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Lois Lerner Pleads Fifth, Congress Moves to Hold in Contempt

Lois Lerner Pleads Fifth, Congress Moves to Hold in Contempt

Lois Lerner loves her Fifth Amendment rights.

Of course, this is a bit ironic for someone whose office at the IRS repeatedly blocked the exercise of First Amendment rights by conservative groups

In a stunning show of government overreach and harassment, the highest levels of the Obama Administration’s IRS have admitted to targeting and intimidating tea party, Christian, pro-Israel, and other conservative groups.

They were caught red-handed in one of the largest political scandals of the past decade.

Did you know the IRS sifted through the tax applications of Americans and looked for key words?

Tea party.

Christian.

Patriot.

Once it identified these groups, the IRS made unconstitutional and abusive inquiries, telling these law-abiding citizens they must answer “upon penalty of perjury.”

Really? It’s one of the most anti-American acts of the federal government I can think of.

Lerner and the IRS kept them from speaking, and now Lerner refuses to talk.

Lerner, former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations and active participant in targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, refused to speak to the House Oversight Committee again on Wednesday, April 2.  She did the same thing last May. 

Finally fed up, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) says enough is enough, according to Katie Pavlich. “Seeking the truth is the duty of this committee and I see no point in moving forward,” he said after Lerner refused to testify. 

According to an April 3 Oversight Committee press release, Issa has moved to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress:

Documents and testimony point to Lois Lerner as a senior IRS official responsible for conduct that deprived Americans of their rights to free speech and equal protection under our laws. Americans expect accountability and want Congress to do all it can to gather relevant evidence about what occurred and who was responsible so that this never happens again.  Ms. Lerner’s involvement in wrongdoing and refusal to meet her legal obligations has left the Committee with no alternative but to consider a contempt finding.

Lerner remains the last IRS official to testify before Congress in the IRS targeting investigation. She said she would testify. Now, even though she has denied any wrongdoing or breaking any laws, she’s pleading the Fifth and not saying anything to help Congress uncover the truth.

Eventually, she will have to. Because she did make a brief statement before her first refusal, the Committee voted that she effectively waived her Fifth Amendment rights. 

Let’s pause a moment and appreciate the fact that she had the nerve to deny wrongdoing. From the beginning, she bent the truth and outright lied. She has done everything possible to delay the Congressional investigation–she’s ignored a Constitutional subpoena and failed to provide evidence about her scheme to punish groups because of their political beliefs.

This is an exciting week for the IRS case. Congress has the opportunity–rather the moral responsibility–to hold her accountable.

Now that Lerner is trying to cover her tracks, we can’t relent until her misdeeds are made known.

Lerner and the IRS must be held accountable to the people. 

The truth must not be silenced. 

Mark Meckler is the founder of Citizens of Self-Governance’s Sue the IRS Project

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