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.