What would you do if you opened a piece of mail addressed to you, only to discover that it was clearly intended for one of your neighbors? Most people would stop reading and simply forward it. It would seem right and moral – if not legally required – to avoid taking advantage of or otherwise exploiting the information in a letter intended for someone else.
Evidently, such ethical standards do not concern some politically engaged people at the IRS. Newly released emails show that Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS division that processes applications for non-profit status, received in the mail an invitation to a tax-related seminar intended for Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is a former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Lerner’s invitation and Grassley’s were somehow inserted into the wrong envelopes and thus switched for delivery.
Instead of merely forwarding Grassley’s invitation, however, Lerner instead showed it to, and discussed it with, at least one co-worker. She asked that co-worker by email whether it should be referred for potential audit. Lerner said she worried the seminar’s sponsor was “inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?”