Just days after the acting director of the IRS was forced to hand in his resignation, he went before the House and Means Committee and got an angry reception from Republicans wanting to know why the agency targeted conservative political groups. NY1's Washington reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report.
WASHINGTON -- Internal Revenue Service Acting Director Steven Miller faced a barrage of attacks on Friday. The House and Means Committee was filled with angry Republicans wanting to know why the the agency gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
"I just think the American people have seen what's going on in this government and it's absolutely an overreach and this is an outrage for all of America," said Rep. Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican.
Miller apologized for the actions of the IRS, saying, "We provided horrible customer service here."
Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican asked, "Who is responsible for targeting these groups?" but Miller insisted that none of what happened was politically motivated.
"So, again, I'm going to take exception to the concept of targeting because it's a loaded term," said Miller.
IRS watchdog J. Russell George did reveal that he told the Treasury Department last June he was investigating claims that conservative groups were being given extra scrutiny, raising questions about what the Obama administration knew during the election year.
As for why the practice started, Miller said efficiency may have been the reason.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's landmark 2010 campaign finance decision, the IRS saw a surge in the number of groups seeking tax-exempt status. With that increase came questions about whether those groups should be granted that distinction, a point some Democrats said should not be ignored.
"You should have wanted to look at this earlier before this, this, what my friends call a 'scandal.' This is wrong to abuse the tax system. This screams out for tax reform, does it not?" asked Rep. Charles Rangel.
The Senate is expected to grill the IRS next week at its own hearing, meaning that the Obama administration will not be able to put this scandal behind it for some time.