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Politics and Government

Entire Oklahoma House Delegation Votes To Hold Lois Lerner In Contempt

U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Flickr Public Domain
Lois Lerner testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee March 5, 2014. An inspector general's report blamed poor management but found no evidence of a political conspiracy. Many Republicans in Congress believe otherwise.

All five members of Oklahoma's House delegation voted with their Republican colleagues to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify at a pair of committee hearings about her role in the agency's tea party controversy.

Lois Lerner directed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. A year ago, she publicly disclosed that agents had improperly singled out tea party applications for extra, sometimes burdensome scrutiny.

U.S. Rep. and Senate candidate James Lankford (R-Okla. 5) said on the House floor Wednesday constitutional principles are at stake.

"Can a person stand before a court or before the Congress, and to make a long statement that they've done nothing wrong, and then choose not to answer questions?" Lankford said Wednesday. "This is a precedent before every Congress from here on out, and in front of every court. Can this be done? And we would say no."

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) said in a statement the IRS is a “frighteningly powerful entity in the first place,” so when employees use that power to silence political speech, it's especially chilling.

“[Americans] expect and trust that those responsible for threatening these rights will be held accountable and justice will be served,” Cole said in a statement. “Due to her refusal to cooperate with the IRS investigation, it seems that Lois Lerner thinks she is above the law.”

Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Okla. 3) says he hopes the chamber’s action means Lerner will start cooperating. But House Democrats say yesterday's vote was little more than an election-year ploy to fire up the GOP base.

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