Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the tea party targeting scandal, has retired, the agency confirmed Monday.
The IRS said in a statement that due to privacy reasons, it could not say any more about Lerner's announcement to retire.
Lerner oversaw the IRS division that reviews and approves applications for tax-exempt status when the IRS reportedly was putting conservative and tea party groups seeking non-profit status through a more stringent and strenuous process than other groups.
She revealed the scandal after she was asked a question while speaking at a law conference in May, which turned out to be a plant
she had met with the day before.
The former IRS official was put on administrative leave
in May the day after she testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when she said that she had done nothing wrong, but boldly refused to answer any questions
taking her Fifth Amendment rights not to incriminate herself under the Constitution.
"I have done nothing wrong. I have not broken any laws," she said in her opening statement. "I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee."
The House committee, however, voted 22-17 on a resolution in June
that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by making a statement prior to invoking those constitutional rights and that she would be recalled to testify.
A Democratic aide told Politico
that the IRS completed an investigation into Lerner's role in the scandal and was beginning the termination process.
It was concluded that Lerner was "neglectful of duty" and mismanaged her department, but the agency did not find political motivation for the targeting, the aide added.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a statement that the committee will still most likely need her to testify.
Lerner's retirement "does not alter the Oversight Committee's interest in understanding why applicants for tax exempt status were targeted and inappropriately treated because of their political beliefs," Issa said.
"Her departure does not answer these questions or diminish the Committee's interest in hearing her testimony," he added.
In the statement released by the IRS Monday, the agency explained actions it has taken since the scandal broke.
"Since May, the IRS has taken decisive action to correct failures in exempt organizations management, replacing top leadership throughout the chain of command," the statement said. "In addition, IRS acting commissioner Danny Werfel created an accountability review board to fully review information to ensure proper oversight in handling personnel issues."
"The IRS is making important progress on fixing the underlying management and organization deficiencies," the IRS added. "Our goal is to restore the public's faith and trust in the tax system. We have sent nearly 400,000 pages of documents to Congress and facilitated dozens of employee interviews. We look forward to continuing to cooperate with Congress and other investigations."
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