After invoking her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not answer any questions from lawmakers when appearing before Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee, Lois Lerner has been placed on administrative leave. Lerner, director of exempt organizations at the IRS, first acknowledged the scandal at the IRS involving the targeting of conservative groups two weeks when responding to a planted question from Washington-based tax lawyer.
Despite refusing to answer questions before the committee, Lerner incurred the wrath of Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy who demanded Lerner testify after the IRS director gave a lengthy opening statement denying any wrongdoing.
“You don’t get to tell your side of the story and not be subjected to cross-examination. That’s not the way it works. She waived her right to Fifth Amendment privilege by issuing an opening statement, she ought to stand here and answer our questions,” Gowdy said, earning applause from the audience.
When Lerner was head of the FEC enforcement division from 1986 to 2001 she sued the Christian Coalition for allegedly conspiring with political candidates. During the case, representatives for the FEC asked intrusive questions on religion of several people involved, including Lt. Col. Oliver North. At one point, a representative demanded to know details regarding Pat Roberstson praying for North after reading a letter from North to Robertson indicating as much. The group’s attorney also noted that during the investigation third parties were required to comply with “burdensome FEC document requests,” reminiscent of the IRS/Tea Party requests. The Christian Coalition’s attorneys adamantly objected, and the group eventually rebuffed the charges.
James Bopp, Jr. represented the Christian Coalition against the FEC in 1995, and joined ‘Wilkow!‘ Thursday to discuss his case and where Lerner has found herself now.