Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert said in a House floor speech Thursday that former IRS director of tax-exempt organizations Lois Lerner should suffer criminal penalties for her involvement in the agency’s political targeting of conservative organizations.
“It certainly appears that the IRS was weaponized for the political purpose of one party,” Gohmert said, after reading from a Wall Street Journal op-ed that revealed several of Lerner’s emails that undercut her claims to have known nothing about the targeting — and one that appeared to imply the IRS’s activities stretched into the 2012 election. ”Here we are…with a group of Democratic operatives doing things with the IRS that Richard Nixon could only dream of doing.”
“It is unbelievable how powerful this government has gotten and how dramatically it can affect the outcome of an election,” Gohmert continued later. ”We must make sure that these kind of abuses stop. We have the power of the purse to stop it, and we should.”
Should the executive branch fail to provide answers or remedy the scandal, Gohmert continued, Congress should strip the agency of its funding.
“If the administration is not going to be forthcoming with information about the IRS, then it may be necessary to defund part of the executive branch until such time as they become truthful,” he said.
Lerner, Gohmert continued, should face criminal charges for her conduct.
“I think there are criminal implications here that need to be followed up,” he said.
Lerner, who resigned from her post and famously invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying, previously claimed that the systematic targeting came as a surprise until she happened to pick up a newspaper.
“It was pretty much we started seeing information in the press that raised questions for us, and we went back and took a look,” Lerner said in May.