Oversight Presses Top Lois Lerner IRS Deputy on Four Key Inconsistencies in Testimony

August 21, 2013

Paz testified that ‘campaign intervention’ by Tea Party groups was a new issue for IRS but her own e-mail said it was ‘not a new issue’

 

WASHINGTON –House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have sent a letter asking Holly Paz, the former top deputy of IRS Exempt Organization Director Lois Lerner to help the Committee reconcile four key discrepancies between her testimony and evidence gather by the Committee after her May 21 interview.

“Since your transcribed interview with Committee staff on May 21, 2013, the Committee has uncovered additional information that appears to contradict your testimony in several areas relevant to the Committee’s investigation,” wrote Issa and Jordan to Paz. “As a top deputy to former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, your input is critically important to the Committee’s investigation. Accordingly, we write to provide you an opportunity to explain the inconsistencies in your statements and to amend your testimony if necessary.”

Holly Paz worked at the IRS as the Manager of the IRS Exempt Organizations (EO) Technical Unit and later as the Director of EO Rulings and Agreements, which were Washington, D.C., based operations that scrutinized Tea Party applications. She also sat in on and monitored TIGTA’s 2012 interviews with multiple IRS employees as part of the audit.

The letter from Issa and Jordan ask Paz to explain four aspects of her testimony that appear inconsistent with other evidence since gathered in the investigation of Tea Party targeting:

  •  Testimony that political advocacy cases were novel issue for the IRS: Paz testified that, “[P]olitical campaign intervention in 501(c)(4)s was not something we had previously dealt with very much.” However in a July 2011 e-mail about Tea Party applicants Paz wrote, “we suspect [the IRS] will have to approve the majority of the c4 applications” and attributed that to, “the fact that this is not a new issue for the agency.”
  • “Tea Party,” “Coke,” and “Kleenex”: Paz testified that Cincinnati IRS employees saw “Tea Party” as a generic term for all political advocacy cases. Paz testified that “all” Cincinnati-based EO Determinations employees understood the term “Tea Party” was a generic reference, “[I]t’s like calling soda ‘Coke’ or, you know, tissue ‘Kleenex.’ They knew what they meant, and the issue was campaign intervention.” Multiple Cincinnati employees contradicted Paz’s assertion. When one such employee was asked, “So you never processed any cases that, in your view, were from an organization that supported progressive or liberal causes?” the employee responded that was correct and that liberal and progressive cases were simply placed in general inventory and not subjected to disparate treatment.
  • Account of Washington’s awareness of the January 2012 BOLO change: Paz testified that Washington IRS officials were not aware of a round of problematic changes made to the IRS BOLO list until April 2012. Testimony, however, from a Cincinnati-based IRS official stated that Paz had been sent an e-mail asking if she had concerns about the changes shortly after they had been made in January 2012. In February 2012, Oversight Committee investigators were actively pressing IRS for answers about the disparate treatment of Tea Party applications.
  • Inconsistent testimony about when senior Washington IRS officials were informed about improper screening: Paz testified that she first became aware that Tea Party groups were being inappropriately scrutinized in June 2011 in response to inquiries she made about the status of cases. However, another D.C.-based IRS employee testified that she took steps to inform Paz of the inappropriate scrutiny in March 2011. Paz also received a copy of the BOLO list singling out Tea Party groups in a March 2011 e-mail obtained by Committee investigators.

Issa and Jordan requested that Paz respond no later than September 3, 2013. In her interview with Committee investigators, Paz was specifically reminded and acknowledged that she was, “required to answer questions before Congress truthfully,” and that “witnesses that knowingly provide false testimony could be subject to criminal prosecution for perjury or for making false statements.”

Click here for the full letter from Issa and Jordan to Holly Paz.