Ex-Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner spoke at a 2010 government conference where Lerner’s underling Nikole Flax announced the new IRS program scrutinizing groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Both Lerner and Flax experienced “computer crashes” that led to the permanent deletion of their emails, according to the IRS, which said it cannot hand over their emails to congressional investigators on two House committees.
Both Lerner and Flax briefed fellow government bureaucrats on the new targeting at the conference, where Lerner appeared at a workshop called “Will the IRS Come Knocking?”
Flax announced the new program scrutinizing groups at the Washington Non-Profit Legal & Tax Conference at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. from February 18-19, 2010. At the time, Flax worked under Lerner in the Exempt Organizations office.
Lerner gave a luncheon speech at a morning session featuring workshops entitled “Current Developments Affecting Exempt Organizations” and “Will the IRS Come Knocking? What You Need To Know About IRS Audit Plans And Practices For Tax Exempts,” which was moderated by Washington lawyer and former IRS exempt director Marcus S. Owens. Lerner served as “government faculty” for the conference, according to a program obtained by The Daily Caller.
Flax, a frequent White House visitor, announced that 155 new employees were recently added to the Exempt Organizations office, and said that 100 of these employees would be working in the examinations office to audit nonprofit groups. Flax also announced the addition of new Washington-based “tax law specialists” to work on private-letter rulings for groups that would need renewal of their charitable tax-exempt status.
“They basically have to start over,” Flax said about groups coming up on a newly imposed three-year deadline for charitable tax status. “In the interim period, there obviously will be tax issues.”
The IRS began flagging tea party applications in February 2010, the month of the Washington conference.
“The Conference addresses all issues of relevance to non-profit organizations, including the latest developments. The focus is also on practical information that can be put to use with an immediate impact,” according to a promotional description of the event. Rooms at the conference valued at $479 per night were available to government employees on a group plan at $239.
Flax went on to serve as chief of staff to IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller.
Flax made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010 and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs. Flax’s visits started in the early days of the IRS targeting program and ended just two days before the IRS scandal broke on May 10, 2013. Flax met twice in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with Jeanne Lambrew, a top adviser to President Obama who exchanged confidential information on conservative groups with Lerner.
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Patrick Howley is an investigative reporter for The Daily Caller.