Recently un-redacted documents reveal that staff of Sen. McCain used the IRS to target the Tea Party.  This fact has been hidden from the American public, but Judicial Watch recently uncovered the complete documents.  

The documents are explosive.

They contain damning information about an April 30, 2013 meeting  to address McCain’s worries that the IRS was not restricting political advocacy by 501 (c)(4) groups.  In the meeting, McCain’s senior staffer, Henry Kerner, encouraged the IRS to target Tea Party groups to cause their financial ruin.

The notes read:

“Henry Kerner asked how to get to the abuse of organizations claiming section 501 (c)(4) but designed to be primarily political. Lois Lerner said the system works, but not in real time. Henry Kerner noted that these organizations don’t disclose donors. Lois Lerner said that if they don’t meet the requirements, we can come in and revoke, but it doesn’t happen timely. Nan Marks said if the concern is that organizations engaging in this activity don’t disclose donors, then the system doesn’t work. Henry Kerner said that maybe the solution is to audit so many that it is financially ruinous. Nikole noted that we have budget constraints. Elise Bean suggested using the list of organizations that made independent expenditures. Lois Lerner said that it is her job to oversee it all, not just political campaign activity.”

Ten days after this the meeting, Lerner admitted the IRS improperly and deliberately delayed conservative non-profit groups’ applications for tax-exempt status.  Soon after, I helped launch class action litigation to seek justice for these Constitutional violations, through my organization called Citizens for Self-Governance.  For years, we battled in the courts, and were ultimately vindicated through a substantial financial settlement on behalf of some of the targeted organizations.

Though we won, no government official has ever been punished or held accountable for this illegal conduct.   As much as I detest government bureaucrats using their power to abuse “we the people,” it’s even worse to learn Republicans and their most senior staff who have oversight over our federal agencies  are encouraging it.

Kerner was McCain’s staff director and chief counsel on the Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee.  Today – get this — he is Special Counsel for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is targeting President Trump and his Administration.  Why on earth would President Donald Trump appoint him to this position?

Also, why was this information redacted?  McCain knew this was damning information that revealed unlawful conduct.  That’s why he accused the media of concocting the fact that his office was involved.  He condemned these “false reports claiming that his office was somehow involved in IRS targeting of conservative groups.”   But the new un-redacted documents show that he was engaged in a coverup .  No reason could exist for the redaction except to protect the political reputations of McCain and his staff.

Our nation is founded on the bedrock of liberty.  McCain fought bravely in Vietnam and displayed inspiring courage during his capture. He’s currently fighting a battle against cancer, so we wish him the best.  But for him and his staff to use their political positions to squelch the rights of groups they don’t like is an abuse of office.

This secret meeting was a betrayal of the very Constitution McCain and his staff swore to protect.

One question remains: will anyone be held accountable?

So far, the answer is “no.”

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore on Flickr

Hat Tip: Judicial Watch

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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