Lois Lerner claims to be “doing just fine” despite death threats, trouble landing a new job and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that she and her husband have spent on legal bills, according to an interview with Politico.
The former Internal Revenue Service official, a key figure in the agency’s political targeting scandal, said, “I know I did the best I could under the circumstances and am not sorry for anything I did.”
According to Politico, former acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel asked investigators to build a case for firing Lerner after the targeting scandal emerged. The IRS human-resources department also ordered her to resign on the day she declined to testify at a hearing in May 2013, but she refused. Instead, she retired roughly four months later.
Lerner suggested she has no regrets about invoking her Fifth Amendment right, saying she would do it again.
Lerner, a registered Democrat, said she is “not a political person” and that she has voted for candidates from both parties. “What matters is that my personal opinions have never affected my work,” she added.
The former IRS official declined to discuss e-mails in which she disparaged conservative talk show hosts and expressed concern about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which lifted limits on corporate political contributions and led to a proliferation of nonprofit advocacy groups.
Lerner also rejected the notion that she intentionally crashed her computer to hide years worth of e-mails that went missing after her hard drive malfunctioned in 2011. The loss of those records became apparent this year as congressional investigators examined her role in the targeting matter.
“How would I know two years ahead of time that it would be important for me to destroy e-mails, and if I did know that, why wouldn’t I have destroyed the other ones they keep releasing?” she asked.
Lerner has received a $100,000 annual pension since retiring from the IRS in September 2013, and she and her husband, an attorney with a national law firm, live in a $2.5 million home in Bethesda, according to the article.
She has sought work on a county panel that reviews grant applications from tax-exempt, nonprofit community groups and an international organization that works on elections in developing countries, but both have turned her down, Politico said. She has spent much of her time gardening, walking her dogs and volunteering as a editor of grant applications with a local arts nonprofit, according to the report.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) criticized Lerner for answering questions from Politico but not Congress.
“Her decision to make unsubstantiated claims to a media outlet while claiming Fifth Amendment protections from answering Congress’ questions is telling,” Issa said in a statement. “She appears to have great confidence that her allies in the Obama administration will not consider legal action after she resigned and declined to discuss the IRS’ actions against private citizens.”