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by
Bridget Johnson

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May 17, 2013 - 6:54 am

Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, who only has a few days left on the job, told the House Ways and Means Committee this morning that partisanship was not the motivating factor behind his agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

“I do not believe partisanship motivated” the political and donor questions posed to Tea Party and other applicants, Miller told the panel. “Foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient.”

Under questioning from Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who called the IG’s report “chilling stuff,” Miller said he accepted the inspector general’s findings but “I would not characterize it as targeting.”

“It is absolutely not illegal,” Miller claimed, adding “I don’t believe it should happen.”

J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration who issued the scathing report, said some groups had their applications waiting for three years and through two election cycles.

“In summary, we found that all three allegations were substantiated,” George testified. “The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention. Because of ineffective management by IRS officials 1) inappropriate criteria were developed and stayed in place for a total of more than 18 months, 2) there were substantial delays in processing certain applications, and 3) unnecessary information requests were issued to the organizations.”

Miller said when he found out about the selective enforcement “ultimately I issued a directive that said the law in the area was not that clear, that we had not been enforcing in that area substantially.”

“I said let’s not enforce right now, let’s talk about it and study it… I thought that was the fair thing to do.”

He also admitted that he was aware of the leak of confidential applicant information to Pro Publica.

But Miller defended previous commissioner Doug Shulman, who testified last year that no targeting of Tea Party groups was occurring.

“It was incorrect but whether it was untruthful or not…” Miller said. “To my knowledge I don’t believe he knew at the time.”

The IRS official repeatedly refused to use the word “targeting” as committee members did. “I think it’s a term that defines something that didn’t exist here,” said Miller, stating at another point “I’m going to take exception to ‘targeting’ because I think that’s a loaded term.”

Under pointed questioning, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) asked Miller if he had any contact with the White House on the Tea Party targeting.

“Absolutely not,” Miller responded. “I certainly would have had some conversations with Treasury… on this topic I believe it was very recent.”

Nunes also asked if Miller had any contact with President Obama’s re-election campaign or OFA. “No,” Miller answered.

When asked why he’d agree to resign while claiming the IRS didn’t target groups, the acting commissioner said, “I never said I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I resigned because as the acting commissioner what happens at the IRS, whether I was personally involved or not, stops at my desk.”

He later said “I was asked to resign and I will retire.”

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) called the IRS controversy a bipartisan scandal that “has brought us together.”

“Much as I dislike the right, I think it’s wrong,” he said.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said it’s key to uncover “how far did this cancer go, how quickly can we cut it out.”

“It’s too late for the Congress but it’s not too late for the government to get its reputation cleaned up for America,” said Rangel, who stepped down as Ways and Means chairman in 2010 because of his ethics scandal.

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) flashed a list of 35 questions asked one group, noting that one applicant was asked for a list of books read at her book club.

“I don’t know how you can say it’s not political,” Tiberi said.

“We provided horrible customer service here,” Miller said, still protesting any political motivations.

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) presented some IRS requests received by anti-abortion groups, including “please detail the content of the members of your association’s prayers.”

Miller said he did not know about the specific case, but “it would surprise me that that question was asked.”

Schock also noted another request to “please detail certain signs that may or may not be held up outside a Planned Parenthood facility.”

“That doesn’t sound like the usual question,” Miller said.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
Foolish mistakes?

To quote Auric Goldfinger: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

Do the math yourself to figure out what hundreds of times must be.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
This reminds of when Sandy Burgler got caught red handed destroying documents from the Library of Congress to cover Bill Clinton they called it sloppy. It wasn't sloppy - it was a felony! I HATE these people!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
They know they have a solid base of idiotic voters, therefore they say anything they want and they don't say anything they want.
That's all.

They have destroyed schools, universities and media to produce a standing majority of fools, and now they have it.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
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None of this should surprise us—at least very much. For decades, our institutions of higher learning (sic) have taught their young students how to react when faced with dissent: shout it down; pass speech codes that eliminate it; silence it; and crush whoever it is you disagree with. Free speech? Only if it’s speech you agree with. And the truth? What’s that? And here we are. These smug, uneducated fools are now running our institutions. And they believe they’re behaving virtuously. The chickens, as they say, have come home to roost.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is said that the better part of prudence is to never assign to malice that which can easily be explained by stupidity. As a benchmark of first note that may fly. Not anymore.

There is a dark history with the core of the people who now constitute the majority of the work force in our government. And for those who have any experience of having to deal with a government agency of any kind know one thing and one thing only, no government employ will do anything to upset the status quo.

It simply is not in their nature. They have even developed their own private little language in which they can talk endlessly without actually saying anything. Which brings me to a couple of points:

1. There is no way an underling would pull a stunt like this without direct orders. It is simply out of the realm of possibility. This crap came from the WH and everyone knows it.

2. Again, look at the history of these people who are giving the orders. I think Wretchard summed it up best here recently with the term malevolence. This is not a public policy error...

It is a crime spree.

Just look at the perps involved. Quite a rap sheet just between Hillary and obama. And yes, there is a body count.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Waiting for someone to realease the college transcripts.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
They're only human.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Move along folks....nothing to see here....just move along... )'(
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
During the legal efforts to show blacks were injured due to prejudicial actions, the courts accepted the proof shown by statistics analysis that the results from the individual actions of many people was beyond random chance.

IRS and other government employees are low risk takers and unlikely to abuse their positions if there is a chance of getting caught. But their work environment is a political culture populated by leftist ideologues. That ideology is championed by superiors, political executives and government employees' unions. If they could get by with it, they would abuse conservatives, religious groups or any others with whom they disagree. I think a review over the past 20 years would prove this, but nothing on this scale and so brazen.

This scandal of IRS abuse is unusual since it seems to have been directed by high level politicians and executives. When the bosses, executives and high level politicians give the appearance that they will wink at abusing conservatives or others, it will happen – especially since managers can receive very lucrative cash bonuses a year's end for pleasing the powers that be and lower levels receive rewards, too. Knowing what the upper echelon needs in order to look good, creative reports and cover-up are the way to success. Manuals of operation are for speeches and cover.

Statistical analysis would show how the individual actions of a large number of people has harmed individuals and organizations. Everybody knows it occurs, but want to deny how much. Such an analysis would be proof and show the failure of leadership to manage and control the operation. A good start, but not the answer. It is suicide for a democratic republic to give such power to a large centralized government organizations.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've done more than a few investigations of government employee misconduct. I've also been hailed before a few legislative committees to explain something I'd done or not done. I don't get why an Acting Commissioner was the Committee's object. When I was a division director they weren't reticent to hail me over to the Legislature without so much as a by your leave to my commissioner. We had standing orders that if you were contacted by a legislator, you had to report it to the commissioner's office and often the commissioner or a deputy would go with you but they didn't interpose themselves and basically spoke when spoken to.

Were I doing this, I'd start with the lowest ranking people, the ones who actually handled the applications and work my way up trying to build a perjury trap for the people at a higher level. Now everybody knows the Administration's party line and everybody will just parrot it. Everybody will just say the law was very vague, it was all new because Citizen's United had just come down, that the Tea Party and similar groups were a new, different kind of organization that they had to explore different ways to try to learn how to deal with them, and, of course, mistakes were made and they're all so very, very sorry. Now, see how easily that fell off my fingers!

They really need to make production level employees explain what they were doing and why and they need to threaten them with prosecution. Somebody needs to be working on finding some state law causes of action against individual IRS employees. Compelling testimony and immunizing them won't help the career people. Unless they have a laser dot on their own forehead, the political level management will unleash Hell on production employees who cooperate. Unfortunately, some careers will have to be destroyed and maybe some lives wrecked, but the merit system employees should have RUN to the IG, accompanied by their own lawyer, when they were asked/told to do this stuff. And if they didn't know it was wrong, they deserve to have their career destroyed and their life wrecked.

Oh, and being union wouldn't have helped the production employees either; the union would have sided with management. Being union doesn't help an employee who gets crossthreaded with a Democrat administration that the union backed; I've seen a lot of employees sold down the river. I actually went out and found a couple that had been tanked by the union during the predecessor Democrat administration and offered them jobs again because they'd been wronged so seriously.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
It makes no difference what lies he tells. Nobody thinks this is a Miller scandal -- everyone knows it's an OBAMA scandal.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
It makes no difference what lies he tells. This isn't Miller's IRS scandal, it's Obama's.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmph. Sucky comment platform sucks.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Foolish mistakes?

To quote Auric Goldfinger: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

Do the math yourself to figure out what hundreds of times must be.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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