Congressman Dave Camp chairs IRS hearing - WNEM TV 5

Congressman Dave Camp chairs IRS hearing

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The House Ways and Means committee hearing regarding the IRS and Tea Party scandal was underway in Washington and Midland Congressman Dave Camp chaired those hearings.

The Internal Revenue Service's improper use of tougher scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status seems part of a broader pattern of intimidation and cover-ups by the Obama administration, a top House Republican said Friday.

The accusation by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., came as his panel held the first congressional hearing into the tax agency's improper targeting of tea party and other conservative groups. At a session that saw the IRS face harsh criticism from members of both parties, the just-ousted acting chief of the agency, Steven Miller, expressed regret for the heightened reviews.

"I want to apologize on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service for the mistakes that we made and the poor service we provided," Miller told the committee. "The affected organizations and the American public deserve better. Partisanship and even the perception of partisanship have no place at the Internal Revenue Service."

Republicans are hoping to link the issues in an effort to raise questions about President Barack Obama's credibility and make it harder for him to press a second-term agenda.

Republicans have spent the past few days trying to link the IRS' improper scrutiny of conservatives to Obama. The president has said he didn't know about the targeting until last Friday, when Lerner acknowledged at a legal conference that conservative groups had been singled out.

Many of the groups were applying for tax-exempt status as social welfare organizations, which are allowed to participate in campaign activity if that is not their primary activity. The IRS judges whether that imprecise standard is met.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said the FBI was investigating whether the IRS may have violated applicants' civil rights.

Obama has rejected the idea of naming a special prosecutor to investigate the episode, saying the investigations by Congress and the Justice Department were sufficient.

Obama has named Daniel Werfel, a top White House budget officer, to replace Miller.

Also Thursday, Joseph Grant, 1 of Miller's top deputies, announced plans to retire June 3, according to an internal IRS memo. Grant is commissioner of the agency's tax exempt and government entities division, which includes the agents that targeted tea party groups for additional scrutiny.

Grant joined the IRS in 2005 and took over as acting commissioner of the tax exempt and government entities division in December 2010. He was just named the permanent commissioner May 8.

When asked whether Grant was pressured to leave, IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge said Grant had more than 31 years of federal service and it was his personal decision to leave.

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