IRS Scandal Expands to FEC; IRS official at center of scandal receives promotion

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) expanded his investigation into the IRS targeting scandal by demanding the FEC turn over five years of communications with the IRS to his committee. Issa took the step after FEC vice chairman Don McGahn told CNN he’d seen an email from FEC attorney William Powers of the FEC’s Office of the General Counsel to embattled IRS official Lois Lerner. Lerner, a former FEC official, was asked by Powers for information over the status of the American Future Fund, even though FEC commissioners had not extended permission for Powers or any other FEC investigators to reach out to the IRS over American Future Fund’s tax exempt status.

After Powers reached out to Lerner, the American Future Fund received an IRS questionnaire. FEC Chairman Ellen Weintraub said she was unaware of any emails between Powers and Lerner:

“If there was any evidence or targeting based on ideology, that would be extremely serious, but I have not seen any evidence of that. I am not aware of requesting or receiving any confidential taxpayer information. I am not aware of any requests for anything that wasn’t publicly available.”

The fact that the IRS sent out a questionnaire after Powers’s request to Lerner would appear to indicate that the information sought and eventually transferred to the FEC by the IRS was not publicly available, because an additional questionnaire would not have been needed.

In another development, the IRS official in charge of the exempt organizations office in Cincinnati, Cindy Thomas, has been promoted to the senior technical adviser team for the Director of Exempt Organizations. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-MI, also sought FEC communications after discovering 2009 communications in which Lerner appeared to have shared confidential taxpayer information.

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