Congress Grills IRS Commissioner

"I am aware that there is an uptick of organizations that came into us for exemption," Miller said in July 2012. "So it was the determination letter process, not the examination process. I am aware that some 200 501(c)4 applications fell into this category. We did group those organizations together to ensure consistency, to ensure quality. We continue to work those cases."

Ohio Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi pressed Miller on why he appointed Sarah Hall Ingram, who led the division in charge of tax-exempt organizations, to run the IRS's Affordable Care Act Office.

"Because she's a superb civil servant, sir," Miller explained, noting that he did not think Ingram was involved in the scrutiny of tea party groups.

In the course of asking extra questions of tea party groups, IRS officials requested lists of their donors. Miller told the committee today that he believes the agency destroyed those lists.

Miller also defended former commissioner Douglas Shulman's testimony in March 2012 that "there's absolutely no targeting," explaining that at that time, he and Shulman were aware of problems with conservative groups' processing, but not that keywords and groups' policy missions were being used to single them out.

"It was incorrect, but whether it was untruthful or not -- look, when you talk about targeting … it's a pejorative term," Miller said. "What happened here is that someone saw tea party cases come through, they were acknowledging that they were going to be engaged in politics. This is the time frame in 2010 when Citizens United was happening … people in Cincinnati decided, 'Let's centralize these cases.'"

Miller took issue with the term "targeting" multiple times.

"Again, I'm going to take exception to the term 'targeting,'" Miller said when Texas GOP Rep. Kevin Brady asked him, directly, who was responsible.

Miller said he prefers the term "listing" and that he didn't have any names of IRS employees to supply.

Both Republican and Democratic members voiced frustration with the activities, by any name, that Miller and others failed to mention to Congress before now.

"We are all outraged," New York Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley said.

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