- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2013

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa said Friday he believes the woman at the center of the IRS scandal waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she came before the committee last month.

“I have considered the matter deliberately,” including the opinion of Lois Lerner’s lawyers, Mr. Issa said,

Ms. Lerner, director of tax-exempt organizations for the IRS, began the witnesses’ testimony by denying that she acted improperly and then invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws,” she said. “I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”

Mr. Issa dismissed Ms. Lerner from the witness table, but Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, objected, saying that since she made a brief statement in her defense, that effectively waived her right to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

The committee is weighing a resolution Friday on whether Ms. Lerner did, in fact, waive her rights.

Ranking member Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said Friday he wants to hear from Ms. Lerner, but that he also wants a hearing with legal experts to weigh in before any votes.

“We must respect the constitutional rights of every witness who comes before this committee,” he said.

Ms. Lerner tried to stop the Cincinnati field office’s targeting of tea party and other right-leaning groups by directing specialists in 2011 to broaden their criteria so that it did not appear partisan, according to an audit by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

Yet the audit says the behavior resurfaced and had to be fixed once more in May 2012.
Ms. Lerner apologized at a May 10 event with the American Bar Association for burdening the conservative groups from early 2010 to May 2012, an admission that set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill.

The announcement — staged through a prearranged question from the audience — was made days before the inspector general released the audit that confirmed Republican lawmakers’ suspicions in 2012 that conservative groups had been singled out.

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