House Republicans’ efforts to get to the bottom of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal of targeting conservative groups for their political beliefs under the leadership of then-IRS official Lois Lerner are being met with continued obstruction.
Not only have two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails from January 2009 through April 2011 been lost, but now the IRS has revealed they cannot produce the records of six other IRS employees involved in the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that the IRS had lost two years of Lerner’s emails due to a hard drive crash. The agency was able to produce 24,000 Lerner emails from the 2009 to 2011 because Lerner had copied in other IRS employees, but emails to outside groups or government agencies prior to 2011 are apparently lost.
House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) wrote a memo to his colleagues today indicating the House would vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress next month if she refuses to testify before an oversight committee.
Lerner has been at the center of the IRS controversy of targeting conservative groups for their political beliefs. Cantor’s memo states:
On April 10th, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee reported to the House a resolution holding former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, Lois G. Lerner, in Contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions regarding the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS after initially testifying under subpoena. Thorough investigations by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee have revealed findings that indicate that Ms. Lerner played a central role in the illegal targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. On April 9th, the Ways and Means Committee referred evidence of criminal violations by Ms. Lerner to the Attorney General. The House will consider the Contempt of Congress resolution in May unless she agrees to testify before the Oversight Committee.
Read more about Lois Lerner here.
“We’re always worried about that,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said when asked whether he was concerned the agency could suffer similar tech problems suffered — or caused — by the Department of Health and Human Services as they worked to implement Obamacare.
The agency is gearing up for new responsibilities in implementing the health care law, which will expand during the next filing season.
The House Committee on Ways and Means voted today to refer former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. Lerner has been at the center of the IRS controversy of targeting conservative groups for their political beliefs. Politico PRO reports (sub. req’d):
In an extremely rare, closed-door Ways and Means markup, the panel voted along party lines to send a letter to Justice, requesting it take the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division to court — though the Department already has an ongoing investigation on the matter.
Americans have reason to be outraged and alarmed that the Internal Revenue Service has targeted conservative organizations in an effort to prevent their political expression and stifle their First Amendment rights. New IRS rules proposed in November of 2013 may lead to even more chilling and censoring of political speech.
Fortunately, these IRS abuses are being combated in Congress. Yesterday, the House passed the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014 (H.R. 3865), introduced by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI).
But IRS abuses remain a serious issue, and, not surprisingly, the Obama Administration doesn’t seem to care.