Rep. Levin Question for IRS: Who knew What, When?

May 20, 2013

In a lengthy, heated committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Steven Miller, the ousted head of the Internal Revenue Service, apologized to Congress on Friday for his agency’s tougher treatment of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, but not before he was grilled by Democratic Rep. Sander Levin and especially by angry GOP lawmakers.

Levin, who was the first high-level Democrat to call for Miller’s ouster, said the IRS had “completely failed the American people.” But the veteran congressman seemed satisfied with the direction of the Obama administration’s response to the scandal, with Miller set to be replaced in the coming weeks. At the same time, he chastised his colleague, mid-Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

Camp said the targeted IRS examinations that conservative groups encountered seemed to be part of a “culture of cover-ups and intimidation in this administration.” He offered no other examples.

Levin, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, said if the hearing became a partisan preview of the 2014 political campaigns, “we’ll be making a very, very serious mistake.”

“… Those responsible for the failed management and oversight must be held accountable and the IRS must quickly implement the Inspector General’s recommendations to prevent this from happening again,” Levin said later. “The Congress should focus on getting the facts and fixing the problem, not trying to score political points.”

Levin said the committee’s goal should be to discover this: “Who knew what, when?”

Miller, under the gun for several hours at a rare Friday congressional hearing, said the agency’s “foolish mistakes” resulted from a misguided effort to handle a flood of applications for tax exempt status, not political bias.

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