Internal Revenue Service spent about $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012, according to a report by the Treasury Department.
The chairman of the House Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif also released excerpts of congressional investigators’ interviews held with IRS employees in Cincinnati. The chairman also indicated that the interviews highlighted the IRS employees were directed by Washington to subject tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status to tough scrutiny. However the excerpts provided no direct evidence that Washington had ordered such a screening.
The report by the Treasury Department is scheduled to be released Tuesday. However the department has already issued a statement that it has since taken ‘aggressive and dramatic action’ to control conference spending.
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The report highlights the conference spending by IRS included $4 million for a gathering held in August 2010 in Anaheim, Calif., for which the agency didn’t negotiate lower room rates, though that is the standard norm followed by government conferences.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee highlighted some of the 2,600 attendees received various benefits that includes baseball tickets and stays in presidential suites that would normally cost anywhere between $1,500 and $3,500 per night. Besides 15 external speakers were engaged and paid a total fee of $135,000, with one speaker alone paid $17,000 to give a talk on the topic ‘leadership through art’.
The new acting commissioner, Danny Werfei, however criticized the Anaheim meeting expressing many of the expenses incurred with the conference were inappropriate and should not have occurred.
IRS Employees’ Interviews:
As regards reports of targeting conservative groups, the committee released excerpts of interviews held with two IRS employees. One of the IRS employees revealed that they were told by a supervisor that the need to collect the reports came from Washington.
The chairman of the House Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, in Sunday CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ program said employees disclosures conflicted with White House comments that have referred to misconduct by IRS workers in Cincinnati.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would hear the latest report on IRS conferences on Thursday.
The new acting commissioner, Danny Werfei is scheduled to make his first congressional appearance as acting commissioner Monday when he appears before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.