The Internal Revenue Service executive who portrayed Spock in the agency's "Star Trek" video parody apologized to lawmakers for inappropriate spending on a $4.1 million conference from 2010.
The videos, "at the time they were made, were an attempt in a well-intentioned way to use humor," said Faris Fink, moments after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee showed excerpts from the video. "It's embarrassing and I apologize."
Fink is commissioner of the agency's small business and self-employed division, which has 24,000 employees across the country and organized the conference.
The IRS spending on conferences was "at best, maliciously self-indulgent," said Rep. Darrell Issa, the committee chairman.
Issa, a California Republican, said he was less concerned about the total IRS spending on conferences -- $49 million from 2010 to 2012 -- than about perks such as discounted presidential suites and hotel rooms for local employees at the expense of other employees who could have gotten better training.
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"They were cheated out of additional education and meaningful training by this waste," Issa said as he opened a hearing on IRS spending.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released an audit June 4 on the conference spending, including parody videos made for a 2010 conference in Anaheim, Calif.
Fink, deputy commissioner at the time, stayed in one of the presidential suites. The video costs included a $2,400 set for the videotaping, while employees bought their own costumes.
"Mr. Fink, the money that was spent on that, that's my money," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the committee. "That's the lady who got the early bus this morning, that's her money."
The IRS and the Treasury Department have changed their rules and reduced spending on conferences. Daniel Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, placed two employees on leave yesterday for accepting free food and other items at the Anaheim conference.
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