Sources: Two IRS staffers placed on leave over free food, gifts
By Bernie Becker - 06/05/13 03:12 PM ET
A pair of IRS officials – including a senior staffer implementing the Democratic healthcare law – has been placed on administrative leave for accepting hundreds of dollars in free food and gifts at an agency conference, according to congressional sources.
In all, the officials — one identified as Fred Schindler by a source and a second unidentified staffer, who both work on implementation of the Affordable Care Act — received over $1,100 in free food and other gifts at a 2010 California conference that was the centerpiece of a recent Treasury audit, according to information given to congressional investigators.
The Treasury audit, released Tuesday, found that the 2010 conference in Anaheim cost the IRS over $4 million. The House Oversight Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the audit on Thursday.
The news comes as the IRS remains under scrutiny for its targeting of Tea Party and other conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status.
Schindler is the deputy to Sarah Hall Ingram, who has also come under scrutiny in recent weeks, after having previously served in the division overseeing tax-exempt applications.
The Treasury audit found that, in all, the IRS spent close to $50 million between 2010 and 2012 on conferences. A keynote speaker at the Anaheim conference, who was paid $17,000, painted portraits of Michael Jordan and other famous figures.
The IRS also produced videos – including a spoof of "Star Trek" and one featuring staffers line dancing – for the Anaheim conference, which was held for the division overseeing small businesses and the self-employed.
Faris Fink, a commissioner in the small business division and the IRS official who played "Spock" in the spoof, is scheduled to testify on Thursday, as is the new IRS acting commissioner, Danny Werfel.