No one likes hearing from the taxman but the ongoing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal has taken these already unpopular bureaucrats to a new low. The IRS wields considerable power through enforcing our tax code and the use of this power to target Americans is a chilling thought.
Hard working and honest Americans should not have to fear that the IRS will target them because of their political beliefs. It is vitally important that all taxpayers are treated equally and fairly, and that those in the IRS and administration who illegally targeted Americans are held accountable for their actions.
In the House, we have worked aggressively to investigate the IRS's misdeeds, with Congressional committees conducting interviews with dozens of IRS and Treasury Department employees, analyzing hundreds of thousands of documents, issuing a number of reports, and holding several hearings on the scandal. We know that at the center of this controversy is Lois Lerner, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit where these underhanded activities were taking place.
To make matters worse, IRS leadership attempted to divert the search for the truth by blaming low level employees in their regional offices. Now, the IRS claims that computer crashes lost the key emails that would have shed light on who was responsible for these illegal activities and who knew what was taking place.
Inexcusably, Lerner and others at the IRS trampled on taxpayer rights for their own political purposes, denying individuals and groups their due process and equal protection under the law. Lerner has refused to answer any questions after being subpoenaed to testify on her, and others, involvement. In light of Lerner's refusal to cooperate in the investigation, my colleagues and I voted to hold her in contempt of Congress and to instruct the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges for her actions.
With my support, the House also voted to instruct Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a neutral, non-partisan, special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting scandal due to the continued heel-dragging of IRS officials and lack of transparency and urgency from the administration.
This scandal has only reinforced the distrust that taxpaying Americans have in the IRS. As we all remember, before the news of this illegal targeting began to unfold, the tax agency was already mired in its previous fiasco where they improperly used taxpayer funds for lavish conferences and expensive videos, entertainers, hotels and gifts -- all on the taxpayer dime and all for the amusement of IRS employees. My colleagues and I in the House will work to guarantee that strict security, privacy, oversight, and accountability measures are in place and will continue to vigorously pursue the truth that the administration and the IRS are trying to hide from the American people.