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IRS Suspends Two After Probe of Lavish Conferences

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Internal Revenue Service’s new acting commissioner, Danny Werfel, has put two employees on administrative leave after they were accused of inappropriately accepting food and gifts during a 2010 conference.

“When I came to IRS, part of my job was to hold people accountable,” Werfel said in a statement Wednesday. “There was clearly inappropriate behavior involved in this situation, and immediate action is needed.”

The two employees were Fred Schindler and Donald Toda, according to a congressional aide.

Schindler is now the director of implementation oversight at the IRS Affordable Care Act Office. He works under Sarah Hall Ingram, who was at one time the director of the IRS’ tax-exempt office, which admitted to improperly scrutinizing conservative groups who applied for tax-exempt status. Toda is a California-based IRS employee.

The IRS has begun the process of removing the employees “pending further review,” a statement from the agency said.

The suspensions come after a recent IRS inspector general report investigating excessive spending at conferences singled out a 2010 conference in Anaheim, Calif., in which employees spent $4.1 million on the event.

The conference was organized for the Small Business-Self-Employed Division of the IRS, where previously Schindler worked as the director of the Collection Policy group.

The two employees are implicated in an incident in which a party was held at an Anaheim hotel and free food was provided, violating government ethics rules.

“The agency stands ready to confront any problems that occur, hold accountable anyone who acted inappropriately and permanently fix these problems so that such missteps do not occur again,” Werfel said in the statement.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has already been investigating the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, and will hold a hearing Thursday on the excessive spending at the agency’s conferences.

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