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Top Senate investigators: Lerner misled Congress

Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain, who together run the Senate's permanent investigative subcommittee, sent a letter to the IRS on Thursday calling for Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the agency's conservative-targeting scandal, to be suspended for dereliction of duty.

Mr. Levin, Michigan Democrat, and Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said their committee had already been investigating a different aspect of the IRS division that reviews tax-exempt groups, which Ms. Lerner heads, and they said their investigators interviewed her in April.

She failed to tell the investigators about the already-brewing and soon-to-explode controversy over targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny.

"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 IRS," the two senators said in a letter to Daniel Werfel, the IRS's acting commissioner.

Other lawmakers have said high-level IRS officials misled Congress by not informing them of the inappropriate scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, even after they were aware that dozens of members of Congress were concerned about it.

But the senators' letter is the first time anyone has shown Ms. Lerner had a chance but failed to tell Congress about the scrutiny.

"Ms. Lerner failed to disclose the internal controversy over the search terms used by the Cincinnati office to identify 501(c)(4) groups for further review, the actions taken by that office in reviewing the identified groups, the investigation and imminent findings by the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA); and TIGTA's conclusion that the IRS had used inappropriate criteria to target Tea Party and other conservative groups," the senators said.

"Ms. Lerner also failed to disclose that she was fully aware of these issues as early as June 2011, and, according to TIGTA, had been personally involved in reviewing questionable actions taken by the Cincinnati office," they said.

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