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IRS Officials in Targeting Scandal Turning to Elite DC Lawyers

IRS Officials in Targeting Scandal Turning to Elite DC Lawyers

IRS workers involved in the targeting of conservatives have turned to high-powered Washington, D.C. lawyers to represent them as Republicans investigate how these officials may have systematically targeted conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Three of the most prominent officials involved in the scandal have hired some of the most elite Washington lawyers as the stakes get higher in their cases: 

Lois Lerner, who became the public face of the scandal as the former head of the IRS tax-exempt unit, turned to William Taylor. He’s a founding partner of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP.

Holly Paz, a former senior-level IRS director, hired Roel Campos, a partner at Locke Lord LLP. He served on President Barack Obama’s Presidential Intelligence Advisory Board and spent two terms as a commissioner of the SEC.

Joseph Grant, a senior IRS official who retired in the early days of the scandal, hired Barry Pollack, who previously represented Assange and Kevin Howard, Enron’s former broadband finance chief.

According to Politico, these lawyers are likely charging “around $1,000 an hour, raising questions about how civil servants might be able to afford such high-powered representation,” though the lawyers may be “working at a lower rate for their IRS clients.”

As Politico notes, “House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a series of emails from Lerner where she called the tea party applications ‘dangerous,'” and “Lerner also remains under subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the committee, “called her to testify in May” when Lerner “asserted her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination after giving a statement contending that she is innocent of any wrongdoing.” Some Republicans believe her giving a statement “voided her Fifth Amendment rights.” Issa has said Lerner would be called back to testify, but he has not set a date for the hearing yet. Paz has also been accused of giving inconsistent testimony before Congress. 

Republicans in Congress have demanded information from Lerner, Paz, and Grant, and they “may also have to contend with a Department of Justice investigation into the targeting.” Furthermore, “if any of the IRS employees are convicted of lying to Congress, there is a risk of heavy fines or up to five years in prison.”

Lerner and Paz are on administrative leave, which means they need private lawyers. Since Grant “retired from the agency in May, he also required outside counsel.”

Lerner, who “has worked in civil service for more than three decades and could retire with her pension now,” and Paz, who is years away from her retirement, would also “lose their pensions if they are fired for cause.”

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