The top investigator in the House feels a high-ranking IRS official waived her Fifth Amendment rights and should have to testify about the targeting of conservative groups at the powerful agency from 2010 to 2012.
Rep. Darrell Issa, California Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, signaled on Wednesday he would take a hard look at whether Lois Lerner, the IRS‘ director of tax-exempt organizations, forfeited her right to silence by offering an opening statement to the committee before refusing, on the advice of her lawyer, to answer any questions.
“After consulting with counsel, Chairman Issa has concluded that Ms. Lerner’s 5th amendment assertion is no longer valid,” committee spokesman Ali Ahmad said Thursday. “She remains under subpoena, [and] the Committee is looking at recalling her for testimony.”
It is unclear when that may occur, but it’s the strongest indication yet that Ms. Lerner will be compelled to offer some kind of insight into what she knows about the scandal.
Ms. Lerner tried to put a stop to the Cincinnati field office’s burdensome scrutiny of tea party groups and others in July 2011, when she told specialists to broaden their criteria for vetting applications for tax-exempt status so they didn’t appear to be partisan, according to an audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
This month, she was the first person to disclose publicly that the IRS inappropriately targeted conservative groups. She apologized for it during an event with the American Bar Association, catching the Obama administration off guard and setting off a political firestorm on Capitol Hill.