Sympathy might be in short supply for the IRS, which has been hit by an audit at a very inconvenient time. A government watchdog's look at the scandal-hit agency's books found that it spent around $50 million on more than 200 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012, according to the House Oversight Committee. The spending included baseball tickets, $135,000 in fees for 15 outside speakers (among them: $17,000 paid for a talk on "leadership through art"), and videos showing IRS employees taking line-dancing lessons and acting in a Star Trek parody, the AP reports.
The two videos alone cost more than $50,000 to produce, a small part of the $4 million spent on a conference in Anaheim for which the agency failed to follow standard government practice and negotiate lower room rates, congressional aides say. Some of the 2,600 attendees at the Anaheim conference stayed in presidential suites that cost up to $3,500 a night. Acting IRS chief Daniel Werfel says the spending was "inappropriate" and conference spending has since been cut dramatically, the Wall Street Journal reports. He says the expenses for the Anaheim shindig were "an unfortunate vestige from a prior era."