WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, and the only member of the Florida delegation on the House Ways and Means Committee, today called on acting-IRS commissioner Steven Miller to immediately fire Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official who oversaw the intentional targeting of individuals because of their politics and criticism of the government.
“Heads need to roll today,” said Buchanan, Florida’s only member of the Ways & Means Committee which oversees the IRS. “Ms. Lois Lerner knew about this gross abuse of power as early as 2011 but continues to plead ignorance to this day. We don’t want apologies we want answers and accountability — and we can start by firing the person responsible for this gross abuse of power.”
On Friday, Lerner told reporters that she first learned of the IRS targeting of political groups from media reports. However, a draft report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration confirms that Ms. Lerner was made aware that such political targeting had occurred on June 29, 2011. Ms. Lerner also tried to pin the blame on low-level workers. The Inspector General’s report confirms that senior IRS officials in Washington were made aware of the misconduct as early as August 2011.
“Our founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they knew their government was targeting individuals based on their political beliefs and criticism of the government,” said Buchanan. “The American people need to know they can be critical of their government without fear of retribution.”
Buchanan issued a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday demanding a full accounting from top to bottom of those responsible for the IRS’s gross abuse of power and what action is being taken to restore the public trust. The Ways & Means Committee will hold its first hearing on Friday to further investigate the matter.
Congressman Buchanan sent the letter below to Treasury Secretary Lew:
May 13, 2013
The Honorable Jacob Lew
Secretary of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Secretary Lew,
I share the outrage of millions of Americans at confirmed reports that the Internal Revenue Service has gone out of its way to intentionally target individuals and organizations whose politics are at odds with the Administration. The American people demand and deserve a full-accounting from top to bottom of those responsible for this gross abuse of power and what action is being taken to restore the public trust.
On March 22, 2012, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee which oversees the IRS, we heard then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman clearly state that the IRS did not engage in the practices of which it is now accused saying “there is absolutely no targeting.” Yet, less than a year earlier, Commissioner Shulman’s own deputy, Lois Lerner, was made aware that such malpractice had indeed occurred. It became evident that groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names were extremely vulnerable to auditing harassment. Even nonprofit organizations that sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution were unfairly singled out for scrutiny.
The nation’s trust in government was betrayed by this unconscionable behavior.
On behalf of my constituents, your immediate response is not only warranted but essential to clearing up a matter that would have our founding fathers rolling in their graves.
Member of Congress