The House Oversight Committee has voted to hold Lois Lerner in contempt 21-12.
After repeatedly pleading the Fifth upon declaring her innocence and refusing to aid in the committee’s investigations, Lerner will be held in contempt of Congress.
Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, the committee’s ranking member, declared that the vote was a challenge to citizens’ rights and that the founding fathers were not about a “gotcha type of system.” He added that he was thinking about his “children’s children” and how he and his colleagues will be viewed in the future.
Congressman Trey Gowdy responded that the American people also have rights, which they, unlike Lerner, did not waive by declaring themselves innocent in front of a congressional committee.
Chairman Darrell Issa stated that “refusal to testify and being held in contempt can be resolved by testifying.” He said all he wants is the truth.
“We’d like to know the other half of the story,” he added.
New information released yesterday proved that although Cummings denied receiving information from the IRS on its targeting of a conservative grassroots political organization, True the Vote, emails show otherwise.
Issa was not pleased:
“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials—which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff—indicates otherwise,” Issa wrote. “As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.
The emails reveal that Cummings requested volunteer hiring and requirement information from True the Vote, and five days later the IRS did likewise. Cummings’ staff also asked the IRS for more information on True the Vote, as did Lois Lerner. Cummings’ office received True the Vote’s 990 forms less than a week later, but never shared the information with the majority of the Oversight Committee.
To make matters worse, in a subcommittee hearing in February, Cummings said his staff wasn’t “involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these federal agencies.”
In addition to the lies and deception, The U.S. Office of Special Counsel revealed multiple complaints regarding IRS employees who used their offices to display pro-Obama paraphernalia and even encouraged clients to vote for President Obama. The Hatch Act blatantly prohibits such actions.
One female employee claimed the Republicans would “take women back 40 years.” Another “recited a chant based on the spelling of [Obama’s] last name” to a customer. In Texas, employees donned “pro-Obama political stickers, buttons and clothing,” and used Obama screensavers.
The report claims this was “commonplace” in the office.
Exactly what will happen next is not yet clear, but the abuses of the IRS are a concern for American liberty. Issa should take every action necessary to get to the bottom of this issue.