Acting IRS Commissioner Out After 'Rogue' Agents' Plot To Target Conservative Groups
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Steven Miller has resigned, amid a probe into a plot by the agency to target conservative groups.
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that Miller had resigned. Miller has also issued a letter to IRS employees.
"It is with regret that I will be departing from the IRS as my acting assignment ends in early June," he wrote, CBS 2's Dick Brennan reported.
Miller was tapped to serve as acting commissioner after Commissioner Doug Shulman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, stepped down in November, CBS News reported.
"The misconduct that (the report) uncovered is inexcusable," Obama said. "It's inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it. And I am angry about it."
Obama said he would "not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency," but particularly not in the IRS. "As I said earlier, it should not matter what political stripe you're from, the fact of the matter is the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity."
The resignation came following revelations that two "rogue" IRS employees from Cincinnati were responsible for investigating conservative groups. That bombshell came on the same day in which Attorney General Eric Holder took a grilling on Capitol Hill.
Holder was questioned intensely about the triple scandals facing the Obama administration – the Benghazi cover-up, the secret gathering of telephone records on reporters and editors at the Associated Press and the IRS scandal. The FBI is also now investigating the IRS' actions, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday.
"I'm sure you would agree that when the federal government, the federal government, targets individuals or organizations because of their political beliefs that that is a threat to our democracy," Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said during Holder's appearance.
"I can assure you and the American people that we will take a dispassionate view of this," Holder said. "Anybody who has broken the law will be held accountable."
That may be bad news for two employees of the IRS, because before resigning, Miller reportedly said his agency had pinpointed two so-called rogue employees in the agency's Cincinnati office as being principally responsible for targeting conservative groups like the tea party.
Authorities said the scandal started specifically at the Cincinnati Tax Exemption Unit. Specialists began screening applications using the search terms, "tea party," "9/12," and "patriot."
Holder was asked how far up the IRS food chain the scandal goes.
"I simply don't know at this stage. We've only begun our investigation and I think it will take us time to determine exactly who was involved," Holder said.
"My question isn't about who's going to resign; my question is who is going to jail over the scandal?" House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.
CBS News reported at least three top IRS officials were asked repeatedly about reports that tea party groups were being targeted, and they either denied it or dodged the question.
"We've seen nothing but evasion in their testimony," said U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.)
President Obama is being blamed.
"This is definitely a White House out-of-control. The president has just lost just touch with the American people and his administration; day after day there's more scandals erupting," Long Island Republican Rep. Peter King said.
New Yorkers are now worried if someday the IRS could go after them. One woman was spooked that she could be targeted by the IRS just for speaking to CBS 2.
"[Could they] investigate me because I mentioned my name?" she said.
"I'm disgusted with everything that's going on," another person added.
"I'm very disappointed, very disappointed. I'm shocked," another said.
"We need to clean up our act tremendously, from top to bottom," another person said.
"There's too much invasion of privacy," another said.
The acting director of the IRS is scheduled to be grilled on Capitol Hill on Friday.
Meanwhile, the attorney general said the FBI's criminal investigation of the IRS could include potential civil rights violations, false statements and even violations of the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities.
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