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Published On: Sun, Jun 2nd, 2013

IRS spend $50 million in 2 years on employee conferences, staying in expensive rooms and paying huge speaking fees

A government watchdog has found that the Internal Revenue Service spent about $50 million to hold about 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012, according to a House committee.

That total included $4 million for an August 2010 conference in Anaheim, Calif., for which the agency did not negotiate lower room rates, even though that is standard government practice, according to a statement by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

photo 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

photo 401(K) 2012 via Flickr

Some of the 2,600 attendees received benefits, including staying in expensive presidential suites. In addition, 15 outside speakers were paid a total of $135,000 in fees, with one paid $17,000 to talk about “leadership through art,” the House committee said.

The report by Treasury Department’s inspector general, set to be released this week, comes as the IRS already is facing bipartisan criticism after agency officials disclosed they had targeted tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny.

On Friday, the new acting commissioner, Danny Werfel, released a statement on the forthcoming report criticizing the Anaheim meeting.

“This conference is an unfortunate vestige from a prior era,” Werfel said. “While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred.”

Werfel, a former official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, said reducing excessive personal travel has been “a personal priority for me” and that “taxpayers should take comfort that a conference like this would not take place today.”

The report will be the subject of a hearing Thursday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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