The IRS employee who played Mr. Spock in that lame Star Trek parody video has publicly apologized for the whole taxpayer-funded fiasco.
Faris Fink, who has worked for the IRS for over three decades, made the apology today at a Capitol Hill hearing before Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee. The video reportedly cost the American people about $60,000, and was part of the infamous Anaheim, Calif., employee conference for which the IRS spent over $4 million. A line-dancing video as well as another one based on Gilligan’s Island were also produced for the conference for “training” purposes.
According to Fink, the IRS had all good intentions (see embed below), and convention planners followed guidelines that were in place at the time in 2010: “Those videos at the time they were made were an attempt to in a well-intentioned way use humor.. [to open and close the conference]… they would not occur today based on all the guidelines that exist and frankly and were not appropriate at that time neither, Mr. Chairman…It’s embarrassing and I apologize… and I regret the fact that they were made.”
The Treasury Department’s Inspector General reported this week that the conference may have been more expensive than the $4 million figure that has been estimated, but that the IRS didn’t keep good records: “While IRS management provided documentation showing the total final costs at $4.1 million, we could not obtain reasonable assurance that this amount represents a full and accurate accounting of the conference costs. The IRS was unable to provide documentation to support all costs associated with the conference … As a result, we cannot validate that the ‘final’ conference cost of $4.1 million reported by the IRS.” The Inspector general also concluded that the agency spent $50 million on conferences over a period of two or three years, something that Rep. Issa called “maliciously self indulgent.”
Since there was apparently a lot of swag handed out at the Anaheim conference, Issa claimed that in some instances “IRS workers who received employee benefits from the conference and failed to file W-2 forms for the income means that ‘the IRS effectively was guilty of tax evasion.’”
Two IRS employees have been put on administrative leave in connection with that conference. Lois Lerner, the official allegedly involved in wrongful IRS Tea Party targeting, is also on administrative leave (meaning that she continues to receive a paycheck while sitting at home).
In his testimony, Fink added “In hindsight, many of the expenses that were incurred at the 2010 conference should be been more closely scrutinized or not incurred at all.”
Watch a CNN report on wasteful spending by the IRS: