Inspector General: IRS credit cards used for booze and porn

posted at 9:21 pm on June 25, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

See? They needed your money for a good cause, Tea Partiers.

WASHINGTON — Poor oversight by the Internal Revenue Service allowed workers to use agency credit cards to buy wine for an expensive luncheon, dorky swag for managers’ meetings and, for one employee, romance novels and diet pills, an agency watchdog said Tuesday.

Two IRS credit cards were used to buy online pornography, though the employees said the cards were stolen. One of the workers reported five agency credit cards lost or stolen.

IRS employees used agency credit cards to make more than 273,000 purchases totaling nearly $108 million in 2010 and 2011, according to the report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

The vast majority of those purchases were legitimate, the report said. However, the report said the IRS has inadequate controls to prevent inappropriate purchases.

They were stolen. That’s the ticket! Aww, yeah:

Among other “improper” purchases identified by the inspector general:

– $3,152 to rent a popcorn machine and to buy prizes for an employee event, including bandanas, stuffed animals, sunglasses and stovepipe hats.

– $418 for novelty decorations and swag at managers’ meetings, including kazoos, bathtub toys and “Thomas the Tank Engine” wristbands.

– $119 for Nerf footballs that were never used and were found stored in a filing cabinet.

Liberals scoff that waste/fraud/abuse is a nothingburger because it’s such a small percentage of the overall budget that fixing all of it wouldn’t solve our long-term problems. First, that’s an indictment of the ridiculous size of the entire budget, and second, there’s something perverse about using the sheer size of the giant, wasteful budget you’ve created to excuse away the level of waste and fraud it allows. And, third, how many Americans do you think are spending a couple grand for a popcorn machine in bad economic times—or any times for that matter? I’m sure many of them would like to, but most of them don’t have thousands to drop on movie-theater quality popcorn while the people in charge of taking their hard-earned money from them are partying it up with said money. It’s amazing what we can do when we pool resources, huh? Government is just a word for things we do together. Like, buy popcorn machines with everyone’s money.

Also, this:

Only the government.

Ron Fournier at National Journal called for a special prosecutor in the IRS targeting scandal today, suggesting not all the Beltway press is content to move on from the deep, deep problems at this government agency.

The House Oversight Committee may bring Lois Lerner back to the witness table soon:

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will vote this week on whether suspended IRS employee Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights last month during a hearing on the agency’s tea party targeting scandal.

The vote, which will take place on Friday at 9 a.m., will determine whether the panel can haul Lerner, who led the IRS tax exempt division that singled out conservative groups, back to the panel for more questions.

And, yes, she’s still on paid vacation. Does she get taxpayer-funded porn with that?

Several lawmakers since then have told POLITICO that they expect she’d plead the Fifth again if she’s brought back to the committee.

Daniel Werfel, the new leader of the IRS installed in the wake of the scandal, asked Lerner to resign last month. When she refused, he placed her on administrative leave.

Perhaps most galling about this immigration effort is that it’s time and bandwidth and precious spotlight spent on an issue precious few Americans believe is the most pressing we face. Meanwhile, a once-in-a-lifetime-style shot at broader tax reform and a chance to deliver many Americans from the capriciousness of the likes of Lerner was staring you right in the face. If we’re going to try our hand at major legislation while Democrats lead the Senate, why not that instead? Heckuva job.

Photo credit for front-page photo to greencolander on Flickr Creative Commons.


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Comments

Is anyone surprised?

I”m not.

joekenha on June 25, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Government is just a word for things we do together. Like, buy popcorn machines with everyone’s money.

MKH on fiyah tonite!
LOLZ

ted c on June 25, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Well, at least they spent it on something useful.

Armin Tamzarian on June 25, 2013 at 9:25 PM

wait a sec…..if the gubberment starts buying popcorn….like they is buyin’ ammo….then we r screw-ed..

munch it while you got it folks.

ted c on June 25, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Oh and O/T:

The Obama-loving Republican lost the race for Kerry’s old seat. Excuse me while I shed a tear.

joekenha on June 25, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Not surprised here. Won’t change either. It’s the culture. We get what we deserve.

Has anyone been put in jail yet from the IRS?

If I rob a bank, or violate someone’s civil rights on that scale, can I just be put on permanent vacation, funded by the taxpayers?

rightside on June 25, 2013 at 9:28 PM

Government is just a word for things we do together

I like how you think, MKH!
RT@BillyJeffClinton

ted c on June 25, 2013 at 9:28 PM

NO ONE connected with any of the “scandals” has been fired.

THAT’S a scandal in and of itself.

UnderstandingisPower on June 25, 2013 at 9:28 PM

What? Porn but no booze?

GarandFan on June 25, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Liberal answer= You can’t link this to Obama.

newportmike on June 25, 2013 at 9:32 PM

On an unrelated note… no Gomez thread aside from the one put out early this morning?

Stoic Patriot on June 25, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Liberals scoff that waste/fraud/abuse is a nothingburger because it’s such a small percentage of the overall budget that fixing all of it wouldn’t solve our long-term problems.

Wasting a small percentage of $3.7 trillion is a good gig if you can get it.

Curtiss on June 25, 2013 at 9:37 PM

One of the workers reported five agency credit cards lost or stolen.

…probably got promoted…each time!

KOOLAID2 on June 25, 2013 at 9:39 PM

On an unrelated note… no Gomez thread aside from the one put out early this morning?

Stoic Patriot on June 25, 2013 at 9:33 PM

I thought about doing one, but y’all haven’t been super-interested in Gomez, Markey was likely to win, and it kinda unfolded predictably rather quickly. Thought it could wait for tomorrow for Ed’s expert run-down. It wasn’t a wide margin, which is interesting, but it’ll take a bit to know just what it was and whether it’s significant. Certainly not as wide as Ds would like to see it in Massachusetts.

Mary Katharine Ham on June 25, 2013 at 9:40 PM

We need someone other than the IG and Danny Werfel investigating this fiasco…

d1carter on June 25, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Don’t H8, guys. It’s stressful keeping track of you tea people.

I mean, my chakra must be released!

BacaDog on June 25, 2013 at 9:43 PM

Why do we still have an IRS…?

Seven Percent Solution on June 25, 2013 at 9:48 PM

I don’t know what you homophobes are so concerned about, the IRS has oversight from Congress!

Dumb racists.

Bishop on June 25, 2013 at 9:54 PM

So, what you’re saying, is that these employees spent more money on their illicit loot than all the Tea Party groups they investigated bring in per year… combined?

With this going on why would anyone worry about Tea Parties when it is the government that is out of control and threatening people?

ajacksonian on June 25, 2013 at 9:56 PM

What? Porn but no booze?

GarandFan on June 25, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Like cake without frosting, no?

massrighty on June 25, 2013 at 9:56 PM

I thought about doing one, but y’all haven’t been super-interested in Gomez, Markey was likely to win, and it kinda unfolded predictably rather quickly. Thought it could wait for tomorrow for Ed’s expert run-down. It wasn’t a wide margin, which is interesting, but it’ll take a bit to know just what it was and whether it’s significant. Certainly not as wide as Ds would like to see it in Massachusetts.

Mary Katharine Ham on June 25, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Low turnout on both sides; Dems bored/felt entitled to the win. R’s not energized by a lukewarm RINO candidate. That’s two races in MA where the “moderate” couldn’t win.

Maybe, just maybe, a more conservative candidate might be tried….

massrighty on June 25, 2013 at 9:59 PM

FIRE SOME PEOPLE ALREADY!!

Pretty Please with Cherries and Whipped Cream on top! (:

Hiya NSA!! How you guys and gals doin’ eh?

Scrumpy on June 25, 2013 at 10:03 PM

I’m just not in the mood to joke about these scandals anymore. They’re all sickening to me. IRS employees would chew me up and spit me out for misusing business credit cards. Fire these people forever. If you are fired from one government position you become intelligible for all others.

jaywemm on June 25, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Don’t worry, guys!

Now that we’re cutting 10 combat brigades out of the Army, and getting rid of 80,000 troops, we can afford things like this.
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57590979/army-to-cut-brigades-at-10-u.s-bases/

Hell. Who works harder than those selfless toilers at the IRS? They deserve a little fun.

Lighten up on those poor worker bees.

Solaratov on June 25, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Oh. I forgot……………..

//sarc//

Solaratov on June 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Why do we still have an IRS…?

Seven Percent Solution on June 25, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Because a “benevolent police state” needs goose steppers.

Solaratov on June 25, 2013 at 10:13 PM

And yet this is a SQUIRREL! It distracts from the various abridgement of our rights to campaign as a political force, an abuse which should be sufficient to send the perps to jail for life and to dissolve the entire agency.

njcommuter on June 25, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Daniel Werfel, the new leader of the IRS installed in the wake of the scandal, asked Lerner to resign last month. When she refused, he placed her on administrative leave.

OK Danny, she won’t resign – then put her lying @ss to work – in BF Egypt. Surely there must be an office or department within the IRS that noooobody wants to work in… well that place would be just perfect for Ms. Lerner. But to let her collect a paycheck for doing nothing? That’s just plain wrong.

Hill60 on June 25, 2013 at 10:16 PM

This ruling will also be forgotten by everybody tomorrow morning if SCOTUS finds dome sort of secret right buried in Grant’s tomb, inside the never publicly published Article 69 of the Constitution, to same-sex marriage.

NotCoach on June 25, 2013 at 10:35 PM

NotCoach on June 25, 2013 at 10:35 PM

Wrong thread.

NotCoach on June 25, 2013 at 10:37 PM

I know what they’re going to do next: Take away the credit cards and add layers of paperwork and oversight on the few that are left. That’s a real shame, because government credit cards are a real efficient way to purchase what government offices need, when they need it and when the right item is available. Without them you have to go through the government purchasing department which slows down the orders, often messes them up, frequently gets a worse price than the employee can, and then charges your department a percentage of the purchase to pay for their “services”. There’s also large opportunity for graft as vendors pay kick-backs to get on the purchasing department’s approved list.

There’s going to be a problem either way you do it, too bad we can’t expect government employees to simply be honest and buy their own stuff out of their generous government paycheck.

Socratease on June 25, 2013 at 10:59 PM

Don’t H8, guys. It’s stressful keeping track of you tea people.

I mean, my chakra must be released!

BacaDog on June 25, 2013 at 9:43 PM

There’s a Weiner thread. You can go there and release your chakra con mucho gusto!

Oldnuke on June 25, 2013 at 11:05 PM

IRS credit cards used for booze and porn

You know Lois Lerner is aroused when she drops her ‘REJECTION’ stamp while denying a tea Party application.

MaiDee on June 25, 2013 at 11:09 PM

I heard someone described as looking like Han Solo’s co-pilot made a killing on lobster purchases signing her name only as “Awnt Estha.”

viking01 on June 25, 2013 at 11:48 PM

Liberals scoff that waste/fraud/abuse is a nothingburger because it’s such a small percentage of the overall budget that fixing all of it wouldn’t solve our long-term problems. First, that’s an indictment of the ridiculous size of the entire budget, and second, there’s something perverse about using the sheer size of the giant, wasteful budget you’ve created to excuse away the level of waste and fraud it allows. And, third, how many Americans do you think are spending a couple grand for a popcorn machine in bad economic times—or any times for that matter? I’m sure many of them would like to, but most of them don’t have thousands to drop on movie-theater quality popcorn while the people in charge of taking their hard-earned money from them are partying it up with said money. It’s amazing what we can do when we pool resources, huh? Government is just a word for things we do together. Like, buy popcorn machines with everyone’s money.

Very well said.

The Federal government’s indifference to this goes waaaay back through the decades and under the auspices of BOTH parties.

Stuff like this is purely theft.

As for the stuff in Ms. Ham’s article about legitimate spending, I would maintain even that would be debatable. Just because it’s authorized and sounds official doesn’t mean it’s not waste and thievery…being sanctioned by politicians and laws doesn’t make it right.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 26, 2013 at 1:02 AM

I appear to have missed my true calling!

That what color is your parachute thing was way off the mark.

Sherman1864 on June 26, 2013 at 1:17 AM

Work harder. Your ‘civil servants’ need more bennies.

Schadenfreude on June 26, 2013 at 1:52 AM

Why do we still have an IRS…?

Seven Percent Solution on June 25, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Because the Rs are stupid.

Schadenfreude on June 26, 2013 at 1:53 AM

Why do we still have an IRS…?

Seven Percent Solution on June 25, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Because the Rs are stupid.

Schadenfreude on June 26, 2013 at 1:53 AM

Some of us believe they are, like Obama, quite intelligent and smart enough to know that appearing helpless and weak allows them to continue their co-ruling status, and continue to stay rich and powerful.

It’s been a successful game on their part for some years now.

Why else would they be actively fighting their base–the tea party–using Hit man Rove, and just “accidently” having a gang of 8 to do their desired dirty work for them, defecting voter anger to a few?

Don L on June 26, 2013 at 5:52 AM

The cards were stolen and progressive groups were targeted too. Got it.

forest on June 26, 2013 at 7:05 AM

“nice work if you can get it”.

acyl72 on June 26, 2013 at 7:14 AM

Maybe’s he’s just a cheapskate, or perhaps he’s like a lot of corrupt politicians who believe that public resources are his to do with as he pleases.
– Ed

 
This is a little over the top, ED.
Say what you will about Bloomberg – but he spend his own money plenty.
 
verbaluce on June 25, 2013 at 10:07 AM

rogerb on June 26, 2013 at 7:19 AM

You know there is oversight on things like this and it does have consequences.

I was involved in an experiment to determine the efficacy of a functional fitness program compared to a regular physical fitness plan. We decided there was a requirement to rapidly identify the data collectors amongst the two battalions of Marines participating. So, as part of the plan we ordered distinctive T-shirts for the data collectors. This was approved by the local Financial Office and we went forward with the experiment distributing the T-Shirts to Marine data collectors and letting them retain the shirts afterwards.

Subsequent to the experiment the Regional Contracting Office determined that spending money on T-Shirts was an unauthorized expense (whether Marines retained them or not) and we should have figured out another way to designate data collectors. They ruled that the cost of the shirts would be the responsibility of the Head of the local financial office since he made the call that the expense was authorized. We didn’t think that was fair so three of us GS guys split the bill and wrote out checks to the government for the total cost of the shirts. Bottom line is the government can go after individuals for what they determine are unauthorized expenses.

SoonerMarine on June 26, 2013 at 8:28 AM

The point that the government is so bloated that these sorts of things can happen is a good one for the GOP to hammer away to the American public for the next two years.

Therefore, it won’t happen. Maybe the GOP can go with, “Join the GOP, where good ideas come to die!”

princetrumpet on June 26, 2013 at 9:15 AM

I can just imagine the next audit by an IRS agent, how will the person audited keep a straight face when the IRS agent asks for backup and if they have all the receipts?

“Were those receipts used for business expenses?”, uhhhhh “Yes, I bought a popcorn machine to watch the IRS proceedings with…”

right2bright on June 26, 2013 at 10:05 AM