Released by the office of U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling
U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement today after voting to hold Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress and to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to appoint a special prosecutor to open a criminal investigation into the abuses at the IRS.
“The IRS’s campaign to selectively punish and harass the Obama Administration’s political opponents was an inexcusable, indefensible, and dangerous abuse of power. That is why, over the last year, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the House Ways & Means Committees have been conducting a thorough investigation to identify the individual or individuals responsible for these egregious abuses and hold them accountable.
“One individual who seems to be squarely in the middle of this scandal is Lois Lerner. Ms. Lerner came before Congress, gave her opening statement, and has remained silent since then, citing her rights under the Fifth Amendment. While the Fifth Amendment protects Americans from being forced to testify in criminal cases where doing so would incriminate them, it does not grant someone the right to share their side of the story and then refuse all further questions or challenges to their version of events. By virtue of her opening statement, Ms. Lerner has waived her right to plead the Fifth. Yet she still refuses to answer any questions about her involvement in the IRS targeting scandal. After refusing multiple opportunities to testify before Congress and address the accusations against her, the House had no choice but to hold Ms. Lerner in contempt.
“It has been almost a year since news of the IRS targeting scandal broke. Yet the DOJ has yet to take any meaningful action to bring those accountable to justice. So today, the House also voted to urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor for the abuses at the IRS.
“This is an issue that should rise above partisanship. The American people deserve answers and they expect those responsible to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”