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Despite an IRS decision to release documents related to former official Lois Lerner's tenure at the agency, House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is plowing ahead with plans to hold her in contempt of Congress because of her refusal to testify to his committee in its investigation of the alleged targeting of conservative groups. Politico cites an anonymous GOP aide in its report:
“The underlying facts of the case and her refusal to testify have not changed,” said the senior House Republican staffer, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) joined calls to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress after she asserted her Fifth Amendment right during a Wednesday hearing. Issa has suggested that Congress could hold a contempt vote early as next week.

Lerner, as you may recall, is the person who put the "scandal" on the front pages when she tried to get out ahead of the story by apologizing for targeting conservative groups before it became public. It turns out, however, that the IRS didn't target conservative groups exclusively. Liberal groups were targeted as well. And the reason they were targeted was understandable: They were applying for a special tax-exemption. In other words, this wasn't a case of the IRS going after political opponents; it was a case of groups seeking special privileges and being upset when the IRS asked them to provide evidence proving they qualified for those privileges.

Of course, in Issa's world of Republican fantasy, this was an example of Obama's Gestapo run amok. And not only is House Speaker John Boehner calling for Lerner to be held in contempt, he's previously demanded that somebody go to jail for what he imagines must have happened, so you can see why Lerner—who says she did nothing illegal—would be wary of offering testimony.

It must be a nightmare for her to be treated like a political football, but if there's any consolation, it's that being held in contempt by the House is hardly a death sentence. In fact, in some respects it's a badge of honor, one that Attorney General Eric Holder proudly wears on his lapel—the House held him in contempt in June 2012, and yet he continues to serve in the cabinet today. And yes, it was the very same Darrell Issa who drafted the resolution holding the Attorney General in contempt. I'm sure Lerner wishes this would all go away, but if you're going to have enemies, it always helps for them to be clowns.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Any idea why she is pleading the 5th? (10+ / 0-)

    The highest form of spiritual practice is self observation with compassion.

    by NCJim on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:10:40 PM PST

    •  perhaps she owns a 1972 Maserati /nt (0+ / 0-)

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

      by annieli on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:29:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good grief. Who could blame her for the plea? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dodgerdog1

        Darrell Issa has firmly stated from the very beginning that criminality certainly must exist at the IRS in regard to this case, and he's bound and determined to find it. including ensnaring a real person in his fantasy.  I'm sure her attorney advised her not to let him ensnare her, and the best way to do that would be to say nothing at all.  Issa would have gotten a lot more information by being cordial rather than threatening and blustering around - flies and honey and all that - but that doesn't seem to be a style he is capable of pulling off.  
        Apparently he knows only one way to try to get what he wants - by bullying.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 02:41:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe because she can? (4+ / 0-)

      With such a contemptuous committee, how is one expected to treat it any other way?

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:33:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think she's smart to take the fifth. (3+ / 0-)

      Issa is looking to crucify her no matter what she says. This ethics committee is just a sham under Issa and no one should trust this rethuglican House of Representatives which is the worst in my memory.

      48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

      by slouching on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 02:29:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are emails that Issas now has access to but (0+ / 0-)

      have not released that show her directions to ignore the politics of 501c4s and just look at making sure they have completed all their application paper work.

      But she did not and does not have control over the release of that that information.

      In any case it has always been clear that Issa wants some body's blood and that it would likely be hers even if he could not get at Obama.

      Point being that there was not reason, between the emails and the profer, to have her appear yesterday, except to enhance his ability to put her in jail for pleading the 5th.

      This will probably bankrupt her with legal fees in any case.

      Issa is just a mean bastard who needs victims.

  •  i agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GrindtheHills

    I did read somewhere to day that the R's are actually in league with the D's on letting sleeping dogs lie in this case because it disempowers the TPers.

    what strange(or not so) bedfellows.

  •  Funny, when it comes to beating phony scandal drum (10+ / 0-)

    we've got all the money in the world.

    Feeding kids? We've got to rein in this wasteful spending!

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:14:03 PM PST

    •  Which is pretty typical for the GOP when it is in (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, Crashing Vor, Dodgerdog1

      power in the House. They spent $35 million investigating Clinton. From a 2009 diary by Casual Wednesday:

      Oversight under Republicans

      This committee certainly can abuse its power. During Bill Clinton's term, the Republican-controlled committee issued 1,052 subpoenas compared to three under the Bush Administration. Put quite frankly:

      An examination of committees' own reports found that the House Government Reform Committee held just 37 hearings described as ''oversight" or investigative in nature during the last Congress, down from 135 such hearings held by its predecessor, the House Government Operations Committee, in 1993-94, the last year the Democrats controlled the chamber.
  •  I'm pretty sure that just means she... (6+ / 0-)

    never stole a car, set fire to a building, cut off the mic of a duly elected representative of the people, was guilty of abuse of power, lieing and possibly illegal leaks, or concocting ridiculous CT theories.

    Still

    I ride the wild horse .

    by BelgianBastard on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:16:07 PM PST

  •  I thought I read that her attorney (4+ / 0-)

    already offered the committee a proffer, and that that's why Issa wanted to shut Cummings - down because he was going to bring that up. Could they still hold her in comtempt if she cooperated to that extent?
    Sorry I can't find the link.

    America is a COUNTRY, not a CORPORATION. She doesn't need a CEO. Vote Obama.

    by manneckdesign on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:18:01 PM PST

  •  PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE CONGRESS! (4+ / 0-)

    Alleged insurance fraudster and arsonist.  Producer of one of the most obnoxious items ever (car alarms).  

    The Republicans deserve him, but the American people don't.

    You can't spell "Dianne Feinstein" without "NSA".

    by varro on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:19:58 PM PST

  •  You've done a grave injustice to clowns! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobBlueMass, SilverWillow
  •  Pass HR 1010 instead of playing games (0+ / 0-)

    Which is most important to voters, raising the minimum wage or harassing some woman at the IRS?

    Voters are tired of these games. If Dems don't take back the House in November they can only blame themselves.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:27:38 PM PST

  •  Power corrupts absolutely. (0+ / 0-)


    I've reached a point in life where gravity is becoming an issue. It seems to want me more than I do.

    by glb3 on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:28:59 PM PST

  •  Put politely, Darrell Issa is a fucking schmuck (0+ / 0-)

    If it were me testifying, I'd enthusiastically appear, just to publicly observe his lack of honor, unapologetically impugn his ethics, and openly slander his manhood just to get his contempt citation. I'd seek that shit. Eagerly.

    Such condemnations, coming from what is the most contemptible of men, can only be worn as commendations.

  •  Contempt is the right stance toward Issa (nt) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobBlueMass, SilverWillow, Dodgerdog1

    "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

    by libdevil on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:35:38 PM PST

  •  What Exactly About "Taxed Enough Already" (TEA) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dodgerdog1

    parties qualify them as 501(c)(4) "social welfare charities"?!

    They certainly should be treated with extra suspicion and denied tax-exempt status.

    (It's time to end the corruption brought about by Robert, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy in their idiotic and intellectually dishonest Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission ruling -- corporations should be barred from contributing any money to politicians. (Money is NOT Free Speech).)

  •  Well, perhaps that will allay my suspicions. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, Dodgerdog1

    I've wondered why an IRS manager, in a Senior Executive Service position, would apologize for IRS employees doing their job.  I still don't understand how she could not know that it was their job to scrutinize submissions to ensure compliance with the law (and apparently a 1950's era Federal Regulation which muddied the intent of the law).  Moreover, since the IRS was confronted with a large new batch of submitting organizations, it is apparent that there should some method or procedure to ensure uniformity of the process.  Since Ms. Lerner was appointed to government positions through the SES appointee process, rather than the competitive civil service process, and her appointments and promotions were during Republican administrations, it seemed to me that she might be a Linda Tripp type, willing to try to put the administration in a bad light.  If that is not the case, as you say, it would be an honor to be judged as having the utmost contempt for Representative Issa and his confederates.

    •  Actually the applications were down (0+ / 0-)

      not upwhen the BOLO was instituted. Another suspicious claim by the IRS that turned out to be incorrect.

      •  You don't find that strange, since entire new (0+ / 0-)

        movements had come into being, the Supreme Court had done away with 100-year-old rules, and the positions between adherents of political parties had tended to be become much more divergent?  Would you have instructed a staff whose total responsibility it was to rule on requests to individually, "play it by ear and call 'em the way you see 'em"?

        •  I do not know that (0+ / 0-)

          it is strange, but it is true. Contra to what the official line was (and many still believe). I would not have told my people to apply extra scrutiny and time to applications certain political and ideological groups.

          But Lerner could answer these questions.

          •  Hmm. I would try to make sure my staff (0+ / 0-)

            was prepared to deal with the most likely workload and challenges in a legal and standardized manner.  As it turns out, that's what the evidence indicates that the IRS did.  Without some uniform approach, there would have been far more likely to be actual justifiable claims of individual unfair handling.  

            As it is, Ms. Lerner's refusal to testify serves Mr. Issa and my understanding is that she has a secure retirement annuity.  The gist of his shutting down the "hearing" the way he did, was to shut of a minority inquiry as to whether Ms. Lerner's attorney was willing to make a proffer.  Why wouldn't Issa have wanted to hear that?

            •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

              Systematically targeting one political realm unfairly is not OK. And that is what the evidence indicates. Not that there was fair and objective standard. If you read the links I provided in my original comment you will see that. And again, she could clear all this up. Regardless of Iss's shenanigans. I would love for this to turn out blow up in the tops face a la the birth certificate. But unless people, especially Lerner and Hull (who could not recall 81 times) more forthcoming this provides fuel and suspicion. I think the IRS has deduced to turn over ll emails now, so that may clear things up.

              •  We just won't agree on the "one political realm" (0+ / 0-)

                matter.  Personally, I don't think that the IRS would be errant if they had a policy to pay particular attention to political organizations which broadly proclaim their opposition to a federal income tax and  the existence of the IRS.  And I would be happy to argue that procedure in front of a congressional committee.  That is partially why I suspected Lerner.  I thought the volunteered apology was gratuitous and unwarranted.  At any rate, you and I are not going to agree, but I will continue to follow the issue, as I'm sure you will.

                •  True that (0+ / 0-)

                  I don't agree that one group should be singled out for political reasons by the IRS. And they were, it isn't an opinion of mine. And for the life of me I can't understand why so many  here do think it is OK. Just think if the parties were reversed, wouldn't you be howling? Because they very well could be one day- that is is what is so frightening. A future President X could target our side and say "hey, y'all said it was oK". Plus that whole constitutionality thing.

                •  PS (0+ / 0-)

                  BTW which of the applications stated they were opposed to an income tax? The existence of the IRS? And why would it matter as long as they followed the law. I do not mean this to sound harsh or smart alec, but you are making up excuses for the actions of the IRS based on nothing but possibilities you can imagine. There is no evidence to support those conjectures.

                  •  Have you ever listened to Teaparty politicians and (0+ / 0-)

                    advocates?  If I believed that the IRS targeted either party for unfair scrutiny, I would oppose it.  I don't believe they did that.  I stated in my first response to you that I believe they developed rules of process to scrutinize a host of newly applying organizations.  The bulk of those involved the previously non existent Tea party factions.  Surely you've heard not only the Tea party, but libertarians  and conventional Republicans advocating the abolition of the IRS. Anyway, I've said everything I have to say to you. And I believe I understand your point of view, although I continue to disagree with you.  Good day.

                    •  A few points (0+ / 0-)

                      you say "

                      If I believed that the IRS targeted either party for unfair scrutiny, I would oppose it."
                      Well they did. How many links to factual information would you like me to provide in a edition tot he ones in my original comment? They did. The IRS even SAID they did.
                      I believe they developed rules of process to scrutinize a host of newly applying organizations.
                      You can "believe" all you want, but to is not accurate. The use of the conservative terms to target applications began before a rise in applications.

                      And again Lerner and Hull could prove any "beliefs" you have to be true. But the evidence suggest otherwise.

  •  Why isn't Issa in prison? (0+ / 0-)

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 01:51:17 PM PST

  •  Whereas Karl Rove ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jhecht

    ... blew of a Congressional subpoena and ... whatever.

  •  Contempt of Congress just doesn't have the "punch" (0+ / 0-)

    that it did back in the HUAC days.

    Thank goodness.

    Libertarianism is just Fascism with a facelift. Scratch the surface of Libertarianism and you will find the notion that corporations should rule supreme, just as it was with Fascism..

    by Walt starr on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 02:15:53 PM PST

  •  With all due respect (0+ / 0-)

    Much of your statements in this diary simply not accurate.

    Ms. Lerner did not innocently try to get out in front of a story, she planted the question that allowed her to "get out in front".

    It turns out, however, that the IRS didn't target conservative groups exclusively. Liberal groups were targeted as well.
    Not technically "exclusively" but in practical terms yes it was.

    "In total, 30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words 'progress' or 'progressive' in their names were processed as potential political cases," George wrote to Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee. "In comparison, our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit."

    Further while some progressive groups were looked at they were given latitude by the local office to determine their stays. While every conservative appellation was sent to supervisors. And Every conservative application was delayed for two years.

    The treatment of the few (7) progressive applications looked at those of conservative groups (104) is plainly disparate.

    They weren't seeking "special privileges" just the same treatment as other groups received.

    And if Ms. Lerner wishes this would "all go away" she could make that happen by testifying.

  •  Why am I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dodgerdog1

    not surprised.  You would think that he would be embarrassed to even consider this after his behavior this week.  But you have to have some degree of humanity to feel embarrassed.

    By the way, I am stealing this:

    if you're going to have enemies, it always helps for them to be clowns.
    Hope you don't mind.
  •  We're all in contempt of congress, especially (0+ / 0-)

    the House of Representatives.

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 02:24:29 PM PST

  •  Maybe there are those who (0+ / 0-)

    are trying to maneuver Issa into some stunt that will end his political career or put Republicans in a bad spot.  Holding someone in contempt of Congress for exercising their Constitutional rights just might be the spark that makes Issa's career as a politician go POOF! OR if he could make it stick, it would be the precedent for doing the same thing to Republicans some day.

  •  Granted this would be a House vote. (0+ / 0-)

    But since Lerner offered a profer this week, and Issa rejected it the House would look pretty bastardly if they held her in contempt.

    And if Issa really wants fact from Lerner why refuse the profer?

    Does Issa even know what a profer is?

    Since he can't get at Obama it looks like he is trying slaughter the scape goat Lerner, and that would be pretty awful for her, and very undeserved.

    What little liberal media there is needs to come to rescue if they do plan to vote in the House.

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