The Corner

Surprise, Surprise: Lois Lerner Had Friends in Wisconsin

It turns out that the vast left-wing conspiracy isn’t all that vast. From the Wall Street Journal:

Wisconsin’s campaign to investigate conservative tax-exempt groups has always seemed like an echo of the IRS’s scrutiny of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. It turns out that may be more than a coincidence.

Former IRS tax-exempt director Lois Lerner ran the agency’s policy on conservative groups. Kevin Kennedy runs the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) that helped prosecutors with their secret John Doe investigation of conservative groups after the 2011 and 2012 recall elections of Governor Scott Walker and state senators.

Emails we’ve seen show that between 2011 and 2013 the two were in contact on multiple occasions, sharing articles on topics including greater donor disclosure and Wisconsin’s recall elections. The emails indicate the two were also personal friends who met for dinner and kept in professional touch. “Are you available for the 25th?” Ms. Lerner wrote in January 2012. “If so, perhaps we could work two nights in a row.”

This timing is significant because those were the years when the IRS increased its harassment of conservative groups and Wisconsin prosecutors gathered information that would lead to the John Doe probe that officially opened in September 2012. Ms. Lerner’s lawyer declined comment. Mr. Kennedy said via email that “Ms. Lerner is a professional friend who I have known for more than 20 years” but declined further comment.

The Journal has been doing an outstanding job peeling the corrupt onion of Wisconsin’s astonishingly abusive “John Doe” investigations, and — given the similar objectives of the John Doe investigations and the IRS Tea Party targeting — these latest revelations are hardly shocking. Both the IRS and the Wisconsin investigators were dead-set on reading confidential donor lists and determining exactly how conservative organizations communicate. The IRS sought its information through lawless and discriminatory document demands, while Wisconsin officials used the blunt instrument of predawn raids and electronic snooping that would make the NSA blush. Months ago, on Megyn Kelly’s show I compared Wisconsin’s prosecutors to the IRS with battering rams. That comparison may have been more apt than I imagined.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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