Reality Check: Lois Lerner's contempt of Congress charge

Reality Check: Lois Lerner's contempt of Congress charge

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - "I have not done anything wrong, I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules and regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee. And while I would very much like to answer the Committee's questions today, I've been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify" - Lois Lerner May, 22, 2013

Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the IRS targeting scandal, made history last week becoming one of a handful of people in more than 20 years to be held in contempt of Congress.

Will the charge force her to testify? Are we any closer to learning the truth about what happened here in Cincinnati under her watch?

In addition to holding Lerner in contempt, the House of Representatives has directed Attorney General Eric Holder, who ironically was the last person to be found in contempt of Congress back in 2012, to compel Lerner to testify.

That was a week ago and so far Holder hasn't said if he plans to pursue her. Meanwhile, Holder's lead prosecutor in the DOJ's ongoing investigation into the IRS targeting scandal is under fire for donating thousands of dollars to President Obama's campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

On Friday, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) had this to say about Barbara Bosserman's objectivity:

"When the lead investigator has a vested interest in the success of the president and she's supposed to be investigating a scandal from his administration...that's a problem."

If the Department of Justice decides not to pursue criminal charges against Lerner, Xavier University Professor of Political Science Mack Mariani tells me that Congress has two other options to force Lerner to testify: First, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could have the Sergeant at Arms arrest Lerner and haul her into the House of Representatives to stand trial. Boehner is on the record saying that's not going to happen. As for the second option… "If the House wanted to go through the judicial branch they might be able to compel her to testify, actually impose some fines or even prison for her if the court sides with them, the challenge is that it takes so long. President Obama might be citizen Obama," says Dr. Mariani.

If Lerner was to be found guilty in court, she could face up to 12 months in prison and up to a $100,000 fine, but Professor Mariani says that isn't likely to happen. That's the bottom line, that a contempt of Congress charge in no way guarantees that Lois Lerner will ever testify about her role in the IRS targeting scandal.