Beth Tucker, deputy commissioner at the IRS, did not seem particularly happy to be sitting before the House Oversight Committee on June 26. Maybe it was the way the focus of the hearing shifted quickly from a possibly fishy but obscure IRS contract to the agency's admitted targeting of Tea Party groups, or maybe it had something to do with the obvious glee Republicans like Ohio's Jim Jordan took in the interrogation. Or maybe, she was just a little homesick.
Tucker works at the IRS headquarters in Washington D.C., but she lives in Texas. The commute, as you might expect, is a bitch. Lucky for her, she doesn't have to pay it.
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Tucker was identified by the National Review as one of a number of IRS executives discussed in an inspector general's report released this week whose "extremely high" travel expenses approach or exceed six figures. So was Laurel Cummings, a Dallasite who's helping implement the Affordable Care Act.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, who first reported the story, explains:
An IRS source told me the most frequent travelers were four different officials inside the tax agency who "work" in Washington, at IRS headquarters, but actually live in Dallas, Minneapolis and Atlanta.
In other words, they would fly weekly to and from Washington, D.C. by plane, and then bill the taxpayer for that travel and their extended stay in D.C. - and it is not a temporary situation, but has been going on for years.
That report doesn't name names, referring only to figures like "Executive B," so it's hard to tell whether Tucker or Cummings are responsible for the $145,000 bill or something less. Regardless, the report notes mildly, such cases suggest "that some executives may not live in the best location to economically accomplish their roles and responsibilities. It might be more cost effective to relocate the executives through a permanent or temporary change of station."