FEC commissioner: New emails could tie agency to IRS targeting

The Republican vice chairman of the Federal Election Commission said Monday he had seen previously undisclosed emails between FEC staffers and the Internal Revenue Service over the alleged targeting of conservative groups by the tax agency.

FEC Commissioner Don McGahn told CNN that an investigator from his agency contacted Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the controversy, over efforts by a conservative political advocacy group, the American Future Fund, to secure tax-exempt status.

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Shortly after Lerner received the emails, the IRS sent a questionnaire to the American Future Fund about its activities.

McGahn told CNN such contact was “probably out of the ordinary” and that FEC commissioners had not given staff permission to reach out to the IRS. The commissioner added that such permission is generally necessary before employees can make an inquiry of that nature.

Congressional Republicans last week disclosed several emails between an FEC lawyer and the IRS about American Future Fund and another conservative group. The House Ways and Means Committee asked the IRS to turn over any additional emails between the tax agency and the FEC to probe if employees shared confidential tax information, violating the law.

McGahn told CNN it was unclear whether the emails he saw were requesting only public tax data, which would not violate federal law, or private information.

The commissioner added that there is no evidence of wrongdoing. The emails “could be benign [or] could be more sinister,” he said, but pressed for further investigation.

McGahn's colleague, FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, said she had not seen the emails in question.