A constitutional law firm says the decision last week by a House committee to hold a former IRS official in contempt of Congress is justified.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with congressional investigators to provide information regarding her role in the unlawful targeting of conservative and tea party groups. The 21-12 vote on Thursday to hold Lerner in contempt was along party lines – all Republicans in favor, all Democrats opposed.
Matthew Clark is an associate counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents 41 organizations targeted by the IRS during the 2012 presidential campaign cycle. Clark says holding Lerner in contempt of Congress was the appropriate move by the committee.
"[It has been] 11 months now since she first announced that the IRS did something wrong," he points out. "But yet she has delayed, she has defied Congress at every move, she's refused to answer questions, and she's refused to comply with Congress's subpoena."
The action by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee came right on the heels of a vote by the House Ways and Means Committee to ask the Justice Department to file criminal charges against Lerner. The ACLJ attorney says depending on the DOJ is a waste of time.
"As we've seen with this Justice Department and the lack of a true thorough impartial investigation into this case, it's most likely it will have to be congressional action to enforce this," he says.
Clark also notes that if the entire House approves the contempt of Congress charges against Lerner, the House can initiate a civil lawsuit against the former IRS official.
Collecting taxes and conservative scalps, IRS-style
(related commentary by Robert Knight)