WASHINGTON — Facing a possible firing, the IRS official at the center of the agency's tea party scandal retired Monday.
Lois Lerner headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status when she was placed on paid leave in May. While she was in charge, the agency acknowledged that agents improperly targeted tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
At a congressional hearing last spring, Lerner refused to answer questions, citing her constitutional right not to incriminate herself. A day after the hearing, she was placed on paid leave.
Lerner's retirement came as a review board was set to propose that she be fired, said a statement by Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
The board found "neglect of duties" during her tenure as director of the agency's exempt organizations division, and mismanagement consistent with an inspector general's report issued in May, Levin's statement said.