Monday afternoon, ABC News released a chilling report that details what journalists have faced while trying to get some answers from the Cincinnati IRS office, which is where a majority of the Tea Party targeting took place.
According to ABC, an “armed uniform police officer with the Federal Protective Service” “escorted” reporters through the public building. ABC says if the intent wasn’t to “scare off” employees who might talk, “it was the effect.”
ABC News is also hearing conflicting reports from Cincinnati IRS employees and the IRS Headquarters in Washington. A Washington spokesman told ABC that press queries are “referred to the press office,” but that “people have First Amendment rights, they are entitled to speak.”
An employee in OH said that is not the case and that staffers have been threatened with their jobs if they are caught talking to the media:
At the [Cincinnati] IRS office on the fourth floor, a woman who answered the buzzer referred reporters to officials in Washington, though they were not returning very many calls. That staffer also said she was not allowed to speak to anyone – a line that was repeated by agency personnel during the week.
IRS headquarters in Washington denied that a no-talk rule was official policy because, after all, agency staffers still have a constitutional right to talk to whomever they want. …
Not so, said IRS folks in Ohio.
One of them, who asked not be named, told ABC News that security guards did remind employees of the official policy not to talk with the press – a warning cemented by the punch line “or risk losing our jobs.”
The Obama administration’s Culture of Intimidation knows no bounds, apparently.
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