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Oversight Committee Democrats Unanimously Condemn Chairman Issa's Actions at Today's IRS Hearing

Mar 5, 2014
Press Release
Oversight Committee Democrats Unanimously Condemn Chairman Issa's Actions at Today's IRS Hearing

Call on Issa to Apologize for Attempting to Silence Cummings

Washington, DC (Mar. 5, 2014)—Today, every Democratic Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Chairman Darrell Issa calling on him to apologize immediately for denying Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings his right under House Rules to speak at today’s hearing on the IRS.  After Issa spent approximately 15 minutes posing questions to former IRS official Lois Lerner, Issa quickly adjourned the hearing while Ranking Member Cummings was seeking recognition, turned off his microphone, and refused to allow him to make any statement or ask any questions, including even a procedural question about the Committee’s plans to accept a proffer from Ms. Lerner’s attorney.

Below is the full letter:

 

March 5, 2014

The Honorable Darrell E. Issa
Chairman
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Mr. Chairman:
 

            We are writing to strongly condemn your actions at today’s Committee hearing.  You began the hearing by spending approximately 15 minutes posing questions to former IRS official Lois Lerner, who stated, as she had nine months ago, that she was invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

When it came time for Ranking Member Cummings to take his turn for five minutes of questioning under the Rules of the House of Representatives, you instead quickly adjourned the hearing, turned off Ranking Member Cummings’ microphone, and refused to allow him to make any statement or ask any questions, including even a procedural question about the Committee’s plans to accept a proffer from Ms. Lerner’s attorney.

When Democratic Members protested your actions, you returned, turned on Ranking Member Cummings’ microphone momentarily, and allowed him to begin.  However, when it became clear that you did not like what Ranking Member Cummings was saying, you again shut off his microphone and repeatedly signaled to Republican staff with your hand across your neck.  Rather than allowing Ranking Member Cummings to read his statement and questions on the record, all of the Committee’s Republican Members then left the hearing room.

We believe your actions today were disrespectful and abusive, and they impugn the integrity of this Committee and undermine the credibility of its work.  They also make it appear that the Committee is more concerned with political spectacle than gathering facts in a balanced and impartial manner.

We request that you apologize immediately to Ranking Member Cummings as a first step to begin the process of restoring the credibility and integrity of our Committee.

 

Sincerely,

 

The Honorable Carolyn B. Maloney(NY)
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
The Honorable John F. Tierney (MA)
The Honorable Wm. Lacy Clay (MO)
The Honorable Stephen F. Lynch (MA)
The Honorable Jim Cooper (TN)
The Honorable Gerald E. Connolly (VA)
The Honorable Jackie Speier (CA)
The Honorable Matt Cartwright (PA)
The Honorable Tammy Duckworth (IL)
The Honorable Robin L. Kelly (IL)
The Honorable Danny K. Davis (IL)
The Honorable Peter Welch (VT)
The Honorable Tony Cardenas (CA)
The Honorable Steven Horsford (NV)
The Honorable Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM)

113th Congress