Faris Fink, the IRS official at the center of the agency’s scandal involving lavish conferences paid with taxpayer funds, gave what seemed like conflicting statements to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about when he knew about the conference’s cost.
In response to questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Fink, the Small Business and Self-Employed Division Commissioner, initially said he did not become aware of the conference’s massive cost until “much later,” which was when he felt regret.
“I actually did not become aware of the massive expense until much later,” Fink initially testified. “I did not know what the expense was at the time of the conference.”
However, Gregory Kutz, the Treasury Department Assistant Inspector General for Management Services and Exempt Organizations who was also before the Committee, testified that an audit discovered Fink actually signed an authorization request in April 2010 for an estimated $4.3 million conference before the conference was held.
Fink said he was “not involved in the planning and execution” of the conference.
“I initialled the routing slip,” Fink said when pressed to explain what seemed like conflicting statements. “I attended the briefing that was done for the two deputy commissioners.”
Fink said the meeting included a discussion “of the cost” of the conference, which was estimated at $4.3 million to the best of his recollection.
Chaffetz then reminded Fink that he testified he realized the conference was wrong when he became aware of the expenses after the conference, but had just now testified that he knew about the estimated cost before the event. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Committee Chairman, said he could not square Fink’s testimony.
“I was aware of the cost… when we did the briefings with the two deputy commissioners of the Internal Revenue Service,” Fink said.
Later, Rep. Elijah Cummings, reminding Fink that Roger Clemens had testified before the Committee and was later accused of perjury, gave Fink an opportunity to clarify his remarks.
Fink said he was given a routing slip and a binder. He said he found the conference’s estimated cost in the binder and then forwarded the binder and the routing slip to the deputy commissioners and was “aware” of the cost of the conference before the conference actually occurred.