Rep. Pascrell: 'I Will Vote No' on Referring Lois Lerner to DOJ for Possible Prosecution
(CNSNews.com) - The House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday will decide whether to send a letter to the Justice Department referring for possible criminal prosecution Lois Lerner, the former director of the IRS office that targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status before the 2012 election.
At least one Democrat on the Republican-led committee said he's seen no evidence that the referral is warranted: "I will vote no from what I've seen so far, but between now and the time that I have to vote, I may change my mind, but right now it's a 'no,'" Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) told C-SPAN Wednesday morning.
Pascrell admitted that he has not seen all of the documents provided to the committee: "We're talking about a lot of pages of documents -- talk back and forth," including Lerner's own words. "And there's a lot to go into there. I haven't seen anything so far that would indicate that criminal charges are going to happen."
Pascrell said he thinks Lerner "should be held accountable," but then said he has "found no prejudice in the IRS response" to conservative groups that filed for tax-exempt status, only to be excessively scrutinized and put off indefinitely.
Pascrell said what people really should be talking about is "money in politics, regardless of where it's coming from. And whether organizations that are (tax) exempt and that are providing dollars for candidates, be they Democrat or Republican, have...accountability.
"We don't know where the money's coming from," he continued. "And we don't even know if it might be foreign money that's coming into American elections. This is the system, how wide open it is. And she's (Lerner) in the middle of it."
The House Ways and Means Committee, at Wednesday's closed-door hearing, will decide whether to refer Lois Lerner to Attorney General Eric Holder "for possible criminal prosecution for violations of one or more criminal statutes based on evidence the Committee has uncovered in the course of the investigation of IRS abuses."
The IRS, meanwhile, wants to tighten restrictions on tax-exempt groups, limiting their advocacy and educational activities. The proposed regulation specifically singles out 501(c)(4) organizations, and does not apply to other nonprofit organizations such as charities, labor unions or trade associations.