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Obama says IRS acting commissioner has resigned

By Jim Kuhnhenn

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:46 p.m. HST, May 15, 2013


WASHINGTON >> Hurrying to check a growing controversy, President Barack Obama ousted the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service late today amid an outcry over revelations that the agency had improperly targeted tea party groups for scrutiny when they filed for tax-exempt status.

Obama said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had asked for and accepted Steven T. Miller's resignation. Obama made no public criticism of Miller but spoke of inexcusable "misconduct" by IRS employees and said new leadership at the agency was critical.

"Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it," Obama said in a televised statement from the White House. "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."

Miller's ouster came five days after an IRS supervisor publicly revealed that agents had improperly targeted groups with "tea party" or "patriots" in their applications for tax exempt status. It came a day after an inspector general's report blamed ineffective management in Washington for allowing it to happen for more than 18 months.

The report said tea party groups were asked inappropriate questions about their donors, their political affiliations and their positions on political issues, resulting in delays averaging nearing two years for applications to be processed.

Miller's departure hardly ends the matter. Three congressional committees are investigating, and the FBI is looking into potential civil rights violations at the IRS, Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier today.

Other potential crimes include making false statements to authorities and violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in some partisan political activities, Holder said.

Miller, a 25-year IRS veteran, took over the agency in November when the five-year term of Commissioner Douglas Shulman ended. Shulman was appointed by President George W. Bush.

Obama has yet to nominate a permanent successor. A new acting commissioner was not announced this evening.

In an email to employees, Miller said, "This has been an incredibly difficult time for the IRS given the events of the past few days, and there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation's tax agency. I believe the service will benefit from having a new acting commissioner in place during this challenging period."

In Lew's letter asking for Miller's resignation, Lew wrote that the inspector general's report "has created an urgent need to restore public trust and confidence in the IRS by installing new leadership for the service."

At the time when tea party groups were targeted, Miller was a deputy commissioner who oversaw the division that dealt with tax-exempt organizations.

The report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration does not indicate that Miller knew conservative groups were being targeted until after the practice ended. But documents show that Miller repeatedly failed to tell Congress that tea party groups were being targeted, even after he had been briefed on the matter.

The IRS said Miller was first informed on May, 3, 2012, that applications for tax-exempt status by tea party groups were inappropriately singled out for extra, sometimes burdensome scrutiny.

At least twice after the briefing, Miller wrote letters to members of Congress to explain the process of reviewing applications for tax-exempt status without revealing that tea party groups had been targeted. On July 25, 2012, Miller testified before the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee but again was not forthcoming on the issue — despite being asked about it.

In all, members of Congress sent at least eight letters to the IRS over the past two years, asking about complaints from conservative groups that they were being harassed by the IRS. None of the IRS responses acknowledged that conservative groups were targeted.

Miller was scheduled to testify Friday at a Ways and Means hearing. A committee aide said Wednesday evening that Miller was still expected to attend the hearing.

"More than two years after the problem began, and a year after the IRS told us there was no problem, the president is beginning to take action," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "These allegations are serious — that there was an effort to bring the power of the federal government to bear on those the administration disagreed with, in the middle of a heated national election. We are determined to get answers."

The Justice department opened its criminal investigation on Friday, Holder said.

"I can assure you and the American people that we will take a dispassionate view of this," Holder told the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing Wednesday. "This will not be about parties, this will not be about ideological persuasions. Anybody who has broken the law will be held accountable."

But, Holder said, it will take time to determine if there was criminal wrongdoing.

Legal experts, however, said it could be difficult to prove that IRS officials or employees knowingly violated the civil rights of conservative groups. If there is a violation, the experts said, investigators can sometimes prove more easily that officials made false statements or obstructed justice in some other way.

"I think it's doubtful that any of these knuckleheads who engaged in the conduct that gave rise to this controversy knowingly believed that they were violating the law," said David H. Laufman, a former Justice Department lawyer. "But that remains to be seen. That's what investigations are for."

The IRS started targeting groups with "Tea Party," ''Patriots" or "9/12 Project" in their applications for tax exempt status in March 2010, the inspector general's report said. The criteria later evolved to include groups that promoted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Wednesday's hearing was the first of several in Congress that will focus on the issue.

The House Oversight Committee announced Wednesday that it would hold a hearing May 22, featuring Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS division that oversees tax exempt organizations, and Shulman, the former commissioner.

The Senate Finance Committee announced a hearing for next Tuesday.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said Wednesday that no union employees had been disciplined, as far as she knew. She noted that the IG's report said agents were not motivated by political bias.

Kelley told The Associated Press that low-level workers could not have specifically targeted conservative groups for long without the approval of supervisors. However, she noted, there are many levels of supervisors at the IRS.

"No processes or procedures or anything like that would ever be done just by front-line employees without any management involvement," Kelley said. "That's just not how it operates."







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Goodmedivice wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on May 15,2013 | 12:43PM
OldDiver wrote:
So this practice was started under George W Bush's appointed head of the IRS? Hmm, interesting.
on May 15,2013 | 03:26PM
Pacej001 wrote:
So, you're implying that a Republican appointee had something to do with guiding the IRS to harass conservative groups? Wow, that makes a lot of sense, NOT. LOL. Please to try again. Should be interesting to see how far an Obama disciple will go.
on May 15,2013 | 03:42PM
Matsu wrote:
OldDiver- do you possess any original thoughts? Just follow the far left talking points. Bush actually was trying to be balanced and appoint people from all backgrounds. (Bush asked Ted Kennedy to write the "No Child Left Behind", which he did, and the left can't blame their boy Kennedy- it's all Bush's fault) Are you saying that since the IRS Director was apppointed by Bush, he obvoiously could not have had a hand in this? Just like Obama and Holder keep saying "I know nothing". For such a great leader, Obama sure doesn't know very much- Benghazi?? Nobody told him. his good firend and appointee is being attached and he went to bed and never asked when he woke up; IRS- A formal protest was filed with the White House Counsel more than three weeks ago, yet Obama claims he only heard about it from the news on Friday??? Really? The AP documents grab- Again, people under the President did all the dirty work, and NOBODY ever informed Obama?? Really. Too busy golfing?
on May 15,2013 | 03:58PM
HD36 wrote:
Strange that no Liberal organizations we're harrassed and targeted.
on May 15,2013 | 04:09PM
eoe wrote:
Yes, strange that the organization tasked with collecting taxes would target groups calling for its abolition.
on May 15,2013 | 04:10PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Help me understand your point. You're saying, indirectly by implication, that it made sense, might have been appropriate for one of the most powerful government agencies, one capable of ruining any individual citizen, to use its enforcement power to limit free, political speech of a group or groups (500 to be exact) because they call for that agency to be abolished or somehow limited???? Doesn't that seem a little bit like the definition of tyranny that concerned the founders who, worried about potential government excesses, created a literal maze of checks and balances to keep just that from happening? Seems like it to me.
on May 15,2013 | 04:18PM
eoe wrote:
You know what, people like you throw around words like "tyranny" pretty loosely. First, you pretend this was the entire agency, and this was "Obama's policy" because that fits your political narrative. But it wasn't. It was a handful of people. Just like any other agency - police, FBI - sometimes there are some people who overstep. But since you mention tyranny, please check back in with me when hundreds of thousands of tea partiers are being sucked into a network of clandestine prisons, tortured to death, mutilated bodies dumped on the side of the road, their families are disappearing, and if you even mention this fact in public you too get the black bag over your head. That's tyranny. Go read up on North Korea or Russia under the Bolsheviks. This? This is run of the mill, common political shenanigans.
on May 15,2013 | 04:46PM
Pacej001 wrote:
1. What does "people like you" mean? Be specific. 2. I never said that the "entire" IRS was involved. However, enough of it was involved to target 500 conservative groups and counting. 3. What is my political narrative? Right now, my narrative would be that the very agency the average American fears most was used for left wing political purposes. If this isn't the very definition of "tyranny", I don't know what is? 4. Tyranny=death/concentration camps: stop the histrionics. Subverting a national election is what we're talking about. A fundamental violation of first amendment rights is what took place. You think that amounts to no more than "political shenanigans"? I think revolutions have taken place for less. 5. The thing that never ceases to amaze: The human capacity to deny the obvious. In this case the obvious is that the President himself lied about Benghazi to protect his electoral chances, that the IRS was used (probably with collusion by senior Obama administration/campaign officials) to subvert the democratic process and violate the constitution, that the Department of Justice has gone so far beyond its boundaries as to appear unaccountable, and that Obama, who claims to be in the dark about every one of these scandals, is occupying a chair in the Oval office, but not the Presidency.
on May 15,2013 | 06:37PM
HD36 wrote:
What's worse than this event, as far as the government violating our liberties, is the latest news that the government collected the phone records of reporters from the Associated Press. Why is that bad you ask? Because if they are doing their jobs, collecting information, and confidential sources are exposed to the government, then the fact that the government can see and trace who they were talking to and what stories come out will have a major chilling effect on the Constitutional Right to Freedom of the Press. Once the government controls the press, what independent reporting we have left, we might as well burn the Constitution.
on May 15,2013 | 06:37PM
eoe wrote:
"People like you" are armchair patriots who wouldn't know tyranny if it hit them over the head. I love your conspiracy theory though, very inventive. I like how you accuse me of histrionics while simultaneously managing to inject revolution, tyranny and vast conspiracies into every post. Well done.
on May 15,2013 | 06:46PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Now you've done it, insulted my patriotism. If you're right I must have been in the military all those years purely for the money?
on May 15,2013 | 07:17PM
eoe wrote:
A right wing example of the EXACT same thing you are complaining about is right wing ALEC working with right wing state legislatures to try to create ag gag laws that label people who film agricultural abuses as "economic terrorists." That's right - terrorists. But again, thats not tyranny - even though it fits your definition of "powerful government agencies, one capable of ruining any individual citizen, to use its enforcement power to limit free, political speech of a group or groups." It's scummy politics.
on May 15,2013 | 04:48PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Don't know ALEC, but I do know it isn't a government agency paid for out of taxpayer pockets. The IRS is. It may be scummy politics, but is also an apple. The current scandals are all oranges, the difference being that the government that we elected, that we have no choice but to pay for, the very people entrusted with executing our laws are using their position of power and control over us to 1. Lie to us for partisan political gain. 2. Threaten us with the power of taxation for partisan political gain. 3. Exceed recognized legal boundaries which threaten freedom of the press (never mind the fact that our supine pretend journalist have given Mr. Obama a free ride since 2007). The activities of some crazy lobbying group are in no way comparable.
on May 15,2013 | 06:46PM
lee1957 wrote:
Would you care for some sugar with your kool aid?
on May 15,2013 | 07:00PM
lee1957 wrote:
That same appointee worked for whom when all this was going down? BHO!
on May 15,2013 | 06:57PM
pcman wrote:
IRT OldDiver on GW Bush's appointee. President Obama is no fool. He kept many of GW Bush appointees that were willing to follow Obama's directions or believed in Obama's policies. All President's do the same thing as long as the appointee will comply with the new President's beliefs. Most military commanders are given the same courtesy. They stay on the new President's chain of command or they resign or retire.
on May 15,2013 | 07:02PM
niimi wrote:
Article 2 section 1 of the Nixon Impeachment "He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner." This is an impeachable offense by President Obama if the ties are strong.
on May 15,2013 | 11:01PM
makacat wrote:
Really, and who do you think put the IRS up to it?
on May 15,2013 | 12:53PM
pcman wrote:
IRT makacat on who put the IRS up to it. It really doesn't matter because to the perpetrator(s), to some politicians, to communists, etc, the end justifies the means. Therefore, it is not important what the process was, but the final result was illegal, anti-conservative, anti-Constitutional, etc. That's what matters, in my mind.
on May 15,2013 | 07:16PM
Shh wrote:
Wow and here my boyfriend was injured and not working but collected TDI, in the end had to pay taxes this year. Never did he ever have to pay taxes until this year when he is not working and not able to get assistance to survive and I see this. Just makes me sick!
on May 15,2013 | 01:22PM
patk wrote:
Nice attempt to turn a story about national news into an unrelated story about yourself. Nobody wants to hear you whine about your problems, I'll bet you didn't care about disabled tax rights before it affected you so stop expecting people to care about you now.
on May 15,2013 | 01:43PM
Denominator wrote:
Will jail be next?
on May 15,2013 | 01:38PM
patk wrote:
Yes, we should throw all the Tea Party radicals in jail. In all fairness, throw the extreme left in jail with them, then we can thin the ranks of all the crazies and help the country move forward.
on May 15,2013 | 01:47PM
Matsu wrote:
Exactly name ONE thing the Tea Party "radicals" have done that is ilegal? They are a group of hard working tax payers who believe the Federal Gov't is getting much too large and intrusive, and is spending far more money than they are taking in. Sounds more like common sense than radicalism
on May 15,2013 | 03:44PM
HD36 wrote:
Exactly
on May 15,2013 | 06:39PM
pcman wrote:
IRT patk and Matsu: Nothing that the Tea Party folks did was illegal. But what the IRS did was illegal. As AG Holder said today, somebody in the IRS may go to jail.
on May 15,2013 | 07:19PM
Dolphin743 wrote:
Actually pcman, it was Speaker Boehner that mentioned people going to jail. Holder really had nothing of use to say about the subject, other than "I didn't know anything".
on May 15,2013 | 09:47PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Let's see. Favoring smaller government, less government control, emphasis on the constitution, and moderation of government spending is radical. OMG. I'M A RADICAL. Where do I go for treatment of this malady???? I probably won't be able to find a doctor because just about 50% of the country thinks the "radical", crazy ideas make sense given the debt, the deficit, the $66 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the impending insolvency of Medicare, blah, blah, blah. You've heard it all before. Crazy talk. Radical stuff. May actually histories largest case of mass radicalization.
on May 15,2013 | 03:48PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Meant to say:....May actually be histories.... Hard to think sometime when you're feeling radicalized.
on May 15,2013 | 03:52PM
eoe wrote:
Actually I think you meant to say "May actually be history's." Hard to write a proper sentence when you are a delusional right winger with no education.
on May 15,2013 | 04:54PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Them thar's fitin' words buddy boy! Correct on grammar. However, you cudn't think yur way out a wet paper bag. Talk about de lusions. You dun got your self all crossways with the likes of that Bernstein feller, you know, wrote a story about a gate or sumpin, and that perty Powers lady, a democrat who says the President ought to stop his lyin, and a heap of other of them fellers (what i call mice getin ready to leave the sinkin ship) because this set of scandals is reel bad and it's gonna to get a whole lot badder. --- Well, gotta go get me some education. Have fun with your unicorns and fairy dust and whatnot.
on May 15,2013 | 09:28PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
This is called "falling on your sword". It is done to protect higher ups. Gee, I wonder how high up this stink goes? Hmmm.
on May 15,2013 | 01:45PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Stink, like smoke, rises. Higher-up heads need to roll.
on May 15,2013 | 03:12PM
HD36 wrote:
You got that right. It must go up pretty high for the IRS to take the blame.
on May 15,2013 | 04:07PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Yup. In political terms, the faux resignation (of a guy who was leaving already) and a promise that the executive branch will investigate itself is call attempting to create a fire break. It's not going to work. We'll have a special prosecutor and select congressional committee formed to investigate in less than two weeks.
on May 15,2013 | 04:21PM
eoe wrote:
You wish.
on May 15,2013 | 04:52PM
Pacej001 wrote:
We agree. I do wish. And so will the Obama administration because no one is going to believe that an internal investigation has any credibility. There are already strong indicators that the IRS IG report was a whitewash. Special prosecutor will be named within the month and both parties will support it. Why? 1. Because neither can afford to permit the credibility of the IRS to be destroyed. 2. Their 2014 election chances are at stake, more than ever. 3. It's all about Hillary now. The democrats will distance themselves from Obama to shelter her.
on May 15,2013 | 08:00PM
HD36 wrote:
Kinda like that committe that was supposed to balance the budget.
on May 15,2013 | 06:41PM
Ronin006 wrote:
The person ultimately responsible for the scandals sweeping through the Obama administration also should resign. And who might that be? Why, Obama, of course.
on May 15,2013 | 01:49PM
lee1957 wrote:
You're being too harsh, Barry already said he doesn't know what's going on.
on May 15,2013 | 07:04PM
Ronin006 wrote:
The SA censors are at it again. The following comment was sent for approval: “The person ultimately responsible for the scandals sweeping through the Obama administration also should resign. And who might that be? Why, Obama, of course.”
on May 15,2013 | 01:54PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Fire Obama, too.
on May 15,2013 | 01:55PM
pcman wrote:
IRT Ronin, Obama may be found to be the worst governing president in history, but he has kept himself seemingly ignorant of whatever bad happens under his administration. He places himself in the drivers seat, though, when something great happens like the killing of Bin Laden. How clever.
on May 15,2013 | 07:24PM
Dolphin743 wrote:
He's also full of opinions if there's a minority involved in an altercation with a Caucasian, regardless of whether he has any facts.
on May 15,2013 | 09:49PM
p3fe8251 wrote:
This is a nice start. More heads need to roll along with some jail time. Keep peeling the layers back of this onion and I'll bet you will see that some of these orders to investigate groups and people came from higher up the food chain than was originally thought.
on May 15,2013 | 02:02PM
Big C wrote:
IRS should be totally investigated. There are some many times, CID are "audit" or examining the wrong "Venture". Will the cost of the investigation/audit be covered by the expected recovery of taxes!
on May 15,2013 | 02:27PM
inlanikai wrote:
Uh, I think his term was up in two weeks anyway.
on May 15,2013 | 03:04PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
Another black-eye for the administration. It seems like everyday the local or federal politicians are showing that they just cannot be trusted with money or authority. It's times like this that makes many want to follow the Tea Party positions.
on May 15,2013 | 03:14PM
serious wrote:
Personally, I am getting sick of his stories that "I will get to the bottom of this and bring people to justice" and then he goes on a AF ONE multi million taxpayer paid flight for campaigning--whatever that means or Fund Raising. Stay at the WH and see what's rotting under the rugs!!!
on May 15,2013 | 03:17PM
HD36 wrote:
The IRS is the only government agency where you're guilty untill proven innocent.
on May 15,2013 | 04:04PM
JohnD2 wrote:
Obama's sacrificial lamb, who wasn't even in charge of the IRS when the crimes were committed. Does Obama think the American people are stupid?
on May 15,2013 | 06:32PM
pcman wrote:
IRT JohnD2, Does Obama think the American people are stupid? Yes, but just the 51% that got him reelected. He fooled me the first time when he said President Bush was unpatriotic for the $4 Billion deficit he caused in 8 years. But he couldn't fool me the second time around after he caused a $6 Billion debt in four years. .
on May 15,2013 | 07:31PM
JohnD2 wrote:
As Lincoln said, "you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."
on May 15,2013 | 08:54PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Them thar's fitin' words buddy boy! Correct on grammar. However, you cudn't think yur way out a wet paper bag. Talk about de lusions. You dun got your self all crossways with the likes of that Bernstein feller, you know, wrote a story about a gate or sumpin, and that perty Powers lady, a democrat who says the President ought to stop his lyin, and a heap of other of them fellers (what i call mice getin ready to leave the sinkin ship) because this set of scandals is reel bad and it's gonna to get a whole lot badder. --- Well, gotta go get me some education. Have fun with your unicorns and fairy dust and whatnot.
on May 15,2013 | 07:00PM
Pacej001 wrote:
We agree. I do wish. And so will the Obama administration because no one is going to believe that an internal investigation has any credibility. There are already strong indicators that the IRS IG report was a whitewash. Special prosecutor will be named within the month and both parties will support it. Why? 1. Because neither can afford to permit the credibility of the IRS to be destroyed. 2. Their 2014 election chances are at stake, more than ever. 3. It's all about Hillary now. The democrats will distance themselves from Obama to shelter her.
on May 15,2013 | 07:14PM
kumasachi wrote:
Hillary's kulu is already in the pressure cooker!!!! She will be HISTORY....
on May 15,2013 | 07:55PM
AirRescueFF wrote:
Local party targeted
on May 15,2013 | 07:40PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Them thar's fitin' words buddy boy! Correct on grammar. However, you cudn't think yur way out a wet paper bag. Talk about de lusions. You dun got your self all crossways with the likes of that Bernstein feller, you know, wrote a story about a gate or sumpin, and that perty Powers lady, a democrat who says the President ought to stop his lyin, and a heap of other of them fellers (what i call mice getin ready to leave the sinkin ship) because this set of scandals is reel bad and it's gonna to get a whole lot badder. --- Well, gotta go get me some education. Have fun with your unicorns and fairy dust and whatnot.
on May 15,2013 | 07:59PM
Dolphin743 wrote:
Our reporter writes: "Hurrying to check a growing controversy, President Barack Obama ousted...", Seriously? The facts about the IRS investigation have been on the table for almost a week. The administration response has been positively glacial and tone deaf. I guess this story was a surprise to readers and reporters of the HSA though, since there has been zero coverage of this issue or the AP records seizure in our illustrious and only newspaper. Apparently they are even less informed about major stories than our President.
on May 15,2013 | 09:56PM
niimi wrote:
21st century President Nixon.
on May 15,2013 | 10:01PM
dctaira wrote:
As I recall, no one died as a result of the Nixon impeachment. Wake up America before it is too late, if not too late alredy!
on May 15,2013 | 10:18PM
niimi wrote:
Obama could be impeached. Article 2 section 1 of the Nixon Impeachment "He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner." .--.-.- Based on this alone there is sufficient support.
on May 15,2013 | 11:00PM
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