The article, “I.R.S. Spent $4.1 Million on a Single Conference, Audit Finds,” raises some potentially troubling issues. Please keep in mind that the I.R.S. Audit concerning the lavish spending at the I.R.S. was just released and bears a date of May 31, 2013 on its front cover. You can find a copy of the report at T.I.G.T.A.’s* website here. This is the report that the New York Times article was referencing.
The paragraph that stood out to me is as follows: “But the audit also shows that such expenditures fell sharply when the Obama White House clamped down on travel and conferences as budgets tightened and a scandal erupted over how much the General Services Administration had spent on conferences. I.R.S. spending on such meetings fell to $4.8 million in the 2012 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, from $37.5 million in fiscal 2010.”
This sounds innocuous enough on its own. The problem is that people have memories and statements are not made in isolation. The administrations response to the I.R.S. targeting scandal was noticeably different. This article in the Blaze, by Jason Howerton, lays out the White House’s initial response to the I.R.S. targeting scandal. When the I.R.S. scandal concerning the targeting of conservative groups first came to light the White House Press Secretary, among other administration officials, declared that there is a “cardinal” rule for these types of situations. The Blaze article stated,“”[t]hese kinds of independent investigations need to be independent, there should be no intervention by a White House, and of course there was not in this case,” he said, later adding that the White House chose to “wait appropriately” instead of taking action.” (Quoting Jay Carney.)
There can be no dispute, if the New York Times article is true, that the administration quickly acted to quash wrongdoing in the I.R.S. spending scandal years before the investigation by T.I.G.T.A. was completed. In the I.R.S. conservative targeting scandal the administration told the general public that the “cardinal” rule is to do absolutely nothing until the T.I.G.T.A. investigation is completed.
It seems to me that the actions by the White House in response to the I.R.S. spending scandal clearly violated the “cardinal” rule as espoused by Jay Carney. This could suggest many things. Jay Carney should be asked to comment on the contradictions.
*T.I.G.T.A. stands for the United States Treasury General for Tax Administration. They are the federal watchdog agency for the I.R.S. Here is their website.