It struck me as odd that IRS official Lois Lerner would suddenly offer a mea culpa ex nihilo — on the sensitive subject of the agency’s targeting of political enemies — off the cuff while she was speaking at a tax conference organized by the American Bar Association. When she was asked about that during a telephone call on Friday, she said only that she was asked a question and answered it.
But there is a bit more to it than that.
The question at the ABA conference came from Washington-based tax lawyer Celia Roady, a lobbyist in the firm of Morgan Lewis. Roady is certainly well-versed in the issue at hand: She was named to the influential Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities in 2010 by Douglas Shulman, at that time commissioner of the IRS. Lerner is the director for tax-exempt organizations at the IRS. Roady was serving on the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities while tea-party groups and other conservative organizations were being targeted by the IRS. Not exactly a question out of the blue — Capitol Hill sources described the question as “planted” and say the IRS has informally admitted as much.
Neither Roady nor the IRS responded to requests for comment on this issue.
For a great deal more on the IRS’s odd sense of priorities, see my new book.