Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS division on exempt organizations, may have pleaded the Fifth (twice), but that has not stopped the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from issuing a damning report about Lerner’s role in the recent 501(c)(4) scandal. Released Tuesday, the report accuses Lerner of leading efforts to scrutinize conservative groups, obstructing the oversight committee’s investigation, and misleading Congress about the IRS’s and her own conduct. The picture it paints of Lerner is not pretty.
Among other conclusions, the report found that Lerner “led efforts to scrutinize conservative groups.” However, as Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) – who you may remember from last week’s microphone scandal – noted, the report provides “absolutely no evidence to support the central Republican allegations in this investigation – that the White House directed this activity or that it was politically motivated.” Speaking of the microphone scandal, Issa has issued an apology for that action.
The Committee is expected to use the report to build a case against Lerner, including a vote to hold her in contempt of Congress for pleading the Fifth. But in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner Cummings concluded, based on expert opinion, that Issa’s move to cut Lerner’s hearing short last Wednesday was a “fatal procedural error” that compromises any House contempt action. Boehner today dismissed the analysis, but we are sure to hear more from both sides.
Lerner’s attorney maintains her innocence, arguing that the Committee’s majority has “no interest in the facts,” which he maintains would conflict with their conspiracy theory. Interestingly, the report failed to include any minority position, adding weight to his suggestion.