Skip to comments.IRS chief defends targeting of groups as 'obnoxious,' not illegal
Posted on 05/17/2013 10:12:04 AM PDT by xzins
Acting IRS chief Steven Miller on Friday said he did not believe agency officials did anything illegal when giving extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Miller, who was forced to resign this week by President Obama, said he didnt believe the scrutiny was illegal even as he apologized for the IRSs actions, which have turned into a political storm for the White House.
He also admitted under questioning from House Ways and Means Committee members that facts could emerge that might change whether he thinks anyone in the agency committed a crime, and he said one staffer involved in the extra scrutiny was reassigned and another received counseling.
Facing tense, and at times hostile, questions from GOP lawmakers at the first congressional hearing on the IRS controversy, Miller said the screening process the IRS used was obnoxious and called the customer service the agency offered horrible.
Miller stressed that the extra attention happened because IRS officials faced an avalanche of applications for tax-exempt status.
But he also pushed back on GOP lawmakers who said the IRS was targeting conservatives, calling that a loaded statement.
When you talk about targeting, thats a pejorative term, Miller said.
Asked if the IRS's actions had been illegal, he responded: I dont believe it is.
He then added of the behavior: I dont believe it should happen.
Millers answers have not sit well with GOP lawmakers throughout Fridays hearing, and his comments fly in the face of top Republicans like Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who have said that agency staffers should be jailed.
Republicans on Friday accused the acting IRS chief of lying to them about the extra scrutiny given to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. Miller found out about that special attention more than a year ago but declined to tell lawmakers.
At the start of Fridays committee hearing, Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) rattled off several different violations he believes the IRS committed.
Camp also linked the IRS uproar to what he called a culture of cover-ups and political intimidation in this administration, an apparent reference to last years attack in Benghazi, Libya, and the Justice Departments subpoena of reporter records.
This systemic abuse cannot be fixed with just one resignation, Camp said. And, as much as I expect more people need to go, the reality is this is not a personnel problem. This is a problem of the IRS being too large, too powerful, too intrusive and too abusive of honest, hardworking taxpayers.
But Republicans on the panel have also expressed frustration throughout the hearing at Millers sometimes feisty answers, with the acting chief maintaining that he did not lie to them.
You're not going to cooperate with me, Mr. Miller, and you've been uncooperative in this hearing, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) told the IRS official.
Democrats acknowledged that the IRS had made serious mistakes and generally agreed with Millers statements that agency officials did not target Tea Party and conservative groups for political reasons.
What I'm trying to point out, and basically to debunk, is the notion or idea the political statements and, I believe, nonfactual statements by Chairman Camp to link these scandals to the White House, said Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), a member of House Democratic leadership.
Democrats also stressed repeatedly that the Doug Shulman, who was IRS commissioner when the targeting took place, was nominated by former President George W. Bush. And several said that the major issue was the cloudy regulations guiding which groups should be granted tax-exempt status.
Miller is testifying along with Russell George, the Treasury inspector general whose report details what he called ineffective management at the agency.
Georges report found that the IRS asked for excessive information from conservative groups, including donor lists and whether group leaders wanted to run for public office. The IRS also applied inconsistent principles when deciding which groups to give extra screening, the report said, leading some groups to wait months or years for approval.
According to the inspector generals report, Lois Lerner, the IRS official who first disclosed the targeting, found out in June 2011. Lerner pushed for the screening guidelines to be changed, but other IRS officials eventually went around her to change them again.
Georges report also says that IRS staffers assert that lower-level employees crafted the screening process and that they were not influenced by any outside group.
Miller on Friday acknowledged that Lerners disclosure of the IRS targeting last Friday came from a planted question.
Camp had said in his opening statement that he was interested in hearing why the IRS targeting occurred and why the agency kept it secret for so long, who started the extra scrutiny, and when President Obama and his administration found out.
But in a hearing break, he told The Hill that he wasnt satisfied with the answers the panel was getting from Miller, a feeling shared by other Republicans.
On the one hand, youre arguing today that the IRS is not corrupt, said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). But the subtext of that is you say, Look, were just incompetent. And I think it is a perilous pathway to go down.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/domestic-taxes/300447-irs-chief-defends-targeting-of-groups-as-obnoxious-not-illegal#ixzz2TZRy5P6d Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook
Violating someone’s Civil Rights under color of authority must break dozens of laws.
...Miller has served most of his 25 years at the IRS, an agency in the Treasury Department, in its Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (TE/GE).
Starting as special assistant to the assistant commissioner for Employee Plans and Exempt Organizations, Miller rose to acting assistant commissioner, then director of Exempt Organizations from 1999 to 2004, capping his TE/GE service as commissioner of TE/GE from 2004 to April 2009...
Steven Miller is all political theater.
I didn’t bother to watch the charade this morning.
Theater? Bad actor?
Fact is, Miller is a vile lying evasive deceitful snake.
This was inordinately clear.
Check again, Chuckles. It’s illegal as hell. BTT.
GOOOOD F******G LOOOOORRRDDDDDD!!!!!
So Nixon was doing the RIGHT thing with HIS I.R.S. targetting.
I guarentee you by decades end, there will be mass killings of 'undesirable citizens' and the Czar will defend the practice as "obnoxious but not illegal."
Holder is not the only one in DC who knows nothing. Miller knows nothing either.
Minorities in IRS: What is the percentage? I heard it was 50%. Is that true?
You’re not paying attention.
If Miller wasn’t in charge at the time, then what exactly was the point of firing him.
They might as well have fired you.
Obama got away with offering up the wrong guy.
But not during the run up to the election of 2012.
In the runup to 2012, he was in charge of Enforcement!
His testimony was way too evasive and offensive for him not to be up to his ears.
Jail time for all involved.
Harassing people under the color of law is a federal offense. Hang ‘em!
Yes. In 2009 he went from tax exempts first to Big Business department and then to services and enforcement.
Doug Shulman was the guy in charge when conservative groups were targeted. He retired and Miller took charge on Nov 9, 3 days after the election.
Being from Cincy originally, I know that the IRS building is smack amidst those precincts that went 95-100% for Obama.
Before it’s over, Geithner’s fingerprints will be all over this too.
Geithner’s leaving takes on a new dimension, doesn’t it?
Did you not hear his lying evasive, deceitful responses?
Was it not obvious to you he's part of this choreographed corrupt government cover up?
Youre not paying attention. If Miller wasnt in charge at the time, then what exactly was the point of firing him.
Uh...Please direct your attention to the two sentences above. Once again, just a wild guess, but based strictly on his evasive deceptive responses, he's part of the cover up. If not, why in hell would his responses be evasive and deceptive?
Obviously, this AH is part of the coverup, and likely was fired as part of a diversionary tactic. It's might comes as a shock to you, but government is really good at this kind of thing.
This is not that complex.
Question Miller all they want, get all the info they can from him. I’ve no problem with that. However, they’ll not be getting info from a person in charge of that function at that time.
And his firing was Obama giving the middle finger to all of us.
They should have fired the lady who was promoted to the ObamaCare department of the IRS. She was involved in the actual misdeeds at the critical times.
Hello? Are you talking about Ingram?
""Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.""
Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.
Grant announced today that he would retire June 3, despite being appointed as commissioner of the tax-exempt office May 8, a week ago.
You don't think all these people are involved?
You don't think they will depose and interrogate Ingram?