Guest post by Investor’s Business Daily
Corruption: A House panel votes this week to formally ask the DOJ to pursue criminal charges against former IRS employee Lois Lerner. It is time someone in this administration were held accountable for something.
A staff report by House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa reveals testimony by IRS agents that the IRS has not deliberately targeted progressive groups. Now comes word that the House Ways and Means Committee is sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder accusing former IRS director of tax-exempt organizations Lois Lerner of committing at least three crimes in the IRS’s targeting tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
That crimes have been committed and the Internal Revenue Service has become a corrupt criminal enterprise used to bludgeon political opponents of the Obama administration is hardly in dispute. The charge might have long ago been adjudicated had the Justice Department of Eric Holder, rife with its own very real scandals, not been politicized beyond all recognition.
According to the report, obtained by the Daily Caller, “Only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word ‘progressive,’ all of which were then approved by the IRS, while tea party groups received unprecedented review and experienced years-long delays.”
The enhanced scrutiny included demands for confidential donor information of the type the IRS has provided to political opponents of conservative groups in the past. We need only look at the blacklisting of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after his donations opposing California’s Proposition 8 were revealed.
In March 2012, someone at the IRS released the confidential donor lists of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which supports traditional marriage, to its political opponent, the liberal Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a supporter of gay marriage.
At that time, Joe Solmonese, a left-wing activist and Huffington Post contributor, was the president of the HRC. Solmonese also became a 2012 Obama campaign co-chairman.
Shortly thereafter, NOM’s tax return and its confidential list of donors and their addresses showed up on the HRC website.
Lois Lerner’s knowledge of and participation in planning to use the IRS as a political weapon, in coordination with the White House, is why she twice invoked the Fifth Amendment in her Congressional visits, even as she was cooperating — or is it coordinating? — with Eric Holder’s Justice Department.
Hans Von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, says government officials can’t pick and choose when and where they invoke their Fifth Amendment rights. They can’t legally give information to the DOJ that they withhold from Congress.
“When Lerner gave a lengthy interview to the government, she waived the Fifth. There’s no doubt about it,” says Von Spakovsky. “The law is crystal clear here in the District of Columbia. That means when she showed up March 5, she was obligated to provide the same information.”
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, whose committee has access to confidential taxpayer information as part of its investigation, did not specify which laws Lerner may have broken.
If the committee votes to refer Lerner to the Justice Department, it is expected to make the referral public. This is separate from a possible contempt-of-Congress citation, also a possibility.
“My question isn’t about who’s going to have to resign,” House Speaker John Boehner said during a news conference Wednesday. “My question is, who’s going to jail over this scandal?”
Indeed, the IRS scandal is looming as a criminal conspiracy that makes Watergate look like a fraternity prank. Our recommendation would be to start the investigation with Lois Lerner.
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