IRS official Lois Lerner has resigned from the agency effective today.
A key figure in the IRS scandal, Lerner has been on paid leave since May after invoking her 5th Amendment rights before a Congressional investigating committee looking into political targeting of right-of-center organizations by the Internal Revenue Service. She also insisted during the hearing that she did nothing wrong.
The IRS was reportedly in the process of firing Lerner after an internal probe; as a long-time federal government employee, Lerner will still be able to collect generous retirement benefits. The IRS has continued to insist, however, that there was no political motivation in the profiling of Tea Party and other similar groups.
Lerner had apparently sought legal immunity as a condition of testifying in Congress.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “The IRS scrutiny began in early 2010 and affected dozens of tea-party and other grassroots conservative groups. Some applicants have remained in limbo for years awaiting a decision on their applications, according to an IRS inspector general’s report.”
Although the IRS scandal has dropped out of the headlines of late, several other officials in the agency have previously retired once the scandal went public.
In a statement, the IRS said “We can confirm today that Lois Lerner has retired. Under federal privacy rules, the IRS cannot comment further on individual employee matters.”
Lerner — who told the news media when the scandal broke that she wasn’t good at math despite being an IRS employee — was in charge of the office that improperly subjected tax-exempt status applications from Tea Party and other politically conservative groups to heavy scrutiny and intrusive questioning.
The IRS scandal is still under investigation on Capitol Hill. An FBI investigation is also underway.
Of the Lerner resignation/retirement, US Sen. Orrin Hatch said that “Just because Lois Lerner is retiring from the IRS does not mean the investigation is over. Far from it. In fact, there are many serious unanswered questions that must be addressed so we can get to the truth.”