H.Res. 574, Recommending that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, Former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

H.Res. 574

Recommending that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, Former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Date
May 7, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, the House will consider H.Res. 574, a resolution [r]ecommending that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, Former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, under a closed rule.  H.Res. 574was introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  On April 10, 2014, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met in open session to consider a report of contempt.  The Committee reported the Report favorably to the House by a roll call vote of 21-12.[1]

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[1] See H. Rep. 113-415, at 19.

Bill Summary

H.Res. 574 recommends that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, Former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena for testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Background

On May 10, 2013, Lois G. Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations for the IRS, apologized for the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups’ tax-exempt status applications.[1]  Her apology came just prior to the release of an independent inspector general report finding that the IRS, from 2010 until 2012, subjected certain tax-exempt applications to extra scrutiny based upon inappropriate criteria (including groups that used the phrase “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” and “9/12” in their names).  Groups subjected to this scrutiny experienced years-long delays without cause and were forced to answer inappropriate questions about political beliefs and donor information.

On May 14, 2013 Chairman Issa requested Ms. Lerner’s testimony at a hearing on May 22, 2013.  Ms. Lerner’s attorney notified Chairman Issa that although she would be present at the hearing, she would invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege and decline to answer any questions.  Because of Ms. Lerner’s refusal to testify voluntarily, Chairman Issa issued a subpoena on May 20, 2013 to compel her testimony.  On May 22, 2013, Ms. Lerner appeared at the hearing and made a voluntary opening statement in which she denied any wrongdoing, but refused to answer any questions.  Chairman Issa excused Ms. Lerner and recessed the hearing in order to consider whether her voluntary statement constituted a waiver of her Fifth Amendment privilege.

On June 28, 2013, the Committee convened a business meeting to determine whether Ms. Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment privilege.  The Committee approved a resolution, by a 22-17 vote, finding that Ms. Lerner’s statement constituted a waiver of the Fifth Amendment privilege.  On March 5, 2014, the Chairman reconvened the May 22, 2013 hearing.  When the hearing reconvened, Chairman Issa notified Ms. Lerner that the Committee had determined that she had waived her Fifth Amendment privilege and that her refusal to answer questions may result in contempt proceedings.  Ms. Lerner subsequently asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege.  On April 10, 2014, the Committee met in an open session to consider a Report of Contempt against Ms. Lerner.  The Committee ordered the Report reported favorably by a roll call vote of 21-12.

Based on the coordinated investigation of the Oversight and Government Reform and Ways and Means Committees, it is clear Ms. Lerner has firsthand knowledge of the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.  More importantly, the investigation has concluded that Ms. Lerner was personally involved in aspects of the targeting, including ordering Tea Party applications to proceed through an unprecedented multi-tier review process.  Ms. Lerner’s testimony is vital to the investigation, and her continued non-cooperation has hindered the Committees’ ability to complete the investigation in a thorough manner.

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[1] See Rick Hasen, Transcript of Lois Lerner’s Remarks at Tax Meeting Sparking IRS Controversy, Election Law Blog (May 11, 2013), http://electionlawblog.org/?p=50160.

Cost

No cost is expected.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.