WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) issued the following statement on the U.S. House of Representatives bipartisan vote finding former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative organizations applying for exempt status:
“While I am disappointed that Ms. Lerner decided to face our criminal justice system instead of testifying fully and truthfully before Congress, this vote is a step toward a level of accountability that the Obama Administration has been unwilling to take.
“Lois Lerner presided over an effort to deprive Americans of their rights to participate in our political process and failed to meet her legal obligations to answer questions. E-mails and other documents obtained by the Committee have shown that IRS targeting of conservative groups occurred after she felt pressured to act following robust criticism by President Obama and other prominent members of his party about the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case.
“To preempt the release of an independent investigation, Ms. Lerner publicly admitted that the IRS division she led had targeted conservatives. After waiving her right to protection from self-incrimination, Lerner had a choice: testify fully and truthfully about what occurred or face criminal contempt. Ms. Lerner refused to testify even after her attorney told Congress she would do so.
“Unless the President decides to assert executive privilege, there is no precedent for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to do anything but pursue this criminal case. Absent political interference by the Administration, this legally binding action – as well as a separate resolution calling for a special prosecutor to take over the Main Justice Department’s tainted and dormant investigation – require the Justice Department to take action.”
The House approved H.Res. 574, finding Director Lerner in contempt, on a vote of 231 to 187, with 6 Democrats voting yes.
The House approved H.Res. 565, requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS targeting scandal on a vote of 250 to 168, with 26 Democrats voting yes.
Click here for the Oversight Committee’s report on Lois Lerner’s role in the IRS targeting scandal.