Washington tax lawyer Celia Roady acknowledged that at the behest of the IRS, she asked a question at a May 10 conference that would ignite the controversy over inappropriate targeting of conservative groups.
Four days before a damning Inspector General’s report was due to be released, the IRS wanted to get out ahead and potentially defuse some of the backlash.
Roady serves on the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities. She asked the planted question to Lois Lerner, the IRS’ director of the tax-exempt division. Within minutes, it sparked shock and a firestorm that the IRS had revealed it inappropriately targeted certain groups, particularly with the words “Tea Party” and “patriot” in their title.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the firm that employs Roady, released a statement on her behalf explaining her role in asking the question:
“On May 9, I received a call from Lois Lerner, who told me that she wanted to address an issue after her prepared remarks at the ABA Tax Section’s Exempt organisations Committee Meeting, and asked if I would pose a question to her after her remarks. I agreed to do so, and she then gave me the question that I asked at the meeting the next day. We had no discussion thereafter on the topic of the question, nor had we spoken about any of this before I received her call. She did not tell me, and I did not know, how she would answer the question.”
Outgoing Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller confirmed during testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday that the question had been planted.
That led to intense questioning from members of Congress, who wondered why Lerner did not reveal the news during testimony before the committee on May 8, two days before the conference.
Miller said that the plan had been to simultaneously notify Congress after Lerner’s public admission, but acknowledged that “didn’t happen.”
“She has been directly involved in this matter,” Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said on Friday. “She failed to disclose what she knew to this committee, choosing instead to do so at an ABA conference two days later.
“This is wholly unacceptable.”
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