WASHINGTON D.C. - Republican members of the House might move toward holding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, but the Department of Justice could be a roadblock.
Lerner is the former IRS official who headed the division that targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status from 2010 to 2012. In both May 2013 and March 2014, she refused to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
First Coast Congressman Ron DeSantis is on that committee, and says Lerner is “obviously hiding” what she’s done.
He says that evidenced by the fact that she’s willing to talk to the Department of Justice but not members of Congress. DeSantis says the DOJ could, in theory, prosecute her and put her in jail. Congress does not have that authority.
“I think what that indicates is that this Justice Department investigation is not serious,” DeSantis says. “Our investigation is really the only serious one interested in getting to the truth.”
According to DeSantis, when Lerner was working at the IRS, she listened to complaints from Democratic politicians and then acted on their behalf as a “partisan bureaucrat.”
“It’s just really, really troubling when that’s happening because she’s not directly accountable to anybody,” he says. “No American has ever elected her to anything, and yet here she is essentially applying the power that she has in a discriminatory fashion.”
DeSantis says if Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants to hold her in contempt, they’d have to do so at the committee level first and then bring it to the full House floor.
He says “the problem” is that in order to enforce the contempt, they need the DOJ to do it.
“And I don’t think any of us are holding our breath thinking that Attorney General Eric Holder is going to be interested in enforcing a contempt of Congress against Lois Lerner for this IRS issue,” DeSantis says.
The House is back in session on Monday, March 24.