The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents 41 organizations in a federal lawsuit challenging the IRS, said today a decision by Congressional investigators to recall former top IRS official Lois Lerner to testify about the targeting scandal is not only appropriate but necessary to get to the bottom of this unlawful targeting scheme.
Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Lerner’s attorney requesting she appear before the panel next week to answer questions about the targeting scheme. In May 2013, after proclaiming her innocence, she refused to answer questions before the panel, invoking the Fifth Amendment. In his letter recalling Lerner to testify next week, Chairman Issa said the Committee concluded that she had waived her Fifth Amendment rights because of the comments she made at the hearing.
“The decision to recall Lois Lerner to testify before this House panel is not only appropriate but necessary to get to the bottom of this unlawful targeting scheme,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “The Committee correctly concluded that Lerner waived her constitutional rights to refuse to answer questions before the panel. We know that she is deeply involved in this targeting scheme – even involved in planning new rules to restrict free speech even as the targeting scheme was in full-swing. It’s time for Lerner to stop the stonewalling – to present the facts and to tell the truth about this unlawful targeting scheme. It’s time for accountability and she holds the key.”
Recently-disclosed emails reveal that key IRS officials – including Lerner – were drafting new rules “off-plan” so that they wouldn’t be initially publicly-disclosed.
In the letter requesting Lerner appear before the Congressional panel next week, Chairman Issa makes it clear that her participation is vital:
“Ms. Lerner’s testimony remains critical to the Committee’s investigation. Documents and testimony obtained by the Committee show that she played a significant role in scrutinizing applications for tax exempt status from conservative organizations. Documents also show that Ms. Lerner participated in ‘off plan’ work to develop rules that would allow the IRS to stifle constitutionally protected political speech by non-profit groups. Ms. Lerner’s testimony will allow the Committee to better understand how and why the IRS targeted certain organizations.”
In its federal lawsuit, the ACLJ represents 41 organizations in 22 states. Of the 41 groups, 24 organizations received tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 11 are still pending, 5 withdrew applications because of frustration with the IRS process, and 1 had their file closed by the IRS after refusing to answer the unconstitutional requests for more information.