WASHINGTON — A former IRS official at the heart of the agency’s tea party controversy called some right-wing Republicans “crazies” and more in emails released Wednesday.
Lois Lerner headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. In a series of emails with a colleague in November 2012, Lerner made two disparaging remarks about some members of the GOP, including one remark that was profane.
Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, released the emails Wednesday as part of his committee’s investigation. The Michigan Republican says the emails show Lerner’s “disgust with conservatives.”
In one email, Lerner called some conservatives crazies. In the other, she called them “assholes.” The committee redacted the wording to “_holes” in the material it released publicly but a committee spokeswoman confirmed to the AP that the email said “assholes.”
Congress and the Justice Department are investigating whether the IRS improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups.
Camp sent copies of the emails to the Justice Department, saying they provide further proof that Lerner willfully targeted conservatives.
Lerner has since retired from the agency. Her lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lerner has emerged as a central figure in several congressional investigations into the IRS’ handling of applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups. Twice Lerner refused to answer questions at congressional hearings, invoking her constitutional right against self-incrimination.
In June, the IRS told Congress that an untold number of Lerner’s emails were lost when her computer hard drive crashed in 2011.
In the newly released emails, Lerner was apparently traveling in Great Britain when she uses her Blackberry to send a series of emails to a personal associate who did not work at the IRS. Camp said Lerner was using her government email account.
Lerner tells the person that she overheard some women say America was bankrupt and “going down the tubes.”
“Well, you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP,” replied the person, whose name is blacked out by Camp’s office. “The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to.”
Lerner replies: “Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many assholes.”
The other person replies: “And I’m talking about the hosts of the shows. The callers are rabid.”
Lerner: “So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists. It’s our own crazies that will take us down.”
STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press