Senior Treasury officials were notified of an investigation over complaints that the Internal Revenue Service was singling out Tea Party groups applying for non-profit status in June 2012.
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday stating he told the general counsel of the Treasury Department of an IRS probe on June 4, 2012.
George’s testimony alleged the Obama administration knew of the IRS probe at the height of the presidential campaign.
George explained he “subsequently, and I do not have the exact date, alerted the deputy secretary, Neal Wolin, about this matter.” He said that because he does not keep a date planner, he didn’t have an exact day, but that Wolin was notified “shortly” after general counsel.
He explained those talks were “not to inform them of the results of the audit. It was to inform them of the fact that we were conducting the audit."
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, he said, was told of the investigation in February 2013 after he assumed his new post.
Testifying alongside George, ousted head of the IRS, Steve Miller acknowledged the agency’s mistakes while insisting that agents did not break any laws and made no effort to cover up their actions.
"First and foremost, as acting commissioner, I want to apologize on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service for the mistakes that we made and the poor service we provided," Miller said. "The affected organizations and the American public deserve better."
He was questioned over his repeated failure to disclose the controversy to lawmakers when he was asked about it in 2012. The hearing turned from apologetic to defensive when Miller insisted he did not lie to Congress.
"I did not mislead Congress or the American people," he said.
"I don't know that I got any answers from you today," Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., told Miller. "I am more concerned today than I was before."
"Listening to the nightly news, this appears to be just the latest example of a culture of cover-ups and political intimidation in this administration," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. "It seems like the truth is hidden from the American people just long enough to make it through an election."