Treasury official washes hands of IRS’ political targeting

Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal S. Wolin said Wednesday his department had no hand in the IRS‘ targeting of conservative groups from 2010 to 2012.

Mr. Wolin told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that specialists in Cincinnati engaged in behavior that was “absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable.”


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“Let me reiterate that there is no indication that Treasury was involved in the inexcusable behavior at the IRS,” Mr. Wolin said.

He said new Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and President Obama took immediate action after an inspector general’s audit was released May 14, demanding and accepting acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller’s resignation.

He said Mr. Lew has ordered newly appointed IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel to conduct a thorough review of processes at the agency.

Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and committee chairman, said it was “astounding” that Mr. Wolin did not know about the IRS‘ activities, especially since the audit’s timeline shows attempts in July 2011 to correct inappropriate criteria that targeted tea party groups and others.

Mr. Wolin said J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration, told Mr. Lew of the forthcoming audit during a meeting in March.

“Mr. George did not describe any details of his audit findings,” he told the committee.


SEE ALSO: Key IRS official speaks at House hearing — but not for long


Mr. Issa also said he was not pleased with the timeliness of Mr. George’s audit, circulating a timeline of emails that show his committee staff begging for updates on the review between September 2012 and this month.

“The fact that this information is now public and we have not been briefed despite my repeated requests over so many months is completely unacceptable,” an email from Mr. Issa’s committee said on May 10, the day IRS official Lois Lerner, who headed the tax-exempt division, apologized for the political targeting at an event with the American Bar Association.

“The IRS issued a press statement without our knowledge, consent or even advance notice,” the inspector general’s office wrote back.

Lawmakers from both parties also grilled former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman for failing to address the political targeting during his tenure from March 2010 to November 2012.

Mr. Shulman was appointed by former President George W. Bush, although the activities in the audit occurred during President Obama’s term.

Mr. Shulman assured the committee that no one at the Treasury Department or the White House directed the agency to single out conservative groups.

He said he did not alert the committee earlier than the audit’s release on May 14 because he did not know the scope and severity of the inspector general’s findings.

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