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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid