Ousted IRS commissioner Steven Miller told the House Ways and Means Committee today that the revelation of the IRS’s targeting of tea-party groups came from a planted question, and that Lois Lerner, the IRS official who managed the exempt-organizations division, may have planted it.
Lerner disclosed the information last Friday while speaking at a tax conference organized by the American Bar Association. Asked about the incident, she said only that she answered honestly a question that was posed to her. The question, however, was posed to Lerner by Celia Roady, a Washington, D.C., tax lawyer who sits on the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities.
Miller indicated today that Roady was in fact instructed by the IRS to ask the question, and that Lerner knew about the question in advance.
“Who told her to ask the question?” asked Republican representative Kenny Marchant.
“I don’t know, actually, I’m not sure, might have been Lois Lerner,” Miller responded. He went on to say that the IRS intended to inform Congress simultaneously, but admitted the agency only went so far as to inquire about the congressional calendar.
The planted question reveals coordination at high levels of the IRS with regard to the disclosure of the sensitive information. Lerner and Miller testified before Congress two days before Lerner addressed the ABA, but said nothing about the IRS’s scrutiny of tea-party groups.
Nonetheless, Miller maintained, “I always answered questions truthfully.”