House Republicans contemplating jail for Lois Lerner
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/10/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Republicans are contemplating the arrest of Lois Lerner for contempt in the event the Attorney General, Eric Holder refuses to act on their findings.
Lois Lerner could go to jail if she refuses to cooperate with investigators.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to investigate whether or not Lois Lerner broke federal law by ordering right-leaning non-profits receive extra scrutiny from the IRS. Most have contended this extra scrutiny equated to harassment as a suppression of free speech. Several non-profit groups with conservative leanings quit the process of incorporating because of the IRS activity.
Conservative groups reported being asked about speakers they hosted, the content of speeches delivered and even the books board members had been reading. The questions were often personal and invasive and unnecessary to the process. This harassment has already been well documented, as has the harm. Lois Lerner herself apologized for the activity.
Despite the obvious evidence of guilt and her refusal to testify before Congress last year, Lois Lerner hasn't been charged with an actual criminal offense, at least not yet. What she admits to having presided over is clearly unethical and likely illegal, but until the matter is fully investigated it's difficult to make a formal accusation.
To assist in this, the House Ways and Means Committee has offered the reasonable expectation that the Attorney General, Eric Holder, should launch an investigation as the nation's chief law enforcement officer. However, he has made no such moves to date.
In fact, Eric Holder may himself be accused of contempt and other offenses since he too refuses to cooperate with House Republicans on the Fast and Furious case as well as other controversies surrounding his office and the Obama administration.
This leaves the Committee on its own for a solution. Unfortunately, they need answers from Lois Lerner and she is refusing to speak, citing her 5th Amendment right. Yet there's a catch. During last year's attempt at a hearing on the matter, Lois Lerner claimed her 5th Amendment right to remain silent, then proceeded to deliver a statement, within the proceedings and on the record, in which she professed her innocence. Under the law, making such a statement effectively counts as a waiver of the 5th Amendment. Therefore, Learner can be compelled to testify.
Under the house's "inherent authority" clause within the Constitution, Congress can order her detention until January 2015 when a new Congress is sworn in. That Congress could then vote to keep her in jail until she agrees to testify.
With the Attorney General refusing to investigate, and with the possibility that this case reaches the Oval Office, it is unlikely that much progress will be made unless Congress actually exercises its authority. With Republicans in control of the House, and likely to retain control in 2015, this is a clear option for House Republicans, and one that they may be preparing to exercise if they keep getting stonewalled in their duty to investigate what may likely be a serious crime.
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