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
This was a way to make the dummies think he's taking action. It's all part of the diversion and deception.
This isn't over zin.
It's just started.
I find it unusual that you don’t realize that Obama’s firing Miller was just a ploy.
So be it.
Go on being happy that Obama gave everyone the finger.
I suppose it’s even possible you believe Obama was really, honestly trying to make the right people pay for this.
Try reading real slow, #40 and 41.
Please read prior to commenting and stop babbling. Thanks!
Finally, you're seeing the light.
Finally, you're seeing the light.
I noted early on you totally evaded these questions below.
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?
And ya got this wrong too.
Obama had this guy resign in an effort to deceive the American people into thinking he, "Got tough, took charge and made those responsible pay"
It's was all bull cheet to deceive...It had zip to do with, Obama doing this to "Be in your face".
Get it right zin.
I have answered and posted about Miller all along. My point is, and always has been, that he’s not the one that should have been fired to get Obama off the media hook. As I’ve said again and again, he wasn’t in charge of either the IRS or the relevant department at the critical times.
Get it right zin...
It’s more than deceit. It’s a two-fer. He got to act tough will giving you the middle finger. EVERYONE knew Miller wasn’t in charge at the time of the run-up to the election.
I am right. I’ve been right all along.
In your case, though, you need someone to bow to your superior intellect.
Please consider this my admission that you are the master of the universe.
you are the brightness of the sun and the wisdom of the wise, o thou, most famousest of all
Take care zin...