An Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the agency’s political targeting scandal has reportedly been fired and has since “dropped off the edge of the world,” according to a new report from National Review Online.
Holly Paz, the director of the agency’s Rulings and Agreements office, was fired last Friday, according to the NRO report, and her agency-issued computer, phone, and Blackberry have shown no activity since.
“As of Thursday, the voice mail on Paz’s work phone remains active and callers are asked to leave a message for Paz, though nobody answered repeated calls placed to that number,” the report notes.
“Calls to the mobile phone number listed under Paz’s name in the IRS’s internal directory are sent straight to voice mail, and indicate her mailbox has not yet been set up,” it adds.
Paz’s alleged connection to the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups became public knowledge during a Congressional hearing in May
Here’s some NRO background on her role as director of the Rulings and Agreements office:
As the director of Rulings and Agreements, Paz served as the first line of management in Washington, D.C., that oversaw both the tax-law specialists who provided guidance to agents in Cincinnati reviewing tea-party applications and the Determinations Unit in Cincinnati charged with processing those applications. Paz has served in that position since January 2011, reporting directly to Lois Lerner, with the exception of a four-month period between October 2011 and January 2012 when she reportedly was on maternity leave. Lerner, the director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division was on May 23 placed on paid leave.
Paz, as mentioned in the above, recently became a person of interest when it was revealed that she was aware of an internal investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups (one year before the release inspector general’s report) and failed to notify Congress.
“Lawmakers have also raised eyebrows at the fact that Paz was present when members of the inspector general’s team interviewed her subordinates during the course of their investigation,” the NRO report continues.
“In a May 23 Oversight Committee hearing, chairman Darrell Issa expressed his astonishment, saying he was ‘shocked’ to find that Paz ‘participated in virtually every one of the interrogations or interviews with her own subordinates,” the report adds.
Rep. Issa said: “In those, of course, one of the questions the IG had to ask was, ‘Did anyone tell you to do this?’ If that question was asked, their own superior was in the room.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) was also surprised at Paz’s actions.
“It sounded like Ms. Paz felt like she needed to be in the room because she wanted to be able to defend herself – or the agency, I don’t know – based on what may have been said or the information gathered in that interview,” Cummings told inspector general J. Russell George.
“Usually when you are conducting an investigation . . . you want to keep your witnesses separate because you’re in search of the truth and you are trying to make sure there’s no advantage of a person hearing what somebody else said,” he added.
Paz, according to Rep. Issa, told the committee that neither she nor Lois Lerner requested be present during the investigation interviews.
“I can’t remember if I made the request or Lois Lerner made the request, but we discussed that in order for the IRS to be able respond to the report, we had to understand what information [the inspector general] had and what they were being told,” Congressman Issa said, quoting Paz.
As of this writing, the IRS has neither confirmed nor denied Paz’s firing.
But if the NRO report proves accurate, Paz’s firing would be the first head to roll in the IRS scandal.
Click here to read the full NRO report.
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