Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman filed a resolution on Thursday calling for the arrest of former IRS official Lois Lerner over the Internal Revenue Service nonprofit targeting scandal.
Lerner, alongside the IRS, is under investigation for unfairly scrutinizing conservative nonprofits for tax-exempt status.
“Asking the Justice Department to prosecute Lois Lerner for admittedly illegal activity is a joke,” Stockman said. “The Obama administration will not prosecute the Obama administration. How much longer will the House allow itself to be mocked? It is up to this House to uphold the rule of law and hold accountable those who illegally targeted American citizens for simply having different ideas than the President.” (RELATED: Lerner Warned Colleagues In 2013: Congress Will Ask For Our Emails)
Stockman’s resolution instructs the House’s Sergeant at Arms — its chief law enforcement officer — to arrest Lerner on charges of contempt of Congress. The Sergeant at Arms is directed by the House speaker, currently Ohio Republican John Boehner.
Pelosi, CNN and the New York Times all endorsed the House’s power to arrest those in contempt of Congress. I hope they’ll be consistent.
— Rep. Steve Stockman (@SteveWorks4You) July 10, 2014
The House voted to hold Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify before Congress in May by a vote of 231-187. (RELATED: Lerner Did Print Out ‘Some’ Emails, After All)
Congress does have the power to arrest individuals held in contempt — a fact recently referenced by the popular show “House of Cards,” when the Senate Sergeant at Arms was directed to arrest absent senators. The power is, however, used very rarely.
Stockman’s resolution accuses Lerner of “refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, thereby obstructing the Congress in the lawful exercise of its constitutionally mandated legislative powers,” calling her behavior “an insult to the dignity of the House of Representatives [and] an attack upon the integrity of its proceedings, [which] works violence upon the rights of the House collectively, and therefore implicates the long-recognized inherent power of the House to punish and commit for contempt, privileged under the Constitution.”
If arrested, Lerner “shall enjoy no special privileges beyond those extended to her fellow inmates, shall not access any computer or telephone, and shall not be visited by anyone other than her counsel, clergy, physician, or family.”