Email documents released today by Judicial Watch show that the IRS knew that asking for 501(c)4 donor lists was needless and improper as far back as 2012. “Such information was not needed across-the-board and not used in making the agency’s determination on exempt status,” read a May 2012 memo from the IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel.

Additionally, a July 2012 email to Lois Lerner from Judith Kindell, senior technical adviser to Lerner, showed that 75% of the nearly 200 non-profit 501 (c)(4) political activist groups targeted by the IRS were conservative, and only 5% were liberal:

Of the 199 (c)(4) cases, approximately 3/4 appear to be conservative leaning while fewer than 10 appear to be liberal/progressive leaning groups based solely on the name. The remainder do not obviously lean to either side of the political spectrum.

Another email thread obtained by Judicial Watch makes mention of using inappropriately obtained donor lists for a “secret research project.”

Lerner’s and other IRS officials’ concerns about how to handle these donor lists came on the heels of an advisory from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to her and other IRS officials in late March 2012 of “an audit we plan to conduct of the IRS’s process for reviewing applications for tax exemption by potential section 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6) organizations.” The documents produced do not detail the “secret research project” nor disclose how the IRS used the donor names the agency improperly obtained.

What else?

The new documents also include emails further contradicting President Obama’s February 2014 excuse that the IRS targeting was entirely the fault of “bonehead decisions in local offices.”  Obama was parroting Lois Lerner’s May 2013 claim that the targeting of conservative groups was the fault of “low-level” employees in Cincinnati for the targeting of conservative groups.  In the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election, Lerner and other top IRS officials made it clear that no “advocacy” applications should be approved or denied without express approval from Lerner’s office in Washington, D.C.

Be sure to check out Judicial Watch for the complete treasure trove of documents recently uncovered via four Freedom of Information Requests.