On Monday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) circulated an internal memorandum announcing that Holly Paz–the Obama donor-turned-IRS director of Tax Exempt Organizations who sat in on 36 of 41 Inspector General interviews with IRS employees–will be replaced.
It is presently unclear whether Paz has been fired, transferred, or placed on leave.
Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight Committee were baffled when they learned that the Inspector General had allowed Paz to sit in on the audit interviews of her IRS employees about improper targeting of conservative groups.
During congressional hearings, Inspector General J. Russell George said he was unaware that Paz had been allowed to listen in and participate in the interviews.
“This is the first time that I was made aware of this,” said George.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) questioned the wisdom of allowing Paz to sit in on the IG’s employee interviews.
“Usually when you are conducting an investigation–I know this was an audit, I got that–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,” said Cummings. “That’s pretty standard procedure.”
Cummings added: “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.”
Paz said she could not remember whether she or Lois Lerner brokered the highly unusual arrangement to allow her to listen in on employee interviews.
“Yes I believe… I can’t remember if I made the request or Lois Lerner made the request,” said Paz. “But we discussed that in order for the IRS to be able respond to the report we had to understand what information TIGTA [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration] had and what they were being told.”
Karen Schiller will replace Paz as acting director.