An Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the massive political targeting scandal has been put on paid leave — but that hasn’t stopped her from reportedly accessing her work account.
After invoking her Fifth Amendment right to silence and refusing to resign from her position as the IRS’ director of Exempt Organizations (the office that actively engaged in targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status), Lois Lerner was put on administrative leave on May 23.
However, she has “not had any of her computer access restricted since she abdicated her responsibilities,” National Review Online notes, citing an IRS source.
“Lerner … logged into the IRS’s computer system using her agency computer as recently as June 4,” the NRO report adds. “She has the ability to access the same information that was available to her before she was placed on leave.”
Here’s what NRO’s sources claim:
[Lerner] can still access taxpayer data. If your duties do not inlude dealing with taxpayers, you are forbidden from seeing the information. That is a violation of IRS policy, 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. Actual Unauthorized Access (IRS uses the term UNAX) would be a really good reason for the new boss to can her in a hurry. I am sure a simple examination of her email files and hard drive would discover she still has taxpayer data.
In theory, Lerner’s paid leave restricts her from having access to the IRS’ computer system and taxpayer data. However, according to sources familiar with the situation, her computer privileges haven’t been revoked — and she’s allegedly taking advantage of that fact.
“Lerner also stymied the House Oversight Committee’s efforts to investigate the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, telling the committee last year that the criteria for evaluation applications for tax exemption had not changed – though the criteria had in fact been amended in order to identify the applications of tea-party groups,” NRO notes.
“In a 90-page letter to the committee, she also defended the intrusive letters sent to many tea-party groups, calling them routine and a matter of course,” the report adds.
Lerner’s hard drive was copied a few weeks ago by the IRS and uploaded to a secure server for investigators to scrutinize.
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