NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s that time of the week – Fact Check Friday – the time when we get some help getting to the truth.
We get that help from factcheck.org, a nonpartisan non-profit part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Today, we’re back on the subject of the IRS scandal.
Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations for the Internal Revenue Service, went before a House committee on Wednesday.
Did she lie, or at very least, did she mislead?
“I have not done anything wrong,” she said in her opening statement before invoking her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. “I’ve been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right.”
She is now on leave after that appearance.
She said she first learned about the IRS targeting conservative groups when it hit the news media.
Does that check out?
“No,” factcheck.org’s Eugene Kiely told WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot. “She knew about this in June of 2011 and, in fact, she took action in June of 2011 to stop it from happening and what happened from when she first learned about it in June of 2011 until when this became publicly disclosed a few days ago was her giving false and misleading information to reporters and hiding information from Congress.”
It was in May of 2012 that Lerner wrote a letter a House committee which was asking about the IRS and conservative groups and donors.
She wrote that the IRS actions were justified.
“She was justified in giving that response because, under certain circumstances, the IRS can ask for information about donors,” Kiely said. “However, what she failed to tell them was that she already knew by May of 2012 that the IRS took this practice too far, that they were requesting information that was unnecessary and unjustified of certain groups – they were targeting certain groups – and she just prevented that information from getting to Congress in May of 2012 when, of course, that was in the middle of the campaign.”
When all of this came out, she told reporters that what was really going on was that they were so swamped and that was what caused the problem. Does that check out?
“That’s another misleading claim that she made. She said that the applications for the 501(c)4s, these are the tax-exempt social welfare organizations, that applications had more than doubled from 2010 to 2012, which was true. That’s accurate,” Kiely said. “However, what she didn’t say and we didn’t find out until a few days later was that targeting actually started in March of 2010 and, at that point in time, applications went down in fiscal year 2010.”
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