Remarks at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Appropriations.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to join you in welcoming Acting Commissioner Werfel and J. Russell George here today. We thank you and we look forward to your testimony, and I would like to thank, again, Chairman Crenshaw and Ranking Member Serrano for holding this very important hearing.
We know that the IRS is the first line of defense in ensuring that hard earned tax dollars of American citizens are appropriately handled, and as my colleagues have said, I join them in such shock that news that millions of dollars were unnecessarily spent on conferences, videos, senseless purchases, such as baseball tickets, presidential suites, along with allegations that the IRS targeted ideological groups for increased scrutiny raised serious questions regarding whether the IRS is properly working for the people.
I, like so many citizens, am quite simply wondering, what was the IRS thinking? What on earth were they thinking? It is truly amazing to me, and I am furious that the IRS engaged in ideological scrutiny which is absolutely unacceptable. We have a responsibility to the American people to make sure this is rectified and does not happen again. Our Nation was founded on the principles of freedom of speech and expression. No position or party has a monopoly in our public debate or government. The IRS should never be used for any activities that come close to partisan or political action, period.
The IRS' responsibility to evaluate applications for tax exempt status, frankly, has been lost in this debate. A dramatic increase in the number of 501(c)(4) organizations will lead to more reviews, but those reviews should never target one part of the ideological spectrum of others, and in this hearing, I know we all want to hear what went wrong, what steps are being taken to prevent similar practices in the future. And again, I would like to thank Acting Commissioner Werfel and Inspector General George for being here today.
Commissioner Werfel, I know you have been in this position for a matter of weeks, did not manage the IRS or the division in question during the time of these improper activities, so I appreciate your assistance and hope that this hearing helps to get to the bottom of this issue. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman.