You know the statistic about what percentage of your life is spent sleeping? Does it shock you just a little bit and make you want to sleep less? That’s the way I feel when I think about what percentage of my life is spent talking (or waiting on hold) with the IRS. I could probably figure it out, but I would rather remain ignorant of those details. Well, even after having logged hundreds or thousands of hours with them, I can honestly say that I have never been asked to support any particular political candidate.
Recently an IRS call center employee was suspended for 100 days after the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) determined that he/she had violated the Hatch Act by engaging in partisan political activity while on the clock. This particular worker encouraged callers to vote for Obama on taxpayers’ dime. This “encouragement” came in the form of some kind of chant based on the spelling of the employee’s last name. I would love to know what this sounded like, but exact details were not given. In fact, IF ANYBODY CAN PRODUCE AUDIO OF THE IRS EMPLOYEE WHO PROMOTED OBAMA’S CANDIDACY BY RECITING A CUTE LITTLE CHANT AT THE END OF EACH CALL, PLEASE CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY.
There have been plenty of times when I thought that the IRS representative was getting a bit too chummy with me. I really don’t mind that; I like to see that they are enjoying their job. But I wouldn’t want to see them get in trouble. The worst I’ve heard is when they start bashing the IRS and complaining about their job, their equipment, other IRS departments, their flawed internal processes. That actually happens fairly regularly. As far as I know there is nothing illegal about this kind of behavior, but I don’t imagine a supervisor would appreciate hearing it.
The real controversy in this story is that the OSC investigation actually resulted in the termination of a postal worker who violated the Hatch Act, whereas the IRS worker was only suspended. There are significant differences in the facts of each case. You be the judge and read about those differences here.