Today's decision by the House Ways and Means Committee to send a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder saying former IRS executive Lois Lerner should be prosecuted for a variety of criminal charges stemming from the unlawful targeting of conservative and tea party groups is both significant and appropriate.
After reviewing confidential information about the case, the House Committee voted to send a letter to the Attorney General saying Lerner should be prosecuted for using her position to improperly influence agency action against only conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and equal protection rights under the law as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The letter also states that Lerner impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements. Further, the letter contends that Lerner risked exposing, and may have actually disclosed confidential taxpayer information.
This is a significant step in holding former top IRS official Lois Lerner accountable for an unlawful scheme that violated the constitutional rights of our clients. The charges enumerated by the House Committee are very troubling and represent a blatant disregard for the law and the agency's own rules and regulations. We're hopeful this action will lead to true disclosure of the depth of her involvement in this unlawful targeting scheme.
Chairman Dave Camp said the letter "sets forth evidence that tends to show intentional wrongdoing, including targeting specific taxpayers for adverse treatment, making misleading statements to law enforcement, and the possible disclosure of confidential taxpayer information." And Chairman Camp urged the Attorney General to act on this matter: "The Committee requests that you act on the findings within this letter and the attached documentation to ensure the rights of law-abiding taxpayers are protected."
It will now be up to Holder and the Justice Department to decide whether to prosecute Lerner.
This development comes just one day before another House Committee is expected to vote on whether to holder Lerner in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with Congressional investigators.
It has been clear for some time now that Lois Lerner's strategy has been to dodge and delay Congressional investigators. It is critical that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, followed by the full House, hold her in contempt. She ignored a subpoena and wrongly proclaimed her 5th Amendment right to refuse to answer questions after she proclaimed her innocence. Lois Lerner must be held accountable.
The ACLJ has heard from more than 60,000 people in just two days calling on Congress to hold Lerner in contempt.
The ACLJ federal lawsuit, which also names Lois Lerner as a defendant, is progressing. The ACLJ represents 41 organizations in 22 states. Of the 41 groups, 24 organizations received tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 11 are still pending, 5 withdrew applications because of frustration with the IRS process, and 1 had their file closed by the IRS after refusing to answer the unconstitutional requests for more information.