In May, the House will vote on whether to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt for her role in the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, according to a memo released Friday by House Republicans. The memo from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the contempt vote would proceed unless Lerner agrees to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the targeting scandal.
“Thorough investigations by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee have revealed findings that indicate that Ms. Lerner played a central role in the illegal targeting of conservative groups by the IRS,” the memo reads.
Earlier this month, the Oversight Committee this month to hold her in contempt. All Republicans voted in favor and all Democrats voted against. On Thursday, the House Republicans stepped up their investigation into the Justice Department’s possible role in the targeting scandal, citing an email that purportedly suggests high-level DOJ officials may have been involved.
In May of 2013, Judicial Watch obtained an email where Lerner responded to an inquiry from Richard Pilger, director of the DOJ’s election crimes branch, about whether tax-exempt groups could be criminally prosecuted for lying about political activity.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R., Calif., chairman of the Oversight Committee, said Thursday that a previously undisclosed email indicates that Pilger did not reach out to Lerner on his own.
Pilger noted in an email to Lerner on May 8th 2013, “I have been asked to run something by you,” according to a news release from Issa’s office. The email reportedly does not indicate who had asked Pilfer to contact Lerner, who disclosed the targeting scandal just days later.
Senior Justice Department officials told Fox News last week that the accusations surrounding the emails are “conflating two separate issues.”
They said the phone call between Lerner and Pilger was in reference to a question posed during a Senate committee hearing in April 2013 by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who was asking about groups who already enjoyed tax-exempt status but in his estimation may have been lying when they said they did not engage in political activities.
The Obama administration at the highest level denied the targeting, from 2010 through the 2012 presidential election cycle, was illegal or politically motivated.
President Obama told Fox News in February there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in connection with the targeting.