The IRS scandal may have its roots in Illinois politics. Specifically, the 1996 U.S. Senate race between then-Democrat Congressman Dick Durbin and conservative Republican State Rep. Al Salvi.
More than a decade before his 2010 letter to IRS officials urging the agency to target conservative organizations, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin's political career crossed paths with Ms. Lerner when she was head of the Enforcement Division of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and directly involved in the 1996 Illinois U.S. Senate race.
Soon after the IRS story broke, Al Salvi told Illinois Review that it was IRS official Lois Lerner who represented the FEC in a Democrat complaint against him. According to Salvi, Lerner was, without question, politically motivated, and went so far as to make him an offer: "Promise me you will never run for office again, and we'll drop this case."
Salvi declined her offer, and ran for Illinois Secretary of State in 1998.
But when he saw Lerner plead the Fifth Amendment before Congress last week, he recognized her. "That's the woman," Salvi said. "And I didn't plead the Fifth like she did."
In 2000, a federal judge dismissed the FEC case against him, clearing Salvi's name and reputation.
Now with the revelations about Lerner, the IRS, and the intriguing connection to Durbin, Salvi shared with Illinois Review his experience with Lois Lerner.The FEC's complaint against Salvi centered around $1.1 million in loans he made to the campaign, which the FEC claimed failed to identify the source. It was quite a sordid tale, which the Illinois Review details.
On a personal note, I made the mistake of agreeing to serve as campaign manager for Salvi when he first ran for Congress way back in 1986, an attempt to win back the seat the scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. Dan Crane lost to Democrat Terry Bruce in 1984. His brother, a prominent Lake County trial lawyer, drafted an employment contract under which I was to be paid a fixed amount each month. Salvi, who was fresh out of law school at the time, assured me that his multi-millionaire trial lawyer brother Pat was going to help raise big bucks for the campaign. About a week after I quit my job and started work for Salvi's campaign I learned that he had no funds on hand and I would not be paid a dime until I raised money for the campaign to pay my salary. Fed up with his misrepresentations, I quit as his campaign manager and returned to my job with the Illinois legislature within a month. Needless to say, I repaid him the favor with plenty of negative reviews of him to Republican leaders in the district. His campaign never got off the ground that year and he was trounced in the general election by Bruce.
I later learned that campaign workers in his subsequent campaigns constantly encountered problems getting paid by Salvi. It was always rather remarkable how much money Salvi supposedly earned as a trial lawyer while campaigning for different elected offices. His detractors claimed his brother's law firm was crediting Al for work done by other attorneys handling personal injury claims while he was out campaigning. Salvi served two terms as an Illinois state representative from a Lake County district. He lost every other office he sought, including the Illinois Secretary of State's race in 1998 after losing the Senate race in 1996.