Question that revealed IRS scandal was planted, chief admits

Steven Miller, the acting IRS commissioner, said Friday that last week’s revelation that the IRS gave special scrutiny to Tea Party groups came from a planted question.

Lois Lerner, an IRS official with oversight of tax-exempt groups, disclosed the scrutiny at an American Bankers Association conference last Friday after a question from a lawyer who has served on IRS advisory boards.

Questioned by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Miller acknowledged that IRS officials were aware that the question would be coming.

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“I believe that we talked about that, yes,” Miller said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, the first congressional inquiry into the agency’s actions.

Both Lerner and Miller testified before Congress last week, but did not discuss the attention given to Tea Party groups. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) said at Friday’s hearing that he asked Lerner last week about the IRS’s oversight of political groups seeking tax-exempt status.

For his part, Miller has consistently said throughout Friday’s hearing that he did not mislead Congress — under sharp questioning from Republicans who aren’t so sure of that.

“I always answered questions truthfully,” Miller said.

He added that — while the agency was wrong to give extra scrutiny to Tea Party groups – the attention was not politically motivated, and he believes it would be wrong to call that scrutiny “targeting.”