Outgoing IRS Chief: Wrongdoing Was ‘Absolutely Not Illegal’

Outgoing IRS chief Steven Miller told a congressional committee Friday that wrongdoing by the agency in requiring additional scrutiny of tea party groups was not illegal.

“It is absolutely not illegal,” Miller told Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) when asked at a Ways & Means hearing.

The acting chief admitted to “foolish mistakes” in the agency, though he insisted there was no partisan targeting but rather a botched effort to simplify the task of pinpointing political groups inappropriately seeking tax-exempt status.

The exchange between Price and Miller:

Price: Would you care to recharacterize the ‘unnecessary’ word? Is it illegal, what they have done?

Miller: It is absolutely not illegal.

Price: It’s 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 it is illegal for employees of the IRS to create lists to target individual groups and citizens in this country?

Miller: I think the treasury inspector general indicated it might not be, but that others will be able to tell that.

Price: What do you believe?

Miller: I don’t believe it is.


Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.