WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) -- As journalists in the nation’s capitol breathlessly reported Wednesday morning on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, an intriguing thing was happening in another part of the city.
An Internal Revenue Service official was invoking his Fifth Amendment right to silence so as to avoid answering questions about his questionable relationship with the CEO of a multimillion-dollar computer services company.
“A second IRS employee summoned to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee invoked the Fifth Amendment on Wednesday and refused to answer questions -- a flashback to Lois Lerner, who did the same during a hearing on the agency’s scandal last month,” POLITICOnotes.
The IRS official declined to testify on his relationship with the CEO of computer services company that has as much as $500 million in contracts with the tax agency.
Gregory Roseman said he was advised by his lawyer to invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating government contracts secured by Strong Castle Inc., and whether a friendship between Roseman and Strong Castle's CEO, Braulio Castillo, was a factor in the company's ability to win such large contracts with the IRS.
Beth Tucker, the agency's deputy commissioner for operations support, told lawmakers that the IRS was working to sever its ties with Strong Castle and recently referred its contracts with the company to the Treasury's inspector general for tax administration for further investigation.
Tucker said Roseman, who worked in the IRS's procurement office but has since been transferred to a different department, should not have had any contacts with Strong Castle and Castillo.
She said she also was troubled by other aspects of Strong Castle's work with the IRS, including allegations that Castillo took advantage of programs in the Small Business Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs to move to the front of the line for IRS contracts.
"Let me be clear, the information that we've seen about the personal relationship with Mr. Roseman and Mr. Castillo is inappropriate," Tucker said. "Mr. Roseman should have recused himself immediately."
The committee, which has been investigating ties between the IRS and Strong Castle since February, released a report Tuesday that detailed Castillo's relationship with Roseman. Strong Castle, which was founded just two years ago, scooped up more than a dozen contracts with the IRS in 2012 for computer services potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Castillo testified Wednesday that his company's dealings with the IRS were lawful and contributed "to the IRS' mission."
He said he didn't know why Roseman invoked his 5th amendment right and that he wished Roseman had testified. Castillo acknowledged that he and Roseman were friends, had regularly exchanged text messages over about 10 years and attended a Washington Nationals baseball game together, but said nothing was untoward.
"We are a responsible small business," Castillo said. "Strong Castle remains committed to providing results."
He added, "We have competed fairly for every IRS contract we've received."
But Democrats and Republicans on the committee pounded Castillo and Strong Castle. They said Castillo's company had taken advantage of his relationship with Roseman and manipulated other government agencies to secure contracts.
As noted elsewhere on TheBlaze, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., an Iraq war veteran and who lost both her legs in combat, mocked Castillo's application for veterans benefits which allowed him to promote Strong Castle as a small business operated by a disabled veteran.
Duckworth noted that Castillo sustained a foot injury not in combat but while playing football at a military prep school. Castillo went on to play college football at the University of San Diego, and more than 20 years later, applied for veterans disability payments.
"My feet hurt too," Duckworth said, sarcastically. "In fact, the balls of my feet hurt continuously. So I can understand and ... I'm so sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come to hurt you in such a painful way."
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