Oversight Committee Releases Lois Lerner Contempt Report
WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., released a report recommending the House find former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her refusal to comply with a duly issued subpoena compelling her to testify on the IRS targeting scandal. The Committee will consider a resolution to hold Ms. Lerner in contempt at a full committee business meeting Thursday, April 10th at 9:00 a.m.
“Lois Lerner’s testimony is critical to the Committee’s investigation,” the report states. “Without her testimony, the full extent of the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party applications cannot be known, and the Committee will be unable to fully complete its work.” As Director of the Exempt Organizations business divisions of the IRS during the relevant period, Ms. Lerner “has unique, first-hand knowledge of how, and why, the IRS scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from certain conservative-aligned groups.”
The report details Ms. Lerner’s involvement in the scrutiny of Tea Party cases, including emails she sent to Michael Seto, the manager of the Technical Office within the Exempt Organizations division. In a February 1, 2011 email, “Ms. Lerner wrote, ‘Tea Party Matter very dangerous’ and ordered the Office of Chief Counsel to get involved. Ms. Lerner advocated for pulling the cases out of the Cincinnati office entirely. She advised Seto that ‘Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.’ Seto testified to the Committee that Ms. Lerner ordered a ‘multi-tier’ review for the test applications, a process that involved her senior technical advisor and the Office of Chief Counsel.”
Later, after becoming aware of a backlog of “over 100” cases, Lerner “ordered her staff to adjust the criteria. She also directed the Technical Unit to conduct a ‘triage’ of the backlogged applications and to develop a guide sheet to assist agents in Cincinnati with processing the cases…. After the Cincinnati office received the guide sheet from Washington, officials there began to process the applications in January 2012. IRS employees drafted questions for the applicant organizations designed to solicit information mandated by the guide sheet. The questions asked for information about the applicant organizations’ donors, among other things.”
However, despite her unique role, Ms. Lerner has continually refused to cooperate with the Committee’s investigation.
“On May 20, 2013, Chairman Issa issued the subpoena to compel Ms. Lerner’s testimony,” the report states. “On May 22, 2013, Ms. Lerner gave an opening statement and then refused to answer any of the Committee’s questions and asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege. On June 28, 2013, the Committee voted that Ms. Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment privilege. Chairman Issa subsequently recalled her to answer the Committee’s questions. When the May 22, 2013 hearing reconvened nine months later, on March 5, 2014, she again refused to answer any of the Committee’s questions and invoked the Fifth Amendment.”
The report concludes, “Accordingly, the Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee recommends that the House find Ms. Lerner in contempt for her failure to comply with the subpoena issued to her.”
You can read the complete report here.