House Holds Former IRS Official in Contempt
by Lamar Smith on May 8, 2014 at 10:24 AM
I voted yesterday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her refusal to testify regarding the IRS targeting scandal. The House also approved a measure calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate current and former IRS officials for the selective targeting of conservative organizations and individuals.
In 2013, the Treasury Department Inspector General (IG) reported IRS officials had targeted conservative individuals and organizations for additional screening based on their political views. According to the IG, nearly 300 conservative groups were targeted for additional scrutiny, while only six liberal groups were singled out.
Following a thorough investigation, the House Oversight Committee concluded that Ms. Lerner played a central role in the targeting of conservative organizations for additional scrutiny. The Committee also found that Ms. Lerner failed to meet her legal obligation to answer questions before Congress after she waived her right not to testify at a May 2013 hearing.
It is fitting that the House has held former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress given the contempt that some IRS employees have shown for the rights and freedoms of conservative Americans. Targeting organizations or individuals for their political views threatens our democracy.
The actions of Ms. Lerner and other IRS officials were clearly unethical and may have been criminal. Unfortunately, Ms. Lerner’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigators has made it difficult for Congress to get to the bottom of the scandal.
We need a special prosecutor, independent of the political pressures of the Obama administration, to conduct a thorough investigation. If any IRS officials are found to have broken the law, they must be prosecuted.