Lois Lerner Contempt Vote: House Oversight Committee Pressing Charges Against Former IRS Official

Lois Lerner has been held in contempt of Congress. The House of Representatives Oversight Committee voted to hold the former IRS official in contempt over her prior refusal to answer questions posed in two separate hearing about targeting of conservative political groups.

The House Oversight Committee voted 21-12 to hold Lois Lerner in contempt during a Thursday meeting. Chairman Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, had this to say after the contempt vote, “We need Ms. Lerner’s testimony to complete our oversight work. American taxpayers certainly don’t get to plead the Fifth and escape all accountability when the IRS audits them.”

Darrell Issa also went on to say that the House Oversight Committee met on Thursday for one simple reason, “to get to the full truth about IRS targeting.” Issa added that the committee and Congress cannot abandon their responsibility to the country.

Last year Lerner did reveal that the IRS may improperly targeted conservative groups for tax exempt status, according to The Blaze, but refused to answer questions pertaining to the ongoing scandal. After giving a rather lengthy speech when called to testify before the House Oversight Committee, Lerner asserted her Fifth Amendment rights against self-discrimination. Republican lawmakers, as well as many Americans watching the hearings on television, felt that Lerner gave up the right to plead the Fifth because she had in essence testified when proclaiming her innocence for about five minutes during her opening statement.

Lois Lerner resigned from her position as the head of the tax exempt organizations division of the IRS after the conservative group targeting scandal became national news. Lerner’s attorney and fellow Democrats disagree that the opening statement violated the former IRS official’s right to plead the Fifth and also maintain that the contempt charges are “flimsy at best.”

Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings stated that Congress has a poor track record for prosecuting individuals who refuse to testify before the governing body.

Cummings had this to say about the Lois Lerner contempt charges:

“I do not want to go back to the shameful era when Congress tried to strip away the constitutional rights of American citizens under the bright lights of hearings that had nothing to do with responsible oversight and everything to do with the worst kind of partisan politics. I do not direct my comments to my fellow committee members. Instead, my statement is directed to the generations of Americans yet unborn who will learn about this vote in their history books. I speak to those who are reading the transcript of today’s proceedings 50 or 100 years from now and are trying to understand why Congress, in the year 2014, tried to strip away an American citizen’s rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.”

Cummings also claimed that the Lois Lerner contempt vote would be looked upon as a “dark day” in the history of Congress.

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[Image Via: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg]