~ Where the Sun Will Never Set on Our liberty ~
The House Ways and Means Committee will vote this week to formally ask the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against former IRS employee Lois Lerner, an official at the center of Republican probes of the matter.
The committee will mark up a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday accusing Lerner of committing three crimes relating to the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status, a Republican staffer said.
The controversy erupted in May when Lerner admitted the agency given extra scrutiny to tea party groups - an acknowledgement that has cost a handful of agency employees their jobs, including its commissioner, and prompted a series of congressional investigations.
This action is separate of plans from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa to hold a contempt vote against the former exempt organizations division head on Thursday.
Lerner has become the focus of congressional efforts to investigate what happened at the IRS, with Republicans accusing her of sharing private taxpayer data and obsessing over the Citizens United Supreme Court case.
The letter to Holder will contain confidential taxpayer information so the markup will be held in private with only Ways and Means members present. Democrats will be able to offer amendments.
If lawmakers pass the letter out of committee, it will fall on the Department of Justice to select if it would pursue criminal charges. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice did not immediately return a request for comment.
Liberal groups seeking tax-exempt status faced less IRS scrutiny than Tea Party groups, according to the Treasury Department’s inspector general.
J. Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, told Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) in a letter dated Wednesday that the IRS did not use inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups with “progressives” in their name seeking tax-exempt status.
“Our audit did not find evidence that the IRS used the ‘progressives’ identifier as selection criteria for potential political cases between May 2010 and May 2012,” George wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.
The inspector general stressed that 100 percent of the groups with “Tea Party,” “patriots” and “9/12” in their name were flagged for extra attention, while only 30 percent of the groups with “progress” or “progressive” were highlighted as potentially political. George’s letter does not say why the progressive groups were given extra scrutiny.
“While we have multiple sources of information corroborating the use of Tea Party and other related criteria we described in our report, including employee interviews, e-mails and other documents, we found no indication in any of these other materials that ‘progressives’ was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention,” George wrote to Levin, the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
George and his office have faced criticism in recent days after a spokesman for the inspector general said they were only tasked with looking into whether conservative groups faced tough IRS scrutiny.
Documents released this week showed other groups — including liberal and nonpartisan organizations — also received scrutiny from the IRS, and Democrats have suggested this wasn't noted when the scandal broke because of the IG's focus on conservative groups.
George insisted in his letter that his office did not limit its audit to Tea Party groups.
The letter also adds a new twist to an IRS controversy that still has only seemed to get more muddy this week, and still has major unanswered questions — including why the targeting of groups went on for so long and why IRS officials declined to inform Congress.
Levin and other Democrats have said this week that new information from the IRS that shows that the term “progressives” was on an agency watch list raised serious questions about the audit. Democrats have said the “flawed” report from George has allowed Republicans to overly politicize the investigation into the IRS’s treatment of groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Progressive groups that sought tax-exempt status also have been coming forward in recent weeks to outline what they saw as overbearing treatment from the IRS.
Levin on Thursday said the IG is now changing its story, and Democrats have called for George to return for more testimony about what they say are the IG’s inconsistent responses to Congress.
For instance, Democrats say George did not previously disclose that liberal groups were among the 298 organizations looked at for the audit, and stress that the inspector general first acknowledged seeing “progressive” on the so-called “be on the lookout,” or BOLO, lists used to flag groups for extra attention.
“Congress deserved to know that ‘progressives’ were on the IRS screening list during the time of the audit and progressive organizations were in the review group," Levin said in a statement Thursday. "These omissions changed the nature of the investigation and the IG’s testimony is not consistent with his written response.”
Republicans argue the preponderance of evidence suggests conservative groups were singled out for abuse by the IRS, even if groups from across the political spectrum were on BOLOs.
"At this point, the evidence shows us that conservative groups were not only flagged, but targeted and abused by the IRS," said Sarah Swinehart, a spokeswoman for Ways and Mean Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).
"As we gather the facts, we will follow them wherever they lead us. Chairman Camp encourages all groups, regardless of political affiliation, that feel they may have been targeted to come forward and share their story."
Hi Gris! Looks like they are having a meeting tomorrow and holding a vote on Thursday to hold Lerner in contempt. They really don't need Holder at this point. They can direct the Sgt at Arms to then go arrest her and lock her up until she testifies. If this happens we can thank Trey Gowdy for it! Sounding like they may just make an example out of Lois Lerner! Crossing my fingers!
Howdy Robin, I didn't realize that could be the case with the Sgt at Arms, thanks for that tidbit. Crossing my fingers too, it's about time arrests start happening.
I think the House or Senate can jail a person for contempt of Congress but the jail term ends when the session of Congress concludes. Also, I could be wrong.
You would be correct! But, they can re-issue it and keep her locked up with the new Congress! Tasty Tidbits are nice! :))
And he states this, "Hoyer also said Congress is trying to get to the bottom of the IRS’s behavior, before pleading with Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck to move on to talk about “the really important things” confronting the country — including Obamacare and the Koch brothers."
Because we know corruption is not a really an important thing, gawd these people disgust me.
The U.S. Constitution protects Lois Lerner from “big government,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said Tuesday.
Lois Lerner has twice invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in Congress about her time as the IRS’s head of tax-exempt organizations, despite evidence that the IRS targeted conservatives during her tenure.
In an interview on “Fox and Friends,” Hoyer claimed that Lerner’s use of the Fifth Amendment to resist congressional investigators is merely a tool to protect herself from the government.
Lerner’s attorney probably advised her not to testify, Hoyer said, “because the Republicans have been talking about criminal activity as opposed to trying to find out exactly what happened.”
“She has that constitutional right,” the congressman insisted. ”Obviously, a lot of people say read the Constitution, know what the Constitution means.”
“Understand the Constitution gives you protections against big government,” Hoyer said, “which is what a lot of people said.”
Hoyer also said Congress is trying to get to the bottom of the IRS’s behavior, before pleading with Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck to move on to talk about “the really important things” confronting the country — including Obamacare and the Koch brothers.
Oh look, Lois's replacement.....
Va. Dem. promises 'war' against Tea Party, NRA, Fox News if elected
"If elected I promise WAR on the tea party, @FoxNews, @NRA and other trash," he tweeted.
"When I am elected I will go to war with these groups. I will pursue the @nra & destroy them. I will get the IRS to audit the tea party," he said later, apparently oblivious to the current scandal involving IRS targeting of conservative groups.