WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama picked a senior White House budget official to become the acting head of the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, the same day another top official announced plans to leave the agency amid the controversy over agents targeting tea party groups.
Obama named longtime civil servant Daniel Werfel as the acting IRS commissioner. Werfel, 42, currently serves as controller of the Office of Management and Budget, making him a key player in implementing recent automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.
“Throughout his career working in both Democratic and Republican administrations, Danny has proven an effective leader who serves with professionalism, integrity and skill,” Obama said in a statement.
Werfel replaces Steven Miller as acting IRS commissioner. Miller was forced to resign Wednesday amid the growing scandal, though he is still scheduled to testify today at a congressional hearing.
Also Thursday, Joseph Grant, one of Miller’s top deputies, announced plans to retire June 3, according to an internal IRS memo.
Grant is commissioner of the agency’s tax exempt and government entities division, which includes the agents that targeted tea party groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Grant joined the IRS in 2005 and took over as acting commissioner of the tax exempt and government entities division in December 2010.
He was just named the permanent commissioner May 8.
When asked whether Grant was pressured to leave, IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge said Grant had more than 31 years of federal service and it was his personal decision to leave.
Before he joined the IRS, Grant was a top official at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Grant’s predecessor at the IRS was Sarah Hall Ingram, who is now director of the agency’s Affordable Care Act Office.
Ingram was in charge of the tax exempt division when IRS agents first started targeting conservative groups.
The IRS said Ingram was assigned to help the agency implement the health care law in December 2010, about six months before an inspector general’s report said her subordinate, the director of exempt organizations, learned about the targeting.
Still, the fact that she was in charge of the division when the targeting first started is sure to give Republicans fodder in their fight against Obama’s health care law.
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