‘Bout Time: Lois Lerner Held in Contempt…Now What?

Written by Marilyn Assenheim on April 11, 2014

In a vote of 21-12 on Thursday, the House panel found former IRS official Lois Lerner guilty of contempt of Congress. The decision, sometimes appearing to move more slowly than a broken bone knits was, in fact, a meticulously crafted, air-tight package. What makes the contempt decision so compelling is, as The Washington Examiner states: “House Ways and Means Committee Republicans aren’t ruling out the use of the chamber’s “inherent contempt” authority if Attorney General Eric Holder refuses to act on the panel’s accusations against former IRS official Lois Lerner.” But now it goes to Congress. Will The House take the next step?

Unless Eric Holder pursues legal action against Lerner, The House of Representatives has the authority to put Lois Lerner in the slammer for contempt until she cooperates. Since Holder and his cartoon DOJ move at the speed of glacial ice, when they move at all, it’s certain that they won’t. That said, The Washington Examiner elaborates on Congress’ ability to act:

…the House of Representatives has the authority to jail (Lerner) unless she changes her mind about refusing to answer questions about her role in the IRS scandal…what is required for that to happen is for a House majority to vote for a motion holding her in contempt and House Speaker John Boehner to then direct the House sergeant at arms to arrest and confine her… inherent contempt has the unique advantage that it doesn’t require ‘the cooperation or assistance of either the executive or judicial branches. The House or Senate can, on its own, conduct summary proceedings and cite the offender for contempt.

Congress has enacted this right many times since 1795.

The question remains, of course, whether or not Congress will have the stones to take that step. Democrats in Congress are, predictably, frenziedly asserting Lerner’s “rights.” FOX News quotes several. Carolyn Maloney (D., NY): “Guilty or innocent, Ms. Lerner has a constitutional right to remain silent on this issue…” Maloney, with a fanciful fillip to her unwavering hallucination, announced that “if the committee were truly serious about pursuing this case, they would offer Lerner immunity.” Guilty or not, one imagines. Steven Lynch (D., MA): “…said the case would “be laughed out of court.” But what has become absolute dependence by Democrats on the omnipotence of their own bloviating may just backfire this time. Constitutionally, Lerner can’t plead the fifth if she’s waived that right by previously making a statement declaring her own innocence. Which she did. Voluntarily, with no prompting.

In a patented move to obfuscate facts, a tactic that has worked brilliantly for Democrats, ranking member of the Oversight Committee Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Maryland) engaged in a strident war of words with Committee Chairman, Darrell Issa (R., CA). Rep. Cummings, never the sharpest tack in the Legislative toolbox, should have considered reining in his delusional ego. So many smoking guns involving Lerner’s wrongdoing have recently been discharged that the fumes are overpowering. Not the least of which is Congressman Cummings’ own likely culpability in targeting conservative, non-profit groups.

Rep. Issa has accused Rep. Cummings of conspiring with the IRS and has emails to back it up. National Review Online stated on Wednesday:

Issa on Wednesday accused the Maryland Democrat of colluding with the Internal Revenue Service in its targeting of the conservative nonprofit group True the Vote, whose founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, said she received multiple letters from Cummings in 2012 and personal visits from the IRS and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives…one of Cummings’s letters, which Engelbrecht received in October 2012, contained questions that closely mirrored those posed by the IRS. Issa details them in his letter, strongly implying that Cummings based his letter on the one Engelbrecht had already received from the agency: Both requested information about the software True the Vote was using for voter registration, about the process the group used to train its employees, and about the vendors it used to obtain voter lists.  E-mails unearthed in the course of Issa’s investigation into the IRS’s inappropriate targeting of right-leaning groups show that in January 2013, a member of Cummings’s staff contacted the IRS asking for any publicly available information on True the Vote. The matter was discussed by IRS officials that included Lois Lerner…

The “I-didn’t-do-it” approach by Democrats has been very successful; truth should be better, right? FOX News quotes: “House Speaker John Boehner predicted earlier this week that unless Lerner agrees to cooperate, the full House will support contempt…” Sure. It’s a safe bet that Lerner is banking on Boehner’s Boyz caving in.

We’ve all been to this rodeo before. Let’s see how long it takes Congress to finally hog-tie the calf. If it even wants to. 

Image: Courtesy of:http://www.childabusecouncil.on.ca/progams-a-services/resources/87-ccac-main/123-its-about-time.html

Marilyn Assenheim
Marilyn Assenheim was born and raised in New York City. She spent a career in healthcare management although she probably should have been a casting director. Or a cowboy. A serious devotee of history and politics, Marilyn currently lives in the NYC metropolitan area.