For the second time in a month, an IRS official has taken the Fifth Amendment before a Congressional committee, this time in an investigation about whether that official helped a friend win a $500 million IT contract with the tax agency.
“Mr. Chairman, on the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer any questions and invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent,” said Gregory Roseman, the Deputy Director of Enterprise Networks and Tier Systems Support at the IRS.
While this investigation has nothing to do with the questions of IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, the move to take the Fifth by Roseman came at the same witness table where Lois Lerner had done so in late May; she could be hauled back before the same panel in coming weeks.
After Roseman was excused by Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the panel delved into questions for IRS officials and Braulio Castillo, who heads Strong Castle, Inc., the company that lawmakers say was helped by Roseman.
“Prior to January 2012, when Braulio Castillo purchased Signet/Strong Castle, the business had $250,000 in annual revenue,” read part of a report from the House Oversight Committee.
“In just six months, it won over $500 million of potential awards – overwhelmingly these awards came from the IRS,” the panel found.
While some witnesses are ready for the rough and tumble of a Congressional hearing, Castillo was obviously a neophyte, and was drummed by members of both parties.
“You need to look in the mirror,” said a disgusted Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who repeatedly chastised Castillo, all but accusing him of lying to investigators and Congress about his business dealings.
Lawmakers also zeroed in on how Castillo had secured a special designation from the Small Businss Administration as a “Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned” small business.
So where was he injured in combat?
Well, he injured his ankle while playing football at a military prep school.
That led to this withering Q&A with Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who served as a helicopter pilot in Iraq, where she lost both of her legs and damaged her right arm when her chopper was hit by fire from Iraqi insurgents.
The hearing was yet another public example of troubles at the IRS, which included a report this week on excessive credit card purchases by IRS workers, an internal report on political targeting, and continues on Thursday in a hearing with the Acting IRS Chief before the House Ways and Means Committee.
There was also a report on Wednesday in the Hill newspaper about a $2.4 million conference held by the IRS in Atlanta that “included an open bar, elaborate hors d’oeuvres and a video of agency employees dressed as Olympic athletes with makeshift torches.“
A source inside the IRS also tells me that even more embarrassing reports are on the way about travel by agency officials – as the hits just keep on coming for the Internal Revenue Service.