Black Questions Acting IRS Commissioner, Slams IRS Targeting of Conservatives in Ways & Means Committee Hearing

May 17, 2013

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Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Diane Black (R – TN), member of the House Ways and Means Committee, questioned outgoing Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George during the first Congressional Committee hearing on the Internal Review Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative organizations on applications for tax exempt status. Below are excerpts of Rep. Black’s questioning of Commissioner Miller:

Congressman Black: you referred to this as “foolish mistakes” and then you acknowledged in the response to Mr. Rangel that there was “abuse.” … And then you said to Mr. Ryan in your response that you felt that the applicants were dealt with “fairly.” Then you turned around and said answering to Mr. O'Neill that there was a litmus test if it was political activity… I want to go to page number six on the report that talks about the words that were used like “tea party” and “patriots” … I want to know if you say that yes, there is a litmus test and politics is always where we ask questions any time there is an application that seems to go there. Can you give me some other words that would have been used besides what appears to me to be all conservative questions? Was “progressive” a word [the agency]…  looked for on the application? Was that anywhere?

Commissioner Miller: So I think what, what, um, and I will refer to Mr. George’s statement. I believe his statement indicated what my understanding is, which is that this is not the only thing that folks were looking at as they scan.

Congressman Black: But you’re not answering my question. Was there … a word in there anywhere to say that okay the litmus test is deemed to be political so we always look at political [words] —where’s words like “progressive”?

Commissioner Miller: I’m not arguing that the list wasn't bad or the list wasn't conservative based.

Congressman Black: …Well then I would say it is targeting. You can’t have that both ways. That’s targeting and there are 16 times in this report that says there was targeting. So, I believe that as you are giving this testimony that you can't have that go both ways.