The woman whose question prompted a top Internal Revenue Service official to admit the agency was inappropriately targeting conservative groups says she was contacted prior to the event that elicited the admission and was directed to ask the question.
Celia Roady, a prominent tax lawyer in the firm of Morgan Lewis, said she was called personally by Lois Lerner, the IRS head of the tax exempt division, on May 9.
"I received a call from Lois Lerner, who told me that she wanted to address an issue after her prepared remarks at the [American Bar Association] Tax Section's Exempt Organizations Committee Meeting, and asked if I would pose a question to her after her remarks," Roady said in a statement to U.S. News and World Report. "I agreed to do so, and she then gave me the question that I asked at the meeting the next day. We had no discussion thereafter on the topic of the question, nor had we spoken about any of this before I received her call. She did not tell me, and I did not know, how she would answer the question."
Acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller admitted to House lawmakers Friday during an oversight hearing of the controversy that the question was a plant. The IRS was aware of a forthcoming Treasury Department Inspector General Report that would condemn the targeting of groups applying for 501(c)(4) status if they contained the words "tea party," "patriot" or "9/12."
Some groups had been complaining of extraordinary and burdensome questioning from the IRS for their applications, but when lawmakers initially questioned IRS officials last year they denied anything inappropriate.
Following the revelations of the IG report, President Barack Obama condemned the action and fired Miller. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the FBI is investigating whether or not any laws were broken and Congress has vowed to hold numerous hearings into the matter.