Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Sen. Orrin Hatch says the Republican Pary needs to be the conservative party that promotes solutions, not obstruction.
IRS lied by omission, Hatch said

First Published May 21 2013 10:42 am • Last Updated Dec 07 2013 11:32 pm

Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch slammed top Internal Revenue Service officials Tuesday for failing to tell Congress that the tax agency inappropriately targeted conservative groups when they were directly asked.

IRS officials held their ground before the Senate Finance Committee, arguing the actions were a mistake but not politically motivated and while they may not have been forthcoming, they were truthful when responding to letters sent by Hatch, R-Utah, and other senators about accusations that IRS agents harassed tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

At a glance

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

An inspector general’s audit substantiated those accusations, resulting in an FBI investigation, the removal of acting Commissioner Steven Miller, and a series of hearings in Congress.

The Finance Committee hearing was the second on the topic and the first to include former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, who was in charge for the 18 months when IRS agents targeted groups with "tea party," "patriot" and "9/12" in their name, or those that criticized the government or proposed a smaller government.

Shulman declined to directly apologize when repeatedly asked to do so by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

"I certainly am not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it," Shulman said. "I very much regret that it happened and it happened on my watch."

Democrats and Republicans on the committee and throughout Congress expressed outraged at the findings of the inspector general report, with Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., saying: "The IRS abandoned good judgment and lost the public’s trust."

Hatch, the panel’s top Republican, said it went beyond that.

"There appears to have been more than a hint of political bias in the IRS’s processing of applications of groups applying for tax-exempt status," he said.

Hatch zeroed in on Miller, who he said misled him by offering technical responses to his 2012 letters at a time when he knew that the targeting took place.


story continues below
story continues below

"You just sat on that guilty knowledge," he said. "That is a lie by omission."

"I did not lie, sir," Miller responded.

Hatch then said: "You knew this was going on. You knew we were concerned. Why didn’t you let us know?"

"I believe I did answer them," Miller said, "and answer them truthfully, sir."

Shulman testified in the House in early 2012 that such targeting wasn’t taking place, though he found out a few months later that he was incorrect. He said he only had partial information on the targeting and decided it made more sense to let the audit continue rather than immediately inform Congress of the activity.

Miller also pushed back against the accusation that the inappropriate targeting, which included requests for disclosure of donors and political beliefs, was motivated by politics.

"We were not politically motivated in targeting conservative groups," he said, instead apologizing for bad management. "I think what happened here was foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient."

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said Miller’s argument that agents acted with no political motivation is "almost beyond belief" and he questioned inspector general J. Russell George on the topic.

George said he found no political motivation and based that on interviews of employees involved — though the interviews were not under oath. The committee is expected to probe that matter further.

Senators also wanted to know why IRS leaders didn’t take stronger action when they first learned about the targeting.

Miller said an employee who sent inappropriate letters to tea party groups was reassigned and another employee received "oral counseling," a response that senators found lacking.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.