The truth came out at last week’s congressional hearings as the IRS scandal continues to emerge. People (listen here) are telling real stories about their experiences. It’s all quite unsettling, from efforts to intimidate donors and illegally releasing tax returns, to pressuring pro-life groups not to protest outside of Planned Parenthood organizations, to demanding to know about the prayer activities of citizens.
For more than 18 months during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns, IRS agents in Cincinnati singled out tea party and other conservative groups for additional scrutiny when they sought tax-exempt status. These activities delayed applications for about two years, making it difficult for many of the groups to raise money. The Justice Department has been undergoing a full criminal investigation into the scandal.
In addition to the current controversy, a recent report by J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration was scheduled to be released last Tuesday. This report says the IRS spent $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012. The conference spending included $4 million for an August 2010 gathering in Anaheim, Calif., for which the agency did not negotiate lower room rates, even though that is standard government practice.
Instead, some of the 2,600 attendees received benefits, including baseball tickets and stays in presidential suites that normally cost $1,500 to $3,500 a night. Additionally, 15 outside speakers were paid a total of $135,000 in fees, with one paid $17,000 to talk about “leadership through art,” the committee said.
This is only the beginning of revelations from the IRS’s abuse of power to the waste of taxpayer dollars on frivolous conferences. The IRS has some explaining to do…
We will continue to monitor the story and keep you updated as more information is released.