IRS official Lerner invokes Fifth Amendment right, says 'I did nothing wrong'

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  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    @Ultra Bob
    Yes, we believe that "our government, rights and freedoms for ordinary people will by lost and the American dream will die" if the government is not held accountable for unacceptable (according the Mr. Obama) IRS tax policies, spying on investigative journalists and covering up incompetence in the State Department. The president's promised governmental transparency is only a long discarded campaign promise. Change we can believe in, indeed.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    It is right and proper and highly desirable that groups with the stated or even unstated purpose of limiting or destroying the American government be scrutinized. We cheer our governments efforts to expose and confront them.

    Some of us believe the current republican party, the Tea Party and other of that ilk pose more danger to America than foreign enemies.

    It is my belief that if the giant corporations take over our government, rights and freedoms for ordinary people will by lost and the American dream will die.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    Yea Lois Lerner. Yea America, Yea Constitution.

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    May 22, 2013 4:27 p.m.

    Statutory law is written in simple english. Apparently a lawsuit was filed yesterday to force the courts to address the deviation of agency power. You can find the compalint online.

  • cpafred SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    May 22, 2013 3:48 p.m.

    Congress enacts tax laws, and the Treasury Department issues regulations giving taxpayers and the IRS guidance on how the laws should be implemented Treasury Regulations do not have the force of law (unless specifically granted that force by Congress - in this case they were not). When a treasury regulation does not agree with law, taxpayers may challenge the regulation in court and have it overturned.

    The problem here is that Congress (as quoted above) mandated that 501(c) (4) organizations should be EXCLUSIVELY for the promotion of social welfare, but the Treasury changed the standard in the Regulations by defining "exclusively for the promotion of social welfare" to "primarily engaged in the promotion of the common good and general welfare". The IRS is bound to (i.e, must) follow the treasury regulations. And the courts have interpreted the "primarily engaged" standard as being over 50%, leaving 501(c)(4) organizations the option to engage in political activities up to 49.9%.

    Congress has done its job. Treasury has made a mistake (by issuing a Regulation that does not reflect the intent of the law) and they must issue a revised regulation or a court must overturn the Regulation.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    May 22, 2013 2:23 p.m.

    @donahoe and VST

    I have a significant amount of experience as an administrator of a 501c3 and these IRS codes related to 501’s. I hate to admit it but VST is mostly right 501c4's unlike 501c3's can engage in substantial political activates and can even engage in some limited campaigning without losing their designation. The trade of for 501c4's is that they cannot go after federal grants and donation to them are not tax deductible. 501c3’s can engage in some “limited” political activity but cannot endorse any candidate or party. In my experience you are however right that these laws are very poorly defined and even more poorly enforced.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 22, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    HS Fan--Yep! Talking less is really smart. Didn't work well in Germany, Russia, China, Cuba, and North Korea. Let's keep quite.

    I hope the whole country speaks out. It's time our leaders become accountable, and not just the people they represent.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 22, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    Here is a rational point for you. If it was as simple as you seem to think it is, then this whole thing would have ended before it started. Either you are smarter than all members of Congress or maybe you have oversimplified it and are only looking for an Obama way out. Now we have the spectacle of people taking the 5th. If this was just a Republican fishing expedition, then they possibly landed Moby Dick. Any American should be concerned with IRS abuse for political purposes. If this scandle turns out to be as it seems, the only people who will be defending it are the die hard Obama supporters who put person and party over country and constitution. Do you really want to count yourself amoung that crowd?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2013 1:16 p.m.

    "as long as they do not directly attack the political beliefs of any specific individual by name who is a politician."

    Except a lot of these group do that very thing. It's not like Priorities USA (a liberal group) or Crossroads GPS (Karl Rove's group) aren't attacking candidates.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    She absolutely did something wrong by overseeing a system that only went after certain political groups seeing a charitable organization tax exempt status with heightened scrutiny... the law clearly says ALL political groups should be facing heightened scrutiny and should not get tax exempt status if political action is their primary function (which for most of these groups on the left and right, it is).

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    May 22, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    Constitutional 5th Amendment and also the Whistleblower law she didn't use except she probably intimidated the employees under her if they didn't follow what she doesn't want to talk about. The Commissioners involved are both out of office, one way or another.

    The President has found many ways to get around the law but some of his people must like the Constitution of the United States of America, if it applies.

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    May 22, 2013 11:34 a.m.


    Please further provide specifics how it is possible to be "exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of a designated person or persons in a particular municipality" and be a nationally funded entity who focuses on a poltical platform.

    My understanding, which may be incorrect, is that the IRS has failed to enforce the code as written - for many decades.

    I remain curious, and I am more than happy to hear an argument. It would be most welcome to read rational discussions in these online responses.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    "I did nothing wrong." And because of that I will not let my employers (the Congress and US public) pull back the curtain to let them see what was going on. I can still keep my $103,000 bonus, right?

  • HS Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2013 10:24 a.m.

    Yes, people can use the fifth amendment when accused of wrong doings. Talking less and listening more may make more of the DN bloggers smarter as well.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    May 22, 2013 10:24 a.m.

    Why is it that when I receive a nasty letter in the mail from the IRS asking me questions, I can't just say 'I did nothing wrong and I refuse to cooperate with your investigation."

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 22, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    Can people claim the fifth when being investigated by the IRS?

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    May 22, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    What would happen if the IRS was auditing ACORN, the President's group or the Service Employees International Union? Do you think he would know about that information? I would guarantee and the agency's employees, supervisors and the Commissioner himself would be on the pavement or worse. They would have been a DOJ target. The shoe fits sort of like OJ's gloves.

    The Fifth Amendment? Do that mean she had personal interest and knows who else knows about the process and how it came to be? Does she know what they did with the data? She seems to be avoiding her personal obligation as an employee or at least a person doing the will of her boss and real high boss. Is this a tactic to go after her so they will have a fall person?

    This administration hasn't done anything that provides a feeling of trust between the citizens and government forces. Government was made to protect citizens relating to their safety/security and common defense and general welfare.

    The President told Congress to vote and then read the bill. That is really a violation of their charter as the Representatives and Senators of the people.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 22, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    We need to do as the IRS does. Freeze assets, garnish wages until they account to the people.

  • donahoe NSL, UT
    May 22, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    A quick search of the US code deems to reveal the core issue:

    (A) Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees, the membership of which is limited to the employees of a designated person or persons in a particular municipality, and the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational urposes.

    (B)Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to an entity unless no part of the net earnings of such entity inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.

    So, political groups (of any flavor) do not meet this description. The only substantive issue is whether all groups were treated uniformly; the rest is politics.