Key IRS official retires after controversy
September 23rd, 2013
03:29 PM ET
7 months ago

Key IRS official retires after controversy

Washington (CNN) - The woman who first confirmed the Internal Revenue Service had unfairly targeted certain political groups is retiring, the IRS said in a statement Monday.

Lois Lerner, director of tax exempt organizations for the IRS, was placed on administrative leave in May, just weeks after she admitted the IRS was applying extra scrutiny to certain groups between 2010 and 2012.

Her statements were followed by an audit with similar findings by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

"We can confirm today that Lois Lerner has retired," the IRS said in a statement. "Under federal privacy rules, the IRS cannot comment further on individual employee matters."

Lerner drew fierce criticism from Republicans shortly after she admitted at an American Bar Association conference and later in a phone conference with reporters that the IRS had focused on groups with the names "tea party" and "patriot" in their titles. Over the summer, however, more investigations revealed that the IRS had also looked closely at groups that used the word "progressive."

She appeared before the House Oversight Committee in May and stated she had not broken any laws or agency regulations. She then invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to answer questions. However, she could still be called back to testify.

It was one of several congressional hearings held this past summer over the IRS controversy.

Her retirement came Monday as an accountability review board–which was created by IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel to investigate the issue–had completed its work and reached out to Lerner's attorney to notify her they would be recommending her removal, according to Rep. Sander Levin, top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

The same review did not find any political bias or willful misconduct.

Levin argued the latest review disproves Republican claims of outside influence to target groups based on political ideology.

“The basic overreaching premise of the Republicans that the IRS had an ‘enemies list’ and was being influenced from the outside has been proven wrong again, as it has again and again,” Levin said.

CNN requested a response from Lerner's attorney, but has not yet received one.

House Oversight and Government Reform chairman Darrell Issa said Lerner's departure "does not alter" his committee's "interest in understanding why applicants for tax exempt status were targeted and inappropriately treated because of their political beliefs."

"We still don't know why Lois Lerner, as a senior IRS official, had such a personal interest in directing scrutiny and why she denied improper conduct to Congress," he said in a statement, adding the committee is still interested in hearing her testimony.

– CNN's Ashley Killough and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.


Filed under: IRS
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. MickeyOregon

    1) Good. Finally.
    2) She won't get government money to pay for her defense. Hopefully she'll end up in prison.
    3) I bet she gets a good Dem job or is appointment. I won't believe she's gone until she is in prison.

    September 23, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    tom l

    Another example of the war on women from the left.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You post some crazy, unsubstantiated stuff when you think no one is reading tom l.

    September 23, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. sly

    She is a hero. Thank you for trying to catch the crooks, ma'am.

    Rich White Cheaters run this nation. Thank God for women like this who call them fraud.

    September 23, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. MickeyOregon

    4) Funny, Obama didn't mention that she looks that she could have been his mother.

    September 23, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. ratickle

    With a full government pension no doubt. Should be brought up on charges.

    September 23, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Galen

    THE IRS FORCING OF DELAYS OF CONSERVATIVE SPEECH TURNED THE TIDE OF THE ELECTION TO OBAMA! WE DEMAND A NEW ELECTION! CNN, how many progressive groups were delayed compared to Conservative??!! Lap dog news organization!

    Lois Lerner needs to give her pay back that we were forced to give her during administrative leave and she should be held in contempt. She should get no retirement package whatsoever. A public servant who calls the Tea Party "DANGEROUS" and recommends INTENSE SCRUTINY and indefinite delays in allowing their FREE SPEECH should have been fired and given nothing.

    September 23, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. Jaz

    When poor Ameritans make mistake, we go to jail. But this woman will go freely and enjoy retirement money from us. Corrupt government.

    September 23, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. goblackhawks

    Welcome to the Chicago way ... corruption all around .. But that is what happens when America votes in a Chicago politican ...and CNN will sweep this under the rug .. just like Benghazi, Fast and Furious, etc .. anything to cover for Obama ..

    September 23, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. DaveinIL

    Prosecute her!

    September 23, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. Susan

    WOW! This woman terrorized hundreds of people, financially robbed them,caused them undo mental and physical stress, abused her office position, broke the law, and she gets off. SHE BELONGS IN FEDERAL PRISON!! She also pretty much said "FU" to our elected officials and showed they really have no power!

    September 23, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The same review did not find any political bias or willful misconduct.

    Levin argued the latest review disproves Republican claims of outside influence to target groups based on political ideology.

    “The basic overreaching premise of the Republicans that the IRS had an ‘enemies list’ and was being influenced from the outside has been proven wrong again, as it has again and again,” Levin said.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Too bad she had to retire, but I am glad she was allowed to versus being fired for doing her job.
    Two things that stand out in my mind during that ridiculous period of rightwing nutjob finger-pointing on this issue:
    #1: The picture of Ms. Lerner walking out of that Republican led witchhunt of a hearing with her head held high and a face that clearly said "You can all go to hell, I'm done with the lot of you!".
    #2: Wasn't Ms. Lerner a Republican?!

    September 23, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. keith

    That Eric Holder is doing 1 fine job- how about investigating this u traitor!

    September 23, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. Monomachos

    To those defending her – read the first line of the article again – she admitted the IRS wrongdoing, referring specifically to herself and those working under her direction. Then she testified that she did nothing wrong but then pleaded the fifth.. Maybe now she can really testify. Normally, people in the private sector who admit to wrongdoing lose their jobs – she gets to retire on a nice pension, so at the very least she owes us – we who are paying her pension – a full, honest explanation of just what went on in the IRS that led to her admitting "wrongdoing."

    September 23, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. Paul Cappit

    Dominican mama 4 Obama – – No she was not a Re[publican. It is idiots like you who spew garbage without having a clue that are most annoying.

    September 23, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. Steve

    Ding, dong the witch has been paid off.

    September 23, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Regularguy22

    So she gets to take the easy way out and retain all her benefits. Once again we see a lack of accountability

    September 23, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Richard Long

    "Retire"?!
    Nope.
    Forced out to protect the Obama Regime from yet another "phony" scandal.

    September 23, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. Bill

    Now toss her in the clink, until she fesses up as to who gave her the orders to do what she did. If she wants to fall on the sword for her acts, and not implicate someone higher, let her.

    September 23, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. Klaus

    I hope she gets prison once convicted

    September 23, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. jay

    This is why there is so much corruption in the U.S. government, there is ZERO accountability and a mountain of red tape and bureaucracy preventing any real ramifications. No wonder Americans have no faith in their government, they can't police the nation, they can't police themselves. How the heck is the rest of the world supposed to trust the U.S. to police the world when you can't even take care of your own internal issues. I'm sure her pension is well padded for her civic duty!

    September 23, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  21. lupe

    I am with Susan when she said that Lois said FU to the elected officials:). She pretty much got away with everything as she will be protected to the end. This is a sorry situation. She should be made to testify. We deserve to know the answers.

    September 23, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. wade long

    Another criminal walks. Checks and Balances is a myth!

    September 23, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. glenview0818

    Ya, she was doing this all on her own, she just has it in for tax exempt organizations. Everyone under her thought it was OK as well. No one above her had a clue, not that is the one thing I a afraid of.

    September 23, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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