By Bernie Becker - 08/07/13 10:35 PM EDT
Issa and Jordan sent a letter to the FEC after the current Republican vice chairman of the commission, Don McGahn, said that he had seen e-mails between Lerner and the election commission about a conservative group.
McGahn declined to say whether that back-and-forth was “sinister,” but did note that the IRS sent a questionnaire to the American Future Fund shortly thereafter.
Those comments, Issa and Jordan said in their letter to FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, “raise the prospect of inappropriate coordination between the IRS and the FEC about tax-exempt entities.”
In her own letter, Weintraub said this week that she had seen no evidence that the FEC and the IRS coordinated to target groups over their politics.
The FEC chairwoman also told House Administration Chairwoman Candice Miller that she had referred the matter to the commission’s inspector general.
“Without prejudging the results of any investigation, I note that in my experience, the staff of the FEC have shown themselves to be dedicated public servants,” Weintraub wrote in a letter dated Tuesday.
“I personally have never seen any indication of any motivation on their part beyond the desire to fairly administer and enforce the law.”
Weintraub had previously told CNN that she had not seen the e-mail exchange between Lerner and the FEC that McGahn referenced.
Lerner was the IRS official who first disclosed and apologized for the agency’s singling out of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Danny Werfel, the interim head of the agency, placed Lerner, who formerly headed a division that oversees tax-exempt groups, after she declined to resign.
Lerner also invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in an appearance before House Oversight, but could be called back after the panel voted that she had waived her right by denying any wrongdoing.
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) first raised concerns about the communication between the IRS and the FEC last week.
Issa also escalated his investigation last week by announcing that he was subpoenaing IRS documents, after saying the agency had been slow-walking document requests.
Democrats have said repeatedly in recent weeks that the congressional investigation so far has found no evidence of political motivation behind the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups, and that the agency also screened liberal groups on internal watch lists.