News / USA

IRS Official Refuses to Testify to Congress About Scandal

Director of Exempt Organizations for the Internal Revenue Service Lois Lerner (C) departs with her legal team after being excused from a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status fro
Director of Exempt Organizations for the Internal Revenue Service Lois Lerner (C) departs with her legal team after being excused from a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status fro
Cindy Saine
The official at the center of the storm over the U.S. tax collection agency's targeting of conservative Tea Party groups, Lois Lerner, has refused to testify before a tense congressional hearing on Capitol Hill where Democratic and Republican lawmakers expressed their anger and frustration.

Word came Tuesday the Internal Revenue Service official everyone wanted to hear from the most, Lois Lerner, was going to invoke her fifth amendment constitutional right not to incriminate herself and was going to refuse to answer questions from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Lerner, the IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, said her legal counsel had advised her not to answer any questions, but that did not mean she was guilty. She said,
"I have not done anything wrong.  I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules and regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee."

Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina was outraged that Lerner spoke on her own behalf and then refused to answer the panels' questions.

He said, "She just testified. She just waived her 5th amendment right to privilege. You do not get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross examination. That is not the way it works."

After a slight hesitation, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a Republican, reluctantly dismissed Lerner, saying she has a right to invoke the 5th amendment.  

The Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the committee continued to hammer the other witnesses at the hearing, especially former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who left the agency in November when his term expired.  

Shulman conceded it was inappropriate for IRS officials to use a list of criteria, such as groups that had the word "Patriot" or "Tea Party" in their name, to face extra scrutiny, extra questions, and delays in having their tax-exempt status approved. But he denied that he had done anything wrong in not telling Congress about the practice, which he says he became aware of in the spring of 2012.  

Democratic Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts was furious. He said, "Sir, you misled Congress. You misled Congress, make no question about it. You told us one thing, [and] when you learned that our suspicions are true, when you learned that there was a list, you did nothing."

Chairman Issa vowed his committee would keep investigating the IRS scandal until they find out who gave the order to target conservative groups. Tea Party activists have held rallies in a number of towns and cities this week to protest the IRS actions.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid