Buchanan to IRS: Apology NOT Accepted
“Heads Should Roll”
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged the U.S. Justice Department to revisit criminal charges against Lois Lerner after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last week admitted to the intentional targeting of American citizens based on their political leanings.
Buchanan chairs the congressional committee that oversees the IRS and is leading the reform effort of the agency.
“Lerner betrayed the nation's trust yet managed to avoid prosecution,” Buchanan said. “Heads should roll and people should be held accountable for this gross abuse of power.”
Lerner is the disgraced IRS official who oversaw the deliberate targeting of individuals and organizations whose politics were at odds with the previous administration. Even nonprofits that sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution were unfairly singled out for harassment and scrutiny. The Justice Department recently declined to charge Lerner saying “reopening the criminal investigation would not be appropriate based on the available evidence.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last week that the Justice Department had entered into settlements with groups whose tax-exempt status was delayed because of their “viewpoints and ideology.” As part of the settlement, the IRS expressed its “sincere apology” and agreed to pay a fine.
“An apology five years after the fact is not good enough,” Buchanan said. “The American people need to know they can be critical of their government without fear of retribution.”
According to a three-year investigation by the House Ways and Means committee, Lerner used her position to improperly influence agency action against conservative organizations, denying these groups due process and equal protection rights under the law; impeded official investigations by providing misleading statements in response to questions from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and may have disclosed confidential taxpayer information.
Buchanan is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and serves as the chairman of the panel’s Oversight subcommittee with jurisdiction over the IRS.