Ex-IRS Official Worried About Her Safety If She Testifies About Scandal

AP

The former IRS official at the heart of the agency’s “targeting” scandal is worried about her safety if she shows up Wednesday in front of the House Oversight Committee, her lawyer wrote in a letter to committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA).

The letter was written in response to Issa’s decision to recall Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS’ tax-exempt organizations division, according to The Hill. Lerner appeared at a committee hearing in May, only to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights after delivering an opening statement. Issa and other Republicans have since argued that Lerner waived her rights by giving an opening statement.

In his letter to Issa, Lerner’s attorney Bill Taylor wrote that he had informed committee staff in January that Lerner would continue to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights if recalled, but that she would “happily testify” if granted immunity.

“I advised the staff that calling Ms. Lerner knowing that she will assert her rights was not only improper but dangerous,” Taylor wrote to Issa, according to The Hill. “Ms. Lerner has been the subject of numerous threats on her life and safety, and on the life and safety of her family. I left with the staff recent evidence of those threats.”

Lerner set off the IRS scandal last year when she made an unusual public apology for the agency’s improper screening of applications for tax-exempt status submitted by conservative political groups.

While Republicans and conservatives have continued to focus on the story, the scandal lost steam over the summer following the release of documents showing that the IRS may have also singled out progressive groups for additional scrutiny.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com

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