Just 3 days short of the one year anniversary of Lois Lerner refusal to testify about the IRS' improper targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, House Republicans have voted to hold her in contempt of Congress, and
- *HOUSE VOTES TO ASK FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO INVESTIGATE IRS
As NBC reports, In a partisan 231-187 vote, the House passed the contempt resolution, sending the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. However, as The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) repidly noted, "Unfortunately, we don't expect the Attorney General to move forward with this case, he has put politics above the enforcement of the law on numerous occasions and unfortunately that is likely to occur again."
NBC Reports that House Republicans voted Wednesday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the agency’s improper targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
In a partisan 231-187 vote, the House passed the contempt resolution, sending the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
It is unclear how the Justice Department will proceed. It did not move forward on the last contempt of Congress resolution passed in the House, which was issued for Attorney General Eric Holder in 2012.
Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment at two hearings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about IRS targeting of conservative groups. Her refusal to testify in March led to a tense exchange between Committee Chair Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., after Issa gaveled the meeting closed without allowing Democrats to participate.
Republicans argue Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right by proclaiming her innocence before refusing to testify, while Democrats have called the contempt charge a partisan vote meant to keep the story alive in an election year.
"Today’s vote has nothing to do with the facts or the law," Lerner's attorney, William Taylor III said in a statement. "Its only purpose is to keep the baseless IRS 'conspiracy' alive through the mid-term elections."
And, as The ACLJ notes:
"By holding Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, the U.S. House sends an important message – that no one is above the law," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "She ignored a Congressional subpoena and refused to testify – refused to tell the truth about the unlawful and illegal targeting scheme as well as her involvement and the involvement of others in this scandal. What happened at the IRS is a real tragedy. Blatant targeting of Americans because of their political views. Sidestepping the constitution. And, violating the trust of the American people. The decision to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress is an important step forward on the road to accountability – an important marker along the way to uncovering the truth."
It's now up to Attorney General Holder to determine whether to permit a federal court to move forward with the contempt finding.
"Unfortunately, we don't expect the Attorney General to move forward with this case," said Sekulow. "Sadly, he has put politics above the enforcement of the law on numerous occasions and unfortunately that is likely to occur again."
If tried and found guilty, Lerner could serve up to a year in prison or up to a $100,000 fine, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
The contempt charge also allows the House to arrest Lerner and put her in a Capitol jail cell until she complies with the subpoena or until the end of the 113th Congress — a congressional power not exercised since the early 20th century.
The contempt citation hardly ends the IRS scandal, with nearly half-dozen congressional investigations expected to wrap up in the coming months.
But it may be the last time Republicans have a shot at hearing from Lerner; criminal contempt if upheld in court will not require Lerner to testify.