"[W]e saw a big increase in these kind of applications, many of which indicated that they were going to be involved in advocacy work," Lerner said.
But Todd Young, a Republican congressman from Indiana, pointed out at Friday's House Ways and Means Committee hearing with former acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller and Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George that this was not the case, according to the very data the IRS provided to the Treasury IG's office.
There were, he noted, actually fewer applications for tax-exempt status by groups seeking to be recognized as social-welfare organizations that year than the previous one, according to this IRS data. The real surge in applications did not come until 2012 -- the year the IRS stopped the practice of treating the Tea Party class of groups differently from others.
All of which raises, once again, the question financial journalist David Cay Johnson asked in a column today: "Why is Lois G. Lerner still on the taxpayer's payroll?"
NB: The Chronicle of Philanthropy was on this story two days ago.