Key IRS official retires after controversy
September 23rd, 2013
03:29 PM ET
5 years 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. Rudy NYC

    I suppose that no public sector job is safe from politicians and their machinations.

    September 23, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Donna

    This woman needs to be investiagted and prosecuted for breaking laws. Of course, the Obama adminstration will not enforce the laws against somebody doing their bidding and attacking Obama's political opponents. The whole IRS scandal is the biggest case of voter suppression this country has ever seen. Two national election cycles had Obama opponents essentially silenced by the IRS. This woman and others needs to do hard time in a federal pen.

    September 23, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Nick

    How convenient – just days after Congress found the smoking gun (emails) she retires. She should be jailed for her malfeasance. There is no doubt elections were swayed by sidelining conservative groups while they fought these intrusive investigations. Such corruption of the democratic process should be grounds for life-long imprisonment and loss of all Federal benefits.

    September 23, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. liberal disease

    should be in prison with no tax payer pension...and take Obama with you

    September 23, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. B

    best keep these comments off. cnn this is against your agenda.

    September 23, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. CryBabies

    Criminal activity should be dealt with appropriately....This hag will disappear from the scene and probably never be heard from again. The Administration will protect her to protect itself.

    September 23, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. HenryMiller

    That IRS official ought to be arrested for abuse of power.

    September 23, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. Whipping Boy

    Sigh...another innocent dedicated government worker is smeared to the point of resignation even though absolutely no actual wrongdoing has been supported by the evidence.

    September 23, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. copperhead

    That is great she is leaving, but she still needs to be investigated. She is going to get a great retirement package at taxpayer expense, we all know that is true.

    September 23, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. Lew

    So, I guess she's the sacrificial lamb.

    September 23, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Bob Dobalina

    Amazingly convenient.

    September 23, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. great grandma K

    Retired? She should be spending her "retirement" behind bars-instead she will continue to collect from the tax payer and live the good life.

    September 23, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Lenny Pincus

    Quite the controversy. She was doing her job.

    September 23, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. Flamengo1265

    Well that's convenient.

    September 23, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. CountryConcerned

    Yup with full benefits, pension, and all the amenities that government criminals enjoy.

    September 23, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. refuse2fail

    We're not done with Ms. Lerner. She can't retire her way out of this mess.

    September 23, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. Jason

    Who could have foreseen this?

    September 23, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. dennis franks

    Takes the fifth. retires. IRS to oversee the ACA.

    September 23, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Joe Plumber

    I love how much attention this got when it was the tea-baggers being targeted – but the targeting of progressive groups got barely a casual mention in the "liberal media". I think we can all agree that the IRS stinks no matter what your political views.

    September 23, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. mrl

    so we tax payers have to pay for this woman for the rest of her life? seriously?

    September 23, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    She's no Lois Lane thats for sure!!!!!

    September 23, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Here come the right wing conspiracy theories.

    September 23, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. Miguel

    There should be consequences to her and others within the IRS for the unethical misconduct she engaged in. Where's the accountability?

    September 23, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. ryche

    Ugh.. this lady is a scmbag.. just like all democrats... she will cut and run instead of face the music... disgusting.. but i expect nothing less from democrats and the unlawful obama regime..

    September 23, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Data Driven

    Bring on your tinfoil, conservatives; I need a tan!

    September 23, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
1 2 3 4