WASHINGTON -- House Republicans on Thursday released what they said was further evidence that the Internal Revenue Service acted on political impulses when it targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny.
The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, said that a series of emails from Lois Lerner, an IRS official who is on a leave of absence while a congressional investigation moves forward, demonstrated that "high-level IRS employees in Washington were abusing their power to prevent conservative groups from organizing and carrying out their missions."
The emails, the latest example of what Democrats have characterized as selective leaks from Republicans on a partisan fishing expedition, show Ms. Lerner communicating with other IRS employees about an inspector general's review into the practices of the division that oversees tax-exempt organizations.
Mr. Camp pointed to one email in which Ms. Lerner circulated a news story about Democrats' filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission that questioned whether some conservative groups, like Crossroads GPS, were abusing their IRS designation as "social welfare" organizations by engaging in political activity.
"Perhaps FEC will save the day," Ms. Lerner wrote.
It is unclear, however, what she hoped the FEC would do: crack down on conservative groups, as Mr. Camp alleges, or merely decide the issue so the IRS would not have to.
In another email that Mr. Camp highlighted, Ms. Lerner wrote, "Tea Party Matter very dangerous."
Although she correctly predicted the investigation's political peril, she did not provide any evidence that IRS employees had acted willfully when singling out conservative groups, as Tea Party activists have alleged.