House lawmakers introduced a bill Friday that would empower the government to fire IRS employees who target Americans for scrutiny based on political ideology, as took place with the recently-revealed targeting of Tea Party groups.
“Current law is not clear on whether someone can be fired for what happened at the agency, which is why we have not seen anyone lose their jobs,” Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, the lead sponsor of the bill, wrote on Facebook. “The gentleman who runs the IRS at the moment agrees, and some real accountability there would be a breath of fresh air.”
The bill is coming out on the same day that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted that Lois Lerner, the official who oversaw the IRS’s tax exempt status division when the targeting of conservatives took place, accidentally waived her Fifth Amendment rights during a recent congressional hearing.
“Lerner on May 22 refused to answer committee questions, telling the panel that she was invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to answer their questions about her involvement in the department’s practice of singling out for extra scrutiny groups with conservative-sounding names who were seeking tax exempt status,” the Washington Examiner‘s Susan Ferrechio reports today. “Panel Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Friday that he believed Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right because before refusing to answer questions, she gave a statement declaring her innocence.”
“Freedom of speech and freedom of association is protected by our First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Penn., one of the cosponsors, added in a statement today. “People engaging in lawful political activity should not have to fear that the federal government in all its might will be coming down on their heads.”