IRS official to plead the Fifth at congressional hearing
May 21st, 2013
04:54 PM ET
9 years ago

IRS official to plead the Fifth at congressional hearing

(CNN) – The official in charge of an embattled Internal Revenue Service division will invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a Wednesday appearance before a House oversight panel, a spokesman for the committee said.

Lois Lerner, who oversaw the IRS division handling requests for tax-exempt status, made her intentions known in a letter to the committee's chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa. Lerner was the first IRS official to publically admit that the tax agency was using extra scrutiny on conservative groups applying to become tax exempt.

"The Committee has been contacted by Ms. Lerner's lawyer who stated that his client intended to invoke her 5th amendment right and refuse to answer questions," the committee's spokesman Ali Ahmad wrote in a statement. "Ms. Lerner remains under subpoena from Chairman Issa to appear at tomorrow's hearing - the Committee has a Constitutional obligation to conduct oversight. Chairman Issa remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify tomorrow about her knowledge of outrageous IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs."

Lerner revealed during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the American Bar Association a week and a half ago that the IRS was targeting conservative groups when assessing applications for tax exempt status. Later, officials at the agency said the question that prompted Lerner's response was planted as a way for the information to become public.

Her disclosure came days before the release of an independent inspector general's report, which indicated Lerner learned about the conservative targeting in June 2011. While she took steps to stop the practice, lawmakers want to know why she didn't notify members of Congress.

“While we respect Ms. Lerner’s use of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, we are disturbed she saw fit to trample over our First Amendment rights by harassing us and many other groups for our views,” Jenny Beth Martin, the co-Founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Filed under: Darrell Issa • IRS
soundoff (282 Responses)
  1. terryrayc

    I like how people try to say the IRS targeted everyone.

    Lets do the math. The IRS targeted over 90 Republican groups. So far there have been reports of 3 Liberal groups and all 3 were liberal groups and they were denied because they were found to have been political. The difference here is simple...the 90 right wing groups were help in limbo until after the election, the 3 liberal groups were just denied because they didn't meet the requirements.

    May 22, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |

    Wooow this is crazy all this Dem, thinking this is nothing , scary thats why they need the Gov, because they are lazy

    May 22, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. n222s

    To those of you claiming, correctly, that Shulmann was a Bush appointee, you do know he is a registered Democrat and last year gave $500 to the DNC and $0 to the RNC. You do know that, don't you?

    May 22, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  4. n222s

    You all do know that Lois Lerner, when she was with the FEC, headed an investigation of the Christian Coalition (they were exonerated)? Right? Now, of course, many of you will cheer. After you stop, you do know that some of the questions asked by the lawyers were such as "has Pat Robertson ever prayed for you?" and "what were the contents of those prayers?".

    You do know that, don't you? G00gle Lois Lerner, FEC, Christian Coalition. See what you can find.

    May 22, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. parshman

    Tell me again why it is we financially support and organization that can not maintain a budget, is riddled with corruption and partisanship, forces us to pay more and more of our money, and extinguishes the desire of businesses to set up shop here? Flat tax, no exceptions, no loopholes. Tax people once, that's it. Reduce the size of government. Allow businesses to thrive in the market unmolested. The government is supposed to serve the people. Republican or Democrat, is that truly how it is now? I don't think so. If lawmakers can not get it done, they should be removed from their office. Repeal this idiotic health care law/tax. Stop socializing our society and allow capitalism to again thrive. Why the rant? Because the IRS' actions here are the tip of the iceberg. This is a systemic problem that goes all the way to the Oval Office.

    May 22, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. Marc

    I hope Congress trots out every possible person that was involved from the IRS so they can all stand up and plead the fifith. Then get Carney and anyone else at the White House who they say knew and see how they testify under oath, or will they plead the fifth too?

    May 22, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. Maria Delaluz

    What a vile and corrupt gov't we have. It only reflects the values of the people who voted to have these politicians represent us. What an EVIL AND CLUELESS generation! Are you all so blind not to see the evilness of the past two presidents and the most evil of all – the current one? People get your head out of your A$$, and start voting in good decent people to public office! Stop voting for DEMONcrats and Republicrats. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC – evil, evil, evil!

    May 22, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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