The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents 41 organizations in a federal lawsuit challenging the IRS, said today’s decision by former IRS official Lois Lerner to once again attempt to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify before a Congressional panel represents a troubling continuation of the stonewalling designed to prevent Congress from getting the truth about the unlawful scheme targeting conservative organizations.
“The fact is Lois Lerner – a key figure in this unlawful scheme – could have provided meaningful testimony today to shed light on the facts behind the IRS scheme to target conservatives,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “Instead of providing the truth, she once again continued her strategy of stonewalling – refusing to provide Congress with the information needed to determine the depth and scope of this illegal targeting campaign. Today’s decision by Lerner to refuse to answer any questions about the scheme is deeply troubling and reflects the non-existent level of cooperation by current and former Obama Administration officials in this investigation. It’s been nearly 10 months since Lerner revealed this scheme and apologized. Her failure to follow-up that apology with Congressional testimony is an insult to the American people.”
Lerner, who refused to answer questions before Congress in May 2013, today repeated that constitutional claim and refused to answer questions at a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Chairman Darrell Issa repeatedly asked Lerner questions about her involvement in the scheme – including Lerner’s participation in drafting new rules “off-plan” so that they wouldn’t be initially publicly-disclosed.
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.