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Obama to nominate restructuring specialist to head IRS

By Tom Cohen, CNN
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Thu August 1, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • John Koskinen is a veteran of both public service and the private sector
  • Koskinen, 74, headed Freddie Mac and served in the Clinton administration
  • If confirmed by the Senate, he succeed acting IRS head Daniel Werfel
  • Werfel was appointed in May amid the IRS targeting controversy

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he will nominate John Koskinen, a veteran of both public service and the private sector, to take over the embattled Internal Revenue Service.

A blog post on the White House website described Koskinen, who recently turned 74, as "a retired corporate restructuring expert" who would become commissioner of the IRS upon confirmation by the Senate.

The tax collection agency of 90,000 employees currently is headed by a temporary leader, Daniel Werfel, who was appointed by Obama in May in the aftermath of revelations that some groups seeking tax-exempt status were targeted for extra scrutiny based on political labels such as "tea party."

Republicans have claimed the targeting amounts to political attacks on government enemies, but investigators have so far found no evidence of political motivation or involvement from outside the IRS.

If confirmed, Koskinen will face continuing investigation of the targeting by Justice Department, the Treasury inspector general's office and House Republicans, as well as GOP efforts to undermine Obama's health care law which will be administered in large part by the IRS.

"John is an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform," Obama said in a statement, adding that "every part of our government must operate with absolute integrity and that is especially true for the IRS. I am confident that John will do whatever it takes to restore the public's trust in the agency."

Koskinen previously was acting chief executive officer of Freddie Mac, the federal mortgage agency, and was a deputy mayor of Washington D.C. as well as deputy director of management at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget after a business career with the Palmieri Co.

In the Clinton administration, he was deputy director for management of the budget office and then oversaw efforts to manage the millennium conversion that occurred at the end of the year 2000.

He also has been a major figure in U.S. soccer, serving as vice chairman of the American Professional Soccer League and president of the United States Soccer Foundation.

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