Worst Week in Washington
A weekly award honoring inhabitants of Planet Beltway

Who had the worst week in Washington? The IRS’s Lois Lerner.

Lois Lerner, this will go down on your permanent record.

Lerner, up until Thursday, was the head of the Internal Revenue Service’s arm overseeing tax-exempt groups. Yes, that’s the wing of the IRS that has admitted targeting conservative groups for more scrutiny because, well, they were conservative groups.

Worst Week in Washington

Chris Cillizza grants the award to the Democrat, Republican, West Wing dweller, Capitol Hill insider, K Street dealer, business guru, sports hero, think tank scribblers or other inhabitant of Planet Beltway who experienced the absolute worst week.

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On Wednesday, Lerner appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Appear” is the key word, since after insisting that “I have not done anything wrong,” she stopped speaking — invoking her constitutional right against self-incrimination. After she left the hearing room, a debate ensued as to whether by speaking at all Lerner had waived her right to plead the Fifth. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he was inclined to ask Lerner to come back and answer questions. Good times.

The next day came word that Lerner had been placed on administrative leave. Paid administrative leave, that is. Wait, it gets better. The new acting IRS commissioner, Daniel Werfel, asked Lerner to resign and she refused, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Those 48 hours ensured that Lerner will be the face (and voice) of this ongoing scandal: the government bureaucrat who insists she is innocent, refuses to answer questions, then takes what amounts to an extended vacation paid for by taxpayers.

Lois Lerner, for living up to every negative stereotype of a federal worker, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at chris.cillizza@washpost.com.

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