House Panel Said to Accuse Lerner of Disclosing IRS Data

The House Ways and Means Committee plans to send a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder saying former IRS executive Lois Lerner should be prosecuted for violating taxpayers’ rights, misleading investigators and disclosing taxpayers’ private information, a House aide said.

The aide, who has knowledge of the letter, spoke on condition of anonymity before the panel’s scheduled vote tomorrow.

Lerner, who retired from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as director of exempt organizations, said at a congressional hearing last year that she has done nothing wrong and committed no crime. Her office gave extra scrutiny to small-government groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Since May 2013, when Lerner revealed the agency’s actions in response to a planted question at a tax conference, the IRS has changed its leadership and congressional committees have been investigating. The Justice Department has also been investigating. No charges have been filed.

The laws Lerner may have violated include one that prohibits false statements, another that prohibits the use of official positions to deprive people of their rights and a U.S. tax code section that limits disclosure of taxpayer information, the aide said.

Lerner’s attorney, William Taylor, didn’t respond immediately today to an e-mailed request for comment.

Justice Department

It will be up to Holder and the Justice Department to decide whether to prosecute Lerner.

Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has access to confidential taxpayer information that hasn’t become public, giving the Michigan Republican and his staff more opportunity than others to analyze Lerner’s role. Some of that information may become public tomorrow.

Separately, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to vote April 10 on whether Lerner should be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer lawmakers’ questions.

Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California, who released a March 11 report criticizing Lerner’s actions and has held repeated hearings on the IRS controversy, is chairman of the oversight committee.

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