Lerner is currently on administrative leave from her position at the IRS, where she oversaw groups’ for tax-exempt nonprofit status, and where she admittedly targeted conservative nonprofit groups for extra scrutiny.
Salvi told Illinois Review this week that he went head-to-head with Lerner after his 1996 electoral loss to Durbin, when she was head of the commission’s Enforcement Division. The FEC hit his campaign committee with a small handful of complaints related to a $1.1 million personal loan he made to his campaign in its final weeks.
Salvi said that Lerner offered to drop the case if Salvi agreed never to run for office again.
“She said, ‘If you promise to never run for office again, we’ll drop this case,’” Salvi said, noting that he thought Lerner was helping Durbin keep him out of Illinois politics in the future.
The case was eventually dropped in 2000, by which time Salvi had reportedly racked up nearly $100,000 in legal fees. A judge ruled that Salvi’s loan to his own campaign was completely legal, according to Salvi.
“I didn’t plead the Fifth,” Salvi, who went on to become a radio talk show host, told Illinois Review, a reference to Lerner pleading the Fifth Amendment in congressional testimony to avoid incriminating herself in the IRS scandal.