A House committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa is turning up the heat on Lois Lerner, a former IRS official, by recommending that she be held in contempt of Congress.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 21-12 on Thursday to adopt a resolution recommending the House find Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify before the committee.

Rep. Darrell Issa at a House meeting. Photo courtesy Issa's office
Rep. Darrell Issa at a House meeting. Photo courtesy Issa’s office

Issa, a Republican, has attracted national attention by investigating whether the IRS targeted tax-exempt conservative organizations with special audits.

“Our investigation has found that former IRS Exempt Organizations Division director Lois Lerner played a central role in the targeting scandal and then failed to meet her legal obligations to answer questions after she waived her right not to testify,” Issa said in a statement.

“In demanding answers and holding a powerful government official accountable for her failure to meet her legal obligations, this committee did its job. If the House takes up and passes the resolution, the matter will be referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which statute requires he take to a grand jury.”

Last year Lerner told the committee she intended to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify and has since refused to answer questions. Issa and other Republicans on the committee contend Lerner waived her right not to testify by making an opening statement.

Issa’s 49th District includes coastal San Diego from Del Mar north to the county line, Rancho Santa Fe, Vista and much of southern Orange County.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.