The woman at the center of an IRS investigations scandal wants to help Montgomery County award grants, and local Republicans are objecting.
Lois G. Lerner, past director of exempt organizations for the IRS, applied for a volunteer post on the county’s Grants Advisory Group, a council-appointed panel that screens grant applications and gives advice on proposals from nonprofit groups.
Lerner, of Bethesda, made headlines this year when she and her agency were accused of targeting political groups that applied for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny.
Because of her connection to that scandal, Mark Uncapher, head of the county’s Republican party, has asked the County Council to reject Lerner’s application to volunteer.
“In light of the continuing inquiry into whether Lerner used her official position at the IRS for partisan ends, she should not be involved in screening Montgomery County nonprofit grant applications,” Uncapher, chair of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, said in a statement. “Appointing Lerner would raise questions about the county’s grant program.”
Lerner could not be reached late Monday afternoon at a phone number listed on her application to the county.
What the council will do remains to be seen. Action to appoint the group is scheduled for December.
Asked how she plans to deal with the situation, Council President Nancy Navarro said in a statement provided by her staff that Council Grants Manager Joan Schaffer will interview all of those who apply and will recommend applicants to the council.
“All applicants are vetted by the Council Grants Manager to ensure they are knowledgeable about our local nonprofit community,” Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring said.
In her Oct. 9 letter of application, Lerner cited her experience with the IRS, where she spent 12 years working with nonprofits, as qualifications for the ad hoc group.
“During that process, I learned a lot about the qualities that make an organization effective and efficient,” she wrote. “I believe that knowledge would be useful to the team determining where the county should expend its limited grant funds.”
The council is accepting applications to serve on the grants advisory group through 4 p.m. on Nov. 6.
Those interested in applying should submit a letter of interest with a resume to Council President Nancy Navarro, Montgomery County Council, Stella B. Werner Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850 or by email to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov.