Grapevine: Special government waste edition

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine... 

Taxing Times

A special government waste edition.

It's been a tough few weeks for the Internal Revenue Service as it deals with allegations of unfairly targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

But now an audit of the IRS finds over the course of a year the IRS spent more than $1 million taxpayer dollars on Blackberries and aircards it did not use.

An audit from the treasury inspector general for tax administration finds in fiscal year 2011, 754 smartphones and nearly 14,000 aircards went unused for at least three months.

68 other Blackberries were not used at all.

The IRS claims it has already put controls in place to cut down wasteful spending.

It rejected four of the six recommendations from the treasury report.

The Money Pit

Speaking of wasteful spending, Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma says there's plenty of it on Capitol Hill.

Yesterday, he sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner outlining places he sees taxpayer dollars being spent frivolously.

In addition to the Senate Barber Shop losing hundreds of thousands a year -- which we've previously reported here on the Grapevine -- Coburn also questions, in this time of sequestration, the necessity of what he terms "lifestyle coaching" for congressional staff including taxpayer funded classes on relaxation, upping your credit score, and the benefits of a good night's sleep.

Cashing In

And finally, Massachusetts has shelled out $18 million in questionable welfare payments over the past few years.

Some of that went to people who are dead. Massachusetts not only sees dead people, they pay them.

A state audit found almost 1,200 instances where a deceased person's social security number was used to collect a welfare check, food stamps, or other benefits.

The audit turned up several other ways residents appeared to be cheating the system -- including 21 cases where multiple people were using the same social security number, and dozens of cases where multiple people claimed the same person as a dependent.