A release of documents resulting from a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by the Washington Free Beacon reveals that former IRS official Lois Lerner received $129,300 in retention bonuses between 2010 and 2013.
This covers the period during which Lerner, a long-term Democrat party activist, ran the tax-exempt division of the IRS and stands accused by members of Congress of using her discretionary power to scuttle applications filed by Tea Party groups for Not-for-Profit status leading up to the 2012 elections.
Lerner’s alleged actions act hobbled the ability of Tea Party and other groups opposed to the Obama Administration to organize effectively and receive tax-deductible contributions from the public – speed bumps that effectively kept these groups from impacting the re-election of President Barack Obama from winning a second term.
Over a three-year period, Lerner received a 25 percent “retention bonus” to stay with the IRS averaging $43,000 a year in addition to her regular salary of $177,000 and a pension pegged at $102,600 annually or $3.6 million over her life expectancy reports CNS News. According to CJ Ciaramella writing for the Beacon:
“Former acting IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller recommended Lerner for a $42,000 retention bonus in December 2009, when she first became eligible for retirement.”
“Ms. Lerner is eligible for retirement and as an attorney with extensive experience would likely command a much greater pay and benefits if she left the Service,” Miller wrote. “Without a retention incentive she will leave the Service.”
Miller said that there was no senior official ready to take over the position if Lerner left, and that “her unique blend of specialized technical expertise, broad organizational knowledge, and leadership skills cannot be matched.”
Ciaramella also writes, “Joseph Grant, the deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt division, approved the bonus. The second-level review of Lerner’s retention bonus was approved by Miller himself.” In 2011 and 2012, Lerner’s retention bonuses were $43,050 and $44,250 respectively.
The Lerner IRS scandal broke on May 10, 2013 when Lerner revealed in response to a planted question during a speech at the American Bar Association that the IRS had singled out groups applying for tax-exempt status that had “tea party” or “patriot” in their names according to Ciaramella. Quoting Ciaramella:
“The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report on May 14, 2013, finding that the IRS “used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention.””
Miller resigned on May 15, 2013. A day later, Grant announced his retirement, effective June 3, 2013.
Readers will recall that Lois Lerner was summoned before Congress to testify under oath about her actions regarding applications filed by Tea Party groups, the numerous lengthy questionnaires they were asked to provide and processing delays that continued past Election Day in 2012.
Lerner opened her testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with a statement that she had done nothing wrong and broke no law before invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to testify because her testimony might incriminate her before the law. The Fifth Amendment reads in part:
“No person”…“shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
House committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) – a six-year federal prosecutor prior to his election to Congress – said that Lerner had waved her Fifth Amendment rights by giving an opening statement declaring her innocence without cross-examination.
Lerner retired in September 2013 to ensure that she receives a full federal pension even if a court finds her guilty of any crimes she may have committed during her tenure at the IRS.