What a Jolt today: The National Security Agency collects every Verizon customer’s phone records; a new poll indicates Obamacare has never been less popular; a look at the new ABC Family series, “The Fosters”; and then these developments in the IRS scandal . . .
IRS: Okay, We’ll Stop Taking Free Food When Asking About the Content of Your Prayers
Turn the Internal Revenue Service into a partisan cudgel, and nobody blinks. But man, if you take free food, you’re toast. And you can’t even accept that toast, apparently.
Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel is placing two officials — including a top staffer implementing the health care law — on administrative leave for violating government ethics rules at a 2010 conference.
“When I came to IRS, part of my job was to hold people accountable,” Werfel said in a statement Wednesday. “There was clearly inappropriate behavior in this situation and immediate action is needed.”
Werfel didn’t specify which staff members he disciplined but congressional sources tell POLITICO one official is Fred Schindler, the director of implementation oversight at the IRS Affordable Care Act office. The other is Donald Toda, a California-based employee.
The staffers received $1,100 in free food and other items at the conference, the sources said.
$1,100 in free food? Just how much did these two guys eat? What, did they order the surf and turf and say, ‘man, this is so good, let’s get a dozen more for the road?’
Well, at least these two guys are . . . wait a minute. “Suspended employees are often paid during suspension while supervisors decide how to proceed.”
You’re going to take this paid vacation indefinitely, buster!
In other IRS news, courtesy our friends at the Franklin Center:
Recent press reports focused on the 157 visits to the White House by former IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman, but there has been little scrutiny of the 165 White House visits by the IRS ‘Obamacare’ official Sarah Hall Ingram.
According to White House visitor data, Shulman never attended any of Ingram’s meetings, and Ingram never attended a White House meeting with Shulman.
All of Ingram’s165 meetings were with White House staff, while only 151 of Shulman’s visits were with staff. Shulman attended six meetings with President Barack Obama.
Ingram attended 62 White House meetings in 2011, 90 in 2012 and 13 this year (though February).
But wait, there’s more on the IRS front today!
Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010.
Transcripts of the interviews, viewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, appear to contradict earlier statements by top IRS officials, who have blamed lower-level workers in Cincinnati.
Elizabeth Hofacre said her office in Cincinnati sought help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she started getting the tea-party cases in April 2010. Ms. Hofacre said Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, closely oversaw her work and suggested some of the questions asked applicants.