Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman filed a resolution Thursday demanding that the House use a little-exercised power to arrest former IRS official Lois Lerner.
“Asking the Justice Department to prosecute Lois Lerner for admittedly illegal activity is a joke. The Obama administration will not prosecute the Obama administration,” the release said.
Republicans have been on a warpath since news emerged that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative groups, giving them extra scrutiny before allowing them to file as nonprofits. Lerner headed up the Tax Exempt Organizations Unit while the profiling took place. In May, she was held in contempt of Congress but House leaders at the time said she wouldn’t be arrested.
Since then, however, a batch of Lerner’s emails were announced to have been lost, something Republicans say reeks of a cover-up.
The House’s ability to hold someone in contempt is a little-used criminal offense, Stockman’s press release notes, having been recognized by the Supreme Court just four times in the past. But the resolution itself cites the loss of some of Lerner’s emails and her refusal to answer questions at congressional hearings as offenses worthy of being held in contempt.
The House recently held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress because he would not turn over documents relating to the botched Fast and Furious gun sting.
“Such behavior is an insult to the dignity of the House of Representatives,” the resolution states. The resolution, should it be approved, would ask Ohio Rep. John Boehner to issue an arrest warrant, though the speaker of the House has previously shied away from calls to arrest Lerner.
Stockman credits Democrats, The New York Times and CNN for recognizing the powers of arrest, listing articles where the Times referenced the powers and CNN’s filming of potential holding cells that could be used.
“Democrats have openly stated the House has the powers to arrest those in contempt of Congress and imprison them in the Capitol. I don’t want to go as far as Democrats in exercising the House’s powers to arrest. Ms. Lerner will be held in the D.C. jail,” said Stockman.