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Democrats kill IRS reform; Lois Lerner stays mum

Former Internal Revenue Service chief Lois Lerner exercises her Fifth Amendment right not to speak about the agency targeting investigation before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Former Internal Revenue Service chief Lois Lerner exercises her Fifth Amendment right not to speak about the agency targeting investigation before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ten Democrat senators — none up for re-election this year — killed a measure to prohibit political discrimination by IRS employees.

The Senate Judiciary Committee defeated an amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Titled “Intentional Discrimination by Employees of the Internal Revenue Service,” the measure stated:

“(a) Offense. — It shall be unlawful for any officer of the Internal Revenue Service to, regardless of whether the officer or employee is acting under the color of law, willfully act with the intent to injure, oppress, threaten, intimidate or single out and subject to undue scrutiny for purposes of harassment any person or organization of any state –

“(1) based solely or primarily on the political, economic or social positions held or expressed by the person or organization; or

“2) because the person or organization has expressed a particular political, economic, or social position using any words of writing allowed by law.”

The senators — all Democrats — who voted to kill Cruz’s amendment were:

  • Patrick Leahy of Vermont
  • Dianne Feinstein of California
  • Charles Schumer of New York
  • Richard Durbin of Illinois
  • Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island
  • Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota
  • Chris Coons of Delaware
  • Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut
  • Mazie Hirono of Hawaii

The IRS inspector general reported the agency gave extra scrutiny to 298 groups applying for tax-exempt status from spring 2010 to spring 2012.

The vast majority — 248 — were conservative/tea party organizations. Twenty-nine were rated liberal and 21 were neither, according to the Republican staff of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Former IRS Director Lois Lerner, again taking the Fifth Amendment, declined Wednesday to answer questions from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

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