Leader Cantor Urges House To Support Holding Lois Lerner In Contempt

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“Mr. Speaker, I thank the Chairman from California. I rise today in strong support of this resolution to hold Ms. Lois Lerner in contempt. The substance of this resolution should not be taken lightly. The contempt of the U.S. House of Representatives is a serious matter, and one that must be taken only when duly warranted. There is no doubt in my mind the conditions have been met for today's action.

“Mr. Speaker, there are few government abuses more serious than using the IRS to punish American citizens for their political beliefs. The very idea of the IRS being used to intimidate and silence critics of a certain political philosophy is egregious. It is so egregious that it has practically been a cliché of government corruption in works of fiction for decades since President Nixon's administration.

“Yet, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, in this instance, under Ms. Lerner’s watch, this corruption became all too real. Conservatives were routinely targeted and silenced by the IRS leading up to the 2012 election, unjustly and with malice. Those targeted were deprived of their civil right to an unbiased administration of law. These citizens, these Moms and Dads, simply trying to play within the rules and make their voices heard were left waiting without answers until Election Day had come and gone.

“Liberal groups were not targeted as my colleagues across the aisle like to claim. Only conservative groups were deliberately singled out because of their political beliefs and subjected to delays, inappropriate questions, and unjust denials.

“Mr. Speaker, the American people are owed a government they can trust, not a government that they fear.

“The only way to rebuild this trust is to investigate exactly how these abuses occurred and to ensure they never happen again. Whether you are conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, or hold any other political or philosophical position, your rights must be protected from this administration and all those that come after it.

“For nearly a full year, Lois Lerner has refused to testify before this House about the singling out and targeting of conservative organizations. She spoke up and gave a detailed assertion of her innocence and then refused to answer questions. She later spoke with DOJ attorneys for hours but still refused to answer a lawful subpoena and testify to the American public. As a public servant, she decided to forego cooperation, to forego truth and transparency.

“In 2013, Ms. Lerner joked in one uncovered email that perhaps she could get a job with Organizing for America, President Obama's political arm. This is no surprise. Our committees have found Ms. Lerner used her position to unfairly deny conservative groups equal protection under the law. Ms. Lerner impeded official investigations. She risked exposing, and may actually have exposed, confidential taxpayer information in this process.

“Day after day, action after action, Ms. Lerner exposed herself as a servant to her political philosophy rather than a servant to the American people.

“This, Mr. Speaker, is why the House has taken the extraordinary action of referring Ms. Lerner to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, and why we will request a Special Counsel to investigate this case. Not only has the President asserted that there is ‘not even a smidgeon of corruption’ at the IRS, but leaks from the Department of Justice have indicated that no one will be prosecuted. That’s not surprising as a top donor to the President's campaign is playing a key role in their investigation, potentially compromising any semblance of independence and justice. An independent, non-partisan special prosecutor is needed to ensure a fair investigation that all Americans can trust.

“Mr. Speaker, the American people deserve to know the full context of why these actions were taken. As early as 2010, leading Democratic leaders were urging the IRS to take action against conservative groups. How and why was the decision made to take action against them?

“The American people, Ms. Lerner's employers, deserve answers. They deserve accountability. They deserve to know this will never happen again, no matter what your political persuasion. The American people deserve better.

“Because of Ms. Lerner’s actions, because of her unwillingness to fully testify, and because she has refused to legally cooperate with this investigation, I urge my colleagues in the House to hold Ms. Lerner in contempt.”

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