Friday, January 19, 2018
Politics

Newly released IRS video shows employees dancing

WASHINGTON — In the latest black eye for the Internal Revenue Service, the agency provided Congress on Friday with another video featuring its employees, this one showing about a dozen of them line dancing on a stage.

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.

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.

The IRS is also under fire by lawmakers and the Obama administration for targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status for tough scrutiny between 2010 and 2012. That screening, revealed May 10, has led President Barack Obama to replace the agency's acting chief, and two other top officials have also stepped aside.

All three videos were provided in response to a request by a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La.

"The outrage toward the IRS is only growing stronger," said Boustany, who chairs the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. "Clearly this is an agency where abuse and waste is the norm and not the exception."

In a written statement, the IRS said the video was "unacceptable and an inappropriate use of government funds." It said the agency has new policies in place "to ensure that taxpayer funds are being used appropriately."

Eldridge said the dance video was recorded at IRS offices in New Carrollton, Md., outside Washington, D.C.

In the video, various workers comment as colleagues practice their dancing in the background to music that sounds like Cupid Shuffle, a 2007 hit by the performer Cupid. In the version obtained by the Associated Press, IRS employees' names have been erased.

At one point, one woman says, "And I thought doing the Star Trek video was humiliating."

That Star Trek video was produced for the same 2010 conference. The agency called the Star Trek video, which lasted six minutes and featured employees dressed as characters from the popular show, a mistake.

In a separate statement, Danny Werfel, the IRS' new acting commissioner, called the 2010 conference "an unfortunate vestige from a prior era."

He added, "While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred."

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