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October 22, 2014

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House votes to hold ex-IRS official in contempt

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In this May 22, 2013, file photo, Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner refuses to answer questions as the House Oversight Committee holds a hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny the IRS gave Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON — The House has voted to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify at a pair of committee hearings about her role in the agency's tea party controversy.

Lois Lerner directed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. A year ago, Lerner publicly disclosed that agents had improperly singled out tea party applications for extra, sometimes burdensome scrutiny.

An inspector general's report blamed poor management but found no evidence of a political conspiracy. Many Republicans in Congress believe otherwise.

House Democrats say Wednesday's vote was little more than an election-year ploy to fire up the GOP base.

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