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Those ‘rogue’ agents

IRS SCANDALRemember when Lois Lerner, in answering a planted question at an American Bar Association conference, admitted the IRS had targeted conservative groups but tried to pass it off as the work of rogue agents — “our line people in Cincinnati”?

Today we know there were indeed federal agents involved. But they weren’t rogue, and they weren’t confined to IRS workers in Cincinnati. Thanks to a Freedom of Information request by Judicial Watch, we now have an e-mail Lerner sent to colleagues noting the Department of Justice was looking into criminal prosecutions of these tax-exempt groups.

We know something else, too. These investigations into conservative organizations were frequently instigated by politicians.

This latest unearthed e-mail has Lerner explaining the DOJ was acting on a question by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat. At one hearing, he asked whether Justice might look into applicants who lied about the political activities of their organizations.

Then there’s the ranking Democratic member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Elijah Cummings. At a February hearing, Cummings categorically denied suggestions he had intervened to get the IRS to go after an organization called True the Vote. But thanks to another just-unearthed e-mail, we know that, contrary to Cummings’ claims, his staff had in fact been in touch with Lerner about True the Vote.

With every e-mail that becomes public, we learn just how false the earlier IRS explanations have been. The trail may not lead to the White House. But we will never learn why the IRS did what it did until it complies with the congressional subpoenas for the relevant e-mails and documents.

And for all the talk about how the IRS supposedly treated liberal groups as badly as conservative ones, why is it all the requests for the IRS to investigate organizations with opposite political views seem to have come from Democrats?

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This article was written by the editorial board of The New York Post.