LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Now we turn to a scathing report on expensive conferences held by the IRS. The report by the agency's own inspector general noted the IRS spent about $50 million on employee meetings between 2010 and 2012.
NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.
WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Some of the most egregious examples of questionable spending occurred at a 2010 gathering in Southern California. The IRS paid dearly for some lavish hotel rooms, and spent $34,000 for lodging and related expenses for employees who lived nearby.
The IG's said the agency paid speakers $135,000. One, an artist, was paid $17,000 to talk about leadership through art. He painted pictures of Michael Jordan and U2 singer Bono. The IRS contract said the speaker would quote, "create a unique painting that reinforces his message of unlearning the rules, breaking the boundaries and freeing the thought process to find creative solutions."
The inspector general also found that the IRS - an agency which requires taxpayers to provide documentation for expenses on their tax returns - failed to account for or even track many of its own expenses.
The report is another blow to the IRS, which was already under fire for giving extra scrutiny to Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Wendy Kaufman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.