Ex-IRS Official: To Testify or Not to Testify?

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In 2013, pending the public release of an audit conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Internal Revenue Service disclosed that through May of last year it had singled out political groups applying for tax-exempt status for closer scrutiny based on their names or political orientations.

On May 10, the director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division, Lois Lerner, answered what was later revealed to be a question planted by the agency at an American Bar Association conference in order to reveal that it had inappropriately targeted political groups ahead of the 2012 elections. She confirmed the IRS had taken “absolutely inappropriate” actions, for which the agency was “apologetic.” Shortly thereafter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began examining the IRS’s actions as part of a criminal inquiry ordered by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Lerner — who was placed on administrative leave days after testifying to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that she had not broken any laws or agency regulations — is at the center of the controversy over the targeting of grassroots conservative and some liberal organizations. That same committee plans to call her as a witness at a public hearing on Wednesday, and Chairman Darrell Issa, a Republican representative from California, told Fox News on Sunday that she planned to testify even though she had invoked the Fifth Amendment at that May 22, 2013, hearing after giving an initial opening statement in which she professed innocence.

“Her attorney indicates now she will testify” and answer questions, he said. “We’ve been in back-and-forth negotiation, but quite frankly we believe that the evidence we’ve gathered causes her, in her best interest, to be someone who should testify.” He told Fox News the committee does not know what caused her to change her mind.

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