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IRS caves on Lois Lerner's emails after House passes contempt citation

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,IRS,Dave Camp,House Ways and Means Committee,Lois Lerner

Internal Revenue Service officials have agreed to turn over all of former agency official Lois Lerner's emails after the House of Representatives voted to hold her in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the agency's targeting of Tea Party groups.

“While it is good that we are finally getting these emails, it should never have taken this long," House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said Thursday afternoon. "The agency is finally doing what is right and hopefully this is the last of the delays. It is almost a year to the day since Lois Lerner ‘apologized' for the IRS's targeting of conservative groups, and we need to get to the bottom of this."

The House voted Wednesday to hold Lerner in contempt. "The matter now goes to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. A grand jury will review the charges, although it's uncertain if, or how, the Justice Department will respond," the Washington Examiner's Sean Lengell reported. "Lerner faces up to a year in jail and fines up to $100,000 if found guilty of contempt of Congress, a criminal misdemeanor."

Last month, the Ways and Means Committee formally suggested that the Justice Department prosecute Lerner criminally for her role in the targeting of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

“This investigation has uncovered serious, unprecedented actions taken by Lois Lerner that deprived conservative groups of their rights under the Constitution," Camp said at the time. The committee said that she had "used her position to improperly influence agency action against only conservative organizations," among other things.

Camp said the Lerner emails will allow the congressional investigation to continue. "These documents are critical to an investigation that is holding the IRS accountable and ensuring the constitutional rights of these groups are never trampled on again," he said. "The committee will thoroughly review the Lerner documents and follow them wherever they may lead.”

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