The inspector general's report on the Internal Revenue Service reveals "a culture of crazy" at the agency, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tells Newsmax TV.
"You look at some of these expenditures they had on video," the first-term Republican tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "'Star Trek' spoofs and 'Gilligan's Island' spoofs and line dancing -- and then these conferences they held where they hired a painter to come in and do paintings for the group.
"It's just outrageous what they've done with taxpayer dollars,” Rubio adds. "This is one of the most important agencies in the American government, which is required to apply our tax code and is now going to be on the front lines of applying Obamacare.
"If the Democrats want to be the defenders of that agency, they have the right to do that, but they'll have to answer to the American people. What we need here is full disclosure -- an open, transparent investigation like the type the House is doing, potentially an individual counsel, to look at exactly what happened here and learn once and for all what happened here.
"Maybe it was incompetence, and if it was, some people should be fired, but maybe it was more than that," Rubio says. "We just need to find out, and I hope the White House, instead of stonewalling on this, will be cooperative and be open on it."
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Released on Tuesday, the Treasury Department inspector general's report disclosed that the IRS spent $49 million on 225 employee conferences over three years -- including an August 2010 session in Anaheim, Calif., for about 2,600 workers that cost $4.1 million.
In Anaheim, employees watched two training videos starring division employees that cost at least $60,000 to produce. One of the videos parodied the "Star Trek" TV show.
One keynote speaker was a painter who was paid $17,000 to produce portraits of Albert Einstein, Michael Jordan, Bono, President Abraham Lincoln, and the Statue of Liberty.
In addition, an IRS official stayed five nights in a hotel room that regularly costs $3,500 a night, while another spent four nights in a room that regularly costs $1,499 a night, the audit showed. The agency also spent more than $30,000 for 45 IRS employees who live in the Anaheim area to stay at the three hotels contracted for the conference.
The IRS also is under fire for targeting tea party, conservative and religious groups for extra scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status. Several representatives of such organizations testified to Congress on Tuesday about the special inquiries they received from the agency.
But, Rubio tells Newsmax, what is perhaps most disturbing about the current travails at the IRS is the agency's efforts to hide its abuses.
For instance, the inspector general's audit could only provide general estimates of the costs of hundreds of IRS conferences, since the agency failed to keep records of all expenses.
"The cover-up is worse. Certainly incompetence is really bad, especially from an agency as important as the Internal Revenue Service. But if there was a cover-up -- and I'm not alleging that I have evidence that there is, but if in fact there was -- that's criminal. That's clearly worse and not to mention scary."
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