Fitzpatrick Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt of Congress

May 7, 2014 Issues: Congressional Issues
Fitzpatrick Votes to Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt of Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) joined the House Wednesday in voting to hold former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Lerner, who retired last fall, was the director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division during the time the agency targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny. He released the following statement regarding the measure’s passage:

In her role as the Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, Lois Lerner oversaw the unprecedented targeting of hardworking American taxpayers simply based on their personal beliefs. Not only is this unacceptable, it is completely contrary to the American-notion of freedom of speech and association.

The IRS has a responsibility to treat all Americans equally and fairly – regardless of beliefs. However, Ms. Lerner - as an employee of the taxpayers - used her agency’s powers to stifle personal and political expression. Following the revelations of the abuse under her watch, Ms. Lerner received paid leave until her retirement, and now collects a federal pension funded by the very taxpayers whom she mistreated.

As a servant of the taxpayers, Ms. Lerner owes every American an explanation. However, her information has not been forthcoming following several hearings where she invoked the Fifth Amendment. Her use of such a tactic shows – at minimum – the details she would share would be self-incriminating to her, if not a larger operation.

Our system of government requires transparency and accountability. Lois Lerner has demonstrated neither.

That is why today I joined the House in voting to hold her in contempt as a means to get the answers every taxpayer – regardless of political affiliation – the answers they deserve.

In the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, Fitzpatrick quickly condemned agency’s actions and questioned the Administration’s response and lack of knowledge of the situation. He also co-sponsored two pieces of legislation aimed at preventing discrimination:

Taxpayer Nondiscrimination and Protection Act [H.R. 1950]

  • This legislation increases the penalties for IRS employees who discriminate against a group or individual based on protected statuses. It also expressly states that political speech and expression are protected statuses and protect all political speech.

Stop Targeting Our Politics (STOP) IRS Act [HR 2565]

  • This legislation allows the IRS Commissioner to hold accountable those responsible for politically targeting Americans by building upon the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 to add the targeting of an individual taxpayer for political purposes to the list of other offenses which can result in termination for IRS employees. 

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.