Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the agency's tea party scandal, is retiring, the agency confirmed Monday.
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 from 2010 to 2012.
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.
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly called for her to be fired. The IRS said in a statement that privacy laws prevented it from commenting further about an individual employee.
Lerner's revelation at the May 10 tax conference set off a firestorm at the agency. President Barack Obama forced the acting commissioner to resign and much of the agency's top leadership was replaced. Three congressional committees and the Justice Department launched investigations.