Rather than question the government witnesses, Representative Gowdy (R-SC) (@TGowdySC) utilized his allotted time to make a passionate statement. He recalled the fall of 2010, when he was a prosecutor in South Carolina, emphasizing that the very same month and year that the IRS was conferencing in Anaheim, they were furloughing law enforcement, teachers, prosecutors and secretaries in his office. They canceled out of town training, brought own food to the Thanksgiving and Christmas events.
Fighting back his emotions, Rep. Gowdy talked about the anonymous fund his office set up to help struggling employees. One secretary, a single mom, came in and asked if she could borrow the money to buy her child a birthday present. On the very same night as that single mom asked to borrow money, IRS employees were staying in $3,500/night rooms in Anaheim. “Other government employees were spending more money on promo materials than that young woman makes in a year. Other government employees were spending money on audience participation tools than that young woman makes in a year.”
Rep. Gowdy went on to say to the Inspector General: “This cannot be solved with another webinar. This can’t be solved with just one more recommendation…Mr. Inspector General, we can adopt all the recommendations you can possibly conceive of, I can tell you it strikes me, and maybe it’s just me, but it strikes me as a cultural, systemic, character, moral issue.”
Rep. Gowdy further added: “The IRS has been in existence depending on how you want to count, either since 1862 or 1918. But in either event, they’ve had a hundred years to figure out that while your fellow Americans are losing their jobs, and their health insurance, and their homes, you do not spend $4 million at a conference for which there is no accountability. You do not hire people to make meaningless speeches, or artists to paint paintings, when your fellow citizens, the ones who pay your salary, are struggling. That is a character issue. Training cannot fix that.”
He went on to add: “They [the IRS] sent more than 25 employees on a scouting trip to see whether or not the hotel was okay. That’s not gonna be fixed with training Mr. Inspector General. When you’ve got law enforcement officers being furloughed and you’ve had a hundred years to figure out how to act appropriately you don’t need an IG report to tell you that spending $27,000 for someone to talk about how random combinations of ideas can drive radical innovations. There’s not a webinar in the world that’s gonna fix that.
Rep. Gowdy’s solution? Start over.
And then he focused on the IRS: “This entity has not only targeted citizens that it was supposed to serve, it’s allowed itself to be used as a political tool. Not only does it have access to our financial information, it will soon have access to our health information. Those are details that we don’t share with people that we do trust. And we’re gonna be asked to share it with people who are so disconnected as to spend this amount of money while our fellow citizens are struggling mightily in the fall of 2010. I don’t think training’s gonna fix it. I think replacement might.”