Sticks and Stones: Lerner’s Permit

Lois Lerner, the director of the Internal Revenue Service's (exempt organizations office, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on May 22, 2013.

Photograph by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg *

Lois Lerner, the director of the Internal Revenue Service’s (exempt organizations office, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on May 22, 2013.

Not since George W. Bush called a reporter one has the word ricocheted around the Internet so loudly.

Lois Lerner, it turns out, had some harsh words about conservatives in government emails that the House Ways and Means Committee has turned up in its probe of the Internal Revenue Service’s screening of political groups’ tax-exempt status.  The former IRS official in charge of that section has pleaded the Fifth Amendment, and the agency says her emails have been destroyed.

Rep. Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the committee, reports on a “newly discovered email exchange” from Lerner’s official IRS BlackBerry  account on Nov. 9, 2012. In a letter to the attorney general today,  Camp writes of “Ms. Lerner’s deep animus towards conservatives, which she refers to as `—holes.’

Camp concludes in his letter that Lerner’s agency’s “mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility” toward conservatives.

“You should hear the whacko wing of the GOP,” an associate wrote to Lerner from an account outside the agency. “The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.”

Lerner replied: “Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many —holes.”

“And I’m talking about the hosts of the shows,” the associate replied. “The callers are rabid.”

“So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists, ” Lerner replied, as Camp detailed in his letter to Justice. “It’s our own crazies that will take us down.”

During its inquiry, Camp writes, the committee found that Lerner “personally directed the denial of an application for exempt status and subjected Crossroads GPS to an audit.” In a letter about the Organizing for Action committee supporting the president’s reelection, Camp reports, Lerner wrote, “Oh — maybe I can get the DC office job!”

This is not the first time Camp has called on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the IRS’s activities. In April, his committee voted along partisan lines to urge Holder to consider criminal charges. The House in May, also split almost entirely along party lines, voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about the targeting of groups.

The exchange has spurred some outrage on Twitter today.

This, after all, is a well-worn fighting word.

It was back in 2000, during a Labor Day weekend rally in Illinois, that presidential nominee George W. Bush spotted a veteran political reporter in the crowd and — in a moment caught by a hot microphone — told running mate  Dick Cheney that the reporter is a “major-league —hole.” Cheney replied: “Oh yeah, he is, big-time.”

What do you think about this article? Comment below!