IRS staffer suspended for Obama cheerleading

 

An IRS employee has been slapped with a 100-day suspension for exhorting taxpayers seeking assistance to vote for President Obama.

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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said that the employee “repeatedly urged” those calling the IRS’s help lines in 2012 to back the president “by delivering a chant based on the spelling of the employee’s last name.”

That, the counsel’s office said, amounted to a violation of the Hatch Act, which limits the amount of political activity that practically all executive branch employees can engage in both on and off the job.

In accepting the 100-day suspension, “the IRS employee acknowledged that he had used his authority and influence as an IRS customer service representative for a political purpose and did so while at work,” the Office of Special Counsel said in a statement.

The suspension marks the latest headache for the IRS, which still faces pressures from a wide range of quarters for its improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups.

A federal judge on Thursday demanded that the agency declare under oath how some of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails went missing.

Those missing emails have also reenergized the congressional investigations into the Internal Revenue Service. House Republicans released new documents on Wednesday in which Lerner cautioned IRS employees to be careful about what they wrote in emails because of potential congressional interest.

Republicans also latched on to the Hatch Act violation to make the case that the IRS was an agency run amok.

“This latest development exposes a culture that tolerates or even encourages politically motivated activities, contrary to the agency’s mission and purpose,” said Rep. Charles Boustany Jr.(La.), one of the key House Republicans investigating the IRS’s treatment of Tea Party groups. 

“If the IRS wishes to preserve what little credibility it has with the American people, they will immediately terminate this employee and conduct a thorough internal review into this matter.”