Oversight Dems Release Minority Views Opposing Issa's Contempt Resolution

Apr 10, 2014
Press Release
Oversight Dems Release Minority Views Opposing Issa's Contempt Resolution

Members Object to Issa’s Return to McCarthy Era Tactics

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 10, 2014)—Today, Democratic Members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released their Minority Views in opposition to Chairman Darrell Issa’s resolution to hold former IRS employee Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress despite the fact that she exercised her rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Democratic Members conclude:  

“During this investigation, Chairman Issa made unsubstantiated accusations with no evidence to back them up, routinely leaked partial excerpts of interview transcripts to promote misleading allegations, repeatedly ignored opposing viewpoints that are inconsistent with his political narrative, inconceivably rejected an offer by Ms. Lerner’s attorney for her to testify with a simple one-week extension, and—in his rush to silence a fellow Committee Member—botched the contempt proceedings by disregarding key due process protections that are required by the Constitution, according to the Supreme Court.”

Their Minority Views also find:

•         Issa has identified virtually no historical precedent for successfully convicting an American citizen of contempt after that person has asserted his or her Fifth Amendment right not to testify before Congress.  The last time Congress attempted to do this was in a handful of cases in the 1950s to 1960s in the committee led by Senator Joe McCarthy, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and others. In almost all of those cases, the juries refused to convict these individuals, or Federal courts overturned their convictions. 

•         Issa could have obtained Lerner’s testimony if he had accepted a reasonable request by her attorney for a simple one-week extension—an offer Democrats would have accepted instantly.

•         More than 30 independent legal experts from across the country—and across the political spectrum—have come forward to conclude that Issa’s contempt proceedings are constitutionally deficient.  

•         Issa has refused to hold a single hearing with a single legal expert on these grave Constitutional questions, despite a request from Cummings more than nine months ago.

•         It has been nearly one year since Issa promised on national television to release the full transcripts of interviews conducted by Committee staff during the IRS investigation.  These transcripts show definitively that Issa’s accusations that the IRS engaged in political collusion directed by—or on behalf of—the White House are baseless.

•         The Committee has interviewed 39 people, reviewed more than 450,000 pages of documents, and the IRS has spent at least $14 million so far on this investigation, yet there is absolutely zero evidence to substantiate any of the Chairman’s claims of White House involvement.

Click here to read the Executive Summary of the Minority Views.

Click here to read the full Minority Views, which includes the CRS memo and the opinions from 31 independent legal experts.

113th Congress