MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Conservative groups here are outraged at a memo that surfaced hours before the polls open—a memo that suggests that incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) personally coordinated with the IRS’s Lois Lerner to use the tax agency’s power to target conservative groups.
Conservatives in New Hampshire—and in other states with Democratic U.S. Senators who sought to have the IRS look into conservative groups’ tax statuses—have been digging for evidence to tie those Democratic senators to the widely-panned efforts of the Lerner-led IRS division. For the most part, they’ve come up empty, save for tangential letters and evidence. But these new letters obtained by The Daily Caller’s Patrick Howley indicate some level of cooperation between the IRS and Democratic members of Congress in the lopsided scrutiny of conservative nonprofits.
“The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not want to publicly release 2012 correspondences exchanged between the IRS and Jeanne Shaheen at her personal Washington office: the agency delayed releasing the information to a major conservative super PAC multiple times, even threatening to see the super PAC in court, according to emails,” Howley wrote in what appears to be a bombshell story published late Monday evening, hours before the polls open here in a brutal election battle between Shaheen and former Sen. Scott Brown.
The letters that Howley obtained seem to indicate that Shaheen personally worked alongside the IRS’s Lerner to target conservative groups. The IRS’s then-chief counsel William J. Wilkins, who Howley notes had frequently visited President the White House and was “described by insiders as ‘The President’s Man at the IRS,’” wrote a personal “hand-stamped memo” addressed to “Senator Shaheen” on “official Department of the Treasury letterhead on April 25, 2012.”
“The IRS is aware of the current public interest in this issue,” Wilkins wrote in the memo to Shaheen.
“These regulations have been in place since 1959,” Wilkins added. “We will consider proposed changes in this area as we work with Tax-Exempt and Government Entities and the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy to identify tax issues that should be addressed” in what Howley paraphrased as designing new tax agency regulations and “guidance.”
Staff for Shaheen’s campaign haven’t immediately responded to a request for comment on the memo from Breitbart News.
In response to the memo’s publication by The Daily Caller, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire consultant Michael Biundo told Breitbart News he’s horrified.
“Despite Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire’s FOIA request, the IRS has continued to stall and illegally ignore deadline after deadline for the past several months in order to delay the release of correspondence between their office and Senator Shaheen and now we know why,” Biundo said in an email. “On the eve of the midterm elections, a plot between Senator Shaheen, Lois Lerner, and President Barack Obama’s political appointee at the IRS to lead a program of harassment against conservative groups aimed to trample free speech has come to light.
“This abuse of government power should not be tolerated. Senator Shaheen should immediately release all correspondence with the IRS. Granite Staters deserve transparency and honesty from their elected officials but unfortunately, the Senator continues to hide.”
Several days ago, right before the last debate between Brown and Shaheen, Biundo’s group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire—one of the many groups nationwide targeted by the IRS’s Lerner—announced that the tax agency has been failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request it filed for communications between it and Shaheen. In response to the failures of the IRS to comply with the FOIA request, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire retained the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) to sue the IRS for the Shaheen communications—and communications between the IRS and Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH). Former Republican Rep. Frank Guinta is challenging Shea-Porter on Tuesday.
“By refusing to release information between the IRS and a U.S. Senator and a Member of Congress in a timely manner in advance of next week’s election, the IRS is engaging in a deliberate campaign to prevent voters from gaining important information that could have an impact on the outcome of the election,” ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
Derek Dufresne, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire spokesman, said then that Shaheen and Shea-Porter “have made a career out of hiding from Granite State families.”
“While their constituents are well aware of their refusal to hold town hall meetings, in order to further isolate themselves, these two elected officials have also called on the IRS to target organizations like ours to hinder our ability to highlight their failed records in Washington,” Dufresne said.
Dufresne noted in that original statement that like other groups nationwide that were targeted, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire was singled out by the IRS. Dufresne was not specific about the targeting his group received from the tax agency.
Brown and Shaheen have been locked in a neck-and-neck battle in the final days, according to most recent polling, and this memo’s revelation may help Brown turn out New Hampshire’s conservative base in an election that’s almost certainly going to come down to the wire on turnout.
Brown, in recent days, has honed in on the federal government’s encroachment on New Hampshire citizens’ rights and freedoms on the campaign trail.
“You feel the momentum as I do,” Brown said at an event inside a diner in New London, New Hampshire, on Monday afternoon where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came to campaign with him and other statewide GOP candidates. “You understand what’s happening, because for the last six years with no pushback from our senior senator, Washington has been chipping away at our rights and freedoms. You hear it, you feel it, you see it. And what happens if you don’t like it? They tell you to sit down, be quiet, and that’s too bad. Well, I’ll tell you. I’m fed up. I don’t know about you, are you fed up?”
He hit the same theme at a campaign rally here in Manchester on Sunday evening, riling up the approximately thousand or so supporters inside an aviation plant near the airport.
“Do not wake up on Nov. 5 wishing you had done more,” Brown said. “I’m asking you to work harder, longer. Do a hundred more phone calls, knock on a hundred more doors, because for the last six years—with little or no pushback from our senior senator—Washington has been chipping away at our rights and freedoms. I’m not sure about you, but I’m fed up! Are you fed up? If you’re tired of listening to the rhetoric out of Washington, if you’re tired of having someone voting with the president and his failed policies 99 percent of the time, [vote for me].”