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 I.R.S. officials had requested Ms. 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 I.R.S. owes it to taxpayers to resolve her situation quickly,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. “She shouldn’t be in limbo indefinitely on the taxpayers’ dime.”
The move to put Ms. Lerner on leave became public minutes after Senators Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, released a letter to the new acting I.R.S. Commissioner, Daniel I. Werfel, demanding Ms. Lerner’s immediate suspension for what they said was her failure to disclose information to their Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
“Given the serious failure by Ms. Lerner to disclose to this subcommittee key information on topics that the subcommittee was investigating, we have lost confidence in her ability to fulfill her duties as director of exempt organizations at the I.R.S.,” wrote Mr. Levin and Mr. McCain.
If Ms. Lerner is dismissed, she would be the third senior I.R.S. official to lose their job in the targeting scandal. The service’s acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, was fired this month, and Ms. Lerner’s supervisor, Joseph H. Grant, director of the I.R.S.’s tax exempt and government entities division, said he would retire on June 3.
READ MORE ON I.R.S. Official Who Refused to Testify Is Suspended