Key IRS official retires after controversy
September 23rd, 2013
03:29 PM ET
11 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. A little too late

    Retired after we the tax payers paid months and months of her salary. She belongs in jail...

    September 23, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    freedom

    What took so long?? She's a liar and guilty of breaking the law. She needs to be called back in to testify and expose who was behind this – we all know it's Obama.
    ***************
    Then why bother with the tesimony, since you seem to know everything? it must be great to have God on speed-dial.

    September 23, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. tom l

    The IRS and government intrusiveness into our lives used to be something the left championed. They have demonstrated their true colors and lack of any type of intellectual honesty with their support of Lois Lerner. I only look forward to the day when it's a repub in office and they do the same thing. Perhaps then the dems will understand how snowed over they have been by this administration.

    September 23, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Al

    This woman should have been fired immediately AND forfeited her retirement and benefits. Only in our corrupt government can you get a paid vacation for breaking the law, and a cushy retirement package for avoiding criminal charges.

    September 23, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    -ronnie nussbeck

    Off with her Head!!! Lerner is a criminal and the public demands her head on a Platter. Lerner's actions had a direct effect on the Presidential election and hurt many individuals and their familys. Take her out back and put her against the wall and have a firing squad do the deed.
    ***********************
    How did it have an effect? It seems to me the righties could not coordinate a bake sale, much less political action on a national scale.

    September 23, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. tom l

    The lack of outrage from the left on this, the drones and the NSA demonstrates how phony they really are and all they really want is to be in power.

    September 23, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Sallie

    this is a regrettable loss of a fine public servant. Hope she winds up earning 3X as much in the private sector.

    September 23, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. tom l

    Another example of the war on women from the left.

    September 23, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Johnny 5

    Great one more crook released the streets by way of the golden hand shake.

    September 23, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. AZGurl

    This woman is also an animal rights terrorist and diverted investigations into the tax activities of H$U$, which funds no shelters and keeps over 90% of all donations for itself.

    September 23, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Lenny Pincus
    Quite the controversy. She was doing her job.
    ----------

    Agreed.

    September 23, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. hubert39

    Yep, the IRS targeted Liberals and Conservatives. Guess what? So does the NSA and FBI.
    And it all started when Ike and Nixon was president. Now people have computers and can read and NOW they get upset?

    September 23, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Sergio

    CNN is so biased that even an occasional reader like myself can read between the lines, and how the article's writer tries to water down the implications of such behavior by Mrs. Lerner. I wonder how some of these reporters are going to look back on their careers and then ask themselves, boy did I really sell out that often and so childishly?? But of course, that will never happen, because for that to happen, you have to actually have a conscience and that appears to me missing in action from a lot of these "reporters"....

    September 23, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. Gman

    Swept under the rug. THe IRS is now clean.

    September 23, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Owen

    Slow Lerner.

    September 23, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Cannot wait for IRS to run my healthcare, that should workout.

    September 23, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. Dennis in LA

    Gee, I think I'll go break a few laws in the name of Obama and then retire. I wonder if Holder will investigate her like he promised he'd investigate Zimmerman. Most corrupt administration in history.

    September 23, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. bigduke6

    If Ms. Lerner had lead an effort targeted at GLBT, blacks, hispanics, etc. there would be an ear shattering outrage and with that I would heartily agree. I am just as outraged that the target was Tea Party and other conservative groups. If you are not with me on this, regardless of your political ideology, you have become the very thing you claim to stand against. Your bigotry is just as sickening as any our country has witnessed.

    September 23, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. rs

    tom l

    The IRS and government intrusiveness into our lives used to be something the left championed. They have demonstrated their true colors and lack of any type of intellectual honesty with their support of Lois Lerner. I only look forward to the day when it's a repub in office and they do the same thing. Perhaps then the dems will understand how snowed over they have been by this administration.
    ________________________
    First of all Tom, you do realize Ms. Lerner is a registered Republican appointed by none other than President G.W. Bush, right? Second- Issa, despite his theatrics has yet to prove one single point against Lerner. In fact, it would appear Ms. Lerner if anything was much harder on progressive groups than those on the Right.
    Do fake controversies mass-produced by the GOP ever get you down?

    September 23, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. rs

    tom l

    Another example of the war on women from the left.
    ________________________________
    ever get an ultrasound you didn't need, Tom?

    September 23, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. roger

    Let her retire. I would still subpena her and get what she knows. Just because she retired doesn't mean she's free and clear of her actions.

    September 23, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. tanthonyS

    "...The woman who first confirmed the Internal Revenue Service had unfairly targeted certain political groups." Thanks for your opinion and propaganda, but clearly not everyone feels that the targeting was unfair at all. And I am one of those people.

    September 23, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  23. civilrightist

    At the very least she should have to spend the rest of her life in prison for treason 9throwing an election) or testify on who made her do it.

    September 23, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. rs

    just saying

    Joe Plumber
    but the targeting of progressive groups got barely a casual mention in the "liberal media".
    -

    that's because it simply never happened. you don't think if it was happening the liberal owned and run media in this country would have been all over it non-stop, front page, lead every newscast? please enough with the democrat lies mean't to hide the reality of this criminal behavior on the part of liberals and democrats at the irs.
    _______________________________
    Wow! JS- Let me make sure I have this right.

    You claim that no progressive groups were refused 501 (c4) tax exempt status at the same time TEA Parties got theirs because the MSM which you claim is left leaning would have reported it 24/7? In other words, you choose to deny these facts because you believe in the myth of a leftist media?

    Wow!

    September 23, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. jon

    Let this poor woman alone. She has done nothing wrong. GOP – move on!

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