One day ahead of an expected vote to find her in contempt of Congress, a House committee on Wednesday voted to refer former IRS official Lois Lerner for criminal prosecution for her role in the IRS targeting scandal.
After a two-hour closed door session, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to ask the Justice Department to look into a criminal case against Lerner, the public face of the scandal who first confirmed conservative groups were being targeted by the tax agency for heightened scrutiny, according to Fox News.
After a 23-14 party-line vote, the committee will send a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting the criminal investigation of Lerner.
According to The Hill, the letter alleges Lerner used her position as director of exempt organizations to ensure that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status and that she misled the attorney general’s office during its investigation of charges the IRS was treating tea party groups and others with conservative sounding names more harshly than liberal groups.
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The targeting was done in the years immediately before President Obama’s re-election, and Republicans charge it was part of an effort to stifle political opposition to the Obama administration.
The Justice Department is already investigating the IRS case, but the probe was tainted from its beginning by reports that it is being headed by Justice attorney Barbara Bosserman, a donor to President Obama’s re-election.
On Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to vote on finding Lerner in contempt of Congress for her refusal to cooperate with lawmakers investigating the scandal.
Lerner has appeared before the committee twice, last May and again in March. Both times she took the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying.
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