House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said the IRS targeting of conservatives, as well as its lavish spending on conferences, shows that the agency has a "cultural problem."
"This is the culture. Think about it for a moment. They are holding this $4 million party, giving out swag bags in 2010. In the height of our fiscal challenges, this is what they're doing," the California Republican said about an IRS employee-training conference. "Who would ever think this was right?"
The fact that the Internal Revenue Service had to hire a lawyer to help it handle the targeting scandal shows the agency's "character is so wrong," McCarthy said Wednesday in an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren.
"If you go and lawyer up, you're not even admitting to the problem. You're trying to defend yourself or cover something up further," said McCarthy.
McCarthy said the direction came from Washington on the IRS targeting of conservatives, and was not solely the work of the agency's office in Cincinnati, which processed applications for nonprofit tax-exempt status.
The Cincinnati office, he said, "had to ask Washington for guidance, and they were directing them on what to do. To me, that is so unacceptable."
"When this was all going on, why didn't a whistleblower come forward? Why didn't one person in the IRS say, 'Hey, this was wrong?" McCarthy asked. "We found it in other agencies — they do that. But why in the overall IRS did nobody say anything? That to me shows that the entire agency needs to be turned around."
And the IRS, he said, is not "the only agency that needs to be looked at."
"When we get through with this, there's going to be a greater accountability and more transparency in government," McCarthy said. "And at the end of the day, we want to be able to make sure that this government earns the trust of the American people, and the only way to do that is to clean house."
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