?page=all#pagebreak

    Hat tip: narciso on anther thread, possibly by mistake.

    This spying on her didn’t just involve the IRS, but the IRS, or somebody working for the IRS or using the IRS computers, joined in, placing a lien on the property, which she no longer owned, on the same day she revealed her plan to run for the Senate in a press release and the action publicized. The IRS eventually blamed that on a “computer glitch”

    She had actually been warned by “a prominent political figure in Delaware” – why no name? – that if she challenged Mike Castle in a primary, the IRS and others would go after her.

    This January (2013) Christine O’Donnell was told by a special agent with the U.S. Department of Treasury in Baltimore that her tax records had been breached.

    There is a backdoor system in which state officials! can access Americans’ private tax records in the name of investigating with little oversight. Criminal investigators in states have the ability to dial into the IRS database.

    Senator Grassley was told that at least 4 politicians or political donors had their records improperly accessed through that system and there was one case where there was clearly a violation of federal law (i.e. they know there was no legitimate investigation) The Justice Department has not prosecuted anyone, nor will they give Grassley the names, saying it would violate the privacy of those people believed to have improperly accessed tax records to do so.

    All the IRS will say is that the one person believed to have willfully misused the tax record system worked outside the agency.

    Senate investigators have been unable to get permission to interview Dennis Martel, the IRS special agent who informed Christine O’Donell about the breach, about her case. She was given the man’s name and shown his photo and told he had no legitimate reason to access her records. It turned out he had friended her on her personal Facebook page.

    Someone involved in the investigation told her that officials in both political parties were involved. She has been told the probe has been closed, without any explanation. Her attempts to find out more have been fruitless. Her Freedom of Information Act requests have been delayed or denied.

    Christine O’Donnell went through a 3-year audit, which resulted in a $1,100 repayment to thd federal government, and friends and family have also been audited with no adverse results.

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman (1e81da) — 7/18/2013 @ 7:55 am

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