J. Russell George, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, disclosed during Congressional testimony on Friday that Obama administration officials in the Treasury Department knew about inappropriate targeting of conservative groups during the 2012 election.
George told the House Ways and Means Committee in testimony on Friday that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel of his investigation into the matter on June 4, according to the New York Times. He then told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly thereafter.”
President Barack Obama has said that he had no knowledge of the IRS’ singling out of conservative-sounding groups for extra scrutiny. But this is the first signal that anyone in his administration had knowledge.
George hedged when relaying his comments, saying he only informed the Treasury officials about allegations from conservative groups and let them know he was investigating. He did not get into specifics and he did not inform them that the scrutiny had been inappropriate, he said.
Outgoing Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who also testified at the hearing, maintained throughout the hearing that the extra scrutiny was not politically motivated. He specifically objected to use of the word “targeting” to describe the IRS’ actions, calling it a “loaded word.”
Congressional Republicans were sceptical of those claims, and George’s statement is likely to add to that. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who was Mitt Romney’s running mate on the Republican ticket, told George that his comment “raises a big question.”
Wolin is set to testify next week in a loaded House Oversight Committee hearing that will also feature George, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Lois Lerner, the IRS’ director of tax-exempt organisations.
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