House Committee Urges DOJ To Try Former IRS Head As A Criminal
April 9, 2014
In a rare, closed-door House Ways and Means Committee mark-up session, Republicans voted along party lines to ask the Justice Department to sue former head of the IRS Lois Lerner for her role in the agency’s scrutiny of the tax-exempt status of conservative right-wing political organizations. The House Committee’s Republican members, led by Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), sent the letter urging Lerner be charged criminally for using her position to improperly influence agency action against conservative groups, impeding official investigations and because she either risked or exposed confidential taxpayer information by using a personal email account to do official business. The charges carry an up to 11-year prison sentence. DOJ already has an ongoing investigation on the matter.
“Almost a year ago we learned that the IRS subjected certain groups to extra scrutiny because of their political beliefs,” Camp said in a statement. “The investigation to date has demonstrated that the targeting did not happen until IRS headquarters in D.C. intervened. Today’s action highlights specific wrongdoing for the Department of Justice to pursue. DOJ has a responsibility to act, and Lois Lerner must be held accountable.”
Top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), has argued Republicans cannot legally pursue contempt charges against Lerner, as they did not explicitly overrule her Fifth Amendment assertion or clearly direct her to answer the committee’s questions. “Ms. Lerner has done nothing wrong,” Lerner’s lawyer William Taylor III, a founding partner of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, said in a statement. “She did not violate any law or regulation. She did not mislead Congress. She did not interfere with the rights of any organization … Those are the facts.”
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