In a heated hearing to investigate the IRS scandal by the House Ways and Means Committee, the former acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller was grilled by nearly every member of the committee on Friday.
Articulating the outrage Americans feel over the blatant abuse of power and betrayal by the IRS, representatives tried to ascertain answers from the former chief of the IRS.
The hearing begins with Republican Representative Mike Kelly reminding Miller of the difficulties for an average citizen to fight and IRS investigation and reminded him that mismanagement is not an acceptable excuse to explain malfeasance to the IRS and that his stance that mismanagement led to the systematic targeting of conservative groups isn’t acceptable either. Kelly’s lecture was met with wild applause.
Rep. Paul Ryan cornered Miller by repeatedly asking him to clarify answers that he had previously provided to the committee concerning the allegations that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups. Claiming that his lies were lies of omissions, Ryan repeatedly asked that since Miller was required to provide the whole truth and not purposefully conceal truths, why he had not disclosed this procedure. Miller’s answers lacked in substance and Ryan pressed on, asking, “How can we conclude that you did not mislead this committee?”
Ryan then moved on to ask Miller about the tax-exempt status of liberal groups and asked Miller, “If you were concerned about political activity, did you have targeting lists that included words like progressive and organizing in their names?” Miller claimed that the IRS had targeted “more than tea party cases,” to which Ryan rebutted, “There were no progressive or organizing words that were used for targeting, that’s correct?” Finally, Miller conceded the point.
Texas Representative Kevin Brady expressed his outrage by discussing the case of a Tea Party advocate in his district. Brady stated,
“She received four FBI inquiries. And her business received unsolicited audits, unscheduled audits. Now, this is a citizen and a small businesswoman who had never been audited by the IRS or any of these agencies until she applied to you for tax-exempt status for her Tea Party. The broader question here: Is this still America? Is this government so drunk on power that it would turn its full force, its full might, to harass and intimidate and threaten an average American who only wants her voice and their voices heard? Mr. Miller, who in the IRS is responsible for targeting conservative organizations?”
The hearing illustrates the palpable outrage felt by many Americans over the IRS scandal that saw an agency of the government routinely target for harassment organizations based on their political leanings. Though the Obama Administration has attempted to downplay the severity of this scandal, many on the left and right have voiced their strong contempt for the government’s complicity on the attempt to squash political dissent.