IRS Targets Conservatives (Pt 8) – Lerner Grilled by Congress

Sandy @Orangeone4
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Yesterday, we posted “IRS Targets Conservative NFPs Part 7 – Lois Lerner to Plead the 5th!”. My Op-Ed included, in relevant part:

“As a taxpayer, I have absolutely no sympathy for this woman. She is a government employee paid with tax dollars taken from hard-working Americans. She needs to appear, she needs to be grilled by the strong members of the Oversight Committee, she needs to feel the eyes of the victims in the gallery, she needs to feel the wrath of the public officials that represent us for violating the sanctity of our laws and our trust.”

I received my wish. Darrell Issa did not grant the request from Lerner’s attorney to let her off the hook and avoid embarrassment. Lois Lerner, the IRS’ Director of Exempt Organizations since 2006, appeared before the Oversight Committee. In her opening statement, she mentioned she has been a government employee for over 34 years and transferred to the IRS in 2001. She went on to mention she had previously practiced law at the Department of Justice and the federal Election Commission.

Watch the hearing

True to the course set during the Oversight hearings on Benghazi, Ms. Lerner tossed out statistics to make it appear the Exempt Organizations is overburdened and understaffed. With over 900 employees, it’s hard to imagine being overburdened when the tax exempt paperwork is completed by the applying entities and the annual tax filings are prepared by employees or consultants of the tax-exempt entities.

Approximately 141 million individual, 30 million employment tax, 2.4 million corporate tax returns were filed in 2010. Individual returns fell to 134 million in 2012. Oversight of 1.6 million tax-exempt organizations and processing over 60,000 applications annually is a pittance compared to annual income tax return processing. And Ms. Lerner has an annual budget of over $100 million to accomplish it.

Ms. Lerner ended her opening statement with: “I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other Congressional Committee.” She then invoked her Fifth Amendment right.

See my blog “IRS Targets Conservative NFPs Part 7 – Lois Lerner to Plead the 5th!” for discussion on the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Did Lois Lerner Effectively Waive Her Rights By Giving an Opening Statement and Providing Prior Testimony?

Chairman Issa asserted that Ms. Lerner in fact waived her Fifth Amendment rights because she gave testimony to the Oversight Committee under oath by making an opening statement with assertions of innocence, and authenticated earlier answers provided in writing to the Inspector General. Upon Issa’s request, Ms. Lerner consulted with her counsel then refused to testify but did not reassert her Fifth Amendment right.

Representative Gowdy Weighs In

Rep. Gowdy (R-SC), former solicitor (district attorney) for S.C.’s Seventh Judicial Circuit, and former federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office in South Carolina, weighed in, reminding Chairman Issa that Rep. Cummings (D-MD) stated he wanted today’s proceedings to be run like a courtroom and that he agreed with Mr. Cummings. Mr. Gowdy reminded the Committee: “Ms. Lerner just testified, she waived her Fifth Amendment right to privilege. You don’t get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross examination. That’s not the way it works. She waived her right to Fifth Amendment privilege by issuing an opening statement and she ought to stand here and answer our questions.” At that point the gallery erupted in applause and Ms. Lerner huffed in disgust. As expected, Rep. Cummings leaped to Lerner’s defense. Subsequently, Chairman Issa dismissed Ms. Lerner subject to recall.

Next Steps

Chairman Issa stated legal counsel would be consulted to determine if Ms. Lerner in fact waived her Fifth Amendment privilege. The pieces are beginning to fall into place.

Unanswered Questions

Did Ms. Lerner waive her Fifth Amendment privilege? What is she hiding? Why did she previously testify and now suddenly invoke privilege after Obama received a copy of the Inspector General’s report and its contents became public? Who is she protecting? Why is the Department of Justice involved rather than a special prosecutor? These and many other questions need to be answered. Demand the truth. Demand accountability. We are a Red Nation Rising.

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