Ms. Lerner:

I am writing to you to express my concerns about your recent comments which appeared in the Washington Post and which have been reported on all of the major television and cable news channels today. For the record, I am also the President of the union chapter in NJ. The opinions expressed in this message are mine and mine alone and not those of any other individual or organization. This is not a political statement, this is a pro-employee statement.

According to published reports, at a recent Bar Association meeting you apologized for the IRS targeting conservative groups in the tax-exempt program. If that was done, it is very bad and apologizing is the correct thing to do. However, for you to throw the “low-level” career employees under the bus and to blame them for this unacceptable action is OUTRAGEOUS.

I don’t know if you have worked here for your entire career like I have (30+ years), but as a Director, you are certainly aware that NO lower level employee makes any decision such as that WITHOUT UPPER LEVEL MANAGEMENT APPROVAL AND DIRECTION. That is true throughout the organization, but especially in Service Centers where low-level career employees are not treated very well, and basically have no decision making authority. Every move they make is directed, monitored and approved by management, including when they go to lunch.

Your statement not only smears all lower lever employees with a very broad brush, but could not come at a worse time during the Sequestration. It totally ruins our attempts to gather public support to end the Sequester, and that your comments were extremely harmful. All Federal employees – not just the low-level ones - are only interested in doing a good job, not touting or promoting any political agenda.

As a co-worker wrote to me in an email about this issue: “In my ten plus years with the IRS, this is by far the most damaging statement made against IRS employees especially since it is coming from within.” I agree with this assessment, and if this employee feels this way, just imagine how those in Cincinnati who have been blamed for this debacle must feel.

To offer an apology and not blame those who made those decisions is a terrible thing to do. Those decision makers who authorized these actions need to be held accountable, not the rank and file workers who were just doing what they were told to do.

And while you are offering apologies, you should apologize to the hard working employees you unjustly maligned.

Thank you for your time.

John Kelshaw