Two weeks ago, it was leaked to the press that the IRS had discovered “two rogue agents” who were responsible for targeting conservative groups.
Now the IRS told Congress that they are looking at 88 employees who may have documents relevant to the investigation.
The IRS asked these employees to preserve all the “responsive documents” on their computers, and it has been in the process of collecting it all to comply with congressional requests for information. The IRS missed its May 21st deadline to turn over documents to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The same source said the IRS argues it missed its deadline because of the scope of documents it is collecting.
The request for documents was a bipartisan one, but Republicans are privately preparing to seize on the fact that if nearly 90 IRS employees may have been somehow involved in this targeting, it is evidence that the controversy extends well beyond the mistakes by a few low level employees.
However, with no documents in hand, there is no way to know how many of the employees being asked to preserve documents were truly involved in the activity in question. The IRS, in a statement to CNN, said the large number reflects its effort to ensure they are as responsive as possible to the Congressional requests.
“The IRS and Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel are moving aggressively and taking the data requests very seriously. As a precautionary measure, the IRS is casting a wide net to capture any potentially related materials. Our goal is to be exceedingly thorough during this process to ensure we identify any and all pertinent records,” the IRS statement said. “The IRS has received numerous congressional requests involving an extensive set of questions and calls for data. Responding to these requests is a top priority for us. We have been in contact with committee staff, and we continue to provide them updates as we diligently work through these requests.”
The fact that the story keeps expanding, drawing in more people and higher-ups at the agency, shows that despite some wishful thinking on the part of the left, this scandal has not bottomed out yet — not by a long shot.
What’s more, the more information that comes out, the more it becomes obvious that the IRS hasn’t been telling the truth about what exactly they were doing to conservative groups and individuals. What began as an “innocent mistake” by a couple of “rogue employees” in the Cincinnati office has mushroomed into a far more sinister and possibly criminal conspiracy against the president’s — and the Democratic Party’s — political enemies.
The IRS will get something of a reprieve this week when congressional focus shifts from the targeting program to the agency’s outrageous waste of taxpayer money. Another IG report, this one titled “Collected and Wasted: The IRS Spending Culture and Conference Abuses,” will detail an agency culture that overspends on conferences — including the production of several frivolous videos.
The video of the IRS workers practicing their dance moves, which lasts just under three minutes, comes weeks after it was revealed that agency workers produced two other videos parodying the “Star Trek” and “Gilligan’s Island” TV shows.
All three videos were given to Congress on Friday in response to a request issued by Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, after learning that the videos were recorded at IRS offices in New Carrollton, Md., outside Washington, D.C.
The latest recording cost about $1,600 and was produced to be shown at the end of a 2010 training and leadership conference held in Anaheim, Calif., said IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge. At a time when most government agencies are coping with across-the-board spending cuts by furloughing workers and finding other savings, that conference has become the target of a report a Treasury inspector general plans to release next week.
The report, called “Collected and Wasted: The IRS Spending Culture and Conference Abuses,” will be the subject of a hearing Thursday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, that panel said Friday.
A distraction? I’m sure the GOP will work to keep the media’s eye on the real ball — the targeting program. In the meantime, the culture of waste and abuse at the IRS will be aired and contribute to the already embattled mind set of IRS employees.