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The IRS scandal: Compelling Lerner

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Sunday, March 2, 2014, 8:42 p.m.

Americans still awaiting the full truth about the Obama administration's IRS targeting tea party groups for excessive scrutiny during the 2012 election cycle should applaud House Republicans' efforts to compel testimony from a woman at the center of that scandal.

Lois Lerner retired in September after heading an IRS division that determines groups' tax-exempt status. Last May, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. But she also proclaimed her innocence — and the committee ruled that by doing so, she waived that Fifth Amendment right and left herself open to being compelled to testify.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., last week sent Ms. Lerner's lawyer a letter recalling her to testify when he reconvenes that hearing on Wednesday. Mr. Issa wrote that her testimony “remains critical” to his probe of this IRS scandal.

The letter followed House passage of two bills reining in IRS audits and questions about taxpayers' religious and political beliefs. And as the letter was sent, the White House threatened to veto another House bill that would block new IRS rules aimed at 501(c)4 nonprofits involved in politics, including conservative groups.

With the Obama administration still defending the indefensible, recalling Lerner to testify shows that Mr. Issa and his committee aren't backing down in their efforts to document the full extent of politically motivated IRS abuses — which the American people have every right to know.

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