Last week, the IRS reported that a few of its bureaus — Cincinnati in particular — had inappropriately targeted groups seeking tax-exempt status with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. In order to restore confidence in the supposedly non-partisan agency, President Obama, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin requested that acting commissioner of the IRS Steven Miller resign from his job.
On Wednesday, Obama announced that he has accepted Miller’s resignation and will be looking to transition to new leadership early June. Obama also vowed to take action toward preventing further abuses of power in within the IRS and other agencies as well.
"It's inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it and I am angry about it," Obama said. "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but particularly the IRS given the power that it has and the reach that it has in all of our lives."
In addition to Miller’s resignation, a congressional committee will be looking into the matter to figure out the breadth of the misconduct. In his statement Wednesday, Obama said the White House will be working “hand-in-hand” with Congress while it performs its oversight.
Miller wrote an op-ed in USA Today earlier this week, explaining that his agency recognizes its mistakes and will work to correct them in the future.
"Mistakes were made, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan motivation," Miller wrote. "We are — and will continue to be — dedicated to reviewing all applications for tax-exempt status in an impartial manner."
Since the controversy erupted, the White House has come under fire from the Republicans, as they allege that top-tier officials may be involved in the misconduct.
"If the President is as concerned about this isssue as he claims, he'll work openly and transparently with Congress to get to the bottom of the scandal—no stonewalling, no half-answers, no withholding of witnesses," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "These allegations are serious — that there was an effort to bring the power of the federal government to bear on those the administration disagreed with, in the middle of a heated national election. We are determined to get answers, and to ensure that this type of intimidation never happens again at the IRS or any other agency."
Though the IRS does have the authority to scrutinize organizations seeking tax-exempt status, targeting of specifically tea party oriented groups was an obvious abuse of power.