By Dara Sharif
And so the heads have begun to roll.
Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller is out of a job, President Obama announced, as his administration attempts to insulate itself from the outcry over the agency’s targeting of conservative nonprofit groups.
Miller is the first casualty of a scandal that began late last week when the IRS announced that personnel had singled out conservative groups for additional questioning regarding their tax-exempt status.
“It’s inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it,” Obama said Wednesday night in announcing Miller’s departure. “It’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence.”
Democratic operatives had said that if the President hoped to safeguard his second-term agenda, he would need to be seen as getting a firm handle on this issue.
Miller indicated, in an internal message to IRS employees, that circumstances made his departure necessary, according to The New York Times.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for the IRS, given the events of the past few days, and there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation’s tax agency,” Miller wrote. “I believe the service will benefit from having a new acting commissioner.”
On Friday, the President appointed Office of Management and Budget official Danny Werfel to serve as Acting Commissioner. The agency has not had a permanent commissioner since the term of Douglas Shulman, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ended in November.
IRS personnel could also face criminal charges. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder told congressional lawmakers that the Justice Department has launched an investigation.
The issue of leaders publicly confronting scandals is particularly relevant when corporations face discrimination lawsuits or other diversity-related scandals.
The CEOs we’ve interviewed and highlighted emphasize transparency, values, and clear decision-making. Even in the face of negative press, CEOs such as André Wyss of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (No. 6 in the DiversityInc Top 50), John Stumpf of Wells Fargo (No. 25), John Lechleiter of Eli Lilly and Company (No. 35), John Bryant of Kellogg Company (No. 32), Steve Howe of Ernst & Young (No. 4) and George Chavel of Sodexo (No. 1) embody these traits.