Facing a possible firing, the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the agency’s tea party scandal retired Monday, ending one chapter in a scandal that has engulfed the tax-collection agency since spring.
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.
Lerner first disclosed the targeting at a law conference in May, when she was asked a planted question about IRS treatment of political groups. Less than two weeks later, she refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing, citing her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.
A day after the hearing she was placed on paid leave at the age of 62.
Lerner has lied, or taken the Fifth and then clammed up, throughout the IRS scandal. The investigation into her activities and the IRS abuse of conservative groups should continue. Lerner was far from the only IRS honcho involved.
Update: Breitbart reports that the IRS has also offered Houston-based election integrity watchdog True the Vote its tax-exempt status (three years late!) and also moved to dismiss the groups lawsuit against the IRS.
“We are pleased and relieved that the IRS and the DOJ are finally doing what should have been done three years ago, which is to recognize TTV as a charitable and educational organization, which we have always been and will continue to be,” True The Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement provided exclusively to Breitbart News.
In July 2010, True The Vote filed an application with the IRS seeking 501(c)3 tax exempt status. After discovering in May 2013 that its application was part of the bigger IRS scandal targeting Tea Party organizations, True The Vote filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, D.C. requesting that its tax-exempt status application be approved.
The IRS granted the tax-exempt status on Friday night and then filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit all in the same document. True The Vote is accepting the tax-exempt status, but will file a counter motion to continue fighting the other counts of the lawsuit against the IRS. Those other counts deal with civil rights and privacy issues and could lead to the IRS being forced to turn over more documents heading into full discovery.
True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht has been subjected to a barrage of harassment from numerous executive branch agencies since she founded the group. How so many federal agencies came to focus on Engelbrecht has not yet been well investigated, let alone discovered.