House Panel Seeks Criminal Inquiry of Ex-IRS Official Republicans send letter to Justice Department as Democrats cry foul By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Apr 9, 2014 2:25 PM CDT 66 comments Comments Former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in a file photo. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke) (Newser) – Last year's IRS scandal is back in the headlines. The House Ways and Means panel today formally asked the Justice Department for a criminal investigation into retired IRS official Lois Lerner, reports the Hill. Republicans on the committee pushed the vote through, alleging that emails show Lerner sought to deny tax-exempt status to conservative groups, particularly Crossroads GPS, while letting liberal ones slide. Democrats, meanwhile, accused the panel of political theatrics ahead of the midterms, given that the Justice Department already is conducting an investigation into the matter, reports AP. Some dueling quotes: Republican Dave Camp: "We think there's reason to believe that laws were broken, that constitutional rights were violated," said the committee's chairman. "We have to make sure that the signal goes out that this can't happen again." Democrat Sander Levin: "Making this committee an arm of any campaign committee does a deep disservice to the proud traditions and legacy of this committee. I don’t understand why you are doing this, Mr. Chairman.” Lerner's attorney: “Ms. Lerner has done nothing wrong. She did not violate any law or regulation. She did not mislead Congress. She did not interfere with the rights of any organization to a tax exemption. Those are the facts.” This isn't the only House panel investigating the issue. Tomorrow, Darrell Issa's House Oversight Committee will vote on whether to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions, reports Politico.