Economy & Finance

Outgoing IRS chief admits scandal-exposing question was planted

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The outgoing head of the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged on Friday that the tax agency planned its initial disclosure about having targeted conservative groups through a planted question at a lawyers’ conference.

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller told lawmakers during a Capitol Hill hearing that the question-and-answer session that exposed the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny had been carefully planned.

“It was a prepared Q and A,” Miller said when asked about IRS official Lois Lerner’s response to a question from a lobbyist at an American Bar Association conference last week.

When pressed whether the question was planted in advance, Miller said, “I believe that we talked about that, yes.”

Miller did not elaborate on why the IRS chose such a strategy to reveal what has become a scandal over whether the tax agency treated some conservative groups fairly.

Miller was fired on Wednesday as the White House sought to stem criticism over the IRS matter. On Thursday, Obama chose White House budget official Daniel Werfel to replace Miller as acting commissioner.

(Reporting By Susan Heavey and Laura MacInnis- Editing by David Lindsey and Jackie Frank)

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