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House Panel Votes To Refer Ex-IRS Official Lois Lerner To Justice Dept.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted today to send the Justice Department a criminal referral over ex-IRS official Lois Lerner.

Fox News reports the committee voted 23-14 to accuse Lerner of using "extreme bias" by asking her agency to look into the tax-exempt status of some conservative groups.

Fox adds:

" 'If we don't stand up for the right of the American people, who else will?' committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said after the vote.

"A 14-page letter to Attorney General Eric Holder outlined Republicans' case against the former IRS official, saying she 'may have violated multiple criminal statutes.'

" 'This investigation has uncovered serious, unprecedented actions taken by Lois Lerner that deprived conservative groups of their rights under the Constitution,' Camp said in a statement. 'Today's action highlights specific wrongdoing for the Department of Justice to pursue. DOJ has a responsibility to act, and Lois Lerner must be held accountable.' "

As we've reported, Lerner was a central figure of the IRS scandal. She used to lead the agency's division that oversees tax-exempt groups.

Politico reports the Republican-led agency released emails that show Lerner urged the agency to "deny tax-exempt status to Crossroads GPS, the giant political nonprofit founded by Karl Rove."

Politico adds:

"The Republican-led panel released emails showing that Lerner took an interest in Crossroads GPS — inquiring with IRS officials why they hadn't had their tax-exempt status revoked. The committee letter calls her actions 'an aggressive and improper pursuit of Crossroads by Lerner, but no evidence she directed review of similarly situated left-leaning groups.'

"IRS rules prohibit one single person from influencing the application and auditing process, but House Republicans say she was the reason these groups were singled out."

"Democrats cried foul play, accusing Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) of playing politics to feed the Republican base ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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