$4.1 Million IRS Conference Included $64,000 in Promotional Products
In a blog post, PPAI president and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, commented on news reports focusing on the money spent by the IRS on promotions for the conference. "I, like many of you, was disappointed by the IRS' conduct of late, but I was dismayed by the ensuing media portrayal of our industry," he said. "Simply because our products are tangible, memorable and long-lasting—all attributes that contribute to their effectiveness—they are easy targets for sound bites."
"However, it is important to realize that the media coverage was not an attack on the promotional products industry, but rather focused on the IRS," he added. The investigation into the IRS's excessive spending is part of a larger crackdown on government agency budgets. In April 2012, the U.S. Inspector General found that the General Services Administration (GSA) spent $822,000 on a single conference, which lead to numerous investigations and personnel changes in that administration.
When questioned by Congress about the convention, Faris Fink, commissioner of the IRS' Small Business and Self-Employment Division, said "The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chairman, it's embarrassing, I apologize."