Former IRS official Lois Lerner held in contempt
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Former IRS official Lois Lerner will be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about her alleged involvement in targeting conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status. Groups seeking such status last year that had such words as "Tea Party" in their names were reportedly unjustly interrogated.
The IRS first came under fire in when Lois Lerner apologized to conservative organizations that had been singled out for extra scrutiny.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The vote was 231 to 187, with all Republicans voting in favor of the measure. All but a few Democrats voted against it.
The scandal involved groups applying for 501(c)(4) status during the period of 2010-2012. Organizations with such words "Tea Party" or "patriot" in their names faced more questions and bureaucratic delays. Progressive groups also reportedly encountered bureaucratic hassles last year.
Republicans say the administration was behind the illegal singling out the groups. House Democrats, however, have labeled the move against Lerner as an election-year ploy to motivate the GOP base.
Lerner has repeatedly invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on the matter. She had earlier served as the director of the Internal Revenue Service division that processes applications for tax-exempt status of political groups.
The IRS first came under fire in when Lerner apologized to conservative organizations that had been singled out for extra scrutiny. Many of those groups had complained about delays in their applications for tax-exempt status.
Lerner already made it known through her lawyer that she would invoke the Fifth.
In April, the House Ways and Means Committee, who retired in the wake of the scandal.
In one 2011 email, Lerner specifically calls the tea party applications for tax-exempt status problematic, which seems to counter Democrats' arguments that tea party groups weren't targeted.
"Tea Party Matter very dangerous," Lerner wrote in the 2011 email, saying that those applications could end up being the "vehicle to go to court" to get more clarity on a 2010 Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance rules.
In a 2012 email, Lerner acknowledges that the agency's handling of the tax-exempt applications had been bungled at the beginning, though she said steps had been taken to correct problems.
"It is what it is," she wrote in the email, released by the Ways and Means Committee. "Although the original story isn't as pretty as we'd like, once we learned [that we were] off track, we have done what we can to change the process, better educate our staff and move the cases. So, we will get dinged, but we took steps before the 'dinging' to make things better and we have written procedures."
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