To the frustration of Republican lawmakers, Miller did not provide the names of lower-level employees who made the initial decision to flag certain conservative groups for closer scrutiny. He did say that one had been reassigned, while a number of managers were brought in for greater training about criteria for selecting applications for closer looks.
Its likely that not just Republican lawmakers will want those answers. The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the IRS flagging of conservative applicants and will presumably seek to question those involved in the matter.
In one of the few mea culpas, Miller echoed a complaint of many taxpayers in noting the agency did a poor job communicating with citizens on the matter.
We provided horrible customer service here, he said. Whether it was politically motivated or not is a very different question.
The fired IRS chief said he resigned because the buck stopped at his desk, even if he had no personal involvement in the wrongdoing. He said that he and the Treasury Departments inspector general for tax administration found no evidence of political influence from outside the agency. But Miller acknowledged that he had conversations with Treasury Department officials technically his bosses last year about the inappropriate use of criteria to identify potentially problematic applications.
Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady all but accused the Obama administration of government-wide political targeting of tea party groups on a broad scale. He cited a woman who owns a small business in his district, who, after applying for a tax-exempt designation for a local tea party chapter, was subsequently subjected to visits from Labor Department inspectors, four inquiries from the FBI and domestic terrorism agents, and a visit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The broader question here is, is this still America? asked Brady, known in Congress for theatrics.
Treasurys special inspector general, Republican appointee J. Russell George, testified before the committee that hes found no evidence of a wider problem, influence from outside the organization, or corruption within the IRS.