The Internal Revenue Service has agreed to turn over the rest of the outstanding emails from Lois Lerner, the former director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations unit, to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Lerner was the first to reveal that the IRS had been using terms such as “Tea Party” and “Patriot” to screen applications for tax-exempt status from various political groups.
Lerner refused to answer questions during a congressional hearing last year into IRS scrutiny of Tea Party groups, invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, but the House voted to hold her in contempt of Congress on Wednesday (see House Holds Lerner in Contempt as IRS Probe Nears One-Year Mark).
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said Thursday that one year into the investigation of the IRS targeting of political groups, the agency has agreed to turn over all of Lerner’s emails to the committee.
“While it is good that we are finally getting these emails, it should never have taken this long,” Camp said in a statement. “The agency is finally doing what is right and hopefully this is the last of the delays. It is almost a year to the day since Lois Lerner apologized’ for the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, and we need to get to the bottom of this. These documents are critical to an investigation that is holding the IRS accountable and ensuring the constitutional rights of these groups are never trampled on again. The committee will thoroughly review the Lerner documents and follow them wherever they may lead.”
Last month, the Ways and Means Committee referred Lerner to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. From the committee’s investigation, it found three specific acts undertaken by Lerner that may have violated one or more criminal statutes. The House took action this week with a vote to instruct the DOJ to take the investigation seriously and appoint a special counsel.
During a hearing Wednesday before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, IRS commissioner John Koskinen reassured members of the committee that the agency would fully cooperate with the investigation.