Opinion

IRS employee suspended for delivering pro-Obama 'chant' on agency's customer service hotline

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Barack Obama,2012 Elections,IRS,Blake Seitz,Office of Special Counsel

An IRS employee has been suspended for 100 days without pay, but not fired, for urging callers on the agency's customer service hotline to vote for President Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

The employee, who was not named, was found in violation of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from certain forms of partisan political activity. According to the Office of Special Counsel, the impassioned bureaucrat delivered "a chant based on the spelling of the employee's last name" to convince callers to re-elect President Obama. An earlier press release by the OSC states the employee delivered this chant "repeatedly."

The case of the chanting call taker is the IRS's third Hatch Act violation this year.

On April 9, the OSC reported that a tax advisory specialist in Kentucky would serve a 14-day suspension for telling a taxpayer that "Republicans already [sic] trying to cap my pension and ... they're going to take women back 40 years." The specialist then shared with the taxpayer the advice of her mother: "If you vote for a Republican, the rich are going to get richer and the poor are going to get poorer."

The OSC also issued "cautionary guidance" to the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in Dallas, Texas, for "wearing pro-Obama political stickers, buttons, and clothing to work and displaying pro-Obama screensavers on their IRS computers."

The Hatch Act was passed in 1939 to curb partisan political activity in New Deal agencies like the Works Progress Administration, which were engaging in vote buying and political favoritism on behalf of the Democratic Party.

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