One thing’s certain about the 200-plus IRS employee conferences that the Treasury Department’s inspector general says cost taxpayers an outrageous $50 million between 2010 and 2012: Attendees surely learned nothing about the First Amendment or fairly scrutinizing conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee highlights an August 2010 event in Anaheim, Calif., for which outside event planners appallingly arranged presidential suites costing $1,500 to $3,500 nightly for IRS employees instead of negotiating lower rates. And for which the spendthrift IRS paid 15 outside speakers $135,000, with one getting $17,000 for discussing “leadership through art.”
Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel dismisses this squander-fest as “an unfortunate vestige from a prior era,” saying “a conference like this would not take place today.” But who can accept at face value that statement from the same agency that tried to get away with playing politics regarding tax exemptions for conservative groups?
Administrative abuses and profligate waste are products of above-the-law IRS arrogance and overreach. Americans deserve the fullest possible account of all ways this agency has run amok.
More congressional hearings will shed further light. But the sooner the special prosecutor needed to fully fumigate the agency is in place, the better — for both taxpayers’ bottom lines and their constitutional rights.