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Controversial IRS official retires

The IRS official at the center of a controversy this year over the agency's work to scrutinize conservative groups' application for tax-exempt status has retired. 

NBC News confirmed Monday that Lois Lerner, the head of the tax agency's exempt organizations divisions who was placed on administrative leave in May, had retired from the IRS. 

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Lerner's actions had become a source of Republican interest following the initial, explosive revelations that the IRS had inappropriately scrutinized Tea Party and conservative groups in their applications for non-profit status. 

In her only appearance before Congress, Lerner asserted her Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify -- but only after having asserted that she had not done anything wrong. 

The IRS controversy has largely died down in recent months, though many Republicans have suggested the uproar was indicative of the Obama administration's work to use government resources to target its political enemies. Democrats have since marshaled some evidence that progressive groups were similarly targeted by the IRS.

On Aug. 1, President Barack Obama nominated John Koskinen to serve as the new, permanent IRS commissioner.