Josh Margolin @ ABC News:
…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.
“Our policy is that press inbounds (queries) are referred to the press office,” a spokesman said. “But people have First Amendment rights, they are entitled to speak.”
Asked whether employees were reminded of the official media policy this week, the spokesman said “no.”
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.”
Even leaders of the local union that represents the IRS workers under fire took the admonition to heart, hanging up on reporters who wanted to ask questions about the scandal. One longtime IRS worker and union member called the response by the National Treasury Employees Union “dazzling.”
On Thursday morning, after news that Miller was sacked, two ABC News journalists walked into the Peck Federal Building in Cincinnati looking for answers. The newsmen were screened at the door by security. They emptied their pockets as instructed, removed their belts, then went through the metal detectors.
We wanted to ask who about made the decisions in the unit and when the profiling started. And whether those decision makers been identified yet.
But the answers – like the people involved – remained elusive.