Surprise: Lois Lerner placed on “administrative leave”; Update: Lerner refused to resign?

posted at 5:21 pm on May 23, 2013 by Allahpundit

Via NRO, this isn’t really a surprise. Josh Marshall and Ezra Klein both called for Lerner to go yesterday, a day after their little powwow at the White House. Maybe that’s a coincidence or maybe it’s something more, but either way it’s proof that even liberals thought it was time for another sacrifice to appease the scandal gods.

Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service’s director of exempt organizations, has been placed on administrative leave, according to a source in the agency’s Cincinnati office.

Lerner on Thursday afternoon sent an e-mail to employees in the exempt organizations division she oversees stating, “Due to the events of recent days, I am on administrative leave starting today. An announcement will be made shortly informing you who will be acting while I am on administrative leave. I know all of you will continue to support EO’s mission during these difficult times.” She concluded, “I thank you for all your hard work and dedication,” adding, “The work you do is important.”

Old White House ally Carl Levin and new White House ally John McCain sent the IRS a letter just this morning calling for Lerner’s termination, and now here we are.

Why “administrative leave” instead of a firing? Three reasons. One: Now that Lerner’s stated publicly that she did no wrong and invoked her Fifth Amendment right in Congress, the Due Process President probably doesn’t want to pull the trapdoor until she’s given her side of the story. If in fact it turns out that the order to target conservative groups came from somewhere else, canning her straightaway would make a bad situation worse. Two: As we know from Benghazi, “administrative leave” is the administration’s preferred way to handle a crisis. It’s a nice middle ground between doing nothing at all, which plays badly with voters, and firing someone outright. Why kick someone off the payroll when you can simply “suspend” them, keep the checks coming so they stay quiet, and then quietly reinstate them later after the public’s stopped paying attention?

And three, as Dan Foster reminds us today at NRO: It’s exceedingly hard to fire a federal employee, thanks in part to the sort of government unions that are routinely championed by Barack Obama.

[A]s a civil servant, she is protected by both the full weight of federal law and the advocacy of a powerful union, making her tricky to get rid of…

Part of the reason so few federal workers are let go is surely the, shall we say, culture of lowered expectations synonymous with government bureaucracy. But the greater part of it is that firings are complex and time-consuming. Forty-nine states have “at-will” employment laws, meaning that, specific contracts and covenants aside, a private-sector employer can let an employee go for any reason at all, with a few exceptions for things like discrimination and (ironically enough) the intimidation of whistleblowers. But in Washington, the process can take 18 months or more.

“It’s much more difficult to fire government workers, because it requires much more evidence of wrongdoing, and it is a longer process for creating the paperwork, for documenting it, and so forth,” Donald Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, tells me. “There are lots of cases where supervisors give up, and either decide it’s easier to transfer [a poor employee] or, in the time-honored tradition, to promote them.”

Exit question: Will this affect Lerner’s willingness to testify? If she feels wronged by being suspended, it might convince her to give up the goods on some higher-up, assuming she has the goods. But then, that’s the virtue of administrative leave from the IRS’s perspective — by keeping her employed, they’re giving her an incentive to keep her mouth shut. If she plays ball and stays silent, there may yet be a job for her again a few months from now.

Update: Yep.

Update: Can’t fire her for the reasons stated above, so there’s only one way to get her out the door for good. No dice:

If they wanted her gone, does that mean they’re not worried about what she might say in testimony? They’re taking a gamble.

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The facts and terminology in this post are incorrect.

A Federal employee on administrative leave has full pay and benefits.

As a disciplinary action, a Federal employee may be placed on suspension which is without pay.

Since Ms. Lerner is a supervisor, it is unlikely that Ms. Lerner is within any union bargaining unit.

While it may take some time to investigate a case, the minimum period between a notice of proposed removal and the removal is 30 days.

The former employee is no longer employed by the Federal government during the appeal process with the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Of course, if management made any mistakes in the process and the removal is overturned, the employee gets their job back and full pay for the time the appeal has been pending.


A big question is who told Lerner to target “Tea Party” “Patriot” and similar groups. It wasn’t just the complaint letters from Senators Schumer, Franken, and 5 others.

slp on May 23, 2013 at 8:02 PM

Who cares? Put the B1tch in JAIL.

HondaV65 on May 23, 2013 at 8:57 PM

We need a law that makes Pleading the fifth a simple, complete, and immediate resignation from with the exception of military service any government job with complete forfeiture of any and all benefits.

Slowburn on May 23, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Will she be “Vince Fostered”? At which point they can all claim she made the decision on her own. Hope her husband is hiring extra security.

riddick on May 23, 2013 at 11:38 PM

A preemptive move in hopes this will appease the Committee so they don’t send her to jail & stop trying to go after Obama.

Shulman, Miller, Lerner … for starters …


easyt65 on May 24, 2013 at 1:24 AM

This is good. She thinks she has a future. But the administration wants her out of there. She may talk.

virgo on May 24, 2013 at 2:17 AM

Isn’t she “management”? Do public employee unions represent both employees and management? If she isn’t a member of the union and being defended by them, one would think the rank and file would be screaming for her head.

weaselyone on May 24, 2013 at 8:21 AM

They’re not taking a gamble. She can see the bus coming her way and is trying to avoid it, but they’ll get her. The only thing that can save her is if she knows something worth telling, and I’ll bet she doesn’t. It wasn’t her that met with David Plouffe, or some other political staffer at the WH.

The Obama administration has worked on this strategy of intimidation for years, and they’ve got it down cold.. They aren’t afraid of some mid-level, true-believing Inspector Clousseau type.

MTF on May 24, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Uttering the words President Biden leaves a rather bad taste in my mouth, so I would rather we merely expose the flaws of the 44th President and making him squirm for the rest of his term.

Let’s just focus on getting the truth about the IRS, Benghazi, AP-gate, Obamacare, and everything else out there in full Monty-mode for the whole country to see. I’m betting that the MSM won’t be able to stop the signal once that exposure has been accomplished.

As for Ms. Lerner, I hope she grows a conscience between now and her next appearance on Capital Hill. If nothing else, she needs to be removed from the ranks of federal employment.

itzWicks on May 24, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Why should she resign? Everyone else who lies for Obama gets promoted.

The Rogue Tomato on May 24, 2013 at 9:49 AM

I think it’s wonderful that we Private Sector Normies, who are “Employees at Will,” with barely any job protection, have the opportunity to pay for the extended vacation of a woman who signed off on letters to Tea Party organizations telling them to go pound sand, who lied to Congress when she testified under oath that she did nothing wrong, and who actively targets the people who pay her salary.

That is SO much better than using our tax dollars to, say, help disabled veterans. Is this a great country or what?

Maddie on May 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

What is it about this woman? She looks kind of like she’d like to have a Dalmation Puppy Fur Coat.

trigon on May 24, 2013 at 10:43 AM

And three, as Dan Foster reminds us today at NRO: It’s exceedingly hard to fire a federal employee, thanks in part to the sort of government unions that are routinely championed by Barack Obama.

And now that there is some evidence that the head of the union over the IRS has been involved in the targeting, I say bring in the union head, classify it as a crime organization, and then work on passing a law that bans unions from federal government.

dominigan on May 24, 2013 at 10:47 AM

She needs to be FIRED!! What is this with taxpayers money paying someone to do nothing, while when she was working at the IRS she was destroying the moral fabric of what America stands for. She did a HORRIBLE job!

karlinsync on May 24, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Of course she will not resign.

She has more conservatives / non liberals she needs to persecute.

TerryW on May 24, 2013 at 10:57 AM

On a related note, nonpartisan should have more time to post here now.

Marcola on May 24, 2013 at 11:11 AM

These Dems have zero honor. They think honor is something a guy does to his date when he’s had a bit too much too drink.

neyney on May 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM

“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”
“I’m not a witch at all”
“Are you a slow Lerner, or a fast Lerner?”
“I’m not a Lerner at all”

birdwatcher on May 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM

No, she is not a union member. She is either a GS-15 manager or an SES manager. If she is SES, she can be fired immediately. If a GS then she can be fired after a 30 day notification that she can appeal to the Merit Services Protection Board. She committed fireable offenses and it is just a matter that the agency wants to fire her and will go through the appeal process. Managers and SES are prohibited from being union members.

federale86 on May 24, 2013 at 12:55 PM

I think only jail time will educate Lerner that what she did was wrong. Her record of doing the same stuff for the FEC shows she needs a dose of reality.

TerryW on May 24, 2013 at 12:58 PM

They aren’t going to fire her until they are in the position were there is no threat of “hell hath no fury.” She certainly isn’t going to resign because right now she has leverage to keep getting paid but not have to do anything for it.

TturnP on May 24, 2013 at 4:18 PM

My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over on administrative leave…

elgeneralisimo on May 24, 2013 at 5:15 PM

It’s the Chicago way. We should all be accustomed to BAMSTAHHHHHHH!!!!! YOU DA MANNNNNNNNNNN BAMMMMMMMY BABYYYY!!! LOVE YA BARRY OL BUDDY OL PALLLLLLL!!!!!! YAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
hawk13 at 5:

cableguy615 on May 24, 2013 at 8:46 PM

Forget about the debate about whether Lerner did or didn’t waive her 5th amendment rights. She was called before congress and refused to answer questions while congress was performing their oversight role over the IRS. That alone should be grounds for termination.

HarryBackside on May 25, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Of course she’s not going to quit, THESE PEOPLE HAVE NO SHAME.

mmcnamer1 on May 26, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Resign? She should be stoned to death in town square. Sound barbaric does it? Who cares if it helps scare the living s**t out of people so they stop doing disgraceful acts.

F_This on May 28, 2013 at 3:20 PM

That’s the way of it in Washington.

Progs love to crow about GOP scandals (because the occassional page-diddler means the entire party are a bunch of closeted self-loathers and act out of some childish sort of defiance rather than governing soberly), but almost every single time one of these guys gets called out, they resign. Themselves. Like Bob Livingston.

The one notable exception I can think of is Mark Sanford, who won’t go away no matter how much they try to get rid of him. The GOP even tried to impeach him as governor, but was blocked… BY DEMOCRATS. TWICE. And the third time they just went through the motions and dropped the whole thing. And even after he retires as governor, here he is again, even though the only person we want less than him is Stephen Colbert’s sister.

By contrast, if your a Dem and you diddle an underage congressional page, you get a subcommittee chair. If you send your boyfriend to work at the GSE you’re supposed to be regulating, but instead push over a cliff, you get to chair the Financial Services Committee. If you run shady land deals out of your home state using your legislative power, you get to be majority leader. If you shag your interns in the Oval Office, you are heralded as the greatest president of a generation. Even if you fly down to your home district in the middle of the worst hurricane disaster in 50 years, and commandeer military resources from rescue operations to get your bribe money out of your house, and have to be rescued yourself, you get re-elected in the wake of indictment on felony corruption charges, and the other party gets accused of “locking black people in the Superdome to die”.

This duplicity gets real old real fast.

The Schaef on May 30, 2013 at 12:56 PM