WASHINGTON - President Obama is being hit by new scandals almost weekly in a growing web of investigations and revelations that have further damaged his troubled administration.
The U.S. Treasury's Inspector General released a new report Tuesday that the Internal Revenue Service spent $50 million on 220 conferences for IRS employees over a three year period beginning in 2010.
Despite annual federal budget deficits of more than $1 trillion throughout Obama's first term, the IG found many of the IRS's expenditures to be downright wasteful.
In one of its findings, the IRS focused on a conference in Anaheim, Calif. -- home of Disneyland -- where some 2,600 employees in the agency's small business division gathered for a little fun and relaxation paid for by the American people.
In a conference that cost taxpayers about $4.1 million, IRS workers were shown two training videos that cost at least $60,000 to produce. One of them was a parody of Star Trek in which employees, wearing Star Trek uniforms, talked about how to dig out tax fraud in a full-scale mock-up of the bridge of the starship Enterprise.
In the video, an IRS employee portraying the Russian character Pavel Chekov tells one of his colleagues, "Back in Russia, I dreamed someday I'd be rich and famous."
"Me, too. That's why I became a public servant," his starship colleague replies.
In the other video, IRS employees are seen dancing the "Cupid Shuffle," as a female IRS agent remarks, "They don't pay me enough to do this."
Two keynote speakers together at the conference were paid at least $44,000, plus $2,000 for first-class air travel. In a speech about how art influences leadership, the speaker painted six paintings and gave two to them to IRS employees attending the event.
"The outrage toward the IRS is only growing stronger. Clearly this is an agency where abuse and waste is the norm and not the exception," said Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. of Louisiana who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee oversight subcommittee.
This IRS scandal comes on the heels of the IG's bombshell disclosure that dozens of conservative groups who filed for tax-exempt status were targeted by the IRS for intensive, delay-provoking scrutiny.
It also forced the resignation of the IRS's acting commissioner and led to a wave of congressional hearings and investigations, a Justice Department criminal probe, and calls in Congress for a special prosecutor.