WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced the resignation of the top official at the Internal Revenue Service following a controversy over the agency’s targeting of conservative political groups.
Obama, who has been criticized for appearing passive in his response to the matter, declared, “I am angry about it” and said the American people had a right to be angry as well.
Before announcing the resignation of Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, Obama met at the White House with top officials from the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS. The White House scheduled the meeting a day after the release of an inspector general report that showed ineffective management at the IRS allowed agents to improperly target tea party groups for more than 18 months.
Miller became acting commissioner in November, after Commissioner Douglas Shulman completed his five-year term. Shulman had been appointed by President George W. Bush.
The president has proceeded cautiously since the IRS controversy was made public Friday. While he initially said the accusations were “outrageous,” he also said he wanted to wait until the inspector general’s report was released before addressing what should be done to hold accountable those responsible.
The report lays much of the blame on IRS supervisors in Washington who oversaw a group of specialists in Cincinnati who screened applications for tax exempt status. It does not indicate that Washington initiated the targeting of conservative groups, but it does say a top supervisor in Washington did not adequately supervise agents in the field even after she learned the agents were acting improperly.
The Justice Department is also investigating the IRS targeting, as are three congressional committees.