GOP tax writers ask Sessions to review evidence against Lerner

GOP tax writers ask Sessions to review evidence against Lerner
© Greg Nash

Two top Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review evidence against the former IRS official at the center of the 2013 political-targeting scandal.

In a letter sent Wednesday, full committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLawmakers, businesses await guidance on tax law On The Money: Trump imposes B in tariffs on China | China blasts 'fickle' Trump, promises payback | Trump to name consumer bureau director next week Trump announces tariffs on billion in Chinese goods MORE (R-Texas) and tax-policy subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) urged Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMadeleine Albright slams Trump over immigration New Hampshire GOP gov: I won’t send National Guard troops to ‘separate families’ Overnight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council MORE to take a "fresh look" at the evidence against Lois Lerner "in order to assure the American people that DOJ’s prior investigation was handled fairly and to restore taxpayers’ trust in the IRS." 

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Lerner was head of the IRS divisions that oversaw tax-exempt groups when requests from certain conservative organizations began receiving extra scrutiny. She was placed on leave in 2013, shortly after she publicly acknowledged the agency's improper handling of the applications, and then retired from the IRS.

In 2014, the Ways and Means Committee sent the DOJ a letter arguing that Lerner may have violated criminal laws. The panel argued in its referral for prosecution that Lerner denied conservative groups due process, hindered investigations and risked exposing confidential taxpayer information.

The DOJ said in 2015 that it would not file criminal charges related to the controversy. The department said it didn't find evidence of IRS employees acting with political motives.

But Brady and Roskam said that many people believe that the Obama administration didn't prosecute Lerner for political reasons.

"It is clear that when the DOJ announced in October 2015 that it would not bring charges against Lois Lerner, the agency was following President Obama’s signal on how he wanted the investigation to be handled," the lawmakers said. "Taxpayers deserve to know that the DOJ’s previous evaluation was not tainted by politics."

Last week, Brady, Roskam and several other Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee urged President Trump to fire the current IRS Commissioner, John Koksinen. 

Koskinen took office after Lerner left the agency, but many Republicans argue that he impeded congressional investigations into the targeting controversy.