Employers won’t hire her. She’s been berated with epithets like “dirty Jew.” Federal agents have guarded her house because of death threats. And she’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending herself against accusations she orchestrated a coverup in a scandal that has come to represent everything Americans hate about the IRS.
Lois Lerner is toxic — and she knows it. But she refuses to recede into anonymity or beg for forgiveness for her role in the IRS tea party-targeting scandal.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Lerner said in her first press interview since the scandal broke 16 months ago. “I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country.”
Lerner, who sat down with POLITICO in an exclusive two-hour session, has been painted in one dimension: as a powerful bureaucrat scheming with the Obama administration to cripple right-leaning nonprofits. Interviews with about 20 of her colleagues, friends and critics and a survey of emails and other IRS documents, however, reveal a much more complicated figure than the caricature she’s become in the public eye.
The portrait that emerges shows Lerner is, indeed, fierce, unapologetic and perhaps even tone-deaf when she says things that show her Democratic leanings. She had a quick temper and may have intimidated co-workers who could have helped her out of this mess. It’s easy to see how Republicans have seized on the image of a devilish figure cracking down on conservative nonprofits. [...]
“Regardless of whatever else happens, I know I did the best I could under the circumstances and am not sorry for anything I did,” the 63-year-old said.