This website had some initial trepidation regarding U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). We weren’t sure at first whether the Upstate South Carolina prosecutor would become a reliable free market vote … or another in a long line of Bible Thumping status quo backers like former Rep. Bob Inglis.

Since his election in 2010, though, Gowdy has not only met – but exceeded our expectations. With one or two rare exceptions, he’s earned consistently high marks for his votes in defense of freedom and free markets – joining U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney (also elected in 2010) as a reliable limited government backer.

This week, Gowdy impressed us again by adopting a hard line stance against former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner – who is seeking immunity from prosecution in the scandal Barack Obama’s administration seems hellbent on ignoring.

Lerner infamously pleaded the Fifth Amendment last year in response to questions about the agency’s shameful (and illegal) discrimination against limited government groups.

“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” Lerner’s attorney said at the time.

Next week, Lerner is scheduled to appear before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – where Gowdy is waiting in full prosecutorial mode.

“We’re going to have to evaluate whether or not to hold her in contempt of Congress which could include a visit from the Capitol Police – and being incarcerated,” Gowdy said during an appearance on Fox News.

Wow …

Gowdy was also adamant Lerner would not be exempted from prosecution for her role in the scandal.

“We’re never giving her immunity,” he said, emphatically. “We’re not giving her immunity. Period. Why would you give someone immunity when you have no idea what criminal conduct they’ve engaged in?”

Exactly …

According to Gowdy, Lerner’s lawyer needs to “do what he should have done months ago” and provide House investigators with a document indicating what she would say if she were compelled to testify. That document couldn’t be used against her legally – or in the court of opinion – but would enable investigators to determine what concessions they would be willing to offer in exchange for her testimony.

Gowdy said Lerner’s desire for immunity strongly suggested “she’s guilty” – and added that he prefers to approach her as a “defendant” rather than a witness.

Of course Congress can’t prosecute her, only the U.S. Department of Justice can do that.

“I hope the Department of Justice at some point takes this investigation seriously,” Gowdy said. “As you know I can’t prosecute Lois Lerner. I can’t indict her, I can’t put her in prison. Only the executive branch can do that.”

“They won’t do their job so we’re going to have to do it for them,” Gowdy added, saying that he believes Lerner “connects this scandal all the way to Washington.”

We agree …

Of all the scandals hanging over the Obama administration, its use of the IRS to silence political opposition in advance of the 2012 election – and the subsequent coverup of the scandal – is by far the most egregious. That’s why Obama is doing his best to sweep it under the rug.

Props to Gowdy for not letting him get away with it …

Also props to NetRightDaily, the media outlet that’s been driving coverage of this issue while the mainstream media has been (mostly) asleep at the wheel …