The saga of Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal keeps getting better and better. It’s as if one of the Hollywood soap opera script writers is directing the chain of events. First the mystery of who did it, then the denials, then more evidence followed by more denials followed by a partial confession and early retirement. Then all of the emails from the time of the scandal mysteriously disappear and so the story moves on.
On Wednesday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, grilled IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about the IRS targeting scandal. During the hearing, Issa released an email from Lois Lerner that warned others to be careful of what they say in their emails.
“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have several occasions where Congress has asked for emails. We need to be cautious about what we say in emails.”
On March 29, 2013, Lerner read a draft copy of IRS Inspector General’s report on the IRS targeting of tea party and conservative groups. On April 9, 2013, Lerner sent the email warning to upper IRS officials to use instant messaging instead of emails.
The email was part of the documents that were finally turned over to the House committee last week. Those documents were subpoenaed over a year ago and were just now delivered.
Supposedly, the delay in delivering the subpoenaed emails was due to the fact that Lerner’s hard drive had been recycled and destroyed after it had supposedly crashed in 2011. It took the IRS a year to piece together emails from Lerner sent between 2009 and 2011 by going through the emails of over 80 IRS officials and employees who were copied on the emails.
In May of this year, Lerner refused to testify before Issa’s House Committee, claiming her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But her taking the 5th has not been taken well by some House members. This week, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) introduced House Resolution 664 which finds Lerner in contempt of Congress. The resolution states:
“Providing for the arrest of Lois G. Lerner to answer the charge of contempt of Congress
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. STOCKMAN submitted the following resolution, which was referred to the Committee on ______________
Providing for the arrest of Lois G. Lerner to answer the charge of contempt of Congress
Whereas Lois G. Lerner, former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, has been found to be in contempt of Congress for willfully and intentionally refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, thereby obstructing the Congress in the lawful exercise of its constitutionally mandated legislative powers; and,
Whereas such behavior is an insult to the dignity of the House of Representatives, an attack upon the integrity of its proceedings, works violence upon the rights of the House collectively, and therefore implicates the long-recognized inherent power of the House to punish and commit for contempt, privileged under the Constitution; and,
Whereas recent history with similarly contumacious and insolent witnesses such as Eric Himpton Holder, Junior, strongly suggests that the present statutory judicial rubric set up to punish and reform such insubordinate and obstructionist witnesses would be ineffective in this case, as it is likely that the US Attorney for the District of Columbia would refuse to perform his lawful duty to bring the offending contemnor Lerner before a Grand Jury and prosecute the same for her misconduct pursuant to section 104 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 194) and section 102 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 192); and,
Whereas the executive and judicial branches’ prolonged and dawdling failure to prosecute Attorney General Holder’s insolent contempt of the 112th Congress strongly suggests that a like proceeding against contemnor Lerner would be similarly futile, and the threat of such prosecution has clearly been insufficient to encourage contemnor Lerner to be honest and candid with the Congress regarding the heinous actions of the Internal Revenue Service;
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Speaker issue his warrant, directed to the Sergeant-at-Arms, or his deputy, commanding him to arrest and take into custody forthwith, wherever to be found, the body of Lois G. Lerner, and bring her to the bar of the House without delay to answer to the charge of contempt of its authority, breach of its privileges, and gross and wanton insult to the integrity of its proceedings, and in the meantime keep the body of Lerner in his custody in the common jail of the District of Columbia, subject to the further order of the House. While in custody, Lerner shall enjoy no special privileges beyond those extended to her fellow inmates, shall not access any computer or telephone, and shall not be visited by anyone other than her counsel, clergy, physician, or family.”
Since Republicans still control the House, it seems likely that the resolution will pass and that Lerner will be headed to jail. However, I firmly believe that Barack Obama and former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman are the ones responsible for planning and implementing the IRS targeting and they should be the ones going to jail!