WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- For the second time in as many days, a House committee voted Thursday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner criminally accountable for refusing to testify on the political targeting scandal that engulfed the IRS last year.
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 21-12 along party lines to send a contempt resolution to the full House, where lawmakers will decide whether to ask the Justice Department to take criminal action against her.
The Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has led the public charge in investigating whether Lerner and other officials at the IRS specifically sought to challenge conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. But the Ways and Means Committee also voted Wednesday to refer a criminal investigation to the Justice Department and has been conducting a separate investigation.
“Our investigation has found that former IRS Exempt Organizations division Director Lois Lerner played a central role in the targeting scandal and then failed to meet her legal obligations to answer questions after she waived her right not to testify," Issa said in a statement. "In demanding answers and holding a powerful government official accountable for her failure to meet her legal obligations, this Committee did its job."
Lerner has twice invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, although she has maintained, through her attorney, that she has not broken any laws.
A separate investigation at Justice "remains a top priority," a spokesman for the agency said Wednesday.