Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was looped in on a plan with Lois Lerner and President Barack Obama’s political appointee at the IRS to lead a program of harassment against conservative nonprofit groups during the 2012 election, according to letters exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not want to publicly release 2012 correspondences exchanged between the IRS and Jeanne Shaheen at her personal Washington office: the agency delayed releasing the information to a major conservative super PAC multiple times, even threatening to see the super PAC in court, according to emails. (RELATED: Lois Lerner And Fellow IRS Official Announced Targeting At 2010 Conference Before Both Of Their Emails Went Missing)
But the letter in question comes out now, on the eve of Jeanne Shaheen’s bid for re-election to the United States Senate.
“The IRS is aware of the current public interest in this issue,” IRS chief counsel William J. Wilkins, a White House visitor described by insiders as “The President’s Man at the IRS,” personally wrote in a hand-stamped memo to “Senator Shaheen” on official Department of the Treasury letterhead on April 25, 2012.
The memo, obtained by TheDC, briefed the Democratic senator about a coordinated IRS-Treasury Department plot to target political activity by nonprofit 501(c)(4) groups. The plot was operating out of Lois Lerner’s Tax Exempt Government Entities Division. (RELATED: Liens Filed Against Dem Senator Jeanne Shaheen And Her Husband For Failure To Pay Creditors)
“These regulations have been in place since 1959,” Wilkins wrote. “We will consider proposed changes in this area as we work with Tax-Exempt and Government Entities and the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy to identify tax issues that should be addressed” in designing new regulations and “guidance.”
“I hope this information is helpful,” Wilkins wrote. “I am sending a similar response to your colleagues. If you have questions, please contact me or have your staff contact Cathy Barre at (202) 622-3720.”
Shaheen got the inside info from the IRS, making it clear she was the point person in a group composed of six close Democratic colleagues including Chuck Schumer and Al Franken, who joined with Shaheen in quietly writing a letter to then-IRS commissioner Doug Shulman expressing their concern about new nonprofit groups engaging in political activity in 2012.
The Democratic senators’ publicly available March 9, 2012 letter asked the IRS to “immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as ‘social welfare’ organizations” by introducing a new “bright line test” for how much a tax-exempt group can invest in political activity and by setting a new rule that at least 51 percent of a group’s activity must non-political. The senators called for more elaborate disclosures about finances and “undertakings” in groups’ form 990 submissions and sought new rules about how much donors could write off as business expenses. (RELATED: New Poll: Brown Leads Shaheen By A Point And A Half With One Week To Go)
A Freedom of Information Act request from a major conservative super PAC specifically identified “Jeanne Shaheen” as its Freedom of Information Act search term on the IRS scandal (and in Washington, folks, if YOUR NAME is the search term that the conservative super PAC uses in its bid to get public information, then you just might be involved in something).
[The New Hampshire Democratic Party responded to this report on Tuesday, dismissing the claims as already discredited by fact-checkers.
"Republicans are painfully desperate," the party said in a statement to Fox News. "This ridiculous accusation was deemed false by independent fact checkers when they tried making this claim 13 months ago. Clearly they are scraping the bottom of the barrel."
The party was referring to a Polifact report that explored claims that the Feb. 16, 2012 letter and statements by the senator proved she was behind the IRS program. Polifact concluded that while Shaheen did ask the IRS to tighten its oversight of tax-free groups spending substantial amounts on political campaigns, she "voiced her opinion about two years after the controversial IRS efforts were already under way, and there is no evidence that she was aware of alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups before it became public in the Inspector General's report."]