IRS Wrote Lawyer’s Question That Prompted Scandal Release

The Internal Revenue Service wrote and planted the question asked on May 10 that led to the IRS scandal, the questioner said in a statement today.

Celia Roady, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Washington, said she received a call May 9 from Lois Lerner, the mid-level IRS official in charge of tax-exempt organizations. Both were planning to attend a tax conference the next day in Washington.

Lerner “asked if I would pose a question to her after her remarks,” Roady said in a statement released today by her firm. “I agreed to do so, and she then gave me the question that I asked at the meeting the next day.”

According to Talking Points Memo, which received a recording of the event, the question came a few minutes after Lerner finished her prepared remarks. It was: “Lois, a few months ago there were some concerns about the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) organizations, of applications from tea party organizations. I was just wondering if you could provide an update.”

In response, Lerner acknowledged that the agency used words such as “Tea Party” and “patriot” to decide which applications for tax-exempt status should get tougher scrutiny. Lerner apologized for the agency’s actions.

Roady said she didn’t know how Lerner would answer.

Miller’s Testimony

Steven Miller, the acting IRS commissioner who is being forced out, said today in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee that the agency and Roady had talked in advance. He hadn’t said that the IRS had written the question.

In a statement issued late today, the IRS said the conference was an “important meeting for a key part of the Exempt Organization community.”

Agency officials, the IRS said in its statement, “felt the review was far enough along and that the facts were known that it was appropriate to address the issue at the tax conference panel during the question and answer session. It was important for this integral group in the Exempt Organization community to hear first-hand that we made mistakes in handling the process.”

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