House Oversight Committee to bring Lois Lerner back to testify on IRS scandal

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has put Lois Lerner, a disgraced former IRS official, on notice that she’ll be called back to testify about the powerful tax agency’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups.

“Ms Lerner’s testimony remains critical to the Committee’s investigation,” wrote Issa in a letter to William Taylor, Lerner’s attorney. “Documents and testimony obtained by the Committee show that she played a significant role in scrutinizing applications for tax exempt status from conservative organizations.”

Issa also noted that the committee has obtained information that Lerner ”participated in ‘off plan’ work to develop rules that would allow the IRS to stifle constitutionally protected political speech by non-profit groups.” These proposed rules — which would codify the targeting of conservative groups — are currently being considered by the IRS

Lerner, who was placed on administrative leave and has since retired from the IRS, invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself when she appeared before the House Oversight Committee on May 22, 2013. The committee, however, rejected the claim because Lerner gave an opening statement in which she declared her innocence against charges that she may have done something illegal.

“The subpoena you accepted on Ms. Lerner’s behalf remains in effect,” Issa told her attorney in the letter. “In light of this fact, and because the Committee explicitly rejected her Fifth Amendment privilege claim, I expect her to provide answers when the hearing reconvenes on March 5.”

Though she has declared her innocence, Lerner has expressed some willingness to cooperate with the committee’s investigation in exchange for immunity, which intimates that she may have acted unlawfully.

The House Oversight Committee will continue its May 22, 2013 hearing on Wednesday, March 5 at  9:30 am in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

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