WASHINGTON -- Facing a possible firing, the Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the agency's tea party scandal retired Monday, ending one chapter in a ruckus that has engulfed the tax-collection agency since spring.
Lois Lerner headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status when she was placed on paid leave in May. While she was in charge, the agency acknowledged that agents improperly targeted tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Lerner first disclosed the targeting at a law conference in May, when she was asked a planted question about IRS treatment of political groups. Less than two weeks later, she refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing, citing her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.
A day after the hearing she was placed on paid leave at the age of 62.
Lerner's retirement came as a review board was set to propose that she be fired, said a statement by Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
The board found "neglect of duties" during her tenure as director of the agency's exempt organizations division, and mismanagement consistent with an inspector general's report issued in May, Levin's statement said. The board, however, did not issue any findings of political bias or willful misconduct.
Lerner's lawyer did not respond Monday to a request for comment.
Winner will remain anonymous: The winner of last week's $400 million Powerball jackpot has claimed his prize, but the South Carolina man is asking to remain anonymous. South Carolina lottery officials said the winner, from Columbia, presented the winning ticket Monday. Under state law, he does not have to release his name. The lottery did give a few details about the winner. He stopped to get gas at the Murphy Express the day of the drawing last Wednesday and his wife told him to buy some hot dog buns. The store didn't sell buns, but after seeing the $400 million prize advertised, the winner bought $20 in lottery tickets instead.
Face parole hearings: They face parole hearings soon, but ex-Tyco executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz have already left a minimum-security prison in Harlem for steady clerical jobs and overnights in apartments following their headline-grabbing $134 million corporate fraud convictions. Former CEO Kozlowski and ex-chief financial officer Swartz are among 304 inmates in the state's work-release program, according to prison officials. After a period where they spent nights or weekends back at Lincoln Correctional Facility, they have only had to report in weekly since July. Defense attorneys said the men collectively paid $134 million in restitution to Tyco and $105 million in fines to the state after their 2005 convictions. They were sentenced to 81⁄3-to-25-years in prison for 22 counts of grand larceny, conspiracy, falsifying records and violating business law.
Chrysler prepares for IPO: Chrysler Group is reluctantly preparing for an initial public offering of some of its shares. The automaker is proceeding with the IPO after it failed to reach an agreement on the value of the stock with the retiree trust that owns it. Chrysler shares haven't been publicly traded since 1998, when the company merged with Daimler AG. The shares that would be sold are owned by a United Auto Workers-run trust that pays the health care costs for around 130,000 blue-collar Chrysler retirees. The trust owns a 41.5 percent stake in Chrysler. It will get all of the proceeds from the IPO if it goes forward
Temporarily slows Jeep production: Chrysler is temporarily slowing production of the new Jeep Cherokee at its plant in Toledo. Chrysler spokesman Jodi Tinson said Monday that the company will lay off 500 workers and idle the second shift at its Toledo North plant for around two weeks. The new Cherokee small SUV is replacing the Liberty in Jeep's lineup. It's a critical product for Chrysler and one of the fastest-growing segments of the market. Chrysler has already delayed production and deliveries to make sure the SUV's new nine-speed transmission is working smoothly.
Wal-Mart Stores to expand jobs: Wal-Mart Stores is hiring 55,000 seasonal workers and is elevating 70,000 more to part- or full-time positions as the holiday season ramps up. The world's largest retailer said Monday that 35,000 temporary workers will become part-time and 35,000 part-time workers will gain full-time jobs. The shift means that Wal-Mart will be offering more of its workers benefits. That's significant because Wal-Mart has been a target of attacks by labor groups for what they say are skimpy wages and benefits. Last season, Wal-Mart hired 50,000 workers and said it would offer more hours in general to its existing employees.
Court reviews death sentences: Lawyers for four men sentenced to death for raping and murdering a young woman on a New Delhi bus challenged the verdicts at a High Court hearing today. The brutal attack in December sparked public debate and fury over chronic sexual violence faced by women in India. All death penalty cases in India must be confirmed by a higher court. As part of the proceedings for that, the High Court said Wednesday it would begin hearing prosecution arguments supporting the guilty verdicts and death penalties issued earlier this month, while the defense lawyers file their appeals.