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Congressman Jason Smith

Representing the 8th District of Missouri

Capitol Report: Have We Lernered Our Lesson

Jun 5, 2015
Weekly Capitol Report

In 2014, members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to the Department of Justice calling for the criminal prosecution of former Internal Revenue Service Director of the Exempt Organizations Division Lois Lerner. Instead, the IRS worker who used her position to abuse conservative organizations was awarded bonuses of $129,000 and given a pension, all while in contempt of Congress. Taxpayers, of course, footed the bill.

Enough is enough and I am demanding answers. Last week, I wrote the Department of Justice along with my fellow Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee to again push for criminal prosecution of this bad actor. It’s no surprise folks are scared of the IRS – they can make life miserable even without injecting personal politics into the equation.

Initially, Lerner’s potentially incriminating emails were lost when her hard drive had crashed along with those of six other IRS employees. Miraculously though, the IRS Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found more than 30,000 of her emails on a back-up server. The IRS investigation found words like “tea party” or “patriot” were flagged for additional examination when groups applied for tax-exempt status, and hardworking, patriotic Americans were singled out for their political beliefs in direct violation of the Constitution. Lois Lerner has denied targeting conservative organizations for increased scrutiny and simultaneously apologized for the IRS’s actions.

There have been Congressional hearings and an FBI probe. President Obama called the actions “intolerable and inexcusable,” and in the next breath said there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” at the IRS. Despite the hypocrisy, it’s clear that taxpayers were violated and their trust in government was compromised, and still, Lerner has not been charged with a crime. Moreover, the Department of Justice has not even responded to Congress’s call for prosecution.

An agency with as much power to destroy citizens as the IRS must be above reproach, and Congress won’t be finished until Lois Lerner is held accountable.