Buchanan: A lot still unknown about IRS scandal

mmasferrer@bradenton.comMay 18, 2013 

The House Ways and Means Committee, according to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, will continue to pursue what went wrong at the Internal Revenue Service.

"I don't think we got all the answers that we wanted," Buchanan told the Bradenton Herald on Friday, after the committee held the first of what promise to be many hearings after it was revealed the IRS had targeted various conservative political organizations for special scrutiny.

The chief witness Friday was Steven Miller, the acting IRS commissioner fired by President Barack Obama earlier this week. Miller apologized for what IRS employees did but denied that they had "targeted" tea parties and other organizations opposed to Obama administration policies.

Buchanan, the only representative from Florida on Ways and Means, was not convinced.

"I was kind of really upset with the idea with him referring to the idea of targeting Americans as 'bad customer service,'" Buchanan said.

"If you listen to him, he likes to think it was bad customer service or incompetence," Buchanan said. "That doesn't pass the smell test."

Friday's hearing was charged with partisanship from both sides of the aisles, but Buchanan said he is only trying to do right by the American people by uncovering what went wrong at the tax-collecting agency.

"You can't have an organization like the IRS, with 90,000 employees, not playing by the rules," Buchanan said. "They clearly stepped over the bounds."

As investigations continue, Buchanan said he wants to see the firing of anyone else

responsible for the scandal, and for a new IRS commissioner to have the leadership skills needed to instill the right culture at the agency.

"I think there is a lot more that needs to be done," he said.

Late Friday afternoon, the Democratic Congressional Committee challenged Buchanan's credibility on the topic of the IRS scandal.

Citing prior investigations of Buchanan's political and business practices, including by the IRS, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called on Buchanan to excuse himself from the investigation of the of the IRS scandal.

"(I)t is impossible for Congressman Buchanan to conduct the type of impartial and rigorous investigation that both Republicans and Democrats have demanded," said David Bergstein of the DCCC. "We cannot trust the robber to guard the bank -- and we certainly can't trust him to investigate it."

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