IRS head on targeting tea party: ‘It is absolutely not illegal’

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON – The outgoing leader of the Internal Revenue Service drew audible “wows” from Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday for saying he doesn’t think what the agency did to tea party groups was illegal.

“It is absolutely not illegal,” Steve Miller, the acting commissioner of the IRS who resigned this week because of the scandal, said while being questioned by Georgia Rep. Tom Price.

A number of legislators let out bursts of “wow” at his answer.

Here’s their exchange:

Price: Is it illegal what they’ve done?

Miller: It is absolutely not illegal.

Price: It is not illegal what the IRS has done?

Miller: So let me understand the question. What is your statement as to what is illegal?

Price: Do you believe that it is illegal for employees of the IRS to create lists, to target individual groups and citizens in this country?

Miller: I think the [Department of] Treasury inspector general indicated it might not be, but others will be able to tell that.

Price: What do you believe?

Miller: I don’t believe it is. I don’t believe it should happen.

Price: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Miller: Please don’t get me wrong. It should not happen.

Grae Stafford contributed to this report.

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