We already knew last night that he was planning to leave, rendering O’s big IRS scalp-taking a joke, but what we didn’t know for sure was whether the White House was aware that Miller was inching towards the exit.
Answer: Yep, they were. His term is actually limited by statute.
Miller, a 25-year career IRS employee, was appointed acting commissioner on November 9, 2012. According to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, his 210-day term would have set his last day in that post as June 8.
This does not mean that Miller is not paying a price. His intention had been to go back to his job as Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, a position that put him in charge of the tax exempt unit at the center of a scandal over targeting conservative groups.
This statute makes it clear Miller could not remain acting IRS commissioner unless he was proactively reappointed as acting commissioner for another 210 days, or Obama nominated a permanent commissioner allowing Miller to remain in the job until that person was confirmed.
I’m not sure why ABC thinks Miller’s resignation means he’ll be “paying a price.” With 25 years of experience, he’s primed for some sort of nonprofit lobbying job where, no doubt, he’ll make much, much more than he does now. And that’s assuming that he’s not quietly rehired by the IRS at some point once the current storm has blown over. Remember, four State Department officials ostensibly were punished after the Benghazi attack last year by being placed on leave, only to land at other jobs at State. Just yesterday, The Cable quoted a source as saying Susan Rice, despite having been too radioactive to pass Senate scrutiny for secretary of state, “definitely” is in line to replace Tom Donilon as Obama’s next National Security Advisor. They’ll find room for Miller somewhere once it’s kinda sorta acceptable again for them to do so. One footnote, though: I’ve seen a bunch of people on Twitter treating Miller as a fall guy in all this because his term as acting commissioner didn’t start until last November, long after the harassment of tea-party groups began. That’s fine, but Miller found out last May, when he was a deputy commissioner, what had been going on and he said nothing. Don’t cry too hard for him.
Anyway, and needless to say, this not-so-minor detail about Miller’s imminent departure was conveniently omitted from Obama’s big house-cleaning press conference last night. Oh, and he emphasized today that he knew nothing about the IG’s report on the IRS’s anti-conservative practices, which isn’t quite the same as saying that he knew nothing of the practices themselves. Be on the lookout for lawyerly precision.
Update: I take it we’ll find out tomorrow that this guy has been planning to retire for six months.
An internal IRS memo says Joseph Grant, commissioner of the agency’s tax exempt and government entities division, will retire June 3. Grant joins Steven Miller, who was forced to resign as acting IRS commissioner on Wednesday.
As part of his duties, Grant oversaw the IRS division that targeted tea party groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Grant wasn’t the commissioner of the tax-exempt division, he was the acting commissioner, just as Miller was the acting commissioner of the entire agency. Does that mean he’s term-limited too and was on his way out anyway?
Update: You can’t be serious.
Joseph Grant, retiring IRS official, was promoted to commissioner of the tax-exempt division just 8 days ago
— Lauren French (@laurennfrench) May 16, 2013
Was he promoted from acting commissioner to commissioner, or from some lower rank to acting commissioner? I can’t find any personnel announcement online. The distinction is important, as one suggests this is a legit scalp-taking and the other suggests it’s a farce. If he was installed as permanent commissioner only to “retire” now, then obviously he was pushed out against his wishes. If he was merely promoted to acting commissioner, then it looks like he was elevated for the purpose of taking the fall. If anyone has a link, please send it.