Just as President Obama is about to deliver a report card on his health-care overhaul initiative, two Internal Revenue Service officials charged with implementing the plan have been placed on administrative leave for accepting free food and gifts, according to reports.
The Hill reported late Wednesday that Fred Schindler and Donald Toda are accused of accepting more than $1,100 in food and gifts during a 2010 conference in Anaheim, Calif. Schindler reportedly is a top aide to Sarah Hall Ingram, chief of the IRS’s health-care office. She also presided over the office that approved tax exemptions when conservative groups allegedly were targeted.
The conference was one of several events for which the agency is under fire. IRS officials are accused of spending nearly $49 million on more than 200 conferences from 2010 to 2012. Bloomberg reported late Wednesday that the Anaheim event was one of the most expensive, hosting 2,600 IRS employees.
Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said the conference was geared to train new managers of the agency’s auditing group, many of whom were relatively new at the time, on employee safety and security training. There had been a suicide attack on an Austin IRS facility earlier that year.
In a prepared statement, Werfel said that while the purpose of the trip was legitimate, many of the expenses were not. He vowed that practice would not continue.
“This conference is an unfortunate vestige from a prior era. While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred,” Werfel said.