Lois Lerner Placed On Administrative Leave

Lois Lerner, one of the IRS employees at the center of the political targeting scandal, has been placed on administrative leave:

Lois Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt organizations division of the IRS, has been placed on administrative leave, an administration official has confirmed to CBS News.

Lerner has come under fire for failing to alert Congress of the undue scrutiny that some IRS officials in her division had placed on conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

Thursday afternoon, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Government Affairs investigations subcommittee, called on Daniel Werfel, the new acting IRS commissioner, “to suspend immediately Lois Lerner from her office as Director of the Office of Exempt Organizations.”

In a letter to Werfel, Levin and McCain accused Lerner of not being forthcoming about the targeting scandal during an hours-long interview by the subcommittee, writing that she “failed to disclose the internal controversy over the search terms used by the Cincinnati office to identify 501(c)(4) groups for further review, the actions taken by that office in reviewing the identified groups, the investigation and imminent findings by the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA); and TIGTA’s conclusion that the IRS had used inappropriate criteria to target Tea Party and other conservative groups. Ms. Lerner also failed to disclose that she was fully aware of these issues as early as June 2011, and, according to TIGTA, had been personally involved in reviewing questionable actions taken by the Cincinnati office.”

“Given the serious failure by Ms. Lerner to disclose to this Subcommittee key information on topics that the Subcommittee was investigating, we have lost confidence in her ability to fulfill her duties,” they continued.

Under applicable civil service rules, Lerner will continue to get paid while on leave, but it’s likely that this could just be the beginning of a process that will result in her termination if it turns out she engaged in wrongdoing.  For the time being, then, the suspension strikes me as appropriate, especially given the fact that Wurfel was brought on board with the explicit task of reviving the reputation of an embattled agency that nobody really likes anyway.

FILED UNDER: Bureaucracy, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    It’s the right move both politically and pragmatically.

  2. @Dave Schuler:

    Indeed. Especially, as I said above, that Obama appointed Wurfel with the explicit instruction to fix the problems at the IRS that allowed this to happen.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    as Doug rightly points out, invoking the Fifth is no admission of anything. But she’s getting paid, so she’s not really being punished. Good solution.

    The Obama administration has been very quick to take such actions. Too quick in the Shirley Sherrod case. They’ve also acted aggressively on leaks. I can’t fault Obama for running a really tight ship. He knew the GOPs would be after him with torches and pitchforks. The current nothing burger “scandals” prove he was right.

  4. Paul L. says:

    WITCHHUNT!!!1!!
    The Tea Party IRS Nontroversy
    Lois Lerner is the new Van Jones swiftboated by the teabaggers who deserve to have their phony social welfare groups targeted.

  5. stonetools says:

    Putting her on administration leave, rather than trying to fire her outright was the right move. The Administration learned from the Sherrod Brown case.

  6. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    It’s now coming out that Ms. Lerner was at the Federal Elections Commission in the 1990’s, where it is reported that she carried out similar policies against conservative groups there — in particular the Christian Coalition, who were harassed for five years before finally being found in compliance with the law.

    I wonder if that was unknown to the people who put her in her current job, or if it was considered an asset?

  7. Moosebreath says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    “It’s the right move both politically and pragmatically.”

    Agreed.

  8. bill says:

    $10 says she gets a better job in the next year! our civil service unions are beyond the realm of sleazy, let’s fix this bs once and for all.

  9. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “I wonder if that”

    No you don’t. You want to spread a sleazy innuendo, but as always you don’t even have the balls to step up and say it outright. So you cloak it in one of you “I wonders” so when it turns about to be another scummy lie you can say you never actually said it.

    You want to say something? Be a man and say it.

  10. Matt Bernius says:

    @Paul L.:

    Lois Lerner is the new Van Jones swiftboated by the teabaggers who deserve to have their phony social welfare groups targeted.

    Umm no. It’s pretty clear from the Audit that the Exempt Organizations division had HUGE managerial issues that go far beyond this topic. In fact, much of this situation would have been avoided if better management was in place.

    For example, it took 20 friggin months for the EO’s technical unit to return a *draft* proposal on how to handle Potentially Political cases. That’s what caused the delay. And it seems pretty clear from the audit that the Washington office claims that they never realized this was happening.

    The list goes on and on. And while Bureaucracy can be blamed for some of the problems, there is little question that mismanagement was happening.

  11. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: You don’t like it when I give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt? Or at least acknowledge that they might not have acted from malice?

    Lerner had a history of allegedly abusing her power in service of her political biases, and was given a position where she could do that quite readily. The two explanations for that are incompetence (the Obama administration didn’t know about it) or malice (they wanted her to have the chance to do it again).

    The Obama administration has been claiming incompetence in the scandals — they had no idea what the people they chose and were supposed to oversee were actually doing. I’m doubting that, but I’ll wait to draw conclusions until more facts are in.

    But there’s an old principle at play here — “personnel is policy.”

  12. Just Me says:

    I think this is the right move.

    This is a scandal that truly is a scandal. I don’t think Obama had a role in it but I don’t believe it was a couple of rogue low level employees either. This was a decision made somewhere at the managerial level and this people need to be fired.

  13. Caj says:

    @Paul L.:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! The very fact TEA was mentioned for a tax exempt status tells even a fool that had little to do with social anything and everything to do with a political agenda.
    Don’t get what all the fuss is about.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools:

    Putting her on administration leave, rather than trying to fire her outright was the right move. The Administration learned from the Sherrod Brown case.

    No they didn’t, they tried to get her to resign just as they did with Sherrod Brown. Lerner is of slightly sterner stuff and refused to resign. Due to civil service rules I rather suspect this was their only other option. This is a purely political move made to satisfy the twin needs of GOPer’s in congress demands for a scalp and the Obama Admin’s desire to give them one.

    Guess we have a new entrant for the Scape Goat of the Year award.

  15. Scott says:

    When do you all think that once the personnel and policy issues are cleaned up that we will get back to the core issue: There is very bad tax law at the bottom of this.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “Given the serious failure by Ms. Lerner Senators Levin and McCain to disclose to this Subcommittee the voting public key information on topics that the Subcommittee was investigating voters are interested in , we have lost confidence in her their ability to fulfill her their duties,”

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could judge them by the same criteria they judge others by?

  17. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Lerner had a history of allegedly abusing her power in service of her political biases,”

    According to a hatchet job in the National Review. You might as well quote WND while you’re at it.

    I’m actually surprised you had time to read this. I figure you’d be too busy spreading Alex Jones’ story about how Obama’s military created the Oklahoma tornedos to distract from Benghazi.

  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Lois placed on administrative leave?

    JEEPERS ! what will Clark Kent do !??!

    Wait, what?

    Oh… Lerner.

    nevermind.

    (what a non-troversy)

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: Actually, I heard from a guy at the Daily Show that the tornadoes were God’s punishment for Oklahoma electing Republicans.

    And, as is your wont, when your crap fails, you resort to just plain making up shit and flinging it.

    Are you still deeply despondent since Keith Olbermann was fired, and you lost your main source of talking points?

    But back to the topic… Lerner’s actions from her days at the FEC are well documented, and you saying bad things about the National Review hardly discredits their account. Hell, the more it upsets you, the more credence I give it.

    It’s a useful barometer. You get all angry at NR, so they’re probably right.

    And as far as Alex Jones goes… it’s too bad he’s not a liberal. He’s almost qualified to be awarded a distinguished job at prestigious university. Unfortunately, he’s never tried to kill anyone, so that parallel fails.

  20. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Actually, I heard from a guy at the Daily Show that the tornadoes were God’s punishment for Oklahoma electing Republicans.”

    I’m not surprised that you don’t seem to be capable of understanding that the Daily Show is a comedy show. What you were quoting from is a source that claims to inform, but actually spreads lies and propaganda. No surprise that you can’t tell the difference.

    But I see you’re as bright an intellectual beacon as usual — since I find the NRO to be a worthless piece of trash, you decide to believe every word they say, thus outsourcing whatever passes for judgment to whomever I don’t like.

    I expect you’ll be parrotting Infowars soon, despite the gibberish you’ve posted above. After all, liberals really don’t like him

  21. It’s a false dichotomy to say she was put on administrative leave as opposed to being fired. At the same time she was place on leave, the IRS almost certainly initiated the disciplinary process that will result in her termination. It will take months, but will result in her termination if she does not choose to voluntarily resign along the way, for the record is clear that she lied to and/or misled Congress.

  22. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: InfoWars? Where the hell did that come from?

    You know what? You’re having a fine conversation all by your lonesome. You just stay there in CrazyLand and chat amongst yourself.

  23. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Jenos at 6:46 pm: “InfoWars? Where the hell did that come from?”

    Jenos at 12:47 pm: “And as far as Alex Jones goes… it’s too bad he’s not a liberal. He’s almost qualified to be awarded a distinguished job at prestigious university. Unfortunately, he’s never tried to kill anyone, so that parallel fails. ”

    So, little Jenos, what is the statute of limitations on your sleazeball posts? How many hours need to pass before we’re supposed to pretend you never posted them?

  24. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: YOU brought Jones and his site into this discussion, you colossal dipshit. The only thing I had to say about him was to allude of Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Kathy Boudin. Because if you’re going to bring up some nut on the right, I’d throw back a couple from the left — the only differences are that Jones has never killed or tried to kill anyone, and Jones is rightly seen as a fringe element, not a lauded academic.

  25. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Oh, so you were just reciting your mantra of gibberish, random names of people Fox tells you are evil. Blather blather poop poop, and it’s another Jay Tea masterpiece.

    Bravo to you for being able to post a hundred times a day and never having to come up with something to say — just repeat that mantra of names.

  26. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: If I really wanted to set you off, I’d toss out one theory about the IRS scandal (as usual, you seem to have lost track of the original topic because it’s become too inconvenient) that I read and currently like, as it explains the “why” so elegantly.

    Here’s a hint: there’s an old saw that if you want to know what the left is up to, just see what they’re accusing the right of — they’re quite fond of that tactic.

    However, I do owe you and other readers an apology. When you went out on your latest flight of fantasy to StoopidLand by bringing in Jones, I should have either just ignored or mocked you instead of going tit-for-tat. I think your kind of stupid is contagious.