The IRS Spent $17,000 For A 'Speaker' To Make These Paintings

The IRS is under more scrutiny after a new Inspector General’s report detailed millions of lavish spending by the agency on conferences, on everything from speakers’ fees to parody videos.

One of the most bizarre speaking fees the IRS produced, though, was in the $17,000 it spent on a “keynote speaker” who painted six portraits — of Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and Bono, as well as two of the Statue of Liberty.

Here’s one of the portraits:

Abraham Lincoln IRS painting

More details from the report:

One keynote speaker was contracted to perform two keynote speeches that lasted approximately one hour each, and the speaker was paid $17,000. According to the contract signed by the IRS, this speaker was “uniquely qualified to deliver this presentation because of the combination of his artistic abilities and his presentation skills. In each presentation, he will create a unique painting that reinforces his message of unlearning the rules, breaking the boundaries, and freeing the thought process to find creative solutions to challenges.”

The speaker created six paintings at these two keynote sessions (three at each session). These paintings consisted of the following portraits: Albert Einstein (one); Michael Jordan (one); Abraham Lincoln (one); U2 singer Bono (one); and the Statute of Liberty (two).

According to the report, three of the paintings were donated, two were given away, and one was “lost.”

The report shows that the IRS spent $4.1 million on a single conference in Anaheim in 2010, most of which the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration deemed stemmed from “questionable expenses.”

Pamela LaRue, the IRS’ chief financial officer, acknowledged in response to the inspector general’s report that the spending on the 2010 conference was out of line and pointed to reduced spending that has ensued in the last two years.

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