On Wednesday, President Barack Obama said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked for and accepted the resignation of the acting Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Steven T. Miller. However, Miller’s term as acting IRS Commissioner was up in a couple of weeks, and it is presently unclear whether he was forced to resign or was simply granting notice that his term was up.
Obama will face reporters on Thursday to answer questions about the IRS scandal that placed nearly 500 conservative organizations in the IRS’s crosshairs during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Beyond the classic question, “What did the Administration know and when did it know it?”, a myriad of questions remain unanswered. Here are just a few:
- Who inside the IRS hatched the plan to target conservatives and what, if any, connections do they, their associates, or superiors have to the Obama White House, campaign team, or other political organizations?
- Who at the IRS leaked confidential tax documents to the progressive-leaning journalism group ProPublica, an action which the IRS official manual says can result in up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000?
- Who are the two “rogue” individuals disgraced former IRS Commissioner Stevens said went “off the reservation” and acted “overly aggressive” and what, if any, connections do they have politically? If, as the Inspector General report alleges, political motivations were not driving the targeting of conservatives, then what was? Also, what “discipline” did the two rogue agents receive?
- Did IRS agents coordinate with Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) or his staff to “go after them [conservative groups],” as he told the New York Times, following Levin’s letters to then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman and Director Lois Lerner?
- Did Sen. Max Baucus (D-MO) or his staff communicate or coordinate with IRS agents after Baucus wrote this September 28, 2010 letter instructing then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman to have his “agency survey major 401(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations to determine whether they are acting as conduits for major donors advancing their own private interests”?
- What communications took place between IRS agents and the following senators and their staffs following the delivery of this jointly written letter demanding the IRS crack down on “abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities”: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO ), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)?
- What communications existed between Obama reelection campaign co-chair Joe Solomonese, whom the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) alleges received its confidential tax returns, and IRS agents?
- What portion of Obama’s 79% increase in audits of charities were of conservative groups?
- If political motivations were not driving the selective targeting of 500 conservative organizations, then why were a similar number of liberal groups not harassed?
- What role did IRS Rulings and Agreements Division Director Holly Paz, who in 2008 donated $2,000 to Obama, play in ratcheting up IRS investigations, as she promised she would in June 2012?
Whether reporters will ask and Obama will answer the critical questions that must be resolved remains to be seen.