In today’s hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, outgoing not-really-fired commissioner Steven Miller admitted that a high-ranking member of the Internal Revenue Service planted the question that led to the agency’s apology for targeting conservatives.
[IRS official] Lerner disclosed the information last Friday while speaking at a tax conference organized by the American Bar Association. Asked about the incident, she said only that she answered honestly a question that was posed to her. The question, however, was posed to Lerner by Celia Roady, a Washington, D.C. tax lawyer who sits on the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities.
Miller indicated today that Roady was in fact instructed by the IRS to ask the question, and the Lerner knew about the question in advance.
“Who told her to ask the question?” asked Republican representative Kenny Marchant.
“I don’t know, actually, I’m not sure, might have been Lois Lerner,” Miller responded. He went on to say that the IRS intended simultaneously to inform Congress, but admitted the agency only inquired about the congressional calendar.
Prior to the hearings, Lisa Myers reported that the IRS deliberately delayed acknowledging the abuse until after the 2012 election.
The IRS commissioner “has known for at least a year that this was going on,” said Myers, “and that this had happened. And did he share any of that information with the White House? But even more importantly, Congress is going to ask him, why did you mislead us for an entire year? Members of Congress were saying conservatives are being targeted. What’s going on here? The IRS denied it. Then when — after these officials are briefed by the IG that this is going on, they don’t disclose it. In fact, the commissioner sent a letter to Congress in September on this subject and did not reveal this. Imagine if we — if you can — what would have happened if this fact came out in September 2012, in the middle of a presidential election? The terrain would have looked very different.”
The outlines of this scandal are now, that the IRS intentionally, maliciously and systematically abused groups opposed to President Obama’s re-election and agenda. The agency delayed acknowledging that until after the election was over, and only acknowledged it after the fact, once Obama was safely in office for another four years and when its officials believed they could low-ball the news.
When he was asked point blank whether he or anyone else in the White House knew about the abuse, President Obama gave a distracting, non-responsive answer.