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House divided: IRS' ex-employee Lerner held in contempt by Oversight Committee

Former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner (back to camera) during a hearing in March 2014 in Washington, DC. Vista Rep.Darrell Issa adjourned after Lerner exercised her Fifth Amendment right not to speak about IRS targeting of taxpayer groups.
Former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner (back to camera) during a hearing in March 2014 in Washington, DC. Vista Rep.Darrell Issa adjourned after Lerner exercised her Fifth Amendment right not to speak about IRS targeting of taxpayer groups.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A split party-line vote from members on the House Oversight Committee holds the former Internal Revenue Service's Director of Tax Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress: 21-12. The internal political drama thus continues on the national stage as Vista Representative and Chairman of Oversight, Darrell Issa, seems doggedly determined to learn the who, what, where, when and why of the government agency's targeting against some taxpayers.

The news was shared in a statement from the Facebook page of one of the Internal Revenue Service's conservative targets, True the Vote, which references a Townhall.com article with their own added statement:

"BREAKING: Oversight Committee Votes 21-12 to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt of Congress. Now it goes to the full House for a vote."

Which means more discussion of course. This vote follows yesterday's news that the ranking member on the House Oversight Committe, Elijah Cummings, received a letter from colleagues regarding behavior recently. Among their charges were that Cummings has "worked to obstruct the investigation, even declaring on national television after only a few weeks of fact-finding that 'the case is solved.' New IRS documents ... raise disturbing concerns about your possible motivations for opposing this investigation and unwillingness to lend your support to efforts to obtain the testimony of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois G. Lerner."

The letter sent to Cummings carried the information that Catherine Engelbrecht made, in testimony before the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs, that Cummings had targeted her group in the same way the IRS had. To quote from the letter:

"She [Engelbrecht] testified: Three times Representative Elijah Cummings sent letters to True the Vote, demanding much of the same information that the IRS had requested. Hours after sending letters, he would appear on cable news and publicly defame me and my organization."

Said Issa, as reported in a story at theBlaze:

“We need Ms. Lerner’s testimony to complete our oversight work. American taxpayers certainly don’t get to plead the Fifth and escape all accountability when the IRS audits them."