Will Lois Lerner Be Held in Contempt?
By Matthew Vadum
Lerner may soon be compelled to testify or be cited for contempt of Congress. After a hearing concluded Wednesday at which Lerner refused to answer questions, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated that Republicans are growing tired of the former IRS executive’s shenanigans. “At some point, I believe that she has to testify, or she should be held in contempt,” he told reporters.
Democrats are also desperate to use theatrics and sideshows to change the subject from the slow-motion 100-car pile up that is Obamacare. To make matters worse for Democrats, President Obama’s already low public approval ratings are cratering in a new Fox News poll whose results have been echoed in recent media-conducted polls.
Obama’s overall approval/disapproval numbers hit an all-time low of 38 percent to 54 percent. A mere 28 percent of Independents, 39 percent of women, and 38 percent of young voters gave the president a thumbs-up for his performance in office. When respondents were asked, “Do you think the country is better off than it was five years ago, or not?” just 34 percent answered yes, compared to 60 percent responding no.
At a Wednesday hearing of the House Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who has been dining out for a half century on his civil rights activism in the Sixties, pulled a well-publicized publicity stunt calculated to make committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) look mean-spirited.
The days when Cummings courageously stood up to oppressive government measures are long gone. Now he leads the charge on behalf of Big Brother and our increasingly out-of-control federal government.
At the hearing, which was a continuation of a hearing started last year, Issa asked witness Lois Lerner a series of questions about IRS targeting of conservative and Tea Party 501c4 nonprofit advocacy groups during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. In what may ultimately turn out to be a tacit admission of wrongdoing, Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination each time, refusing to answer any questions.
Issa soon gave up. The chairman gaveled the proceedings to a close after saying it was clear that Lerner would not testify at the hearing that was convoked specifically for her testimony. In a gimmicky, premeditated act of political theater, Cummings then exploded at Issa, demanding an answer to a procedural query. Issa listened to Cummings but it was clear that the lawmaker was only interested in spewing pro-Obama administration propaganda, accusing Issa of conducting a one-sided investigation — of all things — of the improprieties at the IRS.
Cummings then said he had a question to ask but refused to actually state a question, preferring instead to use the opportunity to engage in grandstanding by making a statement for the media and low-information voters to lap up.
“We’re better than that as a country,” Cummings shouted indignantly during his televised temper tantrum. “We’re better than that as a committee,” he continued. As his microphone was muted, Cummings yelled, “I want to ask a question. What are we hiding? What’s the big deal?”
Of course Issa and House Republicans haven’t been hiding anything. It is the executive branch that has been doing the hiding. President Obama has laughably claimed that there was not even “a smidgen of corruption” in his administration’s handling of the IRS affair but anyone with eyes knows the Obama administration has been stonewalling and intimidating witnesses who know the ugly truth.
To add insult to injury, Democratic lawmakers moved a resolution in the House yesterday that condemned Issa for daring to shut down his hearing without allowing Cummings to make a spectacle of himself for the TV cameras. Amazingly, House GOP leadership refused to bow to Democrats. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) moved to table the resolution and his motion was approved on a vote of 211 to 186.
Among Democratic lawmakers trying to sweep IRS abuses under the rug, Cummings is arguably the worst offender in Congress. He has steadfastly cheered on Obama’s obfuscations and engaged in thug tactics against his political adversaries.
A month ago the indomitable Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote and King Street Patriots in Houston, Texas, accused Cummings of an “abuse of power” and filed a formal complaint against him with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
“Congressman Cummings on three separate occasions sent letters on letterhead from this committee, stating that he had concerns and felt it necessary to open an investigation on True the Vote,” Engelbrecht said during a congressional hearing on IRS misbehavior.
After she sought tax-exempt status from the IRS, “an assortment of federal entities including law enforcement agencies, and Congressman Cummings came knocking at my door,” Engelbrecht said.
Cummings is also one of the worst race-baiters in Congress. In order to facilitate the Democrats’ electoral fraud efforts every election, Cummings and his ilk routinely accuse anyone who supports voter ID laws of racism.
Cummings’s publicity stunt this week is reminiscent of the bogus racism charge that Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) hurled at the Tea Party at the height of the Obamacare debate in Congress. Carson flat out lied, saying that on March 20, 2010, Obamacare opponents in a crowd outside the U.S. Capitol shouted the N-word while Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) walked by. The late Andrew Breitbart put up a $100,000 reward for video and audio evidence that the event happened. No one claimed the reward.
Democrats correctly view Tea Party groups, that is, right-wing populist groups, as an existential threat to the Left. These nonprofits tend to be Republican-leaning organizations and they have been successful so far in derailing, or at least slowing, parts of President Obama’s ongoing transmogrification of America.
Democrats don’t want any conservative nonprofits to enjoy tax-exempt status. Such nonprofits are all working against the Left, standing in the way and preventing America from becoming a leftist utopia.
Using the IRS to hurt right-of-center groups is fair game, according to left-wingers.
And to his everlasting shame, Elijah Cummings is part of that egregious assault on the American democratic process.