The Republican candidate in this year’s U.S. Senate race is accusing Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) of lying about his office’s role in the examination of applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service. Durbin has maintained that the only contact he had with the IRS related to the tax-exempt status of a political group is a letter he sent in 2010. “We searched the files, there was one letter four years ago, and I made it public at the time that I released it,” Durbin said.
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State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) claims that’s not true, saying a member of Durbin’s staff also e-mailed the IRS on the same topic two days after the initial letter was put out. Oberweis says the problem isn’t what’s in the e-mail. “It isn’t the document itself, it’s the fact that there was ongoing correspondence, and we’d like to know what additional ongoing correspondence there has been,” Oberweis said. Durbin says he wasn’t aware of any additional letters or e-mails from his staff to the IRS.
Oberweis has made tying the IRS to Durbin one of his campaign’s main attacks, suggesting Durbin is using the IRS to target political enemies in the same way as former President Richard Nixon. In Nixon’s situation, he used tax audits by the IRS to pressure his enemies. In this case, Durbin was asking the IRS to scrutinize the tax-exempt status applications of political organizations newly formed after the Citizens United decision.