CAPITOL HILL— Republican lawmakers hammered the outgoing Internal Revenue Service Commissioner, Steven Miller, Friday, over a report that IRS staff members had targeted conservative "Tea Party" groups for extra scrutiny and delayed their applications for tax exempt status. Miller, who resigned this week, admitted mistakes were made. But he said he does not believe the staff members were motivated by political partisanship.
Appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee just two days after his resignation, outgoing IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller came under fire from Republican lawmakers who asked why he did not inform Congress his agency was singling out conservative groups for excessive scrutiny.
"Mr. Miller, who in the IRS is responsible for targeting conservative organizations?" asked Republican Kevin Brady.
Miller said he could not name names, but he did apologize. "I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection," he said.
Miller said he does not believe there was any political partisanship involved, and he explained that IRS staffers were trying to process a flood of applications from conservative "Tea Party" groups for tax exempt status starting around 2010.
The Republican committee chairman, Dave Camp, said the scandal had damaged President Barack Obama and his administration.
"Well, under this administration the IRS has abused its power to tax, and it has destroyed what little hope and faith and hope the American people had in getting a fair shake in Washington," said Camp.
Democratic lawmakers countered that Republicans should not use what they agreed was a serious issue to try to score political points and tarnish the president.
"So I would really ask the chairman and my colleagues on the other side, let's get the answers. Ask the questions, get the facts and then we can draw our own conclusions," said Democratic Congressman Joseph Crowley.
Republican-led committees in the House of Representatives are likely to keep asking questions about this scandal - and others plaguing President Obama and his administration - for months to come.