Society

GOP Reps Want Sessions To Reopen Lerner Investigation

| by Jordan Smith

Two Republican representatives have called upon Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen the investigation into Lois Lerner, an IRS official accused of unfairly targeting conservative and Tea Party groups.

Republican Reps. Kevin Brady of Texas, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Peter Roskam of Illinois wrote a letter to the head of the Department of Justice April 12, the Washington Examiner reported.

Lerner was placed on leave in 2013 after admitting that the agency had dealt with applications for tax exemptions from conservative groups improperly. She was head of the division at the time.

In 2014, the House Ways and Means Committee recommended Lerner be prosecuted, arguing she may have violated criminal law. The Republican-controlled committee alleged that Lerner denied conservative groups due process, risked endangering confidential taxpayer information, and blocked investigations.

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The risk to taxpayer information arose from Lerner using a private email for government business, according to the committee, which also stated that she gave false information to the inspector general.

In 2015, the DOJ responded by saying it had not found that IRS employees had acted according to political motives and refused to press criminal charges, the Hill reported.

The DOJ further suggested that Lerner had realized that something was wrong and was trying to change it from the inside.

But Brady and Roskam wrote that "the agency was following President Obama's signal on how he wanted the investigation to be handled," making a fresh examination of the evidence against Lerner necessary.

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"Taxpayers deserve to know that the DOJ's previous evaluation was not tainted by politics," they added, according to the Examiner.

During the course of the investigation, then-President Barack Obama stated that there was "not a smidgen of corruption" at the IRS, the Washington Times reported. Brady and Roskam contend that this undermined the impartiality of the inquiry.

William Taylor, Lerner's attorney, dismissed any concerns.

"Ms. Lerner did not violate any laws. There is no evidence that she did and no new investigation will change that reality," Taylor wrote in an email.

Several legal cases against the IRS over the affair remain pending. A class action suit involving 428 affected groups has been filed in Ohio, while two separate cases remain before federal courts in Washington D.C.

Brady is no stranger to clashing with the IRS. He previously called upon President Donald Trump to fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his alleged role in siphoning money from taxpayer services, resulting in many customer calls going unanswered during the 2015 tax season.

Sources: Washington Examiner, the Hill, Washington Times / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

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