Lerner has now joined an exclusive list of government officials held in contempt of Congress by congressional committees for refusing to cooperate with congressional investigations. The list includes many well-known names, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Attorney General Janet Reno.
In response to the ruling, Lerner’s attorney said in a statement: “It is unfortunate that the majority party in the House has put politics before a citizen’s constitutional rights.”
The matter will now be referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which has the option to bring the issue to court. But the House isn’t leaving it entirely to the Justice Department to decide what to do. In a separate matter, the House voted to call on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to look into the matter.
If ever convicted, Lerner could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.