IRS' Planted Question Adds to Its Misery
Agency tried a little trickery in its strategy of first acknowledging scandal
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2013 7:16 PM CDT
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller testifies on Capitol Hill Friday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – It probably seemed like a wise idea to the IRS at the time, but it's becoming clear that the strategy of planting a question in the apparent hope of spinning its recent scandal has, as the headline in USA Today puts it, backfired. If you missed it, outgoing chief Steven Miller confirmed in his testimony yesterday the unusual way in which the IRS first acknowledged that it targeted conservative groups: Before IRS official Lois Lerner appeared at a May 10 conference, she called Washington tax attorney Celia Roady and gave her a question to ask during the Q&A format. Roady did so, and Lerner, in her response, admitted that the IRS had inappropriately targeted Tea Party groups and apologized. The AP quickly picked up on it, and a scandal was born.

The IRS apparently thought it would help if the story became public in this fashion rather than in the inspector general's report due out in days. Congress is ticked because Lerner had testified two days prior and didn't mention it. Even if she wasn't aware at the time, lawmakers say she or someone at the IRS should have followed up with them. Miller got grilled about it:

  • Rep. Devin Nunes: "Was Ms. Roady’s question to Ms. Lerner about targeting conservative groups planned in advance?
  • Miller: "I believe that we talked about that, yes."
Miller later said the original plan was to tell Congress and the public simultaneously, but he had to admit under questioning that "it did not happen." Read the related transcript at the Wall Street Journal. And Business Insider has Roady's statement about her role, in which she says she didn't know what Lerner was going to say. What a mess, writes William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. "It was rotten of the IRS to have Roady ask the question. But, Roady knew that she was asking a planted question and when the bombshell answer dropped, she could have told people that it was a set-up question."

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Showing 3 of 65 comments
KeyserSoze
May 19, 2013 11:25 AM CDT
Here's the way I see it.......Obama called William Ayers who in turn called a couple of his buddies in the Black Panthers. Ayers asked if there was anything they could do to "help a brother out" The Black Panthers knew that a few of them had relatives who worked in the IRS, after all, they were Govt workers. The Black Panthers gave the names of the 501c4 organizations that Obama wanted to be checked out. & if they refused to help, they & their family members would be targeted by drones Now THATS a scandal
backpath2
May 19, 2013 6:06 AM CDT
Repeal the 16th Amendment, and this nest of wasps goes away. Surely there is a better, more honorable way for the Federal government to raise necessary revenues. While we're at it, let's reduce the size and reach of our national government. Yes, I did say "our" government, because it does belong to us -- something Washington, D.C. seems to have forgotten.
SilenceDogood
May 19, 2013 5:09 AM CDT
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