House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday that the House should hold former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress if she continues to refuse to testify about her involvement in the recent targeting of conservative groups who sought tax exempt status.
Lerner on Wednesday declined to answer questions about her role in the IRS targeting before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. She invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which she also used last year to avoid testifying before the same panel.
Reporters asked Boehner about the hearing, which ended after 20 minutes of futile questioning from committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
“Well, I'll wait for a report from Chairman Issa about what happened or what will happen,” Boehner said. “But at some point I believe that she has to testify, or she should be held in contempt.”
Republicans have not let up on their quest to find out from where the orders to target Tea Party and other conservative groups originated and they believe Lerner, who at the time was the D.C.based-head of tax exempt groups, can provide the critical link.
Lerner no longer works for the IRS and has said very little about the case, other than denying any wrongdoing at an earlier hearing. Republicans say that by making that statement Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment protections and cannot refuse to testify.
Democrats say that the IRS targeting hit both conservative and liberal groups and call the GOP probe one-sided.