McCain’s Staff Urged IRS To Engage In “Financially Ruinous” Targeting

On Thursday, Judicial Watch released newly obtained internal IRS documents, including material revealing that Sen. John McCain’s former staff director and chief counsel on the Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee, Henry Kerner, urged top IRS officials, including then-director of exempt organizations Lois Lerner, to “audit so many that it becomes financially ruinous.”

Kerner was appointed by President Trump as Special Counsel for the United States Office of Special Counsel.

The explosive exchange was contained in notes taken by IRS employees at an April 30, 2013, meeting between Kerner, Lerner, and other high-ranking IRS officials. Just ten days following the meeting, former IRS director of exempt organizations Lois Lerner admitted that the IRS had a policy of improperly and deliberately delaying applications for tax-exempt status from conservative non-profit groups.

Lerner and other IRS officials met with select top staffers from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in a “marathon” meeting to discuss concerns raised by both Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that the IRS was not reining in political advocacy groups in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  Senator McCain had been the chief sponsor of the McCain-Feingold Act and called the Citizens United decision, which overturned portions of the Act, one of the “worst decisions I have ever seen.”

In the full notes of an April 30 meeting, McCain’s high-ranking staffer Kerner recommends harassing non-profit groups until they are unable to continue operating. Kerner tells Lerner, Steve Miller, then chief of staff to IRS commissioner, Nikole Flax, and other IRS officials, “Maybe the solution is to audit so many that it is financially ruinous.” In response, Lerner responded that “it is her job to oversee it all:”

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.

Judicial Watch previously reported on the 2013 meeting.  Senator McCain then issued a statement decrying “false reports claiming that his office was somehow involved in IRS targeting of conservative groups.”   The IRS previously blacked out the notes of the meeting but Judicial Watch found the notes among subsequent documents released by the agency.

Judicial Watch separately uncovered that Lerner was under significant pressure from both Democrats in Congress and the Obama DOJ and FBI to prosecute and jail the groups the IRS was already improperly targeting. In discussing pressure from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat-Rhode Island) to prosecute these “political groups,” Lerner admitted, “it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity.”

The April 30, 2013 meeting came just under two weeks prior to Lerner’s admission during an ABA meeting that the IRS had “inappropriately” targeted conservative groups.  In her May 2013 answer to a planted question, in which she admitted to the “absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate” targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups, Lerner suggested the IRS targeting occurred due to an “uptick” in 501 (c)(4) applications to the IRS but in actuality, there had been a decrease in such applications in 2010.

On May 14, 2013, a report by Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed: “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status” (e.g., lists of past and future donors). The illegal IRS reviews continued “for more than 18 months” and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” in advance of the 2012 presidential election.

All these documents were forced out of the IRS as a result of an October 2013 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the IRS after it failed to respond adequately to four FOIA requests sent in May 2013 (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:13-cv-01559)). Judicial Watch is seeking:

  • All records related to the number of applications received or related to communications between the IRS and members of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate regarding the review process for organizations applying for tax exempt status under 501(c)(4);
  • All records concerning communications between the IRS and the Executive Branch or any other government agency regarding the review process for organizations applying for tax exempt status under 501(c)(4);
  • Copies of any questionnaires and all records related to the preparation of questionnaires sent to organizations applying for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status.
  • All records related to Lois Lerner’s communication with other IRS employees, as well as government or private entity outside the IRS regarding the review and approval process for 501 (c)(4) applicant organizations.

“The Obama IRS scandal is bipartisan – McCain and Democrats who wanted to regulate political speech lost at the Supreme Court, so they sought to use the IRS to harass innocent Americans,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Obama IRS scandal is not over – as Judicial Watch continues to uncover smoking gun documents that raise questions about how the Obama administration weaponized the IRS, the FEC, FBI, and DOJ to target the First Amendment rights of Americans.”


  1. We will learn once he is gone what a rotten person McCain was. He stood against America at every opportunity. A real POS.

  2. Wow, the swamp creatures are at it one more time. Lies, lies and damn lies to the American people. How stupid do they think we are. I guess we are pretty stupid. You voted for Obama and his particular type of filth, you continued to vote for idiots like McCain that only worry about themselves and not the country. I really don’t see how this country digs itself out of crap like this. Trump can say he wants to drain the swamp all he wants, but I think that the creatures have won. God save this Republic because the politicians and voters won’t. Most of the politicians are corrupt to the core and damn proud of it. Especially little Johnnie McCain. Its all about you and your world right Johnnie???

    • sorry to say – don’t think God will be saving this republic.. for the souls of the saints have piled to the heavens – the price for this very severe and pending.

  3. A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have. The Swamp weaponized big government to control the people. Drain the swamp, MAGA! Government needs to fear the people, not the other way around.

  4. Not to be mean, but it’s becoming very clear this worthless POS F%*#TARD can’t die fast enough.
    And to think ADI’s wacky left wing scribler honored him, better yet, the three member band of liberal paid mouthpiece misfits ran thier faces for the entire week in glowing praise calling him a hero.
    A real hero to the looney left perhaps. John McCain is no hero, time and time again he’s proven himself to be a liar and a fraud. He’s a hybrid cross between a weasel and a skunk. His moral bankruptcy goes back decades, perhaps even before the cheating Keating five scandel. The effects of his treachery will remain a stain on this nation for generations.
    I’m sure there’s more, we just haven’t uncovered it yet.
    Respect is earned, and right now I wouldn’t piss on John as he burns in hell.

    The Oracle

    • Nope, in fact if you elected to remain silent and never said another word till theend of time, I don’t think anyone here would object.

      The Oracle

    • I agree with Richard – and that is exactly why voters, Republicans, Independents and a significant number of Democrats voted to elect Donald Trump and send the ‘repupes’ like McCain packing.

      Exactly what the party needs, a good flushing of the turds (liberals) like McCain, Flake,

      • But it’s hardly a Republican alone issue. Both parties are corrupt and a failure to thier constituents and liars to the oaths of office.
        It’s a bipartisan attack on any and all opposition that might threaten thier grip on gridlock.
        Both parties need a non stop fire hose enema to dislodge the professional politicos.

        The Oracle

  5. McCain should have been voted out of office long ago along with others like him, but his left wing supporters back him up everytime. Stand up, and let your vote be counted against these anti-American people in office.

  6. Shame on you John McCain. You are the vindictive little liberal petty man that I thought you were.

  7. McCain the wolf in sheep clothing…. BYE. Globlist in the worst way. I listen to alot of recordings of him in local public meetings (townhall meetings, he is rude as F… to his AZ taxpayers who disagree with him).

  8. HE’s the face of what is wrong with establishment republicans.
    He acts like a democrat when his power is threatened.
    Fnny how it’s McCains’ “staff” in the headlines.
    This same “staff” member is working for Trump and is involved with Special Counsel issues?
    Do I smell another swamp critter about to be trapped and removed?

  9. I am not sure what is worse. Little Johnny. Or whomever Doucey appoints. Our Republic is struggling and these two constantly remind me how and why.

    • Governor Ducey, who Hugh Hewitt praises as the best governor in America is one of the most corrupt politicians ever. Just wait for his trial for slander and etc. which hopefully will begin shortly. Never forget that Ducey`s best friends are McCain, Crazy Jeff Flake and the totally useless Atty Gen Brnovich, so Hugh Hewitt is in good company, all fake conservatives.

  10. Apparently Johnny boy was trying
    to get even with conservatives whom
    he blames for his failed 2008 Presidential

  11. Don’t vote for anyone McCain supports as a candidate such as McSally & They are both open border bought & paid for #nevertrumpers just like McCain. McCain single-handely ruined the GOP in AZ. It’s up to us to take it back. Get to work you deplorables.

  12. As the liberal agenda is further exposed, marginalized and its promoters are stripped of positions and power, we can expect them to panic and explode out in physical assaults and terrorist attacks because it is their way. Proven by BLM and AntiFa and escalating daily and rapidly. Their game plan is obvious and exposed, to build resentment and hate to divide us as a nation, import as many soldiers as possible from 3rd world countries for their planned takeover.
    I’m afraid this next election, which will assuredly end as a “Red Wave” and further destroy their plans to destroy our republic, will be their call to action And will prompt them to unleash their hostility toward the Patriotic Americans and Constitution they so loathe.
    Until Obama I never believed this could possibly happen in this Country at least within my lifetime.
    Sadly it’s time for PATRIOTS to VOTE, BUY GUNS AND GET READY!

  13. Trump knew months ago that John is not a hero. He said it and never retracted it. Trump speaks off the cuff, but he usually knows more than we think he know, Drain the Swamp means more than just getting rid of Democrats. How can the press continue to look the other way. Also check out how much money McCain took from Hillary Clinton to buy him off. Other swamp people took money from HRC eg, Ryan, Kasich, McConnell, Carly Fieroni and other Rs

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