Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in congressional testimony Thursday that he does not know how much money was paid in bonuses to embattled former IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram because he does not have the “right staff here” to investigate the widely-reported issue. Werfel also said he does not know whether the IRS targeted non-501(c)(4) groups because he has only been at the IRS for “two weeks.”
Werfel was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the agency’s investigation into the improper targeting of conservative groups. In previous appearances the acting commissioner confidently promised “to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
But in his appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Thursday, Werfel proved unable to answer even basic questions that have been widely covered in reporting on the growing scandal.
Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina grilled Werfel on the more than $100,000 bonuses paid to Sarah Hall Ingram, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division who was later promoted to head the agency’s implementation of Obamacare.
As The Daily Caller has reported, Hall received $103,390 in bonuses between 2009 and 2012.
Werfel said he did not have the information about Werfel’s bonuses at his fingertips, and claimed he does not currently have the “right staff” to figure out how much money Ingram received in bonuses.
“Basically [we asked] what kind of bonus was paid to Sara Ingram Hall and you said you would get back to them and I assume you went back to your office or your staff did check on that. Can you tell us today what that bonus was?,” Meadows asked Werfel.
“I will ask my staff if they can look into that. I don’t have the information at my finger tips. I can get that for you,” Werfel replied.
“Did you go back and look into it after —” Meadows asked.
“We have a session where we went through all of my commitments that I made in that hearing and made sure we were getting to the answers to each of them. I don’t know yet,” Werfel said.
“You have not had a discussion following that hearing about bonuses or Ms. Hall?” Meadows asked.
“There were several issues raised about bonuses and i don’t want to misspeak. There were a couple questions I had to get answers on. I will get you the information,” Werfel said.
“They don’t know?,” Meadows asked.
“I don’t think I have the right staff here to answer that particular question. Again, this is — we’ll get you that information,” Werfel said.
Meadows then pressed Werfel on whether or not the IRS targeted non-501(c)(4) groups for penalties or fees.
“Let me go forward with a little bit of this,” Meadows asked. “Can you give us assurances here today that targeting outside of the 501(c)(4)s did not happen with regard to auditing, with regard to penalty waivers, with regard to fees? Can you give us those assurances that is not happening systemically across the service?”
“Here is what i can say. I am not aware of it at this time,” Werfel replied.
“Have you investigated it?” Meadows asked.
“I am working through that. I have been here for two weeks. There is a lot to cover. I am not ready to make assurances because I have not completed the review,” Werfel replied.