The IRS scandal currently engulfing Washington isn’t the only episode in which Lois Lerner, the embattled head of the agency’s tax-exempt organizations office, has come under fire for playing partisan politics in a nonpartisan entity.
In 1998, while heading the Federal Election Commission’s enforcement office, she was accused by the House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform of failing to investigate a fundraiser who had connections to then-Vice President Al Gore.
The committee alleged the FEC failed to investigate Democratic fundraiser Howard Glicken, who was accused of soliciting contributions from a German national named Thomas Kramer, because of his affiliation with Gore.
Kramer claimed he didn’t know his contributions were illegal at the time and actually came forward to admit his wrongdoing. Kramer received heavy fines for his illegal contributions, but the FEC never looked further into it.
“When it recommended not pursuing the allegations against Mr. Glicken, the FEC staff specifically cited his close ties to the Vice-President, Vice-President Gore,” Dan Burton (R-IN) said at the hearing.
In an e-mail obtained by Roll Call at the time, Lerner expressed her worry to then-FEC General Counsel Lawrence Noble about a possible investigation.
“(Director of the Elections Crime Branch Craig) Donsanto just called. They’ve seen the ‘offending language.’ While he was sure there must be more to the story than that he was Gore’s friend, he wanted to know why this hadn’t been referred to DOJ,” the letter read. “He said the Task Force would be revving up an investigation unless he could provide them with something clarifying this.”
Noble said there was no investigation because of a lack of resources and funding, which was a hot point of debate at the time.