Washington — Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, split from her party and with the rest of Connecticut’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote Wednesday night to require Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate IRS targeting of conservative nonprofit groups.
Esty was one of 26 Democrats who broke ranks to vote for the GOP-sponsored bill, which isn’t likely to see the light of day in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“I strongly believe our government regulatory agencies must be neutral and nonpartisan. It is completely unacceptable for the Internal Revenue Service or any other federal agency to target groups or individuals based on their political views,” Esty said in a statement.”Public confidence in the impartiality of tax collection is extremely important to the integrity of our system.”
Esty also said she “heard concerns from my constituents and from colleagues in Congress that the investigation is not sufficiently independent” and believes calling on Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS “is a reasonable request.”
Esty had stayed true to her party in voting against a separate bill earlier in the day that would hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about her agency’s auditing of conservative and other nonprofit groups.
That vote provoked an attack from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“Elizabeth Esty’s vote solidifies the fact that she has become a Washington insider and is out of touch with Connecticut voters,” said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. “Instead of demanding answers and holding the IRS accountable, Esty is helping the administration cover-up a scandal in hopes of political support for her re-election.”
“I could not in good faith vote for the resolution calling to hold Lois Lerner … in contempt of Congress,” Esty said. “My job as a U.S. Representative is to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Every American deserves constitutional protections…It’s unacceptable to play political games with the U.S. Constitution, which is why I strongly opposed yesterday’s resolution to hold Ms. Lerner in contempt.”
President Obama has said there’s “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS’s actions. But the GOP has no plans to let the issue die before November’s elections.