IRS officials set to testify at House hearing - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

IRS officials set to testify at House hearing

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By Michael O'Brien, Political Reporter, NBC News

WASHINGTON (NBC) -- House Republicans were set Friday to convene the first of what's sure to be many hearings into the actions by taken by IRS officials to single out conservative and Tea Party groups for additional scrutiny.

Steven Miller, the acting IRS commissioner who this week resigned from that position, will appear before the House committee charged with handling taxes on Friday, where he's sure to face pointed questions from Republicans and Democrats alike.

The hearing comes a week after an inspector general's reports detailing abuses by IRS officials first became public. The revelation that the IRS had targeted conservative groups seeking nonprofit status erupted this week into a major political controversy for President Barack Obama, who publicly denounced the actions of the IRS officials, and pledged to cooperate with Congress in investigating the root cause of the controversy.

"It is just simply unacceptable for there to even be a hint of partisanship or ideology when it comes to the application of our tax laws," the president said Thursday at the White House.
But the administration's actions have scarcely satisfied conservatives, who have demanded criminal prosecutions as a result of the controversy, and have suggested that the IRS's actions might have been a politically motivated effort to target ideological opponents. (The inspector general report found no evidence of external influence on IRS field agents to pursue conservative groups.)

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who's seen as possibly having his own presidential ambitions one day, called the IRS fiasco evidence of a "culture of intimidation" by the Obama administration; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused the administration of "remarkable arrogance" over the IRS controversy and revelations that the Justice Department seized phone records of Associated Press journalists.

Friday's hearings before the House Ways and Means Committee will give Republicans a perch to advance many of those attacks on the administration. Along with Miller, J. Russell George, the Treasury's inspector general for tax administration, will also appear.

"This committee wants the facts, and the American people deserve answers to why they were targeted on the basis of their political beliefs," Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., the chairman of the committee, said following Miller's resignation on Wednesday. "The IRS has demonstrated a culture of cover up and has failed time and time again to be completely open and honest with the American people."

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