IRS employees across the country – barred by federal law from engaging in political activity at work – advertised their support of Democrats and President Barack Obama while on the job, via computer screensavers, buttons, stickers, and even while servicing taxpayers, according to The Washington Times
The information comes to light as the House Ways and Means Committee passed a resolution referring former IRS tax official Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution
for her role in the agency’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status. The vote was 23-14.
A Kentucky IRS employee is serving a two-week suspension after getting caught denouncing Republicans to a taxpayer on a recorded phone line, according to the Times.
"The employee told a taxpayer she was 'for' the Democrats because 'Republicans already [sic] trying to cap my pension and . . . they’re going to take women back 40 years,'" according to an Office of Special Counsel statement
The employee had been counseled by her supervisor just weeks earlier about the Hatch Act, which prohibits "engaging in [partisan] political activity while on duty and in the workplace and using her official authority or influence to affect the result of an election."
The IRS employee acknowledged to the caller that she was prohibited from offering her political views and asked the taxpayer not to say anything.
The Office of Special Counsel is "seeking significant disciplinary action" against another employee who used his "authority and influence" as a customer service representative by urging "taxpayers to re-elect President Obama in 2012 by repeatedly reciting a chant based on the spelling of his last name."
In the Dallas IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, it was commonplace for employees to wear pro-Obama political stickers, buttons, and clothing to work and display pro-Obama screensavers on their IRS computers, according to the release. The office received "cautionary guidance" about the Hatch Act.
Citing data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the National Review reported
last year that IRS employees in 2012 gave more than twice as much in campaign donations – $48,827 compared with $20,361 – to Obama than to Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate. The same article said the disparity was even greater in 2008, when IRS employees donated $59,959 to Obama, and just $1,950 to the Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.
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