US President Barack Obama has ousted the acting commissioner of the federal tax agency, moving to quell a growing uproar over revelations that conservative political groups were improperly targeted for scrutiny when they filed for tax-exempt status.
Mr Obama, who had been criticised for appearing passive in his response to one of the latest scandals to hit his administration, promised new safeguards would be put in place to prevent a recurrence of the actions at the Internal Revenue Service.
“Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” he said in a televised statement from the White House. “I will not tolerate this kind of behaviour in any agency but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.”
The removal of Acting Commissioner Steven Miller came five days after an IRS supervisor publicly revealed that agents had improperly targeted certain conservative groups for tax exempt status. It came a day after an inspector general’s report blamed ineffective management in Washington for allowing it to happen for more than 18 months.
The IRS controversy is one of several dogging the Obama administration, including its response to last year’s deadly attack on a US diplomatic premises in Benghazi, Libya, and the seizure of Associated Press telephone records in a leak investigation.
The trio of controversies has emboldened opposition Republicans as they seek to hinder Mr Obama’s second-term agenda and score political points ahead of next year’s congressional elections.