WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service official who led the unit that targeted tea party groups and publicly disclosed the activity has been replaced, making her the third top IRS official moved aside since the episode was revealed two weeks ago.

Lois Lerner was put on administrative leave on Thursday, said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and two congressional aides.

Without naming Lerner, new Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel emailed employees that 27-year IRS veteran Ken Corbin would become acting head of the exempt organizations division — a move the Obama administration was hoping would help ease the controversy.

Grassley said Lerner rejected a request by Werfel to resign. One congressional aide said Lerner, a career civil servant, will be on paid leave. The congressional aides spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a personnel matter.

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