Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

IRS official who refused to testify is suspended

WASHINGTON — Lois Lerner, the head of the Internal Revenue Service's division on exempt organizations, was put on administrative leave Thursday, a day after she invoked the Fifth Amendment and declined to testify before a House committee investigating her division's targeting of conservative groups.

Lawmakers from both parties said Thursday that senior IRS officials had requested Lerner's resignation but she refused, forcing them to put her on leave instead. Whether her suspension will lead to dismissal was unclear, given civil service rules that govern federal employment.

"The IRS owes it to taxpayers to resolve her situation quickly," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa. "She shouldn't be in limbo indefinitely on the taxpayers' dime."

The move to put Lerner on leave became public minutes after Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., released a letter to new acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, demanding Lerner's immediate suspension for what they said was her failure to disclose information to their subcommittee.

If Lerner is dismissed, she would be the third senior IRS official to lose a job in the targeting scandal. The service's acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, was fired this month, and Lerner's supervisor, Joseph H. Grant, director of the IRS' tax exempt and government entities division, said he would retire June 3.

Lerner has been under severe pressure since May 10, when she delivered an awkward apology to tea party and other conservative groups whose applications for tax exemptions had been singled out for special scrutiny. At that time, she said she had learned of the targeting in 2012, when Tea Party groups publicly accused the IRS of mistreatment.

But a Treasury inspector general's audit released days later appeared to make it clear that she knew of the effort well before then and had tried to reshape it. Lawmakers from both parties accused her of lying to them.

Lois Lerner took the Fifth Amendment before a House panel.

Lois Lerner took the Fifth Amendment before a House panel.

IRS official who refused to testify is suspended 05/23/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions in county funding toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  2. Small helicopter crashes into Odessa home


    ODESSA — Firefighters and sheriff's deputies were investigating Monday after a small helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  3. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child


    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  4. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it


    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Editorial: Senate health care bill would be disastrous for Florida


    The frantic effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with something — anything — ranks raw politics over sound policy and threatens the health care of millions of Floridians. It is a desperate attempt to declare victory by shifting responsibility from the federal government …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks in August in Doral.