September 23, 2013; Washington Times
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The IRS announced on Monday that Lois Lerner, head of the IRS Exempt Organizations (EO) Division since 2006, has decided to retire. She had been on paid administrative leave since late May, shortly after refusing to resign and refusing to testify to Congress about the IRS’s handling of applications for tax-exemption submitted by conservative groups beginning in 2010.
Her importance in what has come to be referred to as “the IRS scandal” is one of the few points on which congressional Democrats and Republicans agree. After a hearing last week, Charles Boustany (R-LA), chair of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, said “If you take Cincinnati and Dallas [two IRS offices involved in oversight of tax-exempt groups], it triangulates back up to Lois Lerner.” Sander Levin (D-MI), the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said that an internal IRS review was prepared to recommend Lerner’s dismissal. Mr. Levin had encouraged Lerner to resign since early last summer.
Lerner’s retirement in the face of the IRS scandal follows a similar retirement last May by IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller, who announced his retirement days after President Obama first publicly addressed the reports of political bias in how the IRS handled applications for tax-exemption. The President called the then-reported IRS actions “inexcusable” and committed to implementing major reforms.
The investigations of the IRS will continue, as the IRS itself, Treasury Department, the Justice Department, and at least three congressional committees are all conducting interviews and reviewing millions of pages of documents. Lerner’s decision to retire does not shield her from those investigations and potential legal action, and does not affect the investigators’ continuing work.—Michael Wyland