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House Ways and Means Committee Votes to Refer Lois Lerner for Criminal Prosecution

The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday morning  23 to 14 to refer former IRS official Lois Lerner to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

The DOJ already has an ongoing investigation into the scandal, but it has been heavily criticized by Republicans because the person chosen to lead the investigation donated to the Obama campaign and to the DNC.

The reason Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee took the action they did was explained by Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-IL) on Fox News, yesterday.

“Number one”, Roskam said, “we believe there’s evidence that she (Lois Lerner) violated the constitutional rights of people that were inquiring of the IRS for tax status. Number two: that she impeded an investigation. And number three: that she released confidential information that she had no authority to release.”

He continued, “to have the President of the United States, for example, say, ‘there’s no indication whatsoever, not even a smidgen of wrongdoing’ is just plain wrong. There’s overwhelming evidence that something wrong happened. But it’s important for the House to act and to put the Department of Justice on notice of the nature of this inquiry.”

The Politico reports that “a letter specifying sensitive details is expected to release later in the day.”

Some of the information deals with IRS interaction with Crossroads GPS, the political non-profit founded by Karl Rove, according to House panel chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.)

Lerner’s lawyer William Taylor III said he had not heard from Ways and Means on the issue, and maintained his client’s innocence.

“Ms. Lerner has done nothing wrong,” Taylor, a partner of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP said in a statement. “She did not violate any law or regulation. She did not mislead Congress. She did not interfere with the rights of any organization to a tax exemption. Those are the facts.”

But the facts show that Lerner engaged in what Rep. Roskam called, “a pattern of deception. …[Lerner] is basically making the argument that everybody was under this level of scrutiny. When you look at the totality of the evidence, clearly, everybody was not under the same level of scrutiny and that there was an agenda to it. That’s where she’s misleading specifically. And the most serious charge in my view is the notion of her possibly violating the constitutional rights of another citizen and using the full weight of the federal government and the authority that she was entrusted with in the Internal Revenue Service to manipulate, basically, the public debate and keep people out of the public square that she frankly didn’t want to hear from.”

Tomorrow, the House Oversight and Reform Committee will vote on holding Lerner in contempt for failing to testify twice before the panel.

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