House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Thursday the Committee will hold a vote next week to determine whether to hold Lois Lerner in contempt for refusing to share what she knows about the IRS political discrimination scandal that came to light last year.
The contempt vote is scheduled for Thursday of next week.
Issa, who has pursued the IRS scandal without heed for critics who claim his motives proceed from party politics, flatly described Lerner Thursday as a willing participant in the IRS’ discriminatory stonewalling of competing conservative nonprofit groups during President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.
“Ms. Lerner’s involvement in wrongdoing and refusal to meet her legal obligations has left the Committee with no alternative but to consider a contempt finding,” he said.
Lerner, a former IRS employee who oversaw the agency’s exempt organizations division until she resigned in disgrace, has steadfastly maintained she is protected under the 5th Amendment, even though she gave an opening statement in which she declared innocence of wrongdoing in her first appearance before the committee.
Last month, it appeared that Lerner was close to an agreement in which she might receive immunity in exchange for her testimony. But her attorney squelched the idea only a day before she was set to face the Committee again.
If the Oversight Committee does vote to find Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify, the Committee’s finding will proceed to the full House. If Lerner is found to be in contempt of Congress, she faces a misdemeanor charge that carries possible fines of up to $100,000 and possible jail time ranging from a month up to a year.