A former Internal Revenue Service official once again refused to answer questions during a congressional hearing today, and now may face contempt of Congress charges.
Lois Lerner, represented by William Taylor of Zuckerman Spaeder, appeared today before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asked her several questions about accusations the IRS unfairly targeted conservative political groups that applied for tax-exempt status.
“My counsel has advised me that I have not waived my Constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment and on his advice I will decline to answer any question on the subject matter of this hearing,” said Lerner, the former IRS director of exempt organizations. Issa then stopped the hearing.
It was Lerner’s statement at a May 22 hearing—made before she invoked her right against self-incrimination, later at the hearing—that has raised legal questions. Issa said today the committee voted and found Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment rights by making the statement.
“If Ms. Lerner continues to refuse to answer questions from our members while she is under a subpoena, the committee may proceed to consider whether she should be held in contempt,” Issa said at the hearing today.
After that hearing nine months ago, election and political law practitioners said the case law on the subject is limited and fuzzy, but Lerner risked being held in contempt.
Contact Todd Ruger at email@example.com.