This just in tonight, an IRS source in the agency’s Cincinnati office says that Lois Lerner, one of the officials at the center of the IRS scandal, has been placed on administrative leave (with pay).
From National Review Online:
Lerner on Thursday afternoon sent an e-mail to employees in the exempt-organizations division she oversees stating, “Due to the events of recent days, I am on administrative leave starting today. An announcement will be made shortly informing you who will be acting while I am on administrative leave. I know all of you will continue to support EO’s mission during these difficult times.” She concluded, “I thank you for all your hard work and dedication,” adding, “The work you do is important.”
Lerner had refused to answer questions Wednesday in a House Oversight Committee hearing, instead delivering an opening statement to indicate that she had done nothing wrong and then invoking the fifth amendment.
The development also comes on the heels of a report from FOX19, a local affiliate in the Cincinnati area, that examined the chain of command in that office. The report found that of the ‘rogue’ agents said to be responsible for the targeting of conservative groups, each had different managers, and the only connecting chain of command transitions back to Washington, DC. It also suggests that the IRS employees previously interviewed were questioned as part of an audit rather than an investigation, the latter of which asserts more scrutiny, and that the employees may need to be questioned again – this time under oath.
One of the conservative groups targeted by the IRS has filed the first lawsuit against the agency. True the Vote, which has been the subject of ongoing harassment by the IRS and other government agencies, filed the suit in federal court in Washington DC on Tuesday, alleging “unlawful actions by the IRS in the processing of its application for exempt status.”
Meanwhile, the GOP has apparently filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request with the IRS, a move that made Democratic Party Communications Director, Brad Woodhouse, none too happy. But Republican National Committee Communications Director, Sean Spicer, responded by taking a cue from another of the administration’s recent scandals.
It seems as though the DNC Communications Director may have lost sight of why the FOIA law exists in the first place – to get answers from government agencies when that information is not otherwise immediately accessible. There’s nothing partisan or overreaching about that. As I noted in one of my own Twitter posts, I don’t believe the GOP are the only ones filing FOIA requests to obtain answers from the IRS.
Let’s not forget that there are many everyday citizens who were the targets of overreach by the IRS. And those citizens want answers.
Update by WAJ: Looks like Lerner has some splainin’ to do, via Andrew Stiles, Lois Lerner Directly Involved in IRS Targeting, Letters Show:
A series of letters suggests that senior IRS official Lois Lerner was directly involved in the agency’s targeting of conservative groups as recently as April 2012, more than nine months after she first learned of the activity.
Lerner, the director of the IRS exempt organizations office in Washington, D.C., signed cover letters to 15 conservative organizations currently represented by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) between in March and April of 2012. The letters, such as this one sent to the Ohio Liberty Council on March 16, 2012, informed the groups applying for tax-exempt status that the IRS was “unable to make a final determination on your exempt status without additional information,” and included a list of detailed questions of the kind that a Treasury inspector general’s audit found to be inappropriate. Some of the groups to which Lerner sent letters are still awaiting approval.
Lerner has denied involvement in the targeting, which she has blamed on a few “front-line people” in the agency’s Cincinnati field office.
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