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The tax man danceth? Line dance video complicates IRS defense (+video)

As if the IRS didn't have enough problems, an inspector general report cites waste and abuse in funny videos produced for conferences. They didn't cost much, but the image doesn't help.

By Staff writer / June 1, 2013

This still image shows a scene from a video the IRS provided to Congress featuring its employees - this one showing them dancing on a stage - produced to be shown at the end of a training and leadership conference.

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The IRS says it has reformed since a pre-2012 election period when it admits to targeting conservative groups and paying tens of thousands of dollars to produce goofy and expensive videos, including one of employees line dancing to the “Cupid Shuffle,” to spice up a conference in California.

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The video might not have cost much, but it doesn't help the IRS's image.

But l’affaire IRS isn’t going away any time soon, with more hearings on internal IRS shenanigans scheduled next week, particularly focused on a scathing new Inspector General report on spending within the agency, highlighted by the employee videos, which acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel called “vestiges of another era.”

At the same time, the scope of inquiry into the targeting of patriot and tea party groups has moved beyond original assertions of a few rogue low-level employees to 88 people whose computers Congress wants to inspect, and news that Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner during the tea party targeting era, had 147 cleared visits to the White House, more than any other agency head. (It’s not clear how many times he actually visited the White House.)

All of those revelations taken together are fueling a growing number of questions about an agency whose tendrils dig deep into the economic lives of every adult American.

To be sure, none of those facts mean that there was collusion with the White House or Democratic operatives to use the IRS as a political tool to wither away Republican support and cash ahead of the 2012 election. Moreover, many Democrats believe Republicans are gussying up the details only to score points against Democrats in power, when it’s bureaucrats at an independent agency who are at fault.

But the issue has now become enough of a matter of public trust that Congressional hearings and internal investigations may ultimately not be enough to ease the mind of taxpayers. In a Quinnipiac poll last week, 76 percent of Americans – with a plurality in both parties – said they want Obama to appoint a special counsel to sort out what many say has become a foundational conundrum for the Republic.

“What does it mean when half the country – literally half the country – understands that the revenue-gathering arm of its federal government is politically corrupt, sees them as targets, and will shoot at them if they try to raise their heads?” wonders Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan in a widely cited column calling for an independent counsel into the IRS scandal. “That is the kind of thing that can kill a country, letting half its citizens believe that they no longer have full political rights.”

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