NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The ousted acting director of the Internal Revenue Service got a scolding on Capitol Hill on Friday, as he testified about the scandal that has rocked the tax agency.
Before the House Ways and Means Committee began its hearing, members made Steven Miller take an oath to swear to tell the truth. As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported, the congressional panel required the rare oath because they questioned the veracity of his previous statements.
During the hearing, Miller offered his explanation for why conservative groups were targeted for special — and improper — scrutiny.
“I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people who engaged in the practices described,” Miller testified. “I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection.”
After that, the questions came fast, furious and skeptical from members on both sides of the political aisle.
“This is wrong to abuse the tax system. This screams out for tax reform, does it not?” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) queried.
“I think it’s an area ripe for redefinition and reform. Yes, sir,” Miller replied.
Applause erupted after Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) gave the former IRS boss one of the more notable reprimands.
“You should be outraged, but you’re not,” Kelly said. “This is a huge blow to the faith and trust the American people have in their government.”
“I just think the American people have seen what’s going on right now in their government. This is absolutely an overreach and this is an outrage for all America,” Kelly added.
The tough talk prompted Miller to offer a mea culpa.
“I want to apologize on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service,” Miller testified.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama said he did not know about the IRS scandal until it came out in headlines last week. But Republican leaders are keeping the White House on the defensive, Kramer reported.
“This appears to be just the latest example of a culture of cover-ups and political intimidation in this administration. It seems like the truth his hidden from the American people just long enough to make it through an election,” Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said during Friday’s hearing.
There are three House committees investigating the case and so is the FBI. Those involved in the scandal could face a raft of criminal penalties, Kramer reported.
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