The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday afternoon that Lois Lerner, who heads up the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt division, plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in a hearing Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs.
The Fifth Amendment provides that U.S. citizens may not be compelled to offer testimony if telling the truth would incriminate them.
Lerner’s defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III, wrote to the committee on Tuesday that his client would refuse to answer questions related to what she knew about the extra levels of scrutiny applied to conservative nonprofit organizations that applied for tax-exempt status beginning in 2010.
She also will decline to say why she didn’t disclose what she knew to Congress, according to the LA Times.
[...]The IRS applied special criteria to conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status, putting them on a ‘Be On The Lookout’ (BOLO) list, based on the groups’ names and political philosophies.
[...]Jay Carney, the president’s chief spokesman, confirmed Monday that senior White House staff, including White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, knew about the IRS’s habits as early as April 24, and chose not to tell Obama.
The Inspector General report found that Lerner and other IRS were notified in or before June 2011 that some staff in the agency’s Cincinnati, Ohio office were using ‘tea party,’ ‘patriots’ and other key words to add applicants to the BOLO list.
Once on that list, the groups were subjected to additional auditing of their financial practices, their membership and their political activities.
Despite knowing about the program, Lerner and other senior IRS staffers withheld the information from Congress despite receiving several requests from House committees whose members heard from constituents that their tea party groups’ tax-exempt approvals were taking as long as two years to be resolved.
The House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee was among those that specifically asked the IRS whether it was inspecting tea party groups more closely than other applicants, including those on the political left.
Pleading the 5th is standard operating procedure for gangsters and mobsters who have committed crimes but do not want to be held accountable.
[P]rior to joining the IRS, Lerner’s tenure as head of the Enforcement Office at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was marked by what appears to be politically motivated harassment of conservative groups.
Lerner was appointed head of the FEC’s enforcement division in 1986 and stayed in that position until 2001. In the late 1990s, the FEC launched an onerous investigation of the Christian Coalition, ultimately costing the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours in lost work. The investigation was notable because the FEC alleged that the Christian Coalition was coordinating issue advocacy expenditures with a number of candidates for office. Aside from lacking proof this was happening, it was an open question whether the FEC had the authority to bring these charges.
James Bopp Jr., who was lead counsel for the Christian Coalition at the time, tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD the Christian Coalition investigation was egregious and uncalled for. “We felt we were being singled out, because when you handle a case with 81 depositions you have a pretty good argument you’re getting special treatment. Eighty-one depositions! Eighty-one! From Ralph Reed’s former part-time secretary to George H.W. Bush. It was mind blowing,” he said.
All told the FEC deposed 48 different people—and that doesn’t begin to account for all the FEC’s requests for information. Bopp further detailed the extent of the inquiry in testimony delivered before the congressional Committee on House Administration in 2003:
The FEC conducted a large amount of paper discovery during the administrative investigation and then served four massive discovery requests during the litigation stage that included 127 document requests, 32 interrogatories, and 1,813 requests for admission. Three of the interrogatories required the Coalition to explain each request for admission that it did not admit in full, for a total of 481 additional written answers that had to be provided. The Coalition was required to produce tens of thousands of pages of documents, many of them containing sensitive and proprietary information about ﬁnances and donor information. Each of the 49 state afﬁliates were asked to provide documents and many states were individually subpoenaed. In all, the Coalition searched both its offices and warehouse, where millions of pages of documents are stored, in order to produce over 100,000 pages of documents.
Furthermore, nearly every aspect of the Coalition’s activities has been examined by FEC attorneys from seeking information regarding its donors to information about its legislative lobbying. The Commission, in its never-ending quest to find the non-existent “smoking gun,” even served subpoenas upon the Coalition’s accountants, its fundraising and direct mail vendors, and The Christian Broadcasting Network.
One of the most shocking things about the current IRS scandal is the revelation that the agency asked one religious pro-life group to detail the content of their prayers and asked clearly inappropriate questions about private religious activity. But under Lerner’s watch, inappropriate religious inquiries were a hallmark of the FEC’s interrogation of the Christian Coalition. According to Bopp’s testimony:
FEC attorneys continued their intrusion into religious activities by prying into what occurs at Coalition staff prayer meetings, and even who attends the prayer meetings held at the Coalition. This line of questioning was pursued several times. Deponents were also asked to explain what the positions of “intercessory prayer” and “prayer warrior” entailed, what churches speciﬁc people belonged, and the church and its location at which a deponent met Dr. Reed.
One of the most shocking and startling examples of this irrelevant and intrusive questioning by F EC attorneys into private political associations of citizens occurred during the administrative depositions of three pastors from South Carolina. Each pastor, only one of whom had only the slightest connection with the Coalition, was asked not only about their federal, state and local political activities, including party afﬁliations, but about political activities that, as one FEC attorney described as “personal,” and outside of the jurisdiction of the FECA [Federal Election Campaign Act]. They were also continually asked about the associations and activities of the members of their congregations, and even other pastors.
Too bad that the federal anti-bullying laws don’t apply to secular leftist fascists in government.