“When the government is suspected of targeting citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, the American people deserve to know the full truth and nothing less,” Rep. Thompson stated.
“For nearly a full year Congress has sought to fulfill its oversight responsibilities and bring to light the full scope of these alleged abuses – only to be met with delay and distraction,” Rep. Thompson added. “With any hope the actions taken today by the House will take us a step closer to the truth and holding our government accountable for its actions.”
On May 10, 2013, Lois G. Lerner apologized for the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups’ tax-exempt status applications. Her apology came just prior to the release of an Inspector General’s report finding that from 2010 through 2012, the IRS subjected certain tax-exempt applications to extra scrutiny and delay. On May 22, 2013, Ms. Lerner appeared at a hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform under subpoena. After being sworn, Ms. Lerner made a lengthy, voluntary opening statement containing several factual assertions, before asserting her Fifth Amendment privilege to decline to answer any questions. The Chairman excused Ms. Lerner and later recessed the hearing.
On June 28, 2013, the Committee approved a resolution, by a 22-17 vote, finding that Ms. Lerner’s voluntary, self-serving opening statement on May 22, 2013 constituted a waiver of her Fifth Amendment privilege. On March 5, 2014, the Committee resumed its May 22, 2013, hearing. When the hearing resumed, the Chairman notified Ms. Lerner that the Committee had determined that she had waived her Fifth Amendment privilege and that her continued refusal to answer questions may result in contempt proceedings. Ms. Lerner continued to assert her Fifth Amendment privilege. On April 10, 2014, the Committee approved the resolution, by a 21-12 vote, recommending that the House of Representatives find Ms. Lerner in contempt of Congress.
Ms. Lerner’s testimony remains critical to the ongoing investigation of the IRS’s targeting of tax-exempt applicants. As the director of the IRS office responsible for the targeting, Ms. Lerner has unique, firsthand knowledge of how and why the IRS engaged in the targeting.
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