Lois Lerner, the IRS official placed on paid leave for her role in targeting conservative groups, still has full access to her IRS computer and has logged in since being placed on leave, National Review Online
NRO quotes a source as saying that Lerner has logged in as recently as June 4. She was placed on leave May 21.
The source did not say whether simply logging in was a problem. The source did say, however, that Lerner's access has not been restricted at all since she headed up the agency's Exempt Organizations division. That would give her access to taxpayer information, and IRS rules do not allow employees to see that information unless their duties include dealing with taxpayers. Since she was placed on leave her duties no longer require her to deal with taxpayers.
"That is a violation of IRS policy," the source told NRO, "and if she actually accesses any file that contains any Personal Identifiable Information, it is a felony violation. That would include emails that she has in her files discussing any taxpayer case that contains the name, address, phone numbers or tax data from a case."
Unauthorized access by Lerner would give new Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel good reason "to can her in a hurry," the source said. "I am sure a simple examination of her email files and hard drive would discover she still has taxpayer data."
If any changes were made to her hard drive they could be discovered by investigators. NRO reports that Lerner's hard drive has already been copied.
Lerner broke the news in early May that groups with "tea party," "patriot" and other conservative-sounding words and phrases in their names had been inappropriately targeted for added scrutiny. She did so while answering a planted question
after a speech to the American Bar Association.
Tea party groups had complained of harassment since 2010, but the IRS denied it. Lerner herself testified in 2011 before the House Oversight Committee that criteria had not changed even though she had previously been made aware of the targeting.
When he took over the agency, Werfel asked Lerner to resign. She refused and was placed on paid leave. When called back this month to testify, Lerner said she broke no laws but refused to answer questions, pleading the Fifth Amendment. Republican members of the House Oversight Committee have questioned whether Lerner can plead the Fifth since she made an opening statement and declared she did nothing illegal.
Chairman Darrell Issa said she may be required to return and testify under oath.
Meanwhile, those calling for Lerner to be fired are likely to be disappointed. Forbes reported today
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