WASHINGTON — A glum-looking Steven Miller, the outgoing commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service who resigned earlier this week as scandal engulfed the agency, said he believed that his agency’s targeting of conservative groups was a “foolish mistake” not motivated by partisanship.
Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee Friday morning, Miller apologized for the agency.
“As acting commissioner, I would like to apologize on behalf of the IRS for the mistakes that we made and the poor service that we provided,” he said in a brief opening statement.
“Partisanship,” he went on, “or even the perception of partisanship has no place at the IRS.”
But, Miller said, the persons who set criteria that groups with words such as “tea party” or “patriots” or “9/12 project” in their names should be subject to extra scrutiny when applying for tax exempt status, were not motivated by partisanship.
“I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people who engaged in the practices described in the Treasury Inspector General report,” he said.
Instead, he said he thought they were “foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient.”
Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George said, in response to questions from Rep. Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Committee, that his investigation did not uncover “evidence of political motivation in the selection of the tax exemption applications.”