Quantcast

IRS official to take the 5th at hearing

Published: Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:55 p.m. MDT

former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testifies  on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (Associated Press) former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testifies on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — Summoned by Republicans, a key figure in the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups plans to invoke her constitutional right against self-incrimination and decline to testify at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

Lois Lerner heads the IRS division that singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns. She was subpoenaed to testify Wednesday before the House oversight committee.

But in a letter to committee leaders, Lerner's lawyer said she would refuse to testify because of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Among the harsher Republican comments after the IRS targeting was revealed last week, House Speaker John Boehner said he wanted to know, "Who's going to jail over this scandal?" Lerner's Washington lawyer, William W. Taylor III, said Tuesday that his client "has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation, but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course."

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, before the Senate Banking Committee. Lew said the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) targeting of conservative political groups was Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, before the Senate Banking Committee. Lew said the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) targeting of conservative political groups was "unacceptable and inexcusable" and he has directed the agency's acting director to hold people accountable. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Associated Press)

Ali Ahmad, a spokesman for Oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the subpoena stands, raising the possibility of a public spectacle in which Lerner would decline to answer question after question.

News of her plans came on the same day the agency's former commissioner said he first learned in the spring of 2012 — in the heat of the presidential campaign — that agents had improperly targeted political groups that vehemently opposed President Barack Obama's policies.But former Commissioner Douglas Shulman said he didn't tell higher ups in the Treasury Department and he didn't tell members of Congress.

And he wouldn't apologize for it.

"I had a partial set of facts, and I knew that the inspector general was going to be looking into it, and I knew that it was being stopped," Shulman told the Senate Finance Committee.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company