Another video has been released featuring federal employees, apparently unaware they were being filmed, and discussing their work with a federal agency. In this case, that agency is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
One of the employees in the latest video is Thomas Sheehy. He is a tax examiner employed by the agency in Austin, Texas. According to his Linked-In page, he has been in that position since January 2018.
Like the other federal employees in these videos, Sheehy is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). He likes working for the federal government, in large part because of the benefits he receives as an employee.
Unlike some of the earlier videos designed to portray a “deep state” within the federal government, the actions described by Sheehy do not rise to the level of accessing a federal database for information to pursue a personal political agenda or openly using government equipment for his work in support of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Those seeing the video will not be reassured that the IRS is looking at tax concerns or issues of American citizens fairly and impartially. In fact, Sheehy’s statements create the opposite impression.
If Sheehy is still in his probationary period as a federal employee, he could find the IRS is not thrilled with his work ethic, the image he portrays of the agency, or why he likes working for the federal government. His passion appears to be working for the DSA and getting a lot of time off from work.
Why He Likes Working for the Government
Sheehy implies that he abuses his work benefits, including paid time off and sick days, in order to engage in his activities on behalf of the Austin (Texas) Democratic Socialists of America. In response to a question about whether he likes working at the IRS, he said:
SHEEHY: “It’s okay. I will say, I just really like the benefits. I get a lot of paid time off and sick days. So, like, for DSA stuff, I can just honestly… I will just stay late for a period. So, I will just call in for the next day.”
SHEEHY: “I mean, as long as like the manager doesn’t find out and you don’t explicitly say ‘hey I’m calling in sick to do Democratic Socialist of America work’ then I mean like yeah. You know, you just gotta, you just gotta like sort of manage, you know, when and where you’re like doing, like, the work you do.”
Union Does Not Allow Ignoring U.S. Constitution
He expresses regret for having to follow the American Constitution. He notes the by-laws of his union do not allow him to ignore that document when working for the IRS but that he would do that if allowed to do so. Instead, “They prevent us from doing anything interesting.” There is no indication of what would make the job more interesting if allowed to do so.
Unlike the federal employees in some earlier videos, he does not say it is not possible to get fired, although he does say it is hard to have that happen. He says it is “not easy to get fired. We have union protections.” To get around getting fired: “You just gotta, you just gotta, like, sort of manage, when and where you’re like doing, like, the work you do like….”
IRS Commissioner “Cool” for Deleting Emails
He also expresses his admiration for former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“He got a lot of flak for requiring increased scrutiny of those Tea Party groups. Conservatives got really mad at him; he was so cool though because he deleted all of the emails so they could not hold any evidence against him. I don’t give a sh*t if that is a crime for doing that; Yeah, that’s awesome like, you should give increased scrutiny to those groups because a lot of them are just fu***** fronts for, like, the Koch brothers.”
His observations may not have been completely accurate. The Treasury Department’s Inspector General, Russell George, told Congress that his investigation eventually turned up as many as 30,000 emails from the account of former IRS employee Lois Lerner. The IRS had insisted the emails were destroyed. The emails covered the period from January 2009 through June 2011 when the IRS was increasing targeting of conservative nonprofit groups.
In effect, he appears to think the IRS should have been harder on conservatives during the 2012 election when applications for tax-exempt status were allegedly being obstructed for political reasons to help Democrats in the election campaign.
Senior IRS Attorney on Targeting of Conservative Groups
On the same video, an IRS senior attorney, Jerry Semasek, discussed the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.
Gerald (Jerry) Semasek is listed in the database at FedsDataCenter.com in fiscal year 2017 as a senior attorney in Washington, DC with an annual salary of $134,426.00.
He states on several occasions in the video that “there were mistakes made with targeting conservative groups”:
…[O]n the record, I know people in Tax Exempt Government Entities. All that stuff we saw in the news, yeah, mistakes were made but the Republican House just blew it all out of proportion to make a news story. I mean, there were mistakes made.
The law requires that an organization can’t be political, it can’t be partisan to be tax exempt. So, when they started to see these applications for, I forget what the phrase was in the title of the application. Those employees in Cincinnati, Ohio started to separate them and put ’em in a pile. And it turns out that they were like the Tea Party group of people. And I think they did, like Lois Lerner and some of her employees, they were more liberal leaning or Democrats, so I don’t know if they disallowed them, but they required them to provide documentation to prove that they weren’t partisan.
Semasek comes across pretty well in the conversations. While acknowledging the agency made mistakes in targeting conservative groups, there do not appear to be specifics on this topic in the video likely to generate a political firestorm.