Lew: IRS exhibited ‘equal opportunity bad judgment’ in targeting

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Sunday the Internal Revenue Service exhibited "equal opportunity bad judgment" in the improper targeting of political groups, and there was no evidence of political pressure.

Just days after President Obama accused Washington of focusing attention on "phony scandals," Lew said on "Fox News Sunday" mistakes were made in the IRS, but there is no evidence the White House or political officials drove the improper targeting.

ADVERTISEMENT
"There's no political official who condoned it or authorized it," he said, adding that the mistakes that were made were "unacceptable" and "unjustifiable."

The scandal broke when IRS officials apologized for improperly targeting Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status, and has led to Republican accusations the White House used the tax collecting agency to intimidate political opponents.

But Lew said the IRS review underway has found that both conservative and progressive groups were targeted. More conservative groups faced probing questions, but Lew argued there were more conservative groups to begin with.

Host Chris Wallace pressed Lew on whether he had spoken with William Wilkins, the IRS chief counsel and one of two political appointees at the agency, when he learned of the targeting. Lew said he was leaving the investigation up to investigators, and reiterated that no evidence has been uncovered of political pressure.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) did not agree with Lew, saying there were still more stones to be uncovered.

"There's a big deficit of trust with this administration, particularly when it comes to the IRS," he said.

Lee accused Lew of being evasive of Wallace's questions.

"He either doesn't know, or he perhaps has something to hide," he said.